Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Austria, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom.
AUSTRIA | European Union Intra-Company Transfer Directive Adopted
Slated for implementation October 1, Austria is the latest European Union member nation to adopt the EU’s Intra-Corporate Transfer (ICT) Directive (2014/66/EU). The EU-standard ICT Permit will replace the current “rotational employees” scheme through which ICT assignments have traditionally been processed in Austria. The new ICT Permit will provide work authorization for non-EU/European Economic Area (EEA) nationals remaining on foreign employment contracts for assignments both in Austria and in other EU nations recognizing the EU ICT Permit.
The details of the Austrian version of the EU ICT Permit follow the general framework set forth in the EU Directive. Senior managers and specialists will be eligible for the combined work/residence permits with a validity of up to three-years, while trainees with university degrees will be eligible for validity periods of up to one-year, after which time there is a four-month “cooling-off” period before a new ICT Permit application may be filed. Eligible assignments must transfer the employee between a sending and host company belonging to the same corporate group. In addition, the foreign employee must have worked for his/her sending company at least 9 months (6 months for trainees).
Holders of Austrian-issued EU ICT Permits are then permitted to work temporarily in other recognizing EU nations for up to 90-days without additional work authorization or for more than 90-days with in-country registration. Reciprocally, Austria will also recognize EU ICT Permits issued by other EU member nations for up to 90-days, and over 90-days with registration. Also under the EU ICT framework, the holder’s dependent family members are eligible to accompany them on these so-called “derivative permits.”
While all EU members were to have the Directive adopted into their national laws by October 2016, there has been a flurry of legislative activity on the Directive over the past several months to finally make the EU-wide scheme a reality. To date, nineteen of the EU-27 nations either have implemented, or enacted the Directive with actual implementation underway, with the exception of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, and Sweden. Croatia’s recent ICT Permit implementation is covered in this issue of the Immigration Dispatch below. Greece’s legislation is currently in process, and adoption is expected this autumn. While Belgium has yet to formally adopt the Directive, the Belgium Foreigner’s Office recently confirmed that it is recognizing EU ICT Permits issued by other member nations for the purposes of short-term assignments in the country.
Pro-Link GLOBAL has eagerly followed the ICT Permit implementation activity throughout the EU starting with our original white paper “EU ICT Permit: Potential Game Changer for EU Mobility”, accessible here. Our frequent reports on the country specific measures can be found in the Immigration Alerts section on our website here. For a more-detailed, interactive discussion of the EU Intra-Corporate Transfer Permit scheme, the latest country implementation status, and tips for multinational companies operating in Europe, watch for our upcoming free webinar. Advanced notice of all of all of our educational events is available by signing-up for our weekly eNewsletter here.
Immigration Changes from Around the World
CAMBODIA | Work Permits to be Required for Long-Term Business Visa Renewals
While we continue to await an official announcement, Pro-Link GLOBAL nevertheless is cautioning clients of an ongoing tightening of employment-based immigration rules in Cambodia. As such, foreign nationals – either traveling to or already in-country – who wish to work long-term in Cambodia are advised to plan on applying for and obtaining proper work permits through the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.
Through local media and conversations with in-country authorities, Pro-Link GLOBAL has learned that the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Interior will begin to require business e-visas holders seeking long-term extensions (both 6-months and 12-months) to obtain work permits. Scheduled to begin this month, this latest development appears part of an overall crackdown on Cambodian immigration abuses, including the misuse of the business e-visa by foreign nationals performing work activity in the country. This follows an August 21 decree in which the Cambodian government announced heightened measures to prevent “illegal and irregularly issued” immigration and work authorization documents.
In most countries, business visas only allow certain permissible activities and are limited in length of stay (normally less than 90-days). However, the Cambodian business e-visa, typically valid for 30-days, is renewable indefinitely in-country, and a relatively relaxed renewal process in the past placed little emphasis on the types of activity being performed by the holder. This has led some foreign companies and freelancers to skip the usual costs and formalities of the work permit process and simply to renew their business visas continually without obtaining work authorization.
However, given this impending official announcement requiring work permits, and the overall trend toward limiting work activities for business visa holders, Pro-Link GLOBAL advises long-term business e-visa holders to apply for work authorization before seeking future long-term e-visa extensions. Further, companies employing foreign nationals in Cambodia should expect closer scrutiny of all applications for business visas and work permits going forward. For case-specific guidance, companies are encouraged to reach out to their Immigration Specialists, as the current situation is clearly in a state of flux.
The initial reports of the present measure appeared in social media on the Overseas Press Club and various local tour operators’ Facebook pages on August 25, followed by an article in The Cambodia Daily newspaper that same day. Historically critical of the government, the newspaper denounced the move’s negative impact on foreign small business, freelancers, and lower-paid transitory workers. The Cambodian Daily was then permanently shut-down by the Cambodian government on September 5, citing a USD $6 million unpaid tax debt. The dispute with the Daily is part of a continual conflict between the government and local media, which has recently escalated into action against the press and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the country. On September 11, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council issued a statement condemning the government’s actions in closing the Daily.
COSTA RICA | Changes to Temporary Residence Application Process
The Costa Rican Immigration and Migration Directorate (Dirección de Migración y Extranjeria) continues to refine its residence registration process. Effective August 16, foreign nationals applying for temporary residence must now register with their home country’s consulate in Costa Rica and complete fingerprinting at the Public Security office before submitting their temporary residence application to the Directorate. This presumably also applies to those submitting their applications through the new streamlined email submission process we reported on in our Immigration Dispatch of May 30. Previously, applicants often completed their consular registration and fingerprinting after obtaining their temporary residence approval.
In a related change, all foreign nationals – including spouses and children over age 18 – must now register for Costa Rican social security following approval of the temporary residence application, and prior to registering for their identity cards. Previously, authorities permitted spouses and dependents to apply for their identification cards by submitting the principal applicant’s social security registration.
CROATIA | EU Directives on Intra-Company Transfers, Posted Workers, and Seasonal Workers Adopted
On June 30, the Croatian Parliament enacted extensive amendments to its Foreigners Act (Official Gazette Nos. 130/13 and 69/17) that detailed and clarified numerous aspects of the country’s work and residence permit framework. Included in the amendments were the adoption of the European Union (EU) Directives on Intra-Corporate Transfers, Posted Workers, and Seasonal Workers.
Intra-Corporate Transfers – Like Austria (discussed above), with the adoption of the EU’s Intra-Corporate Transfer (ICT) Directive (2014/66/EU) Croatia now offers an EU ICT Permit to managers and specialists for a validity of up to three-years and to trainees for validity periods of up to one-year. However, the Croatian rules require a six-month “cooling-off” period before a new ICT Permit application may be filed. Holders of Croatian-issued EU ICT Permits are then permitted to work temporarily in other recognizing EU nations for up to 90-days without additional work authorization or for more than 90-days with an in-country registration. Reciprocally, Croatia will now recognize EU ICT Permits issued by other EU member nations for up to 90-days, and over 90-days with registration.
However, unlike Austria, the Croatian legislation purportedly contains an option allowing immigration authorities to impose an annual quota to the number of EU ICT Permits issued. Pro-Link GLOBAL continues to monitor this unusual aspect of the legislation and to seek additional clarification on the details of other requirements of the new ICT Permit as implemented in Croatia.
Posted Workers – By the same legislation, Croatia has now adopted the EU Posted Workers Enforcement Directive (2014/67/EU). Companies posting foreign employees for assignments in Croatia are required to submit a notification of the posting to the Croatian Ministry of Labour and Pension System (MOL) before the start of their assignments and within three-days of any assignment changes which alter the information submitted previously. The notification to the MOL must include the details of the posted worker, details regarding the assignment and work location, contact details of a designated representative in Croatia responsible for corresponding with the MOL regarding the posting, and the location where records of the posting will be maintained. Companies must maintain records of the posting (including employment contracts, permits, pay slips, and timesheets) for five years following the assignment. For details or assistance in completing the required posted worker notification, companies are encouraged to reach out to their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists.
Seasonal Workers – Additionally, the adoption of the EU Seasonal Workers Directive (2014/36/EU) now clarifies the Croatian rules regarding non-EU foreign nationals engaged in seasonal work in the country. The changes detail the definition of “seasonal worker,” the duration of work and residence permits, pre-conditions, and labor law protections in line with the rules in place in most other EU nations.
With its beautiful Adriatic coastline, Croatia remains a top travel destination, with reportedly more than 20 percent of both its GDP and domestic employment stemming from tourism. However, the overall economic picture – while improving – is still less than beautiful. Croatia finally broke six consecutive years of economic recession when it posted 3 percent GDP growth in 2016 and appears on track for similar results this year. Unemployment is down to 10 percent from the recent high of 23 percent; but more than 60 percent of workers remain in low-pay service sector jobs. Significant fiscal and economic reforms are still needed for any significant prolonged growth. However, one bright spot appears to be a small but growing IT sector that has expanded by an annual 6 to 10 percent over the last several years.
INDONESIA | Additional Eleven Nations Now Eligible for Consular Visa Processing
Effective August 25, the Indonesian Ministry of Law and Human Rights has revised its “Calling Visa List” of countries whose citizens are ineligible for consular processing of visas to Indonesia, instead being required to process their visas through in-country authorities in Jakarta. The revision removes eleven countries from the list; but adds three countries, whose citizens now require “special request processing” of visa applications through the central government in Jakarta.
The countries removed from the list include: Albania, Angola, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Togo. Their citizens can now apply for visas to Indonesia directly through the Indonesian consular posts and visa processing centers in their countries. Added to the list are Guinea, Liberia, and Niger. This reduces the number of nations whose citizens are ineligible to apply for visas through the Indonesian consular posts to just nine: Afghanistan, Cameroon, Guinea, Israel, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, and Somalia.
Companies and their employees from the countries recently removed from the “Calling Visa List” should now expect substantially easier and faster processing of visas and permits for Indonesia. This should now present attractive business opportunities between countries like Pakistan (currently approaching 6 percent GDP growth and becoming the world’s fastest growing predominately Muslim economy) and Indonesia (the world’s largest predominantly Muslim country and Southeast Asia’s largest economy).
IRELAND | “De Facto Partnership” Cohabitation Requirement Returns to Two-Years
Updating our previous report on “De Facto Partnership” rules in Ireland, the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service (INIS) has updated and clarified the guidance on the cohabitation requirement for unmarried partners of Irish residents and citizens to obtain residence authorization. In May, without formal announcement, the INIS revised its online guidance on De Facto Partnership Immigration Permission (DFPIP) to decrease the cohabitation period required from the previous two-years to just one-year. For details, see our Immigration Dispatch of May 22. However, effective September 1, the cohabitation requirement has now been set at two-years once again.
Non-European Union unmarried partners of Irish residents and citizens must now wait to apply for DFPIP until they have documentary evidence of living together for at least two years. Under the DFPIP, the non-resident partner is eligible for Irish residence if he/she can show a genuine, committed relationship with their partner akin to marriage or civil union. The DFPIP program is particularly important to partners from countries whose local laws might fail to recognize their relationship as a marriage or civil union because of religious or gender factors.
MALAYSIA | New Online Process for “Support Letters” in the Construction Industry
The Malaysian Construction Industry Development Board (CIBD) has introduced a new online submission portal for construction sector companies to submit applications for the CIBD support letters that are required when applying for Employment Passes (EPs) for their foreign employees. Effective immediately, all applications must be submitted through the online portal; manual submission of applications is no longer being accepted. Companies in the construction sectors who anticipate upcoming hiring of foreign workers should proceed now to register and establish accounts in the new system here, in order to avoid delays. Companies needing assistance establishing their accounts are encouraged to reach out to their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists.
Companies with foreign employees operating in Indonesia should take note that there have been numerous and frequent changes in the corporate immigration and business travel rules and processes over the past year in Malaysia. For all of our back issues of the Immigration Dispatch covering Malaysia, see the Immigration Alerts section of our website here.
UNITED KINGDOM | Tier 2 and 4 Applications in India Now Require Original Supporting Documents
Applicants for Tier 2 and Tier 4 visas lodging their applications at the United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Visa Application Centers (VACs) in India are now required to submit originals of their supporting documentation. In addition, VAC authorities will no longer scan and return the original documents at the end of the visa appointment. Rather, original documents will only be returned with the passport following a decision on the application.
With current processing times at approximately 15-days for Tier 2 visas and 30-days for Tier 4 visas at the UKVI VACs in India, applicants should take note that their original documents will be unavailable to them during this time. Therefore, additional originals or copies should be obtained if applicants anticipate a need for them during the processing of their applications.
Reminders: Recent and Upcoming Immigration Implementations
The following are reminders of recent or upcoming implementation dates that you should know:
- October 1-7, China: Golden Week will be celebrated as a national holiday throughout mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau. Government and public offices, overseas consular posts, and private businesses will be closed. Expect delays at all stages of the immigration process, both before and after. Also, expect travel within the country to be congested during this time.
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 Austria Office “Relocation Services Erika Stromayer”, our PLG | KGNM Cambodia Office “Asian Tigers Mobility Limited”, our PLG | KGNM Croatia Office “Matrix Relocations”, our PLG | KGNM Indonesia Offices “Asian Tigers Mobility Limited” and “PT Rami Formality Services”, 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 ([email protected]) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.