Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Iraq, Ghana, Iraq, Nigeria, Poland, and Russia.
POLAND | Stricter Rules and Requirements for Work Permits for Some Foreign Nationals
Effective January 1, a number of significant changes to immigration regulations were implemented in Poland. The changes apply to registration of foreign nationals, work permit exemptions for certain nationalities, and various changes to application document requirements. Authorities indicate that an additional round of changes is also now slated for later in February.
Corporate Proxies and General Partners – The requirement of obtaining a Type B work permits for stays of 6 to 12 months has been extended to include companies' non-EEA national corporate proxies and general partners in addition to the management board members as previously required.
Stricter Supporting Document Requirements – For new work permit applications, employers must now present documents confirming that the applicant foreign nationals meet all the requirements indicated in the labour market search/workforce demand stage. This includes reference letters, diplomas, and certificates in original or certified copy with sworn translations into Polish if necessary. Applications must also now be accompanied by a signed declaration that the employer (whether a Polish entity or a foreign entity) and/or its authorized representative has never been convicted of crimes involving employment, forgery, or human trafficking.
New Grounds for Refusal – New grounds for refusal of a work permit have been established: including (1) failure to prove the applicant's qualifications; (2) failure to prove the employer's financial means; (3) the employer’s non-compliance with tax, social security, health insurance, or labour fund and guaranteed employee benefits fund obligations; (4) the employer being liquidated or struck off any corporate register; and (5) anyone working on behalf of the employer being convicted of certain criminal acts.
Work Permit Expiry – Current work permits will be deemed to expire on the date on which the holder is granted a long-term EU residence permit, a permanent residence permit, or a subsequent temporary residence and work permit in connection with the same position with the employer.
Seasonal Work Permits – A new 9-month seasonal work permit (Type S) has been introduced for non-EEA nationals working in agriculture, forestry, hunting, fishing, hospitality, and food services. Seasonal workers under the new permit will not be restricted to a specific position, meaning they will be able to work in any position in the applicable industries.
Nationals of Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine – New, more-restrictive “special permissions” rules have been introduced for employers registering a declaration that they intend to employ a national of Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, or Ukraine for six months in a calendar year. Under the rules, nationals of these countries are eligible to apply for work permit exemptions.
Pro-Link GLOBAL continues to follow these changes and watch for the next round of changes to the employment-based immigration processes in Poland. For an assessment of the impact of these changes on current or future assignments in Poland, companies are encouraged to reach out to their Immigration Specialists.
Immigration Changes from Around the World
GHANA | Recent Announcement Requires Medical Certificates to Be Obtained In-Country
The Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) recently posted a brief announcement of a new policy – purportedly with an effective date of February 15 – requiring all new applicants for work and residence permits to obtain medical certificates only through the GIS medical facility at its headquarters in Ghana. Previously, medical certificates in support of a work permit applications could be issued by a local doctor in the applicant's home country.
The practical implication of the announcement and new policy is somewhat unclear, as work permit applications are typically made before the applicant travels to Ghana. If this new policy is implemented, it will have significant impact for the work permit application process. Immigration Specialists in Ghana are struggling to sort-out the new policy; however, thus far, the GIS has released no further guidance.
IRAQ | Major Changes to Rules on Single-Entry and Multiple-Entry Visas, Exit Visas, and Mobility of Employees With Expired Visas
Iraq continues to refine its employment-based immigration system. On February 8, the Ministry of interior (MOI) issued a notification making several fairly significant changes that impact companies employing foreign nationals in the country.
SEV to MEV Conversion No Longer Permitted In-Country – Effective immediately, the MOI is no longer accepting in-country applications to convert Single Entry Visas (SEVs) to Multiple-Entry Visas (MEVs). SEV visa holders must now exit Iraq and re-enter with their MEV Letter of Approval (LOA) for activation of an MEV. This is significant because personnel who entered with 30-day SEVs must now either coordinate to exit Iraq within the 30-day visa validity period and re-enter Iraq once they have their MEV LOAs, or potentially overstay the 30-day SEV, request an exit visa at the airport (paying the overstay penalty), and then exit and re-enter Iraq with the MEV LOA. The MOI Airport Offices will no longer activate LOAs for expats flying in with an LOA obtained in Erbil or other locations within Iraq. LOAs may only be activated when arriving in Iraq from outside the country.
Movement Restricted for Holders of Expired SEVs and MEVs – Holders of expired SEV and MEV stickers are prohibited from traveling from one job site to another within Iraq through a commercial airport – even if they have an active LOA letter and are awaiting a new visa. In order to travel within the country, they must first obtain an exit visa, pay the overstay penalty, and exit and re-enter Iraq with a new LOA, as discussed above.
Back to Old Exit Visa Process at Airports – The Exit Visa procedure for overstaying foreign nationals has now reverted back to the old process of paying the flat fee penalty of IQD 500,000 and presenting a signed and stamped Exit letter request from the employer at the airport. Note that this a reversal of the policy announced in December where Exit Visas were required to be obtained from the MOI Residency and Immigration Office. For more details, see our Immigration Dispatch of December 18.
New Monthly Demobilized Personnel Report Requirement – Effective March 2018, all companies will be required to provide the MOI with a list of all demobilized personnel each month, so that the MOI can notify the airport immigration officers. This will require employers to prepare monthly reports listing all foreign personnel who are no longer working with the employer. Iraqi law requires cancellation of all visas of personnel who leave Iraq and/or leave the employment of their Iraqi visa sponsor.
Given the above changes, companies in Iraq should review their procedures and record keeping for their foreign employees. Companies should note their employee’s visa expiry dates and make arrangements for brief exit/re-entry flights once they have received their new MEV visa LOA letter, either within the validity of their current visa or prepare to pay overstay penalties to later exit and re-enter Iraq once they have their LOAs. Further, companies should plan around and limit in-country movements for their personnel who have expired SEVs and MEVs, even if they have received their LOAs. HR managers are encouraged to maintain a chart listing the names, passport numbers, visa numbers, and dates of visa expiry of the personnel who have left employment each month, in order to provide this information to the MOI Immigration Office at the beginning of each starting in March.
NIGERIA | New Executive Order Imposes Tougher Local Hiring Measures
On February 2, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari signed an executive order (EO5) aimed at promoting local Nigerian expertise in science, engineering, and technology. EO5 prohibits the federal Ministry of Interior (FMI) from issuing visas to foreign workers whose skills are deemed to be readily available in Nigeria. Consideration of work visas will only be given to foreign nationals where has been certified by the appropriate governmental authority that such expertise is not available in Nigeria. Under the order, Nigerian government agencies must also give hiring preference to foreign companies and firms with demonstrable and verifiable plans for indigenous development.
While further guidelines and directives on the implementation of EO5 are expected from the authorities, the executive order is expected to have significant impact on the employment-based immigration of foreign nationals, especially in fields of science, engineering, and technology. Companies hiring foreign workers should expect more rigorous scrutiny of applications for expatriate quotas and the stricter application of requirements such as the understudies requirement, registration with professional bodies, and more onsite visits and audits by Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
RUSSIA | New Rules Bring Administrative Changes to Work Permits Application Process
Effective February 4, new regulations on issuing work permits have brought some administrative changes to the work permit process. For the purpose of obtaining work permits, including permits for Highly-Qualified Specialists (HQS), application forms must be signed by the chief executive, head of branch or representative office, or other persons who have the authority to sign documents for the company without a Power of Attorney. Additionally, fees for renewal and corrections are expected to be charged in the coming weeks, processing times for standard (non-HQS) work permits have increased to 15 business days, and documents issued by authorities containing pencil-written notes may cause applications to be refused.
Applicants’ passports must now be valid for at least eighteen months from date of application, rather than the previous twelve-months standard. However, since applications for letters of invitation already require the passport to be valid for eighteen months, the impact of this change is minimal.
Finally, specifications for photographs for HQS work permit applications have changed. Photos must now have the employee’s up-to-date appearance, aspect ratios of 35 x 45 mm, head heights of 32 to 36 mm, head widths of 18 to 25 mm, uniform illumination, no "red-eye" effect, and single-coloured light (but not white) backgrounds (preferably grey or light-blue), and may not be retouched.
While these changes are individually relatively minor, companies are advised to take note in order to avoid delays in their foreign employees’ work permit process. For specific questions on these new rules, companies are encouraged to reach out to their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists.
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 Ghana partner office “Globetrotter Legal Services”, our PLG Iraq partner office “New Frontiers Business Consulting”, our PLG Nigeria partner office “Farmsville Solicitors”, our PLG Poland partner office “Lege Artis”, our PLG Russia partner office “Intermark Relocation”, Newland Chase, and Peregrine Immigration Management to provide you this update.
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