Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Canada, Iraq, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Russia, and Switzerland.
THE PHILIPPINES | DOLE Issues New Employment Permit Rules
As part of continued efforts to strengthen the integrity of their immigration system, the Filipino Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) has issued revised Alien Employment Permit (AEP) regulations, effective December 1. The amendments cover most aspects of the Employment Permit process, including required supporting documents, renewals, grounds for application denials, exclusions and exemptions from the regulations, and penalties for non-compliance.
The following additional documents are now required in support of an application for an AEP:
- Business Name Registration and Application Form with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), or Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Registration and General Information Sheet (GIS);
- Special Temporary Permit (STP) from the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) – if the position title of the foreign national is included in the list of regulated professions; and
- Authority to Employ Foreign National (ATEFN) from the Department of Justice (DOJ) or from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – if the employer is covered by the Anti-Dummy Law.
Several changes have been to the applications process for renewing an AEP, including:
- AEP renewal applications should be submitted not more than 60 days before expiry, unless the foreign national needs to leave the country or in other similar circumstances;
- Renewal of an expired AEP will be treated like a new application, subject to the payment of required fees and penalties;
- In the case of foreign national company officers whose appointment or election takes place before the expiration of their AEP, the application must be filed not later than fifteen working days after appointment, or before its expiration, whichever comes later; and
- In the case the appointment or election taking place after the expiration of the AEP, the application for renewal must be filed before the expiration of the AEP, which can be renewed for one year. Note that, within fifteen working days after the date of appointment or election, the foreign national shall submit the Board Secretary’s Certification to the issuing Regional Office. The Regional Director shall revoke the AEP after one month from its issuance if no certification is submitted.
Denial of AEP Applications
Two new grounds for denial of an AEP application have been added:
- Working without a valid AEP for more than one year; and
- Applying for AEP renewal with an expired visa or with a temporary visitor’s visa.
The following new penalties for non-compliance have been introduced. Please note that these penalties are in addition to the already-established penalties in existing regulations.
- Foreign nationals whose AEP applications have been denied on the grounds of grave misconduct in the treatment of workers or on the grounds of a criminal conviction are disqualified from reapplying within ten years; and
- Foreign nationals whose AEP applications have been denied due to a misrepresentation of facts are disqualified from reapplying within five years.
- Employers, representatives or agents acting on behalf of an applicant found to have submitted fraudulent AEP applications three times will be barred from submitting applications for a period of five years; and
- Employers failing to pay the PHP 10,000 penalty for employing a foreign national without an AEP will be disqualifies from employing any foreign national.
Exclusions and Exemptions
Finally, several amendments to the exclusions and exemptions from specific portions of the AEP regulations were introduced, including:
- “The Secretary” has been removed in the list of Corporate Officers who are “excluded” (exempted) from the requirement to secure an employment permit. Furthermore, the President and Treasurer must now be part-owners of the company to be granted the exclusion;
- The representative of the Foreign Principal or Employer assigned in the office of a POEA-licensed manning agency has been added to the list of categories of foreign nationals “excluded” (exempted) from securing an employment permit;
- Refugees are now added to the list of categories of foreign nationals “excluded” (exempted) from securing an employment permit; and
- A government fee of PHP 500 has been added for the processing and issuance of Certificate of Exclusion applications.
Immigration Changes from Around the World
CANADA | Changes Made to List of Designated Countries Requiring Immigration Medical Examination
Effective November 23, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has updated the list of "designated countries" whose residents require an immigration medical examination (IME) to apply for a temporary or permanent residence visa. IMEs are required for applicants coming to Canada for more than six months who have been residents of listed countries (including international students and foreign workers) for six months or more in the last year. Foreign nationals involved in certain fields such as health care, child care, or food preparation also need an IME for stays of under six months.
The regulation changes include residents of Singapore, Timor-Leste, and Tunisia being added to the list of IME-required countries and residents of Argentina, Bahrain, Belize, Colombia, Wallis and Futuna, Portugal, the Seychelles, Surinam, and Venezuela being removed from the IME-required list. The full list of countries whose residents are required to have IMEs can be found here. Designated countries are those identified as having a higher risk of medical concerns. The Canadian government has indicated that the next review of the designated countries list will occur in 2021, and every three years thereafter.
Applicants who already submitted an application before this change won’t be penalized if they followed the guidelines that existed at the time the application was received, but may be asked to undergo an IME.
Employers of temporary or permanent residence visa applicants who have resided in a designated country for six or more consecutive months in the last year should ensure the applicant undergoes the immigration medical exam and should allow several weeks for this procedure. Applicants who already submitted an application before this change won’t be penalized if they followed the guidelines that existed at the time the application was received, but may be asked to undergo an IME.
IRAQ | Stricter Monetary Fines Introduced for Late Visa Activation
The Iraqi federal government has imposed a stricter regime of fines for late in-country visa activation. Previously, the fine for failing to activate a visa within seven days of entry was a flat IQD 500,000 (approximately USD $417) per individual. Effective November 28, however, the grace period for visa activation was increased to 15 business days after the foreign national’s entry into Iraq. Failure to complete this activation will incur a monetary fine of IQD 100,000 (approximated USD $82) on the first day after the grace period and an additional IQD 10,000 (approximately USD $8) per day afterwards, to a maximum of IQD 5,000,000 (approximately USD $4350).
Visa activation is completed with the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MOI) and is required for multiple-entry visa holders. Once the foreign national presents their passport with the verified blood-work results (hepatitis B and C and HIV tests) to the MOI, he/she will be issued a Multi Exit-Entry Visa (“MEEV”) sticker. This sticker not only allows the holder to exit and re-enter Iraq as many times as necessary within the visa validity period, but is also required before the sponsoring employer can initiate the work permit application process.
THE NETHERLANDS | IND Publishes New Minimum Salary Levels for 2018
The Dutch Immigration Authorities (IND) have published their annual minimum salary level changes for Knowledge Migrant Workers (aka Highly Skilled Migrants) and Blue Card applicants coming to the Netherlands. Effective January 1, the following new minimum salary thresholds must be met for new applications for local hires, assignees (when outside the scope of the EU ICT Directive 2014/66/EU), or extension applications. Note that, in addition to the below minimum thresholds, salaries must also meet the market salary rate for the specific position.
- Knowledge Migrants (30-years-old and older): EUR €4404 (an increase from €4324);
- Knowledge Migrants (under 30-years-old): EUR €3229 (up from €3170);
- Persons who have graduated from a higher Dutch educational institution, or from an international educational institution listed in the top 200 of one of the ranking lists, taking up employment within three years after graduation: EUR €2314 (up from €2272);
- Blue Card Holders: EUR €5160 (up from €5066).
Note that the salary amounts listed above do not include the mandatory holiday allowance. Monthly payments must be made directly into the bank account of the foreign national. The onus is on the employer to prove that such payments have been made and meet monthly requirements. In addition, benefits and allowances may only be included if they are specified in the employment contract, fixed/guaranteed, and paid monthly in money (not in kind) and paid in gross (not net). Failure to comply with these rules may result in monetary fines.
RUSSIA | Amendment to Registration Rules Allows Business Travelers to Use Address of Invitation Organization
A decision of the Russian Constitutional Court has established that foreign business travelers registering their address in Russia can use the address of their inviting organization indicated in the visa, as long as they continue to participate in that organization’s activities at that address. Previously, only the foreign national’s actual residence address or their employer’s address (in the case of a foreign employee working in Russia) could be used for registration.
Note that local migration authorities may continue to contradict the Court’s decision until its impact is fully implemented. Thus, it is important to check with a particular local authority whether the registration at the address of an inviting company is acceptable in their practice.
SWITZERLAND | 2017 Quotas Exhausted for EU/EFTA Short-Term (L) and Long-Term (B) Permits
The 2017 quotas have been exhausted for Short-Term (L) permits and Long-Term (B) permits for assignees from European Union (EU)/European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) countries. For new, incoming EU/EFTA nationals who are assigned to Switzerland but remain on their foreign employment contracts, new permit quotas will only be available starting January 1, 2018. Note that permits not subject to quotas – such as the Local-Hire (B) permit, the 120-Day permit, and the Four-Month Short-Term permit – are not affected. Quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals are likewise not affected.
Individual cantonal procedures in dealing with this permit exhaustion vary:
- Aargau, Basel, Bern, Geneva, and Zug – Authorities will establish a preliminary decision which will allow assignees to start work, and the new quota will be issued on 1 January 2018;
- Neuchatel and Zurich – Authorities will grant permit approval for one or two months for the time being (if the applicant has not already used four months in the past 12 months);
- Ticino – Authorities will not issue any preliminary or temporary approvals, and any quota-based permits can only be applied for starting January 1, 2018; and
- Vaud – Authorities are referring to the online registration model, which can be used as a temporary solution until January 1, 2018 (if the applicant still has unused registration days left).
Quota exhaustions – especially for EU/EFTA nationals – continue to be a major complication in Swiss immigration since the drastic reduction in quotas in 2015. In response to these repeated shortages, the Swiss Federal Council recently confirmed that quota levels will be increased in 2018. For more details, see our previous alert of October 2.
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 Canada partner office Kranc Associates, our PLG Iraq partner office New Frontiers International, our PLG Netherlands partner office Expat Management Group, our PLG Philippines partner office Follosco, Morallows & Herce, our KGNM Russia partner office Intermark Relocation, our KGNM Russia partner office Sgier und Partner, Newland Chase, and Peregrine Immigration Management to provide you this update.
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