Immigration Alerts

Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Dispatch | August 9-15, 2016

August 16, 2016

Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Chile, Israel, Poland and Russia.

Russia Highly Qualified Specialist

Featured Update

RUSSIA | Changing Procedures for Certain Highly Qualified Specialist Work Permit Applications
While the process of abolishing the former Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) and incorporating its functions into the Ministry of Internal Affairs was officially completed on June 1, 2016, the Russian immigration processes and requirements currently remains in a state of frequent change (See our Immigration Dispatches of July 18-24, July 11-18, and April 18-24). The latest announcement from the MIA changes the process for certain companies submitting Highly Qualified Specialist Work Permit applications in Moscow, Russia.

Beginning August 19, companies who are members of the Association of European Businesses (AEB) or the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia (AmCham) must appear on the official membership lists and provide proof of such when filing for Highly Qualified Specialist Work Permits or Letters of Invitation through the Head Migration Department (HMD) in Moscow. After August 19, such applications will not be accepted from AEB or AmCham companies whose names do not appear on the published lists.

Affected companies seeking to employ foreign workers in Russia are urged to verify that their membership is up-to-date and their company name appears on the applicable membership lists of the organizations. Both organizations are currently in the process of contacting their members to ensure that their membership lists are complete and that members are aware of the upcoming process changes.

Companies are reminded that the HMD in Moscow only accepts applications submitted by companies registered in Moscow. Companies registered in other regions should submit their applications to the HMD office with jurisdiction over the territory in which they are registered.

Immigration processes and requirements are always subject to frequent changes, but the process in Russia appears to be in a heightened period of flux. Companies with foreign national employees in Russia would be wise to keep in close communication with their immigration advisors. Pro-Link GLOBAL will continue to monitor the changes in Russia and provide updates here when available and to advise its clients how to best respond to them.

Immigration Changes from Around the World

CHILE | Apostilled Documents to be Accepted Beginning August 31st
On August 31, Chile becomes the 113th nation to join The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (more commonly referred to as The Hague Apostille Convention). Under the Convention, the 113 member nations agree to accept public documents issued by another member nation as valid if affixed with an Apostille certification, bypassing the lengthy and oftentimes complicated process of legalization. For immigration processes, this greatly reduces the processing times of applications by streamlining the document gathering and finalization phase.

Chile will be the final nation of South America to begin accepting the Apostille, making it now universal across the continent. Brazil officially joined The Hague Apostille Convention on the August 14 (See our Immigration Dispatch of July 25-31).

ISRAEL | Plans for Relaxed Immigration to Attract Foreign High-Tech Workers
In the upcoming weeks, a special commission appointed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will announce its plans for immigration reform to attract foreign high-technology specialists to Israel. The PM’s Cabinet has already voiced strong endorsement of the commission’s recommendations ahead of any official announcement. Given this strong support already being expressed within the government, the measures will likely move toward implementation rapidly. The commission, made up of high-ranking officials of the Ministry of the Economy and Industry and the Ministry of the Interior, have been working since February to address Israel’s critical shortage of workers in the technology sector, which accounts for 12 percent of the nation’s GDP.

Israel has traditionally been one of the most difficult countries for many foreign nationals to obtain work authorization. However, Israeli economists have warned for years that without these foreign engineers and technology specialists Israel’s booming high-tech industry may drown or stagnate in the country’s shallow pool of high-tech labor. Analysts estimate that Israel now has immediate need of up to 10,000 more workers in its rapidly expanding high-tech and cyber companies. Now the immediate fear is that Israeli companies will begin to outsource these jobs to other countries, and that fear is outweighing the traditional concerns of trade unions in preserving jobs for locals.

Key recommendations expected in the forthcoming commission report include:

  • “Specialist visas” for foreign high-tech specialists with initial two year terms and possible extensions of up to an additional three years, available through a streamlined application process;
  • Derivative visas for spouses and children of high-tech specialists, which will allow them to work in Israel without a separate sponsor;
  • A special government database of 1,500 technology companies that will receive priority processing of foreign employees’ work and residence authorization applications;
  • Minimum salaries for foreign tech workers set at a level twice the average local wage; and
  • Removal of immigration quotas or country restrictions for foreign tech workers.

While these proposed changes to the immigration process should present exciting opportunities for both Israeli and international technology firms considering doing business in one of the world’s “hotbeds” of technology development, bear in mind that these changes are still just in the proposal stage. However, strong support in the Netanyahu administration does increase the chance that these proposals will move forward rapidly to law. Pro-Link GLOBAL is watching these developments in Israel with interest and will continue to keep its clients prepared to take full advantage of the opportunities these changes may present.

POLAND | New Law for Employers of Posted or Seconded Foreign Workers
The Polish Act on the Posting of Workers came into effect June 18 as required by the EU Posted Worker Directive (2014/67/EU). Similar laws are already in place in other EU member nations. The new Polish law is meant to protect foreign national employees sent from another EU country to work for a limited time in Poland. It requires that such posted or seconded employees are given working conditions in line with those available to local employees as required by the Polish Labour Code – notably, minimum salary (including overtime) requirements, working hour restrictions, rest periods, holidays, health and safety standards, protections for pregnant workers and maternity leave, equal treatment and non-discrimination rights, and the statutory rights of temporary workers.

By the starting date of the posted employee’s duties in Poland, the Polish entity must provide a statement to the Polish Labour Inspectorate (PIP) containing:

  • The number of posted employees and their personal data;
  • The start and end dates of the posting; and
  • A description of the duties performed which justifies the employee’s posting in Poland

A fillable form statement is available on the PIP website and may be submitted online or printed and submitted by mail. The Polish company is then under an ongoing duty to notify the PIP of changes in these submitted details within seven (7) working days. Each applicable company must have a designated representative named with the PIP as the person responsible for all required submissions.

The Act further imposes strict record-keeping requirements on the employer to document the employee’s working hours, salary and deductions, and actual payment received. Such records must be maintained locally for a minimum of two years beyond the employee’s assignment end date and be provided to the PIP if requested. The Act also gives the PIP authority to conduct audits of employers and impose fines for non-compliance.

For employees beginning their posting after June 18, the requirements apply from the beginning of their duties in Poland. For employees already on assignments that started prior to June 18, employers have until September 18 to submit statements and bring the employment conditions and record-keeping into compliance.

Reminders: Recent and Upcoming Immigration Implementations

The following are reminders of recent or upcoming implementation dates that you should know:

  • August 14 - Brazil joined The Hague Apostille Convention and began accepting apostilled documentation (See our Immigration Dispatch of July 25-31 and Rebranding Brazil white paper for additional details). 

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Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader  

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change at a moment's notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL's Counsel and Knowledge Management teams. We worked with our PLG | KGNM Israel Office “Herzog, Fox & Neeman, our PLG | KGNM Poland offices “Express Relocations Sp z o.o”, our PLG | KGNM Russia offices “Intermark Group Inc.”, “Move One Inc.” and Smithbridge Advisory Services LLC” to provide you this update.

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