Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Colombia, India, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan.
INDIA | Electronic Business E-Visa Expanded to Allow All Business Activities
The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has recently made several changes to its Electronic Visa (e-Visa) program. The primary change benefitting business travellers is the expansion of permissible activities under the electronic business visa (e-BV) and the addition of more subcategories defining permissible business activities. The electronic business visa (e-BV) under the electronic visa (e-visa) scheme now permits all activities permissible under the traditional business visa available through the Indian consular posts.
The e-BV now also includes several new sub-categories:
- Crew of non-scheduled airlines operating chartered flights and special flights (B-5);
- Foreign academicians/experts covered under GIAN (B-6);
- Foreign nationals who are partners in the business and/or functioning as Directors of a company (B-7);
- Other miscellaneous categories who are eligible for a business visa and are not covered under any of the subcategories listed under a business visa (B-8); and
- Foreign nationals engaged in commercial sports events in India on contract and receiving a remuneration (including coaches) (B-Sports).
Note that holders of e-BV visas must still strictly adhere to and comply with the purpose of their visit declared at the time of submitting the visa application. However, some flexibility has been added so that all foreign nationals (other than Pakistani nationals) entering India on any visa type will now be permitted the activities allowed under a Tourist visa.
Generally, as part of the visa application procedure, applicants must choose the appropriate visa subcategory from a drop-down list in the application form. However, if the applicant's proposed activities are not clearly covered by one of the subcategories, or they are unsure of the appropriate subcategory, the applicant may apply under the broad category of "visa," and the visa officer will then determine the appropriate subcategory.
In an additional benefit now available to Persons of Indian Origin (PIO), PIO holders of short-term e-visas may now be able to convert their e-visas to other long-term visas in India. Previously, in-country conversions from e-visas were not permitted for any reason.
The increased use and flexibility of the Indian electronic business visas is welcomed news to frequent business travellers to India as the streamlined electronic visa process will now be available where previously they were required to go through Indian overseas consulates to obtain the traditional business visa for many activities. However, the lines between permissible work and business activities, and when a business visa or employment visa is required, still remain challenges for business/work travellers to India, and companies are encouraged to reach out to their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists well ahead of any planned business assignments in India.
Immigration Changes from Around the World
COLOMBIA | More Nations Added to Visa-Free Regime
Effective February 24, the Colombian government has authorised nationals of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Qatar, and Serbia to enter Colombia without a visa. Moreover, nationals of Nicaragua who hold a valid visa or residence status from a Schengen country, the United States or Canada, as well as those who are residents of the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region or the South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region, now also qualify for the visa-free regime.
Qualifying nationals of these countries arriving in Colombia will now receive a temporary visitor permit (Permiso de Ingreso y Permanencia, or "PIP") in the relevant category depending on the activities to be undertaken in Colombia. Examples include the PIP-7 for urgent technical work for up to 30 days and the PIP-6 which allows certain business activities for up to 90 days. They will then be able to apply post arrival for a visitor visa for intra-company transferees, temporary service providers or interns, or a migrant visa for employees or investors. The present action is similar to the previous move in September 2017 wherein citizens of South Africa and Montenegro were added to the visa-free regime.
INDONESIA | Recommendation Letters No Longer Required for Oil and Gas Work Permit Applications
Effective immediately, oil and gas companies that intend to hire foreign workers in Indonesia no longer require RPTKA letters (“Recommendation Letter to Apply for a Foreign Manpower Utilization Plan”) or IMTA letters (“Recommendation Letter to Apply for a Work Permit”) from the Directorate General of Oil and Gas ("Dirjen MIGAS") and can now apply for work permits directly through the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower. This change should significantly decrease processing times for work permits in the oil and gas sector.
Oil and gas companies and contractors intending to employ foreign workers for a period of more than six to twelve months ("Long-Term Work Permit") no longer need to follow the document requirements set forth in Regulation ESDM 31/2013. However, applicants must still meet the following requirements to successfully apply for Long-Term Work Permits: reference letters showing five-years work experience in the oil and gas sector, bachelor's degrees or higher, Indonesian Labor Companions (a local counterpart employee) for the transfer of knowledge and technology, and project contract/cooperation agreements.
The Dirjen MIGAS no longer has the authority to supervise foreign workers in oil and gas companies. The supervision of foreign workers going forward will be conducted by the Ministry of Manpower and the Immigration Office. Sub-contractor companies (both oil and gas and non-oil and gas) used by oil and gas companies can now operate in the oil and gas sector without approval or recommendation from the Dirjen MIGAS. For Partnership Contract Companies (K3S), it is not yet confirmed whether a recommendation from SKK MIGAS is required.
Companies with specific questions regarding the impact of these process changes on their operations should reach out to their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists.
KAZAKHSTAN | Late Notification of Arrival May Now Result in Fines for Host Companies
Effective January 9, changes to the code of administrative offences mean that host entities may now be fined for the late notification to authorities of sponsored foreign nationals’ entries into Kazakhstan. If host entities fail to notify the internal affairs body of any sponsored foreign national’s arrival within three business days a fine of KZT 24050 (USD 75) to KZT 48100 (USD 150) may be imposed, depending on the size of the entity. Previously, fines were applicable only in cases where host entities failed altogether to register foreign nationals upon their arrival, failed to obtain documents authorizing their stay, or failed to ensure they exit Kazakhstan when the allowed term of stay expired.
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 Colombia partner office “Brigard & Urrutia Abogados”, PLG India partner office “LawQuest”, our PLG Indonesia partner office “PNB Law Firm”, our PLG Kazakhstan partner office “Intermark Relocations”, Newland Chase, and Peregrine Immigration Management to provide you this update.
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