At Pro-Link GLOBAL, one of the critical roles we play for our clients is to be their worldwide “eyes” and “ears” in the constantly-changing world of global corporate mobility and international business. In 2016, our Knowledge Management Team published hundreds of updates via our weekly Immigration Dispatch, Global Briefs, e-books, industry articles, and our Twitter feed. (To keep on top of all of the latest changes from around the world, subscribe to our immigration alerts here and follow us on Twitter here.)
What's Changing (or not) in 2017?
As we all plan and prepare for a successful year ahead, here’s a quick “heads-up” on nine significant changes for corporate mobility managers to watch for in the global mobility road ahead in 2017.
UNITED KINGDOM & EUROPEAN UNION | Brexit Moves Forward… Slowly
All indications are that Prime Minister May’s government is set to trigger Article 50 by the end of March and start the formal process of the UK exiting the EU. The complex process of negotiating exit agreements and untangling the UK from its EU ties is going to take years. While it will certainly impact both international businesses in the UK and Europe, as well as corporate mobility throughout the continent, don’t expect to see any Brexit-motivated immigration reforms in the UK or the EU in 2017. For more details, see our Global Brief of June 27, Blog series of September 1, September 8, and September 15, and download our e-book “60 Days After Brexit” here.
UNITED KINGDOM | Next Round of Tier 2 Changes in April
November of this year brought the expected second round of planned changes to the UK’s Tier 2 program, which began in April 2016. The third round of the planned changes to the UK’s major work visa stream is scheduled for April of 2017. This final stage will include the closing of the ICT Short-Term Staff subcategory, leaving a single ICT Long-Term route going forward. Also, be prepared for increased minimum salary levels and the imposition of the Immigration Skills Charge for more foreign workers. For more details, see our Global Briefs of April 5 and November 8.
CHINA | New Work Permit System Goes Nation-Wide
The new electronic “Foreigners Service Work Management System” is already partially operating in seven provinces, making significant changes to the process for obtaining work permits in China. Despite some early challenges in the pilot program, full nation-wide implementation across China is still slated for April. For more details, see our Global Brief of October 27, Immigration Dispatches of November 7, November 14, and November 21, and download our comprehensive e-book “China’s New Work Permit System” here.
EUROPEAN UNION | EU-Wide Intra-Company Transfer Permit Implementation Ahead
The deadline for European Union members to implement the provisions of the EU Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Directive was November 29 of 2016, but the deadline passed with only five nations – Spain, Romania, Hungary, France, and the Netherlands – adopting the provisions thus far. Once implemented by all EU states, the ICT Permit has the potential to revolutionize corporate mobility across the continent with a single, EU-wide work permit. While there has been push-back from some member countries, look for more European nations to adopt the Directive in 2017. Legislation is already reportedly in the pipeline for Italy and Luxembourg to have it in place early in the year. For more details, download our white paper “EU ICT Permit White Paper: Potential Game Changer for Mobility” here.
SAUDI ARABIA | Balanced Nitiqat Still on the Way
Originally slated for implementation December 12, the latest version of Saudi Arabia’s Nitiqat was temporarily shelved in response to requests from private business groups struggling to prepare for its new complex “Saudization” formulas, which include salary and longevity standards. But don’t expect it to remain on the shelf for long; expect implementation of “Balanced Nitiqat” sometime in the first half of 2017. For more details, see our Global Brief of September 2 and Immigration Dispatches of October 10 and December 19.
INDONESIA | Immigration Goes Online
Indonesia is transitioning to an online immigration processing system to replace its current cumbersome manual process. It’s a welcomed change, but expect numerous process changes (some of which have already been implemented) and delays, as is often the case with the roll-out of any major new government system. For more details, see our Immigration Dispatch of December 12.
AUSTRALIA | Subclass 457 Visa in Play
Immigration – and especially the Subclass 457 Visa, Australia’s largest work permit stream – has become the latest political football to be kicked about by the Australian politicians. Bills introduced late in the 2016 Parliament by the Labor Party proposed tougher labor market testing and expanded sponsorship requirements. Also in December, a leaked report indicated that the ruling Liberal Party is likewise working on plans to radically change Australia’s immigration system, including significantly reducing the eligible occupations for the 457 Visa program. Expect the political wrangling to continue and eventually result in some form of 457 Visa reform in 2017. For more information on the 457 Visa program, view our Australian 457 Work Visa Webinar here.
CANADA | “Global Skills Strategy” a Positive Sign for Mobility
The Canadian Finance Minister’s Fall Economic Statement 2016 contained a positive affirmation of the government’s recognition of the role of corporate immigration in Canada’s economic vitality. The section titled “Global Skills Strategy” provided some promising proposals for improving mobility to Canada – including plans to attract more foreign investment and talent by speeding up the work permit process and providing exemptions for certain in-demand professions. Look for the beginning moves to translate these broad policy statements into legislation and immigration rules in the first half of 2017. For more details, see our Immigration Dispatches of November 14 and December 19.
UNITED STATES | The Trump Card
The new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump, officially beginning January 20, will undoubtedly bring major changes in U.S. government policy, impacting both U.S. and global immigration. See Pro-Link GLOBAL CEO and Senior Global Counsel Andrea Elliot’s insights in her Blog of November 18. The coming policy shifts will have direct impact on U.S. immigration law and probably indirect consequences for global immigration. Many of the possible global immigration changes will stem from the inevitable international response to the new administration’s attempts to rewrite U.S. policy on immigration, trade, national security, defense, and foreign policy. Predictions on the form and timing of such impacts would be speculative at best, as the President-elect’s policies have likewise proved speculative at best thus far.
Final Thoughts on 2016 and Hopes for 2017
The year 2016 was a challenging one for global mobility. Rising nationalism and a backlash against the perceived “evils of globalization” – apparently freer people mobility and greater economic parity among nations – is palpable across the world. This trend has had significant impact on the global economy and corporate immigration in 2016 with no sign of stopping in 2017 – particularly in the US, the UK, Europe, and Australia. However, there are still bright spots where nations are recognizing the vital role of well-managed immigration in a growing economy – most notably Canada, China, and Japan. There have also been some positive signs of opening markets and cooperation in the Middle East, eastern Europe, and Africa, but the signs are admittedly mixed and significant challenges remain.
On the whole, 2017 will continue to be a challenging year for global trade and mobility, but one for which Pro-Link GLOBAL will continue to prepare our clients. What will 2017 ultimately hold for us? The answer is that, fundamentally, it will hold for us what we chose to make of it. At Pro-Link GLOBAL, our hope is that we all chose a more peaceful and just world, more freedom to pursue our individual and collective dreams, more respectful communication and cooperation on issues that truly matter, and more shared economic and human progress for all of us. While we can’t guarantee these tenets will be the 2017 that we experience, Pro-Link GLOBAL pledges to continue to do our small part for the world and for our clients. Best wishes to all for the best-possible 2017.
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. We would like to remind you that Immigration laws are fluid and can change at a moment's notice without any warning. Please reach out to your immigration specialist or your client relations manager at Pro-Link GLOBAL should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by your Pro-Link GLOBAL Knowledge Management Team. Throughout the year, we worked with our PLG | KGNM Offices throughout the world to provide you the best, most up-to-date immigration information and guidance available.
Information contained in this Global Brief 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.