Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Argentina, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Singapore, and Turkey.
SINGAPORE | Upcoming Changes to Requirements for Employment Pass and S Pass Applications
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has announced upcoming changes to its foreign workforce policy, including expanding the Fair Consideration Framework for Employment Pass (EP) applications to include more companies and positions in the job advertising requirement and increasing the minimum salary requirement for S Pass holders.
Employment Pass Job Advertising – Effective July 1, when submitting applications for Employment Passes (EP), all jobs must be advertised where the company has 10 or more employees and the position pays a fixed monthly salary of less than SGD 15,000. This is decrease in the current applicable company size of 25 or more employees and a decrease in the applicable current minimum income threshold of SGD 12,000.
S Pass Salary Criteria – The minimum salary that must be paid to S Pass holders will be increased from SGD 2200 to SGD 2400 in two steps. On January 1, 2019, the minimum salary will increase from the current SGD 2200 to SGD 2300, and then on January 1, 2020, it will increase again to SGD 2400.
To transition to the new salary thresholds, current S Pass holders whose passes expire before January 1, 2019 will be allowed to renew based on the current SGD 2200 threshold. Current S Pass holders renewing between January 1, 2019 and June 30, 2019 will be allowed to renew based on the current SGD 2200 threshold, but only for a duration of up to one year. All others whose S Passes expire after July 1, 2019 will have to meet the new SGD 2300 threshold. A similar transition period will also apply for the transition to the minimum salary increase taking place in 2020.
Companies employing foreign nationals using the S Pass scheme should take note of these new requirements for job advertising and minimum salaries. Companies with questions regarding meeting the new criteria for either new S Pass or renewal applications are invited to reach out to their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists for detailed guidance.
Immigration Changes from Around the World
ARGENTINA | Express Appointments System for Residence Applicants Suspended
Effective immediately, Argentina's National Immigration Office (DNM) has suspended the system of express appointments in the applications process for temporary residence cards or conversions to permanent residence status. This primarily affects foreign nationals in Argentina from Mercosur countries applying for Temporary Residence or Special Transitory Visas (24H). Mercosur nationals should now be prepared for significant processing delays, in many cases only being able to schedule regular appointments several months from the date of request.
On the other hand, non-Mercosur nationals may still be able to obtain regular appointments within a few days. With that said, given this unexpected development, all foreign nationals in Argentina are encouraged to reach out to their Immigration Specialists to determine what impact this suspension of the express appointments may have on their residence processing.
IRELAND | INIS Clarifies Letters of Approval for Atypical Worker Scheme Must Be Used Within 90 Days
Effective immediately, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) has clarified an existing rule for the Atypical Worker Scheme requiring that letters of approval issued for entry clearance be used within 90 days of issuance. Unused letters of approval become invalid after the 90 days.
This rule and the Atypical Worker Scheme applies to non-EEA nationals contracted to undertake short-term work (15-90 days) for an Irish company. Visa-required nationals are particularly affected by the rule as they can only apply for an entry visa to Ireland once the letter of approval is issued and must ensure that they obtain their entry visa within the 90 days.
ISRAEL | New Long-Term Multiple-Entry Business Visa for Indian Nationals
Effective immediately, the Israeli Ministry of Interior will issue a multiple-entry B-2 Visitor Visa for qualifying Indian business travelers valid for up to five years for stays of up to 90 days at a time. Previously, B-2 Visitor Visas for Indian nationals were valid only for a single entry for stays of a maximum of 30 days.
To qualify, the sponsoring company must be active and duly registered in the Indian Company Registry for at least six months prior to the filing of the B-2 Visa application. Business activity permitted on the B-2 Visa includes "participating in business meetings, engaging in negotiations, investing in Israel, buying or selling Israeli companies, participating in conferences, and conducting market research". The B-2 Visa does not permit productive work activities: including, but not limited to, supply of products, provision of services, and general work or serving as a company's permanent representative in Israel.
Currently, there are three Israeli Consulates in India which can process the visa: New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Applications can be submitted at any of these consulates, but applicants should contact the consulate directly for requirements, as each is at its discretion to set the application requirements and procedures. Purportedly, emphasis will be placed upon the individual's prior stays in Israel as well as the type of business, international presence, and overall reputation of the sponsoring organization.
ITALY | Scope of Permissible Activities Narrowed for Business Visas
Effective immediately, Italian consulates will be more strictly assessing business visa applications, particularly when defining the permissible business activities under Visa Decree 850/2011. Specifically, consular officers will be more narrowly construing the scope of the expressed enumerated activities in the Decree: namely, “to make contacts or conduct negotiations” or “for learning and verifying the use and functioning of capital goods purchased or sold under commercial and industrial cooperation agreements.”
Previously, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) took a more relaxed approach to approving business visas and determining the scope of permissible activities. The MFA has confirmed that other activities may still be regarded as “business” and thus permissible, but will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Going forward, business visa applicants are advised to adhere as close as possible to the official definition of business activity set out above. In those cases where planned activities may not fall into the clear scope of the Decree, companies are advised to consult with their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists for a detailed pre-assessment of whether an Italian business visa is an available option.
TURKEY | Delays Possible Due to New Work Permit System
Effective February 26, the Ministry of Labour (MOL) requires work permit applications to be submitted using the sponsoring company's account via the recently-introduced KEP (kayitli electronik posta) system. However, as of February 27, the new MOL work permit application system incorporating KEP was not fully operational.
The KEP system, introduced by the Telecommunications Authority, is designed to receive and send official communications with the various Turkish government ministries. Under the system, a secure electronic signature linked to a qualified electronic certificate must be used to sign government application forms. Thus, signatures of representatives of companies are no longer accepted on MOL work permit applications.
Early attempts to enter new work permit applications through the system have proven difficult and/or ineffective, causing confusion among companies and immigration agents who had been directed to immediately begin using the new system. The MOL is aware of the problem and is purportedly working on a remedy. MOL officials have indicated that temporary provisions are likely to be announced soon to reactivate and use the old applications system until the technical challenges with the new system can be remedied.
In order to use the new work permit system, companies must obtain a qualified electronic certificate from an authorised provider, and establish a KEP user account. While technical glitches continue to occur, it is recommended that companies begin now to attempt to establish their KEP account and qualified electronic certificate to avoid potential delays in their work permit applications in the future. Even with the ongoing technical challenges, many companies have been successfully registering for KEP using the following procedure:
- Purchase a KEP account via a registered provider;
- Log into the KEP portal using the login credentials and designate a specific individual within the company to act as primary contact;
- The primary contact will then receive an activation memory stick containing an “electronic notification tool” from the Telecommunications Authority which must be loaded into the company’s computer system;
- Work permit applications may then be entered into the new KEP system and the company’s immigration agents may be authorized to act on behalf of the company; and
- If the registration and activation has been successful, the company should begin receiving notifications from the various government ministries.
Companies with questions about this new procedure should reach out to their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists for assistance and the latest guidance.
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 Argentina partner offices “CSM” and “Celano & Asociados”, our IPLG Ireland partner office “Corporate Care”, our PLG Israel partner office “Kan-Tor & Acco”, our PLG Italy partner office “Mazzeschi”, our PLG Turkey partner offices “Bener Law Office”, “Yalcin & Toygar Law Office”, and “Specialist Relocation”, Newland Chase, and Peregrine Immigration Management to provide you this update.
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