Immigration Alerts

Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Dispatch | August 29 – September 11, 2017

September 11, 2017

Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Cyprus, Panama, Singapore, Switzerland, and Tanzania.

Switzerland L-Permit B-Permit Quota Exhaustion

SWITZERLAND | Third Quarter Quota of L and B Permits for EU/EFTA Nationals Exhausted
With still one month left in the quarter, the third quarter (Q3) quota of Swiss Short-Term (L) and Long-Term (B) work permits allocated for European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Area (EFTA) nationals has been exhausted. EU/EFTA nationals who have been assigned for work in Switzerland but remain on foreign employment contracts cannot be issued new L or B Permits until the fourth quarter (Q4) quota opens on October 1. As with quota shortages in the past, individual cantons vary in their responses and interim measures available to EU/EFTA nationals now starting work in September.

Note that this quota exhaustion does not impact non-EU/EFTA nationals applying for L and B Permits, who have separate quotas, or applicants seeking other permits not subject to quotas, such as the 120-Day Permit and Short Term (4 month) Permit. Nor does this in any way affect renewals of existing L or B Permits.

Pro-Link GLOBAL is aware of the following interim measures in the following cantons addressing this quarter’s L and B Permit quota exhaustion for EU/EFTA nationals:

  • Zurich – Interim permit approval is being granted for up to one month, if the applicant has not already used four months in the past 12-months. Starting mid-September, those applicants who were granted the interim approval may request a permit from the Q4 quota that will begin upon expiry of the interim period;
  • Bern – No interim measures have been implemented. EU/EFTA national applicants for L and B Permits must wait for the Q4 quota to open in order to proceed;
  • Basel – Preliminary decisions are being issued on Q3 applications which allow applicants to work until their L and B Permits are issued from the Q4 quota after October 1;
  • Ticino – No interim measures have been implemented. EU/EFTA national applicants for L and B Permits must wait for the Q4 quota to open in order to proceed;
  • Vaud – Applicants are being referred to the online registration model and are being permitted to work temporarily if they have registration days remaining; and
  • Geneva – Preliminary decisions are being made on Q3 applications which allow applicants to work until their L and B Permits are issued from the Q4 quota after October 1.

For the status in other cantons, please reach out to your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist. We are continuing to investigate the interim procedures in the other cantons.

The supply of Short-Term (L) Permits and Long-Term (B) Permits will continue to be a concern for companies assigning EU/EFTA employees to work in Switzerland, and the interim measures to deal with the Q3 exhaustion will only transfer the short-fall to Q4, when a similar exhaustion is likely. While the Swiss Federal Council made a moderate increase in the L and B Permit quota for non-EU/EFTA nationals in 2017, it chose to hold the 2017 EU/EFTA quota at the same 2016 levels. Quarterly quota exhaustions have been a perennial problem in Switzerland since the Council dramatically reduced quota levels in 2015. For more details, see our recent Immigration Dispatches of September 6 and October 25.

Immigration Changes from Around the World

CYPRUS | Posted Worker Requirements Amended
Effective immediately, Cyprus has adopted the European Union Posted Worker Enforcement Directive (2014/67/EU). While Cyprus has had posted worker requirements in place since 2002, Law No. 63(1)/2017 now amends the requirements under its Framework of Provision of Services Law to bring them into line with the EU Directive.

With this amendment of the requirements, companies posting workers to Cyprus for temporary assignments should take note that the notification of posting provided to the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance (MOL) prior to the start of the assignment must contain:

  • Name, address, and legal form of the sending company;
  • Name and address of the designated legal representative of the sending company in Cyprus responsible for the notification and any correspondence with the MOL regarding the posting;
  • Name, address, and legal form of the host company;
  • Address of the worksite(s) where the posted worker will perform their activities;
  • Name and address of any entity(ies) to whom the posted worker will provide services;
  • Dates of commencement and completion of the assignment;
  • Description of the work to be performed;
  • Identity details of the posted worker, i.e. name, address, passport details, and job title; and
  • List of all employees of the sending company currently posted in Cyprus.

In addition, the company has an ongoing duty to submit an additional notification to the MOL updating the above information within 15-days of any item changes during the posting. In addition, the MOL is now expressly given authority to request additional information from the company, including proof of social security coverage, employment contracts, service contracts, and valid work authorization.

At present, all of the EU member nations now have similar posted worker rules in place governing working conditions, notification, and document retention requirements for companies either sending or hosting foreign employees. However, local variations remain in how countries have chosen to implement these requirements based on their national law and governmental structures. Therefore, companies posting foreign employees throughout the EU should reach out to their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists for instructions on how to comply with these requirements if ever in doubt regarding a posting in a particular country.    

PANAMA | Visa-Free Entry Revoked for Venezuelan Citizens
Due to recent internal conflicts in nearby Venezuela and the resulting influx of refugees, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela has announced that his government is revoking visa-free entry and imposing visa requirements on most Venezuelan citizens traveling to Panama starting October 1. Reportedly, Venezuelan citizens who hold multiple-entry visas for the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, or Australia valid for at least one-year from the date of entry into Panama will be exempt from the new visa requirement. All other Venezuelan citizens will be required to obtain visas through the Panamanian counselor posts.

Additionally, some Latin American media outlets are now reporting that the Venezuelan government has responded in kind with a reciprocal measure to suspend visa-free entry for Panamanian citizens into Venezuela as well. However, given the current unrest inside Venezuela, Pro-Link GLOBAL has been unable to confirm this as of this writing.

The move by Panama was prompted by security concerns in the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela that has seen massive violent protests in attempts to unseat the authoritarian regime of President Nicholas Maduro. Reports of human rights abuses in the crack-down against the opposition and fears that the government is devolving into dictatorship have prompted numerous nations, including the U.S., to impose sanctions against the Maduro government in recent weeks. Numerous nations already have travel warnings in place advising their citizens against travel to Venezuela.

As this situation is extremely fluid, we are advising all Venezuelan citizens traveling to Panama, and all others anticipating the need to travel to Venezuela, to reach out to their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists to obtain the latest entry requirements and guidance before travel.

SINGAPORE | New “Smart” Work Pass Cards Coming
Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is introducing a new “smart” Work Pass (WP) Card. The new card will come with a quick response (QR) code linked to the holder’s WP details (such as occupation, validity and expiration dates) and a free mobile application called “SGWorkPass” enabling holders and employers to check the current status of work passes using their smartphones. WP Card holders without smartphones will continue to be able to use the existing online MOM eServices such as Work Pass Online, Employment Pass Online, and Check Work Pass Status. Once fully implemented, the new card system should enhance security of card holder’s personal information, as well as make access more convenient and reliable for both holders and employers.

Implementation of the new WP Card is slated to be rolled out in phases based on permit type and industry sector. The process will begin September 15, with complete implementation for all passes and permits by March 2018. The phase-in of the new card system does not impact current card holders. All existing WP cards already issued will remain valid and holders will receive instructions to obtain the new form card at the time they renew their current Work Pass.

Already arguably the world’s most technologically enhanced immigration system, the changes are part of the Singaporean government’s overall push to become the world’s first “smart nation”: where technology is merged into virtually every aspect of public life. The ultimate goal is to develop the country’s technology infrastructure to more efficiently deliver and administer government services, transportation, and health care using the latest technology. 

TANZANIA | New Company Documents Required for Residence Permit Applications
The Tanzanian Immigration Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs has recently imposed significant additional company document requirements on foreign employees applying for residence permits. Applicants for Class A and B residence permits should take note that the Immigration Department is now requiring the following corporate documents from their sponsoring employers:

  • Letter stating the current status of shareholders from the Registrar of Companies of the Business Registration and Licensing Authority (BRELA), including immigration status if shareholder is a foreign national;
  • Tax Clearance Certificate from the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA); and
  • Certified copies of the employer’s tax payment slips from the TRA.

Sponsoring companies should take note that these new documents should be obtained early in their foreign employees’ immigration processes in order to avoid delays in obtaining their residence permits once the work permit is issued by the Ministry of Labor.

While still one of the world’s poorest countries in terms of per capita income, Tanzania’s economy has grown at an impressive average of 6+ percent over the last five years, making it one of Africa’s five fastest growing economies. However, much of that growth is still being propped-up by some ongoing government investment in infrastructure construction projects, and foreign investors are still leery of the frequent government policy changes of President John Magufuli’s administration. 

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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 | KGNM Cyprus Office “Tassos Papadopoulos & Associates LLC”, our PLG | KGNM Switzerland Office “Sgier und Partner GmbH”, our PLG | KGNM Tanzania Office “Ishengoma, Karume, Masha & Magai Advocates”, and “Peregrine Immigration Management” to provide you this update.

Information contained in this Global Immigration Dispatch is prepared using information obtained from various media outlets, government publications and our KGNM immigration professionals. Written permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders must be obtained for any reuse of any content posted or published by Pro-Link GLOBAL that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Knowledge Management Department (km@pro-linkglobal.com) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.