MEDIA

HLG - Weekly Newsletter – 19.12.2017

Dec 19,2017

AFRICA

 

Ghana

 

  1. Ghana: Plans Underway to Re-Open Embassy in Libya – Foreign Affairs Minister”, All Africa, December 14, 2017
  • Government will facilitate the reopening of Ghana's Embassy in Libya, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has disclosed. Hon. Botchwey explained that the re-opening of Ghana's Embassy in Libya had been necessitated by the recent shocking revelations by the CNN about the ongoing slave trade in Libya involving black African immigrants.
  • She disclosed that the Ministry, in consultation with the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection and other relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, would be organising an emergency meeting of the Interministerial Committee on Migration and come up with concrete measures aimed at dealing comprehensively with the situation of Ghanaian nationals in Libya.

 

South Sudan

 

  1. Denis Dumo, “South Sudan Resumes Issuing Passports After Month-Long Stoppage”, Reuters, December 14, 2017
  • South Sudan has resumed issuing passports after its German technology provider shut down the system for a month because the country failed to pay its bills, a senior immigration official said on Thursday.
  • “We have resumed our operation and whoever that is in need and wants to apply for national certificates and passports, we are ready to serve them,” Lieutenant General Majak Akech Malok, director general of Nationality, Passport and Immigration, told a news conference.
  • ThenDeputy Finance Minister Mou Ambrose Thiik told Reuters that the passport and national identification server had been blocked by its host, German company Muhlbauer, after the government failed to pay an annual software licence fee of around $500,000.

 

AMERICA

 

United States

 

  1. Debbie A. Klis, “EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program: Following Extension, Next Decision Looms”, National Law Review, December 11, 2017
  • As part of the twoweek spending bill that avoids a government shutdown, the Immigrant Investor Program known as EB-5 is extended unchanged through Dec. 22. Without much buzz on Capitol Hill to suggest the imminent release of a comprehensive EB-5 reform bill by Congress, another short-term continuing resolution into early 2018 is expected.
  • […] The House passed the Continuing Appropriations Act, H.J. Res. 123 (Pub.L. 11590) last Friday, Dec. 8, by a 235-193 vote, and the Senate passed it with an 81-14 vote. Later in the day, President Trump signed H.J. Res. 123 to provide Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations to fund the federal government through Dec. 22, 2017. The EB-5 Program extension was effective with passage of the bill.

 

  1. Susan Karlovich, “Sixty-Day Grace Period for Nonimmigrant Workers After Loss of Employment”, National Law Review, December 13, 2017
  • Nonimmigrant workers are individuals who enter the United States for a temporary period of time and are restricted to the activity consistent with their visas (those in E1, E-3, H1B, H1B1, L-1, O-1 and TN status).
  • The new regulation provides for a 60day discretionary grace period, during which a nonimmigrant worker does not accrue unlawful status. This allows nonimmigrant workers two months to locate a sponsoring employer to whom the visa may be transferred, to apply for a change of status or to wind up their affairs before departing the United States.
  • Employment is not authorized during the grace period, but the nonimmigrant worker may begin working with the filing of a transfer petition by a new employer. A worker may use the grace period only once for each validity period.

 

  1. Jashal Sood, “H-1B Visa Holders May Work for Multiple Employers at a Time, Says USCIS”, The American Bazaar, December 14, 2017
  • The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) tweeted on Tuesday that highlyskilled foreign workers on H-1B visas can work for more than one employer at a time. “In general, H-1B workers may work for more than one employer but must have approved I-129 for each.
  • New employer must submit an I129 petition before you may begin working,” the immigration agency reminds beneficiaries. In addition, each employer must also file a separate labor condition application.

 

  1. Trisha Thadani, “Foreigners May Apply to Stay Under International Entrepreneur Rule – For Now”, San Francisco Chronicle, December 14, 2017
  • Foreigners can apply to stay in the United States under a federal rule aimed at smoothing the path for entrepreneurs, immigration officials said Thursday.
  • Under this rule, foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain benchmarks may apply for "parole”; in this case, this means that individuals who are not formally admitted into the U.S. (as they would be with a visa) can temporarily stay in the country.
  • Although the implementation of the rule may be welcome news to the tech community, it comes with a major caveat: The Administration is still working on plans to rescind the rule altogether. The Department of Homeland Security is currently in the final stages of drafting the proposed rule.

 

  1. Ron Nixon, “Trump Administration Adds Restrictions for Visa-Waiver Countries”, The New York Times, December 15, 2017
  • Dozens of countries, mostly in Europe, must meet additional security requirements for their citizens to continue to be allowed into the United States without a visa, the Department of Homeland Security said on Friday.
  • The countries must begin sharing additional background information and establish effective safeguards against threats by foreign airport workers. Some will also be required to start a public relations campaign to discourage their citizens from overstaying their visits.
  • No timeline has been set for countries to carry out the changes, and officials did not say how countries would be punished if they failed to put the changes in effect. The secretary of homeland security has the authority to remove countries from the visawaiver program.

 

  1. David J. Wilks, “New EB-5 Backlog Option: Entrepreneur Parole”, National Law Review, December 15, 2017
  • On December 14, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that it will accept applications for the new Entrepreneur Parole program. Through this program, entrepreneurs and their families can come to the U.S. for up to five years, in two thirtymonth increments.
  • Under the instructions just released by USCIS, entrepreneurs will need to own 15% of a startup entity incorporated in the last three years. The entrepreneur will need to have some day-to-day role in the company, and the start-up will need to be capitalized by at least $345,000 U.S.-based private funding or $100,000 U.S. (Federal, State, or Local) government funding. Up to three entrepreneurs from each start-up can apply.
  • The startup does not have to be related to your EB-5 project. If your EB-5 project does not meet these requirements, or if the project has already been used by three entrepreneurs, you have the option of starting a new compliant company or joining an already existing compliant company.

 

ASIA

 

Bangladesh

 

  1. Home Minister: e-Passport, e-Gate to be Introduced”, Dhaka Tribune, December 12, 2017
  • The government will introduce electronic passport (epassport) and electronic gate (e-gate) at international airports, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told the launching ceremony of the national call centre for emergency services.
  • Addressing the launching ceremony of the call centre at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium in the capital, the home minister said that the epassport and e-gate would be introduced in line with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s vision for Digital Bangladesh. He said the e-passport would ensure safe and secure travel and faster immigration process while the e-gates would make departure and arrival of air travelers quicker and hassle-free.

 

Pakistan

 

  1. Mahmood Idrees, “Pakistanis to Get e-Passports From Next Year”, Daily Pakistan, December 14, 2017
  • Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Wednesday said that epassports will be issued to citizens starting from next year. The minister added that the electronic passport will first be issued for diplomats in March 2018 and for citizens in June 2018.
  • In the epassports, a microchip will be embedded which will have all details about the travelers. The new technology will help in preventing use of forged documents.
  • Director General Passports and Immigration Usman Bajwa singed a contract with a French company, Gemalto, for the preparation of the passports.

 

Philippines

 

  1. Ver Marcelo, “DFA Rolls Out Faster Passport Appointment”, CNN Philippines, December 16, 2017
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday announced the waiting time for passport appointments has been cut in half. DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Filipinos can now book their appointment in just six weeks, as compared with the usual three months.
  • Aside from having more a efficient website, the DFA said the processing time will be faster because it is expanding its capacity to make new passports as it plans to open seven to nine new consulates in regions that have no access to DFA's satellite offices. The DFA is also buying four new vans with mobile passport printing machines, which can each produce up to 500 passports a day.
  • Earlier, the validity of Philippine passports has been extended to 10 years, to take effect in 2018. Individuals under 18 years old, however, will be issued passports valid for only five years.

 

Vietnam

 

  1. e-Visa Issuance Grows Each Month: Immigration Official”, VietnamNet Bridge, December 13, 2017
  • Following the success of the scheme, the government has decided to expand it to visitors from six more countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UAE, India and the Netherlands. Australians are the seventh biggest group of foreign arrivals and among the top spenders.
  • Vietnam began allowing tourists from 40 countries to apply for evisas last February, with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the US, the UK, Germany and Sweden — all major target markets for its tourism sector, among the 40. Visitors can apply online for a 30-day, single-entry visa by paying a non-refundable application fee. It will take applicants three working days to find out if their visa applications have been approved. Visitors with e-visas can enter through eight international airports, 13 international border gates on land or seven ports.

 

EUROPE

 

Armenia

 

  1. Armenia Can Achieve Visa-Free Travel With EU Within 2-3 Years: President”, PanArmenian, December 15, 2017
  • President Serzh Sargsyan has said that Armenia can achieve liberalization of the visa regime with the European Union within 23 years.
  • In an interview with Armenia TV, Sargsyan said that while the visa liberalization is linked to the recently signed partnership agreement between the EU and Armenia, it’s not a part of it. “The new agreement and the liberalization of visas differ from each other. Although they are related to some extent, they should be distinguished,” the president said.
  • The president said it’s too early to talk about concrete time frames but said nevertheless that somewhere in the first half of 2018 Armenia and the EU will start a dialogue about visas.

 

Bulgaria

 

  1. More Than a Quarter of the Immigrants in Bulgaria are From Russia”, Novinite, December 15, 2017
  • Bulgaria is among the countries of the European Union (EU) with the largest share of immigrants from third countries compared to the population and among those with the smallest share of people from EU countries. This shows data from the European Statistics Office Eurostat for 2015 on the occasion of the International Immigrants Day, which is celebrated on 18 December.
  • In total, in the year 2015, 25,223 people settled in Bulgaria. Of these, 51% are nonEU nationals. Russia has largest share (27%), followed by Syrians, Turks, Ukrainians and Britons.

 

Ireland

 

  1. Gordon Deegan, “Surge in Passport Demand Continues for Past Year”, Irish Examiner, December 16, 2017
  • According to new figures, applications for passports from people with Irish heritage in Great Britain are already 28% to 81,287 ahead for the entire total for 2016. According to figures provided by the Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney in a written reply to Fianna Fáil TD Daragh O’Brien, they show that passport applications from people living in the North are also already far ahead of last year’s total.
  • To date this year, 80,964 applications for passports have been made from people in the North, against 67,563 applications for 2016. In a response to Independents 4 Change TD Tommy Broughan, Mr Coveney said: “Between January 1 and December 7 this year, the Passport Service received 781,716 passport applications, which represents a 12.4% increase over the same period last year.

 

Portugal

 

  1. Lisbon Airport Immigration Waiting Times up to Three Hours”, The Portugal News, December 14, 2017
  • The time it takes to clear immigration at Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado Airport has climbed to over three hours in recent weeks. According to a report Diário de Notícias, sources at the airport revealed that average waiting times to clear passport control have been above 45 minutes on 70 percent of the days so far this year.
  • Last week, waiting times exceeded three hours. The situation is being blamed on the fact that a significant increase in passenger numbers has not been accompanied by a reinforcement of immigration officials.

 

Russia

 

  1. Moscow to Impose Mandatory Fingerprinting on Foreign Nationals Entering Russia Visa-Free”, TASS, December 11, 2017
  • The Russian Interior Ministry plans to introduce obligatory fingerprinting and photographing of all foreign citizens who enter Russia for more than a month, the ministry’s press service reported when asked by TASS. The Interior Ministry noted that the corresponding bill is pending.
  • "The draft federal law is aimed at improving a mechanism to provide proper control over temporary stays by foreign citizens who arrive on the territory of the Russian Federation in the order that does not require receiving a visa and also detecting individuals who face restrictions for entering the Russian Federation. The new procedure is scheduled to be launched since July 1, 2019," the report says.
  • The press service explained that, according to the bill, a foreigner who entered Russia visafree is obliged to report to the Interior Ministry on his or her temporary residence in the Russian Federation within seven working days after the 30-day expiration date from his or her arrival to the country.

 

Ukraine

 

  1. Ukrainian Citizens Travelling to Europe Up By 15% During First 6 Months of Visa-Free Travel”, Interfax-Ukraine, December 12, 2017
  • Ukrainians have crossed the EU member states' border near 11mln times since the entry into force of the visafree regime between Ukraine and the EU, which is by 15% more than in the same period in 2016, according to a press release from the EU Delegation to Ukraine, published on Monday.
  • "Visa free travel boosted the benefits of the free trade area between the EU and Ukraine. Moreover it contributed to the increase of exports from Ukraine to the EU by 29% over the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016," the document reads.
  • Ukrainian citizens were granted visafree travel to the European Union countries (except for the United Kingdom and Ireland) as well as to four Schengen states – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland on June 11, 2017.

 

  1. Ukrainians with e-Passports to Enjoy Short Visa-Free Travel to UAE From Dec 31”, Unian, December 13, 2017
  • Visafree travel between Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be launched on December 31, according to the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs. "Visa-free travel to the United Arab Emirates will be launched on New Year's eve," he tweeted on December.
  • As of December 31, citizens of Ukraine with biometric passports will be able to travel to the UAE without visas for up to 30 days.

 

OCEANIA

 

Australia

 

  1. Lisa Allen, “Chinese Oust Kiwis as Top Visitors to Australia”, The Australian, December 12, 2017
  • Chinese tourists spent a record $10.3 billion buying Australian goods and services, positioning them as the nation’s most valuable and fastest growing inbound travellers over the past year. Mainland Chinese are also about to topple New Zealanders as Australia’s No 1 international holidaymakers, according to the federal government’s latest ­survey released today.
  • Australia hosted 1.33 million Chinese visitors in the 12 months to September, only slightly under the 1.35 million Kiwi ­arrivals for the year. China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia and Japan led the strong inbound growth, with Australia hosting more than eight million international tourists in the year to September: 2017 ­accounted for $41.2bn in spending, according to the federal government’s International Visitor Survey out today.
  • The government’s aviation agreement with China allows Australian and Chinese airlines to offer unlimited flights to and from any Australian and ­Chinese points. The Chinese tourism market is ­expected to be worth more than $13bn by 2020.

 

New Zealand

 

  1. Bill Banning Foreign Home-Buyers to be Introduced”, Radio New Zealand, December 13, 2017
  • The government will introduce legislation tomorrow to ban foreigners from buying existing houses. That will mean overseas buyers will have to build new homes if they want to purchase property. Housing Minister Phil Twyford said foreign buyers were pushing first home buyers and families out of the housing market.
  • People in the country on temporary visas would not be allowed to buy existing homes, while some on resident visas would have to pass new screening tests. The rules don't apply to Australians and Mr Twyford said negotiations were ongoing with Singapore because the law change would breach an existing trade deal.
  • Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage said the legislation brought residential land within the category of sensitive land in the Overseas Investment Act. "It will mean, for practical purposes, that foreign buyers will not be able to buy residential property unless they are either increasing the number of residences and then selling them or converting the land to another use."

 

  1. New Zealand to Close South African Immigration Office”, Business Tech, December 13, 2017
  • Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has announced plans to bring the bulk of its visa processing service back onshore. This will include the shutdown of eight overseas offices – including Pretoria Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bangkok, New Delhi, Moscow and Shanghai – as well as two offices in New Zealand.
  • INZ said that it will still retain a skeleton presence in these parts of the world to gather market intelligence, manage risk and carry out verification activities.
  • “Visa Application Centres (VACs) have been operating effectively all over the world for more than five years and provide services on behalf of INZ, including receiving applications. The changes will be affected by 1 April 2018.

 

  1. Treasury Warns of Unintended Consequences on Foreign Buyer Ban”, New Zealand Herald, December 18, 2017
  • Treasury has warned the Government that its rush to ban overseas people from buying existing New Zealand homes may have "suboptimal" or "unintended consequences". And it further questions the benefit to the general public, saying that there is "low " certainty of evidence that it would ease pressure on the housing market or see an increase in the number of new homes.
  • In its regulatory impact statement prepared for Cabinet last week, Treasury noted how quickly the policy had been developed. The Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, which would enact the ban, was introduced to Parliament on Thursday. "The main risks stem from the very tight timeframes under which this analysis has been prepared. As a result, there are a number of implementation risks," the statement says.
  • Treasury said that there could be an effect on the housing market, but the supporting evidence was of "low" certainty. "We expect less upward pressure on house prices during periods when the housing market is out of equilibrium, and foreign capital would otherwise flow into New Zealand seeking to buy houses. "Other potential benefits could include an increase in the stock of new residential property. However the nature of these benefits is unclear."

 

 

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