Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Australia, China, India, Israel, and Taiwan.
AUSTRALIA | Additional Details of New Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa Released
On February 19, the Australian Department of Home Affairs (DHA) published further clarification of the various changes to the skilled visa regulations planned for March 2018, including more details on the much anticipated new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (subclass 482) visa replacing the Subclass 457 Visa. First announced in April 2017, this latest announcement on the TSS Visa supplements the recent January 11 announcement where DHA began to release the long-awaited details on the 457 Visa replacement. For more details, see our Immigration Dispatch of January 22.
Skilled Occupation Lists – both the Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) and the Medium to Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) – will undergo further changes next month, including some additional skilled occupations made available to employers in regional areas for certain visa programs. However, these changes will not affect pending applications.
Applications lodged before the TSS Visa implementation date for standard business sponsorships (SBS), 457 nominations, and 457 visas will be processed under the current rules – except for 457 nomination applications lodged without a related visa application being lodged, which will be cancelled and the nominee fee refunded.
Renewal of sponsorship will be auto-approved for companies for an additional five years, on completion of a streamlined online renewal form – unless there are integrity concerns or the sponsor declares that they no longer meet qualifying criteria.
Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa applications will require the applicant to have at least two years of work experience in the previous five years in the nominated occupation. When completing the nomination form, the employer will have to select the length of the employment period – one, two, three, or four years depending on whether the occupation qualifies for the short-term stream or the long-term stream.
A “Genuine Temporary Entrant” requirement will apply, and holders of multiple, successive, short-term TSS visas may be deemed as not satisfying this requirement where the applicant appears to be engaged in more permanent employment through a succession of temporary visas.
A new Condition 8607 will apply whereby TSS visa holders who wish to change occupation (rather than employer) will be required to have a new nomination and visa approved.
Labour Market Testing (LMT) will be mandatory for all TSS visa applications unless international trade obligations apply. At least two advertisements must be posted (in English) for at least 21 calendar days not sooner than six months before submitting the visa application. Advertisements must contain the position title, job description, and salary (if below the high-income threshold).
This announcement and the earlier January 11 announcement by the DHA are beginning to outline the framework of the new TSS visa coming next month. However, Pro-Link GLOBAL anticipates additional details as we approach a firm implementation date and will continue to closely follow developments and report on the details as they are released. Companies with detailed case-specific questions and concerns are encouraged to reach out to their Immigration Specialists for guidance.
Immigration Changes from Around the World
CHINA | New Five-Year Visa and Residence Permit for Overseas Chinese
Effective immediately, China's Ministry of Public Security has introduced a new five-year multiple-entry visa and residence permit for individuals of Chinese descent living overseas. Previously, overseas ethnic Chinese were only able to obtain visas valid for a maximum of one year. The new longer duration visa aims to streamline the process for overseas Chinese “returning home” for regular business and cultural exchanges and for family visits. However, the ultimate aim of the new longer visa is to encourage the contribution to China’s economy of these skilled overseas Chinese. To qualify for this new visa option, applicants must have at least one parent, grandparent, or other ancestor who is or was a Chinese citizen. Proof of such citizenship will be required by Chinese ID cards or passports.
INDIA | New Visa E-Services at Four FRROs
India’s Bureau of Immigration (BOI) has launched a new online “e-Services” system for application and processing of visa related services at its Foreigner Regional Registration Offices in Bangaluru, Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai. Thus far, this new system is only being used in these select cities, but it is expected to be gradually introduced at additional FRROs and FROs throughout India in the coming weeks, eventually becoming the nation-wide standard.
Effective immediately, the online e-Services portal allows foreign residents in India to submit visa extension applications and residence registrations electronically to the designated FRROs. The new system has functionality of accepting payments and sending text messages and email alerts with status updates. Users of the system will no longer need to visit the FRRO for residential permits, with issued permit delivered electronically or by post.
Use of the new electronic system is currently optional until it becomes fully tested in use. Foreign residents may still continue to use the current manual process by visiting the FRROs in person. Those who wish to use the new online system will need to register for accounts online at the portal here.
ISRAEL | New Regulations for Hi-Tech Visa to Attract Foreign Technology Talent
Effective immediately, the Israeli Ministry of Interior has published new regulations relating to the employment of foreign experts in high-tech and cyber companies. The new "Hi-Tech" (HIT) Visa – applicable only to visa waiver nationals – will be valid for up to one year, with extensions up to 5 years and three months.
Eligible applicants – citizens of visa waiver countries employed by approved “Hi-Tech Companies” – may submit applications for work permits online. Processing times are purported to take just six business days, and entry into Israel will be permitted immediately upon approval of the work permit without need of a separate consular post filing. Reportedly the new regulations provide for a streamlined application with fewer requirements for supporting documentation by the applicant and employing company. The prevailing wage requirement remains set at double the average salary in Israel (currently NIS 19,604 per month).
Once successful work permit holders enter Israel, they must apply for and obtain B-1 Work Visas from the Ministry of Interior within two days of entry. Previous stays in Israel by the applicant will be reviewed by the Ministry of Interior at that time to determine full compliance with immigration law and regulations – checking for past overstays, illegal work, etc.
Companies wishing to employ foreign nationals through the new HIT Visa must first qualify as "Hi-Tech Companies" through the Israeli Innovation Authority. The Innovation Authority will review the company's registration data obtained from the Central Bureau of Statistics. Eligible companies must be registered in Israel; or (1) have received monetary funding, tax exemptions, or approval as a Research and Development (R&D) company for public listing on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in the last three years; (2) be involved in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, computers, electrical or optical components, aircraft or spaceships, be involved in computer programming, IT processing, or data storage, or be involved in R&D; (3) have spent more than 7% of its overall sales turnover on R&D in the previous calendar year; or (4) have at least 15% of its employees occupied in R&D.
Accompanying spouses of HIT Visa holders who are intending to work in Israel for more than 90 days are eligible for an Employment Authorisation for Spouse (EAS) B-1 Work Visa that will allow them to work for any employer in Israel, as long as the prevailing wage requirement is met. Qualifying Hi-Tech Companies may submit applications to the Ministry of interior for EASs for the accompanying spouse for the same duration as the employee’s HIT Visa.
This new visa stream, designed to support Israel’s growing tech industry, presents significant opportunity for companies in Israel to recruit much-needed foreign tech talent. For specifics on this opportunity and how best to take full advantage, companies are encouraged to reach out to their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists.
TAIWAN | New Foreign Recruitment Law Now in Effect
On February 8, the new Act Governing Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals came into effect in Taiwan. For more details, see our Immigration Dispatch of February 5.
Employment-Seeking Visas – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now issuing multiple-entry employment-seeking visas valid for three months for stays of up to six months to qualifying applicants. To qualify, applicants must be able to demonstrate:
- Employment experience, with an average monthly salary over the past six months of at least TWD 47,971 or graduation within the past year from one of the world's top 500 universities;
- Proof of sufficient funds of at least TWD 100,000 (approximately USD 3400); and
- Health insurance, a certificate of good conduct, and a specific plan for seeking employment.
Employment Gold Card – The National Immigration Agency has launched a new bilingual online platform for the Employment Gold Card application procedure. “Foreign special professionals” are now able to apply for a new “four-in-one” Employment Gold Card valid for between one and three years that incorporates a work visa that allows them to transition between jobs without legal restrictions, a resident visa, an Alien Resident Certificate, and a re-entry permit. Qualifying applicants can apply for the card on their own without the approval of their employer.
“Foreign special professionals” must possess special expertise required by Taiwan, in one of seven fields identified by the relevant governmental authorities: (1) science and technology, (2) economics, (3) education, (4) culture, (5) sports, (6) finance and legal, and (7) architectural design. Qualifying family members of Gold Card holders may obtain multiple-entry visitor visas valid for one year for stays of up to six months, extendable once for an additional six months.
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 China partner office “Lehman, Lee & Xu” and “FSG”, our PLG India partner offices “IKAN Relocations” and “LawQuest”, our PLG Israel partner office “Kan-Tor & Acco”, our PLG Taiwan partner office “Taiwan Immigration & Relocation”, Newland Chase, and Peregrine Immigration Management to provide you this update.
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