By: Rania Abboud, Nelli Shevchenko, and Gabriele Vennewald
Please note: while we address some country-specific updates related to the COVID-19 pandemic, this Alert contains information regarding global restrictions and closures as they stand today. Given the constantly changing nature of this situation, we highly recommend reviewing any global mobility inquiries on a case-by-case basis, including any consulate-specific or immigration authority resources, in “real-time” before traveling internationally. Please reach out to our Global Mobility Team in advance of any international travel.
Impact of Strike and Change of Exemption Codes
On April 19, 2023, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), a union which represents over 155,000 public servants in the federal government of Canada, began a strike. This strike has affected Canadian immigration in the following ways:
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) consular and in-land extension work permit applications can still be submitted online to IRCC, but processing times may be longer. Additionally, IRCC responses to inquiries/requests may be delayed.
- Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) services at the port of entry are expected to be maintained during the labor disruption. However, wait times may increase at the border.
The following links provide additional details on the expected impacts of this strike.
- Labour disruptions impact at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada – Canada.ca
- Labour disruptions impact at the Canada Border Service Agency (cbsa-asfc.gc.ca)
IRCC Changes the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemption codes
On April 25, 2023, IRCC implemented a new coding system to identify the different eligibilities or criteria for specific LMIA-exempt situations. Many of these new codes were added in December 2022, but IRCC has waited to fully implement them until now. Although some codes remain the same, others have changed. Some of the more common codes used are listed below, along with their corresponding new codes, but the full list can be found in the link here: LMIA-Exempt Work Permit codes – Old vs. New.
|LMIA- Exempt Work Permit Name:||Previous LMIA Exemption Code:||New LMIA Exemption Code:|
|Intra-company transferee (ICT) – Executive, Senior or Functional manager||C12||C62|
|ICT – Specialized knowledge||C12||C63|
|CUSMA – Professional||T23||T36|
|CUSMA – ICT Executive or Senior Manager||T24||T37|
|CUSMA – ICT Specialized knowledge||T24||T38|
|Colombia – Professionals or Technicians||T23||F12|
|Colombia – ICT Executive or Senior Manager||T24||F13|
|Colombia – ICT Specialized knowledge||T24||F15|
|Chile – Professionals||T23||F22|
|Chile – ICT Executive or Senior Manager||T24||F23|
|Chile – ICT Specialized knowledge||T24||F24|
|South Korea – ICT Executive or Senior Manager||T24||F33|
|South Korea – ICT Specialized knowledge||T24||F35|
|Peru – Professionals||T23||F52|
|Peru – ICT Executive or Senior Manager||T24||F53|
|Peru – ICT Specialized knowledge||T24||F55|
|Bridging open work permits (BOWPs)||A75||A75|
|Certain Québec Selection Certificate (CSQ) holders currently in Québec||A75||A73|
|Spouses or common-law partners of high – skilled workers (TEER 0 through 3)||C41||C41|
Issuance of Visitor Visas
After easing the business visitor visa application process, Chinese Consulates are once again accepting tourist visa applications. Please see further details here.
Change of Government Filing Fees at German Consulate in Mumbai, India
All government filing fees for processing of visa application at the German Consulate in Mumbai changed as of April 26, 2023 as follows:
The Schengen visa fee for adults changed to 7.200 INR; the Schengen visa fee for minors stays at 3.600 INR.
The national visa fee for adults changed to 6.800 INR; the national visa fee for minors stays at 3.400 INR.
Please see the updated information as well on the Consulate’s website under “Step 5 Visa Fees” here.
New Benefits in the Special Highly Skilled Professional System (“J-Skip”)
Foreign Nationals who meet the requirements of the “Highly Skilled professional (i)” or “Highly Skilled Professional (ii)” residence status and whose educational background, work experience, and income exceed certain conditions will gain the following additional advantages:
- be allowed to employ up to two foreign domestic helpers without being required to meet any domestic situation requirements,
- be allowed to use priority lanes at large airports when entering and leaving Japan, and
- be allowed to have spouses to work in a wider range of activities in Japan.
For further details please see here.
Japan Future Talent Program (“J-Find”)
The Japan Future Talent Program permits graduates of outstanding overseas universities to stay in Japan for up to two years’ time, with a “Designated Activities” status (Future creation individual) if they engage in “activities to find jobs” or “preparatory activities for starting a business” in Japan within five years of their graduation. For further details, please see here.
Border Control – Upcoming Changes
The Japanese Government announced changes in Japan’s border control measures effective midnight, April 29, 2023 JPT. In light of the announcement that new coronavirus infections will no longer be recognized as “new influenza and other infectious diseases,” the following changes will be made to Japan’s border control measures effective midnight on April 29, 2023.
All entrants will not be required to submit either a “negative test certificate from a test taken within 72 hours prior to departure from Japan” or a “vaccination certificate (3 times)”.
(2) The “sample inspection” currently conducted as a temporary measure for those entering from China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) on direct flights will be changed to the same inspection upon entry for symptomatic persons as for those entering from other countries/regions.
2. However, the current inspection at the time of entry for symptomatic entrants with novel coronavirus infection and medical treatment at facilities when individuals are found to be positive for novel coronavirus infection will be continued until midnight on May 8, 2023, and the genomic surveillance of infectious diseases will start at midnight on May 8, 2023.
The latest border control measures can be confirmed here.
Company Registration Update With Immigration Authorities Required
Mexican companies employing foreign nationals and which are registered with the immigration authorities (INM) are required to update the annual registration with the local immigration office with jurisdiction over their address. One of the required documents is evidence that the company fulfills it tax obligations. Accordingly, companies must update their immigration registration each year upon filing their annual corporate tax declaration. The registration update normally involves a site visit to the company by INM officers. Companies that do not have an updated registration are generally not able to file work permit applications.
Changes to Salary Levels, Sponsor Guidance, and Introduction of New Visa Category and Scheme
- Changes to minimum salary levels for sponsored workers: on April 12, 2023, the minimum salary requirements were updated for sponsored workers, including Skilled Workers and Global Business Mobility Workers. The hourly rate for Skilled Worker was increased from £10.10 per hour to £10.75 per hour, but remains subject always to other minimum wage requirements being met. For Skilled Workers, the general annual threshold was increased to £26,200 – an increase of £600 per year; and for shortage occupation routes, the increase is now to £20,960 per year from previous figure of £20,480. The Global Business Mobility: Senior or Specialist Worker’s threshold also rose to £45,800 – an increase of £3,400. Scale-up route increased from £33,000 to £34,600 per year. The annual salary calculations for the “going rate” are now based on weekly working hours of 37.5, rather than the previously used 39-hour per week calculation. This also has the effect of increased hourly salary rates for certain roles.
- Changes to sponsor guidance – reports on remote and hybrid working: due to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote and hybrid working patterns became a norm for many employers. During the height of the pandemic, the Home Office advice was that no report was required for remote working arrangements. This position has now changed. The latest updated Workers and Temporary Workers: guidance for sponsors, Part 3, version dated 31 March 2023 sets out a reporting requirement for the licence holders to confirm to the Home Office where a worker has moved, or will be moving to, a hybrid working pattern as a more permanent working arrangement. The guidance now confirms that a report is required where a sponsored worker: 1) changed work address, 2) moved to full time remote work, or 3) moved to hybrid working pattern. A “hybrid working pattern” is where the worker will work remotely on a regular and planned basis from their home or another address, such as a work hub space, that is not a client site or an address listed on the organization’s licence, in addition to regularly attending one or more of company offices or branches, or a client site.. Short-term changes to work patterns do not need to be reported, and only permanent working patterns need to be reported. For fully remote workers, the Home Office may call into question why an employee is required to be present in the UK if they can effectively carry out their duties from elsewhere. It is important that employers be able to confirm and add information about why this is the case (for example, for regulatory or tax reasons; UK-based client facing role).
- Introduction of Innovator Founder visa: also in April 2023, the Home Office revamped existing Innovator and Startup routes by abolishing both of the existing routes and introducing a new combined visa type – Innovator Founder visa. New Innovator Founder visa provisions strip away some of its restrictive provisions including no longer requiring investment funds of £50,000 and allowing its holders to take up supplementary employment. Innovator Founder endorsing bodies now consist of three approved commercial bodies and one government body. Notably, the government introduced a cap on the fees that the endorsing bodies can charge for their services which was previously unlimited. This is a welcome change to the route. However, restrictive and high threshold requirements for ILR still remain in place for the Innovator Founder route which may continue hindering the popularity of the route.
Introduction of Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Scheme
The Home Office announced that the ETA scheme will start its roll-out from Autumn 2023 onwards. An ETA is a digital permission to travel, similar to the US ESTA scheme. It will be required by all non-visa nationals coming to the UK for up to six months as a visitor, including transit visitors.
Qatari nationals will be the first to apply and trial the scheme, and those who plan to travel to the UK on or after November 15, 2023 will need to apply for UK ETA. Other countries in the Middle East (Bahrain, Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia etc.) will follow suit from February 22, 2024. Further roll-out to all other non-visa nationals is expected to come in Autumn 2024.
At the moment, most non-visa nationals do not need to apply for any kind of advanced approval for their visits to the UK. After the ETA scheme becomes operational, non-visa nationals would need to factor in time to apply for an ETA before anticipated trips to the UK. It is likely that anyone refused an ETA will have to apply for a UK visit visa, so employers and business travelers may wish to factor the timing of this into any business visits which are planned.
The ETA will be valid for 2 years and will permit multiple entries. British, Irish nationals and anyone who already has a valid UK visa status will not need to apply for ETA.
Rules for Offshore Workers and the End of Exemption
Skilled Worker visa sponsorship now applies to employees working in UK waters and the UK territorial sea, which extends 12 nautical miles from the coast. In 2017, the Home Office introduced a concession to the Immigration Rules to allow the employment of foreign nationals who are joining vessels engaged in the construction and maintenance of offshore wind projects in UK territorial waters. This concession was time limited and following several extensions, the latest Home Office announcement states that it will no longer continue beyond 30 April 2023. The employers who relied on the exemption for offshore workers would need to ensure their employees have a work permit under existing UK visa routes.
The guidance also includes new duties for employers sponsoring offshore workers. For the purposes of the guidance, an ‘offshore worker’ is defined as someone who arrives directly into UK waters for the purpose of work without first entering through UK landmass.
From 12 April 2023, employers sponsoring an offshore worker must notify UKVI of the dates that the worker:
first arrives in UK waters at the beginning of the job for which they are being sponsored, and leaves UK waters at the end of the job for which they are being sponsored.
This must be done no earlier than the date the worker arrives or leaves UK waters (whichever is relevant) and no later than 10 working days after the worker arrives or leaves UK waters.