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1. CANADA - Service Canada has implemented a new Accelerated Labour Market Opinion program.
2. FRANCE - Streamlining has been introduced for several categories of foreign workers; the change-of-status category from student to working category has been eased; there has been an increase in salary and related thresholds for certain immigration procedures; and registration for national health insurance has become more cumbersome.
3. ITALY - The European Union (EU) Blue Card Directive has entered into force as of August 8, 2012.
4. NETHERLANDS - Family reunification will be restricted drastically beginning October 1; the fee has been reduced for residence permits; visas are no longer required for Turkish service providers and entrepreneurs; and certain consequences for Iranians in the Netherlands have resulted from sanctions on Iran.
5. UNITED KINGDOM - Various new developments have been announced.
6. Member News - Member News
 

 
 
1. CANADA
 

Service Canada has implemented a new Accelerated Labour Market Opinion program.

Service Canada has implemented a new Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO) program, which is intended to respond to the needs of eligible employers for timely Labour Market Opinion (LMO) processing. However, this initiative places substantial responsibility on the employer for program compliance, which translates into maintaining records and undergoing compliance reviews similar in nature to a tax audit.

The A-LMO program simplifies the application process for employers but also places a substantial burden on employers by requiring attestations on the application form. An A-LMO application does not exempt employers from criteria assessed in the regular LMO process, including:

  • the genuineness of the job offer;
  • the wage offered; and
  • whether the job offer is likely to fill a labor shortage.

If the employer meets all the eligibility criteria to participate in the A-LMO initiative, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)/Service Canada will then verify if the employer has agreed to all of the attestations and will issue a positive A-LMO within 10 business days.

Employer A-LMO Eligibility

The A-LMO initiative applies only to higher-skilled positions, such as management, professional, and technical occupations (classified under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill type 0, and skill levels A and B), although there are some exemptions to this general rule. To be eligible for this initiative:

  • The employer must have been issued at least one positive Labour Market Opinion in the previous two years;
  • The employer must have a clean record of compliance with the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program within the last two years;
  • The employer must have agreed to all of the attestations included in the application and consented to participate in a compliance review to ensure that the employer is meeting the terms and conditions set out in the Labour Market Opinion letter;
  • The employer must not have been the subject of an investigation, infraction, or serious complaint; and
  • The employer must not have any unresolved violations or contraventions under provincial laws governing employment and recruitment.

By consenting, employers agree to allow HRSDC/Service Canada to perform a compliance review of the positive A-LMO or any other positive LMO issued to the employer in the previous two years.

During the review, employers must submit documentation to demonstrate compliance with the terms and conditions of the positive LMO or A-LMO letters and their annexes. Up to 20 percent of positive A-LMOs will be selected for a compliance review. These reviews may be based on random selection, or in response to information received subsequent to the issuance of an A-LMO.

Employer Compliance Review

To be compliant, employers must meet all the terms and conditions set out in the positive A-LMO or LMO letters and their annexes. Compliance includes, but is not limited to, the fact that the:

  • employer provided wages, working conditions, and an occupation to the TFW that are substantially the same as those offered in the LMO or A-LMO application;
  • employer provided wages and working conditions that are the same as those offered to Canadian citizens and permanent residents in the same occupation and work location;
  • employer performed the minimum recruitment efforts required by the program;
  • employment of a TFW filled a labor shortage;
  • employment of a TFW did not adversely affect the settlement of a labor dispute; and
  • employer agrees to abide by the relevant federal/provincial/territorial laws that regulate employment and recruitment.

To demonstrate compliance through a review, employers may be required to submit the following documents indicating that they have abided by the terms of the A-LMO application. As noted above, the compliance process is similar to a tax audit. For example, employers may be asked to furnish some or all of the following information to ensure compliance with Service Canada requirements:

  • payroll information for the TFW and potentially for Canadian citizens and permanent residents;
  • collective bargaining agreements;
  • time sheets;
  • job descriptions;
  • copies of recruitment advertising;
  • proof of no labor dispute;
  • copies of the TFW's work permit; and
  • proof of registration with provincial/territorial workplace safety, where applicable.

Employers should maintain all of the above information and employment records for at least six years.

Non-compliance and/or failure to provide the requested documentation will result in various Service Canada penalties in addition to possible investigations for misrepresentation and non-compliance under Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

By consenting to the terms and conditions set out in the A-LMO application, employers agree to allow HRSDC/Service Canada to perform a compliance review of the positive A-LMO or any other positive LMO issued.

 
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2. FRANCE
 

Streamlining has been introduced for several categories of foreign workers; the change-of-status category from student to working category has been eased; there has been an increase in salary and related thresholds for certain immigration procedures; and registration for national health insurance has become more cumbersome.

Single Desk and Streamlined Processing for Three Categories of Foreign Workers

The Bureau of Professional Immigration is instructing (via Circular of August 3, 2012) certain regional authorities to create a single desk (guichet unique) to follow the immigration process for new arriving foreign workers in the following categories:

  • Intra-Company Transferees
  • Skills and Talents
  • European Union Blue Card

The Prefectures concerned are Haute-Garonne (31), Hauts-de-Seine (92), Isère (38), Nord (59), Paris (75), Puy-de-Dôme (63), Rhône (69), and Yvelines (78). The single desk will be created by the OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration) located in each of the Prefectures, with the objective of processing the applications faster. The government is aiming to process work permits for Intra-Company Transferees and EU Blue Card applicants within 4 to 6 weeks.

The efficiency of this government incentive is uncertain. The single-desk process is already in place in the Paris area for Intra-Company Transferees, where overall processing time has increased. This being said, the medical examination and delivery of the residency permit are occurring at the same appearance at the OFII. This is a definite improvement over the past.

Change of Status from Student to Working Category Eased

The Circular of May 31, 2012, provides the most recent guidelines to be followed by officers processing changes of status sought by graduating foreign students who wish to work in France.

The period during which an employer must advertise to find a skilled worker in France has been reduced from 2 months to 3 weeks. Students graduating with a "Master 2" degree may apply for a provisional authorization to stay (APS) 4 months before their student status expires, to seek employment that would be their first professional experience in France. A student under an APS may start working as soon as the employment contract is signed, and may apply for a change of status within 15 days of signature.

Since publication of the Circular, the processing authorities have become less rigid than under the previous administration. The authorities continue to verify that the employment sought is appropriate for the degree and that the employer has a specific interest in hiring a foreign graduate.

Increase in Minimum Salary and Related Thresholds for Certain Immigration Procedures

Increasing the minimum salary (SMIC) and the wage index (minimum garanti) on July 1, 2012, resulted in changes to the salary thresholds applicable to Intra-Company Transferees and other foreign workers seeking to be accompanied by family members. The SMIC has been raised to €1,425.27 per month for the work week of 35 hours. The minimum garanti is now €3.49.

Intra-Company Transferees must meet the salary threshold of 150 percent of SMIC, which will now amount to €2,137.90 per month. A foreign worker other than an Intra-Company Transferee may be accompanied by family members when he or she meets the salary threshold of 1300 times the minimum garanti, or €4,537 per month.

Registration for National Health Insurance Has Become More Cumbersome

Since May 2012, the national Health Insurance Center requires that foreign vital records (such as birth and marriage certificates) bear the apostille or be authenticated to complete registration. In general, it is now necessary to check for each foreign national, according to the country that issued the record, if it should be authenticated or apostilled. Some countries are exempted from this requirement.

It should be noted that foreign consulates in France are not always entitled to proceed with the authentication or apostille of vital records issued by their country. In this case, the foreign national must apply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country that issued the record. A record of civil status, and the apostille stamp or authentication, must be translated by a sworn translator registered with the Courts of Appeal and Cassation in France.

 
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3. ITALY
 

The European Union (EU) Blue Card Directive has entered into force as of August 8, 2012.

The Blue Card Directive has been fully implemented in Italy under Decree n. 108 of 2012, which entered into force on August 8, 2012.

The EU Blue Card is a new scheme that facilitates the immigration process for highly skilled non-EU foreign workers seeking employment in the EU. With the Blue Card, individuals who meet the requirements can apply for a work permit outside of the Italian quota system, and they do not have to spend a minimum amount of time working for a foreign affiliate of the Italian company before they can apply.

According to the new decree, it is now possible to hire directly in Italy non-EU highly skilled workers without being subject to quota limitations, under certain conditions. Similar to the procedure to be followed for ICT work permits, the procedure under the new decree is:

1. The employer files a work permit application with the immigration office. The list of documents must be confirmed by each Immigration Office, but the law includes:

(i) a job offer for not less than one year with a salary of not less than €25,500 per year. The job offered to the worker must be for a highly skilled position;

(ii) a worker's diploma. The worker must have completed a post-secondary study program with a minimum duration of three years. The school must be a institution of higher education recognized by the state in which it is located. The course of study must be related to the type of work being performed;

(iii) documents proving that the worker has suitable accommodations in the country.

2. After the work permit is issued, the worker applies for a visa in his country of residence.

3. Upon entry into Italy, the employer and worker execute a contract of stay at the Immigration Office.

4. The worker files for a permit of stay at the post office and then completes the process at the police office.

Workers with a Blue Card issued by another EU country may be hired in Italy only after 18 months from the date of issuance of their card. The employer still must apply for a work permit, but the worker will not need to obtain a visa.

 
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4. NETHERLANDS
 

Family reunification will be restricted drastically beginning October 1; the fee has been reduced for residence permits; travel visas are no longer required for Turkish service providers and entrepreneurs; and certain consequences for Iranians in the Netherlands have resulted from sanctions on Iran.

Family Reunification Will Be Restricted Beginning October 1

Proposed restrictions on family reunification will take effect on October 1, 2012. The Netherlands will restrict family reunification to spouses, registered partners, and minor children. Unmarried partners and children of the age of majority (18) will not be eligible any longer for family reunification.

Same-sex partners who by law in the country of origin of the partner are not allowed to marry are eligible for a temporary residence permit in the Netherland for a period of six months. Within these six months, the same-sex partners must marry in the Netherlands or register their partnership.

Government Fee Reduced for Residence Permit

The government fee charged for a permanent residence permit has been reduced from €401 to €130. This reduced fee is for the European Community permanent long-term resident permit (Directive 2003/109/EC) and the Dutch national permanent residence permit. This reduced fee is the result of a judgment of the European Court of Justice of April 16, 2012 (C-508/10). The Court ruled that the Dutch fees were "excessive and disproportionate." The reduced fee will be retroactively applied from April 26, 2012.

No Travel Visa Required for Turkish Service Providers and Entrepreneurs

Turkish service providers and entrepreneurs who will be providing a service in the Netherlands no longer need a travel visa for a short stay in the Netherlands (maximum of three months in a six-month period). Turkish nationals must show at the border that they can be considered as such. The Dutch embassy or consulate in Turkey may also provide a statement that the Turkish service provider/entrepreneur does not need a visa to enter the Netherlands.

Sanctions on Iran – Consequences for Iranian Nationals and Residency in the Netherlands

The Security Council of the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) have imposed sanctions on Iran because its government is pursuing a nuclear program. The European Union has also announced sanctions in connection with human rights violations in Iran.

On January 23, 2012, the EU decided to expand sanctions against Iran (Council Decision 2012/35/GBVB). This regulation now also focuses on key areas of the petroleum and natural gas (petrochemical) industries.

The Dutch Immigration Service will defer the handling of applications of Iranian labor and highly skilled migrants, Iranian scientists, and Iranian self-employed persons who wish to work in these sectors (including the applications of their family members) until it is known how this regulation should be applied to residence applications from Iranians.

Applications for renewal of residence permits of Iranian nationals and their family members already residing in the Netherlands in the aforementioned sectors are also deferred. Applications from Iranians who are not working in the sanctioned sectors will be processed as usual.

 
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5. UNITED KINGDOM
 

Various new developments have been announced.

Timetable for Rollout of Pre-Entry Tuberculosis Testing in India

All applicants for UK settlement visas in India now must undertake pre-entry tuberculosis (TB) screening. Applicants must obtain a certificate from an approved clinic demonstrating that they are free of TB before submitting an application. The certificate is valid for 6 months and the UK Border Agency has set up a network of approved clinicians in India for this purpose.

This requirement will be extended to other categories of migrants, including work visa applicants in Tiers 1, 2, and 5 of the Points-Based System starting on September 10, 2012, and student visa applicants (Tier 4) starting on November 1, 2012. An appointment can be obtained within a few days, but applicants should allow up to 10 days in busy periods. Results may be obtained the same day.

Children ages 11 and over must be tested. Younger children should also attend the clinic in case the clinician assesses the need to test them also.

Those travelling to the UK for 6 months or less, including business visitors, are not subject to this requirement.

Sponsor Licence Renewals

Sponsors who obtained their Sponsor Licence immediately following the introduction of the Points-Based System in November 2008 will receive notifications from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) regarding the renewal process. The e-mails will come from no-reply@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk and will be addressed to the Level 1 user. Occasionally these e-mails inadvertently end up in the spam folder, so this should be checked regularly.

A further notification will be sent to sponsors three months before the expiration date when the renewal function will be activated on the Sponsor Management System (SMS). No documentation must be submitted with the application, but sponsors should be prepared to submit any documents subsequently requested by the UKBA within seven days. The UKBA may undertake a compliance visit.

The Sponsor summary details on the SMS should be up-to-date before a renewal application is submitted. Sponsors must notify the UKBA of any change to the Authorising Officer or Level 1 user before submitting the license renewal application. The fees for the application are £500 for small or charitable companies and £1500 for medium and large companies.

It is strongly recommended that sponsors submit their renewal applications well before the expiration date. Provided the application and payment are received before the expiration date, sponsors may continue to sponsor migrants while the application is being processed. If the deadline is missed, however, sponsors will no longer be able to sponsor migrants and their existing leave (permission to enter or remain) will be curtailed.

EU Children Travelling on Parents' Passport

EU children must now hold a passport of their own when traveling into or within the EU and can no longer travel with their names listed on a parent's or guardian's passport. This requirement is based on EU passport regulations passed in 2009 that provided for a three-year transitional period within which Member States should implement the new requirement. This transitional period ended on June 25, 2012. The approach to the expiration of the transition may differ with each Member State, and some have confirmed they will observe the provisions of the regulation and implement border controls now that the transition period has expired. Carriers may deny boarding if children do not have their own passport.

Changes to British Nationality Applications

It is no longer possible to submit British nationality applications to the British High Commission or British Consulate in the home country of the applicant. Instead, with the exception of Hong Kong, all applications must be submitted to the UKBA in the UK. Where possible, original documents should be submitted, including passports. However, it has long been the practice to submit certified or notarized copies of passports with these applications. The UKBA has confirmed that certified copies will continue to be acceptable, particularly in the case of applicants whose countries' rules forbid sending passports across borders. If a copy is submitted, the applicant may be asked to present the original passport to embassy staff in the applicant's home country.

New Interviews for Students

On July 9, 2012, UKBA announced a targeted interview system for students that would concentrate on high-risk applicants. On arrival to the UK, students will be asked about their immigration and education history, study and post-study plans, and financial circumstances. The UKBA expects to interview up to 14,000 students in the next 12 months. This announcement follows an interviewing pilot carried out by the UKBA last year to tackle concerns about the legitimacy of some applicants. Under the pilot, about a fifth of the applicants were refused entry to the UK based on their interviews. One of the main concerns was the inability of applicants to display the required level of English.

The Tier 4 Sponsor License Guidance notes:

From 30 July, a Tier 4 student applying from outside the UK may be asked to undertake an interview, either in person, or on the telephone. If as a result of this interview the UK Border Agency is not satisfied that the applicant is a genuine student, or the applicant cannot speak English to the required standard (judged as set out at paragraph 245 ZV(ca) of the Immigration Rules), or the application is shown to fall for refusal under the General Grounds for Refusal, the application will be refused.

Sponsor Change of Circumstances

The UKBA no longer notifies a sponsor when certain requests to change sponsor details via the Sponsor Management System (SMS) have been granted. Sponsors can use the “view recent and outstanding requests” or “view user list” functions in the SMS to track the progress and the outcome of some requests.

If the request is refused or rejected, the UKBA will provide the reasons for the refusal or rejection by e-mailing a letter to the Authorising Officer (this will be sent from a “no-reply” e-mail address). If the change of circumstances request has been filed using a Change of Circumstances Form, the UKBA will continue to notify the filer of the outcome by letter.

Warning About Fake UK Border Agency Websites and Calls

Some clients have reported receiving scam emails and telephone calls from people posing as United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) staff members. The UKBA is aware of these scams and also fake websites claiming to be operated by the government.

Scams reported include:

  • Foreign criminals advertising fake UK jobs on the Internet. Individuals who apply are then directed to a link to pay for visa fees;
  • Students at UK universities receiving calls from individuals who claim they work for the UKBA. The caller claims there is a problem with the student's visa application and instructs the student to make a payment immediately to prevent action being taken, including deportation;
  • A request for payment of a deposit as proof that a migrant has sufficient funds to support their arrival in the UK until their first salary is received.

These criminals even have personal information relating to the migrant, such as their passport number or visa reference number, and may appear to be genuine. Migrants should also be aware that sometimes the email appears to be received from a UKBA source and the correct address will appear on the screen; i.e., name.surname@ukborderagency.gsi.gov.uk or name.surname@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk, but when you click on the address, a different email address will be selected. Migrants should be vigilant, particularly when a request for payment is made.

The UKBA has reported the scams to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting center. The agency advises that if anyone believes they have received a suspicious call or email or accessed a suspicious website, they should not give out any personal information, confirm that any personal information they have is correct, or make any payment, and should report the matter online to Action Fraud or by calling Action Fraud at 0300-123-2040.

 
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6. Member News
 

Several ABIL members co-authored and edited the new publication, Global Business Immigration Practice Guide, recently released by LexisNexis. The Practice Guide is a one-stop resource for dealing with questions related to business immigration issues in immigration hotspots around the world.

This comprehensive guide is designed to be used by:

  • Human resources professionals and in-house attorneys who need to instruct, understand, and liaise with immigration lawyers licensed in other countries;
  • Business immigration attorneys who regularly work with multinational corporations and their employees and HR professionals; and
  • Attorneys interested in expanding their practice to include global business immigration services.

This publication provides:

  • An overview of the immigration law requirements and procedures for over 20 countries;
  • Practical information and tips for obtaining visas, work permits, resident status, naturalization, and other nonimmigrant and immigrant pathways to conducting business, investing, and working in those countries;
  • A general overview of the appropriate options for a particular employee; and
  • Information on how an employee can obtain and maintain authorization to work in a target country.

Each chapter follows a similar format, making it easy to compare practices and procedures from country to country. Useful links to additional resources and forms are included. Collected in this Practice Guide, the expertise of ABIL's attorney members across the globe will serve as an ideal starting point in your research into global business immigration issue.

ORDER HERE. International customers who do not want to order through the bookstore can order through Nicole Hahn at (518) 487-3004 or Nicole.hahn@lexisnexis.com.

Green Card Stories. The immigration debate is boiling over. Americans are losing the ability to understand and talk to one another about immigration. We must find a way to connect on a human level. Green Card Stories does just that. The book depicts 50 recent immigrants with permanent residence or citizenship in dramatic narratives, accompanied by artistic photos. If the book's profilees share a common trait, it's a mixture of talent and steely determination. Each of them overcame great challenges to come and stay in America. Green Card Stories reminds Americans of who we are: a nation of immigrants, from all walks of life and all corners of the earth, who have fueled America's success. It tells the true story of our nation: E pluribus unum--out of many, one.

Green Card Stories has won five national awards. It was named a Nautilus book award silver medal winner, and won a silver medal in the Independent Book Publishers Association's Benjamin Franklin Award in the multicultural category. The book also won a Bronze Medal in the Independent Publisher's "IPPY" Awards and an honorable mention for the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award. Ariana Lindquist, the photographer, won a first-place award in the National Press Photographers Association's Best of Photojournalism 2012. Green Card Stories is also featured on National Public Radio's photo blog.

For more information or to order, visit Green Card Stories.

ABIL on Twitter. The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers is now available on Twitter: @ABILImmigration. Recent ABIL member blogs are available HERE.

The following Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers members were listed as "Most Highly Regarded Individuals" under the Corporate Immigration category in Who's Who Legal 2012:

Eugene Chow
Laura Devine
Kehrela Hodkinson
Ronald Klasko
Charles Kuck
Gunther Mävers
Marco Mazzeschi
Angelo Paparelli
Bernard Wolfsdorf
Stephen Yale-Loehr

The following Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers members were listed under Who's Who Legal 2012's Corporate Immigration category:

Enrique Arellano - Profile
Jacqueline Bart - Profile
Bernard Caris - Profile
Maria Celebi - Profile
Francis Chin - Profile
Steven Clark - Profile
Arnold Conyer - Profile
Laura Danielson - Profile
Rami Fakhoury - Profile
Bryan Funai - Profile
Steven Garfinkel - Profile
Avi Gomberg - Profile
Kenneth Ing - Profile
Mark Ivener - Profile
Jelle Kroes - Profile
Robert Loughran - Profile
Katie Malyon - Profile
Sharon Mehlman - Profile
Cyrus Mehta - Profile
John Nahajzer - Profile
Ariel Orrego-Villacorta - Profile
Julie Pearl - Profile
William Reich - Profile
Nicolas Rollason - Profile
Steve Trow - Profile
Karl Waheed - Profile
Chris Watters - Profile

Jacqueline Bart will speak at The Canadian Institute's "Employing Foreign Workers" event on September 20-21, 2012, in Toronto, Canada. This conference is a way for industry, government, and legal professionals in Ontario and Eastern Canada to come together and find solutions to common challenges with respect to foreign workers. The coming changes to the immigration system, plus the networking and exchange of ideas that will take place, make this conference an invaluable event.

Jacqueline Bart also will speak at the 56th UIA Congress in Dresden on November 1, 2012, on "Global Market vs. Protectionism" in the immigration context. She will also co-chair a joint Immigration and Employment Law Commission session on "Global Employees: Immigration Considerations for Employers."

Robert Loughran was quoted in the August 2, 2012, edition of the Wall Street Journal, in "The Renouncers: Who Gave Up U.S. Citizenship, and Why?" Mr. Loughran noted that some Chinese-origin renouncers are feeling newly comfortable with China's political stability, and others are "internationalist" and fear new, expansive interpretations of U.S. laws. On the other hand, he noted that Chinese coming to the United States "value the stability and education available to their children."

Cyrus Mehta has published several new blog entries. "Nightmare in Arizona: Governor Brewer's Nonsensical and Mean-Spirited Executive Order Against Dreamers" "Through The Looking Glass: Adventures With Arrabally And Yerrabelly In Immigration Land"

Angelo Paparelli has published several new blog entries. "Immigration Good Behavior – A Riddle Riddled With Riddles" "Immigration D-Day for DACA: Get Protection!"

 
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