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1. AUSTRALIA - The Australian government has made sweeping changes across a number of Australian immigration programs.
2. BRAZIL - Brazil has enacted several new Normative Resolutions.
3. CANADA - Various changes will become law on April 1, 2011, affecting both Canadian employers and their temporary foreign workers.
4. CHINA - A number of major cities in China have imposed new requirements for work and residence permit applications.
5. FRANCE - Changes have been made to short-term work visas and internships, and requirements have been clarified for assignees and their families.
6. INDIA - Among other things, according to a set of FAQs released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi, foreign nationals seeking to undertake research activities at Indian universities may apply for a research visa.
7. ITALY - A new procedure has been introduced for intra-company transfers and highly skilled workers.
8. NETHERLANDS - Implementation of the Modern Migration Policy bill, which amounts to an overall revamping of the Dutch Aliens Act, has been postponed until mid-2011.
9. TURKEY - Significant changes have been implemented in work permit criteria.
10. UNITED KINGDOM - The government has announced a permanent immigration limit.
 

 
 
1. AUSTRALIA
 

The Australian government has made sweeping changes across a number of Australian immigration programs.

The Australian government has made sweeping changes across a number of Australian immigration programs. Following a review of the skilled independent General Skilled Migration (GSM) program and taking into account the impact of the global financial crisis, there has been a shift from the supply-driven GSM program to demand-driven employer-sponsored migration. Employer-nominated applications for both temporary and permanent residence are now prioritized.

New income threshold and assessment of skills for employer-sponsored temporary residence 457 visas

For employer-sponsored temporary skilled entrants on subclass 457 visas, the income threshold has been increased to A$47,480 per annum (p.a.) as of July 1, 2010. This does not affect the need for foreign national employees to be paid at market salary rates. Occupations eligible for sponsorship under the 457 visa scheme have also changed with applicants in some trade occupations from certain countries now required to have their skills assessed by a relevant Australian assessing body before grant of a 457 visa.

Prioritized processing for agent-certified, employer-nominated permanent residence applications

On October 10, 2010, the Australian government introduced an express pathway whereby immigration professionals who are Registered Migration Agents may certify that applications are fully documented and decision ready. Certified applications are being processing in 1-2 weeks. Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) applications filed (lodged) before that date are taking an average of 5-6 months to process, but cannot be removed from the old queue and relodged to access the new express processing.

Increase in High Income Salary Threshold

Effective December 5, 2010, the annual base salary threshold under the ENS increased for those wishing to apply for a permanent visa under the High Income Salary Threshold from A$165,000 p.a. to A$250,000 p.a.

Changes to the ENS Occupation List

The ENS Occupation List has also been amended effective December 5, 2010, to include 17 new occupations. The occupation of Medical Technician nec [not elsewhere classified] has been removed from the list.

National Health Waiver in place for ENS

All States and Territories in Australia have now joined the Health Waiver program for ENS permanent residence applicants. The Health Waiver program allows applicants to seek a State/Territory government-sanctioned waiver to health criteria required to be met under immigration law where the health of the applicant, or a family member, might otherwise lead to visa refusal.

New Skilled Occupation List introduced July 1, 2010, and revised December 5, 2010

A new GSM occupation list for independent applicants was issued on July 1, 2010, and was revised effective December 5, 2010. The new Skilled Occupation List (SOL) contains fewer than half of the occupations listed under the old SOL. As a result, and due to the express one-to-two-week processing times for ENS applications, many potential GSM applicants are now looking to their employers to nominate them for permanent residence.

New SOL as of July 1, 2011

The Minister for Immigration has announced that the government will overhaul the points-tested GSM program on July 1, 2011, with a greater emphasis on high-level English language skills, work experience, and degree qualifications from Australia or overseas. The age level for applicants will increase from 45 to 49.

State Migration Plans

State Migration Plans that address specific skill shortages and local labor market needs were implemented in late 2010 and early 2011 by all States and Territories except New South Wales.

Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) crackdowns on purchase of homes in Australia by certain temporary visa holders

Increased FIRB screening and compliance measures, including a hotline and a pilot monitoring system, have been introduced to ensure that temporary visa holders comply with FIRB requirements. Statistics show 15 real estate transactions were prevented by FIRB and a further 73 proposed residential real estate purchases have been voluntarily withdrawn in the last 9 months.

Floods in Australia

The Federal Government announced on January 27, 2011, that it will fast-track 457 visa processing for workers engaged on rebuilding work in the wake of the devastating Queensland floods.

457 visa holders and eligibility for Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy

Centrelink is an Australian Government statutory agency that delivers a range of Commonwealth services to the Australian community. Centrelink has confirmed that 457 visa holders and other temporary visa holders who can demonstrate a loss of income from the recent floods in Australia may be eligible for the Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy.

Eligibility for a second 417 Working Holiday visa (WHV) based on flood damage clean-up work

Immigration authorities have advised that WHV holders may qualify for a second WHV visa if they volunteer or undertake paid work assisting in the clean-up of recent flood damage in a designated regional area of Australia. This excludes metropolitan Brisbane.

For more information on working, traveling, or immigrating to Australia, see http://www.immi.gov.au/.

 
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2. BRAZIL
 

Brazil has enacted several new Normative Resolutions.

Normative Resolution No. 92 was enacted on December 23, 2010, amending Normative Resolution No. 82. The new resolution states that "[w]hen dealing with activities of scientific and technological cooperation, the request for the start of activities and team participation should be addressed to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT)."

The application should be filed directly with the consular authority, with a copy of the publication in the Official Gazette that authorized the activity sent to the Minister of State of Science and Technology.

Normative Resolution No. 93 was enacted on December 23, 2010. It provides residence or permanent status to foreigners in Brazil who are considered victims of human trafficking.

The Resolution defines as human trafficking:

The recruitment, transportation, transferring, harboring or receipting of persons, using threat or force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, abuse of authority or position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another for purposes of exploitation.

A visa may be granted for a period of one year to dependents who have proven habitual cohabitation with the victim. Applications for this visa are examined by the Ministry of Justice.

If the applicant wishes to stay in Brazil, he or she must express that intention to the appropriate authorities within 30 days before the expiration of the one-year deadline.

For more information on working, traveling, or immigrating to Brazil, see http://www.v-brazil.com/government/laws/immigration.html.

 
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3. CANADA
 

The new changes are aimed at reducing the opportunity for exploitation of temporary foreign workers by employers and third-party agents, introducing greater employer-accountability mechanisms to ensure adherence by employers to the terms and conditions of their job offers, and clarifying the temporary nature of employment facilitated through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Rigorous assessment of the genuineness of the employment offer

The amendments establish specific factors to assess the genuineness of an employer's offer of employment to a foreign worker both in Labour Market Opinion (LMO) cases and in LMO-exempt cases. These factors include:

  • Whether the offer is made by an employer that is actively engaged in the business with respect to which the offer is made;
  • Whether the offer is consistent with reasonable employment needs of the employer;
  • Whether the terms of the offer are terms that the employer is reasonably able to fulfill; and
  • The past compliance of the employer, or any person who recruited the foreign national for the employer, with the federal or provincial laws that regulate employment, or the recruiting of employees, in the province in which it is intended that the foreign national work.

Ban on employers for non-compliance with a previous LMO

The amendments will render an employer ineligible to seek a work permit on behalf of a foreign worker unless, during the period beginning two years before the initial request for an LMO is made to Service Canada or, in the case of an LMO-exempt work permit, beginning two years before the work permit application is received by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA):

  • The employer provided each of its foreign workers with wages, working conditions and employment consistent with the wages, working conditions and occupation set out in the employer's offer of employment;

OR

  • The failure to do so was justified. Justifications may include:
  • A change in federal or provincial law;
  • A change in the provisions of a collective agreement;
  • The implementation of measures by the employer in response to a dramatic change in economic conditions that directly affected the employer, provided that the measures were not directed disproportionately at foreign nationals employed by the employer;
  • An error in interpretation made in good faith, or an unintentional accounting or administrative error by the employer with respect to its obligations to a foreign national if the employer subsequently provided compensation or made sufficient attempts to do so to all foreign nationals who suffered a disadvantage as a result of the error;
  • Circumstances similar to those set out above.

The assessment is undertaken when a new LMO is requested or, in the case of an LMO-exempt work permit application, when the work permit application is received by CIC/CBSA. Employers must review all LMO applications to ensure compliance during the two-year period preceding April 2011. An internal immigration audit is recommended.

List of banned employers posted on CIC website: naming and shaming

The amendments authorize CIC to maintain a list of banned employers on its website, stating the name and address of each employer and the date that the determination was made. Service Canada will not issue an LMO and CIC/CBSA will not issue a work permit for any employer on the list.

Four-year cap applying to most temporary foreign workers

The amendments provide for a cumulative four-year cap on foreign workers until a period of 48 months (i.e., 4 years) has elapsed. However, exemptions from the four-year cap exist in the following situations:

  • The foreign worker intends to perform work that would create or maintain significant social, cultural, or economic benefits or opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
  • The foreign worker intends to perform work pursuant to an international agreement such as NAFTA/GATT, or the Canada/Chile and Peru Free Trade Agreements.

A foreign worker who has reached the four-year cap may be permitted to apply for status under a non-work category such as a visitor or student. Given the foregoing, it will be necessary for employers to ensure that foreign workers who intend to remain in Canada indefinitely apply for permanent residence immediately to prevent the refusal of future work permits.

For more information on working, traveling, or immigrating to Canada, see http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/index.asp.

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4. CHINA
 

A number of major cities in China have imposed new requirements for work and residence permit applications.

Chinese immigration laws differ from region to region, and policies vary locally. They also change according to shifts in political or social circumstances. For example, the recent World Expo in Shanghai impacted visa issuance, as did the Olympics in Beijing before it.

A number of major cities in China have imposed new requirements for work and residence permit applications:

Beijing: With the exception of children under age 18, applicants for new or amended residence permits (for change of employer) must now file their applications personally with the Public Security Bureau. Pakistani nationals must appear in person for any changes, including changes of address.

Shanghai: Applicants seeking employment authorization in Shanghai can still apply for "Z" entry visas outside their country of citizenship or authorized residence. Invitation letters, necessary for the "Z" visas, will also be granted by Shanghai authorities to applicants applying outside of their countries of citizenship or valid residency.

When foreign national employees leave Shanghai, whether to another city in China or to leave the country altogether, their sponsoring employers must de-register their employment permits by submitting an employment permit cancellation form with the Shanghai Labor Bureau within 10 working days of the departing employee's last day of work or expiration of his or her employment permit, whichever occurs first. This form must be signed by the exiting employee and stamped with the company's seal. This process replaces the employment release letter formerly used by employers, which did not require an employee's signature.

Taiwanese nationals who have special residence and re-entry permits, called Marked Multiple Residence Endorsements, must now submit a copy of their Temporary Residence Registration Form issued by hotels or local police (when staying in private lodgings) as proof of their long-term residence in China.

Guangzhou and Shenzhen: All residence permit applications for dependents must be accompanied by marriage and birth certificates that have been authorized by a Chinese diplomatic post in the country where the certificates were issued. Additionally, certain applicants for employment permits must first submit a police clearance certificate from their country of nationality. These countries include India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

In Shenzhen, as in Shanghai, Taiwanese nationals must submit copies of their Temporary Residence Registration Forms as proof of their long-term residence in China.

For more information on working, traveling, or immigrating to China, see http://www.gov.cn/english/service/immigrating.htm.

 
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5. FRANCE
 

Changes have been made to short-term work visas and internships, and requirements have been clarified for assignees and their families.

Visa waiver for short-term work in France

Nationals of Australia, Brazil, South Korea, United States, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, and Venezuela, traveling to France to work for less than three months do not need to obtain a visa before traveling as long as they have their work permit with them on arrival in France.

Interns at work

Changes to the 2006 law that were decreed on August 25, 2010, redefined and detail the conditions under which students, including foreign students, may complete internships. These new regulations apply to all student internships in the workplace, whether they are enrolled in a French or foreign teaching establishment. Since September 1, 2010, internships that are not part of an academic course are no longer permitted.

New measures for employees on assignment and their families

A November 2010 circular from the Ministry of Immigration details the procedures applicable to employees on assignment and their families. The status of "employee on assignment" has existed since 2007 and facilitates mobility within groups for foreign employees sent on assignment or hired in France by a company from the same group as their home employer. Qualifying employees must have over three months of employment in the group, be coming to France for an initial period of three months to three years, and be paid at least one-and-a-half times the French minimum wage (SMIC).

Short-term assignments: creation of a specific procedure

The "employee on assignment" status now contains a specific procedure for shorter assignments of under three months. In an effort to simplify procedures, work permit requests of under three months that meet the "employee on assignment" criteria will lead to the issuance of 12-month work authorizations. Visas with multiple entries will also be delivered to those who must obtain visas. The beneficiary may now undertake assignments of up to three months in a six-month period, instead of having to request an authorization for each short-term assignment.

Length of "employee on assignment" residence permits

When a work permit authorization under "employee on assignment" status has been granted for a period of over three months, the residence permit must now be valid for three years. Contrary to practices observed previously, the Préfectures will not be allowed to limit the validity of residence permits when the assignments are planned to last less than three years.

New procedures for application processing

From December 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, the districts of Paris, Hauts de Seine, and Rhône, will put in place a new "guichet unique" (single counter) service for the "employee on assignment" procedures. Work authorization requests must be sent directly to the OFII, which will liaise with the Labour Authorities and Consulates.

The right to work for the spouse of an employee on assignment

The circular restates that spouses of employees on assignment for six months or more are to be given dependent residence permits and may hold a professional occupation while in France. When the assignment of the employee is less than six months, the spouse is given visitor status, which does not permit him or her to work.

A reminder: no second-rank secondments

The circular reconfirms the position that employees on assignment seconded (temporarily transferred) to a French company belonging to the same group as the home employer cannot then be seconded by the host company to another firm.

Renewal of the "employee on assignment" residence permit

The circular confirms that the residence permit is renewable, in principle, so long as evidence is provided to show that the initial conditions (terms and compensation) that led to the delivery of the initial residence permit are still met. However, the text also confirms that "employee on assignment" - seconded status cannot be maintained indefinitely and cannot lead to 10-year residence cards because the presence is temporary in nature.

For more information on working, traveling, or immigrating to France, see http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/espaces_dedies.php3?id_rubrique=2045.

 
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6. INDIA
 

Research visas

According to a set of FAQs released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi, foreign nationals seeking to undertake research activities at Indian universities may apply for a research visa. Research visas can be obtained at Indian consular offices abroad and are generally issued for a maximum period of three years or for the duration of the research project, whichever is less. Research visas may be extended for up to two years at a local Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Office (FRO). In exceptional cases, a one-time, additional six-month extension may be granted.

Students who have completed a three-year regular degree course or post-graduate course in India may change their visa status and obtain a research visa from the local FRRO or FRO. Persons registered as Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) must obtain special permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs if they wish to undertake research activities in India.

Tourist visas-on-arrival

According to an announcement by the Indian Consulate in Dubai, as of January 1, 2011, nationals of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam who seek to visit India as tourists will be eligible to obtain a tourist visa upon arrival at the Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata Airports only. This single-entry visa allows such foreign nationals to remain in the country for up to 30 days as long as their activities are confined to tourism. This privilege was granted in January 2010 to nationals of Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and Singapore.

Project visas

The Indian government issued a new project ("P") visa as described in the new FAQs issued in December 2010. This visa applies only to foreign nationals seeking to work in the power or steel sectors. Selected important points from the FAQs include:

  • The number of foreign workers who may work on a project visa in any unit in these industries is restricted to numeric limits, or caps. The cap varies depending on the unit's activities and production capacity. The cap in the power sector varies within a range from 50 to 281 individuals while in the steel sector it varies from 5% of the work force, or 150 individuals, to 10% of the work force, or 300 individuals, again depending on the capacity of the project and whether it is a green field project or a brown field project. If there are needs that may necessitate going beyond these numeric caps, the Indian consular posts will forward such applications to the Indian Ministry of Labor and Employment, which will decide them on a case-by-case basis.
  • The total manpower requirement must be determined at the stage of conceptualization of the project. The deployment of foreign nationals to work on ongoing projects will be decided on a case-by-case basis by the Indian Ministry of Labor and Employment. The FAQs also include a special visa application form that must be used when applying for a project visas.
  • The visa will be granted with specific notations enabling the individual to work only on the project for which the visa was granted. Project visas are valid for one year, or for the duration of the project, whichever is less. Also, these multiple entry visas cannot be extended without the approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs. A person who has been granted a project visa cannot be employed by the company that executed the project for a period of two years from the date of commissioning of the project. During this two-year period, if this individual needs to visit India to attend to emergency maintenance or other urgent issues, he or she will be granted a non-extendable business visa.

Compliance with minimum salary requirements

In 2010, the Indian government had introduced a provision that required all employers to pay foreign national employees a minimum annual salary of US$ 25,000. According to new guidelines issued by the Indian government in December 2010, any perquisites like housing, telephone, transportation, or entertainment, which are received in kind, should not be included when computing the salary of the individual. Persons who are already employed for a salary below US$ 25,000 are given an opportunity to extend their visa for a period of three months, during which time they must provide documentary evidence to show that they will receive an annual salary of US$ 25,000 going forward. These Guidelines also describe how foreign nationals in the entertainment industry should comply with the minimum salary requirements.

For more information on working, traveling, or immigrating to India, see http://passport.gov.in/.

 
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7. ITALY
 

A new procedure has been introduced for intra-company transfers and highly skilled workers.

The Italian government recently approved and introduced a new procedure to help facilitate the transfer of intra-company assignments and highly skilled workers. The new online procedure will be available only to companies who register with the Ministry of Interior and comply with the mandatory requirements, such as applicable minimum social security payments. Participating companies will be entitled to avoid filing work permit applications and submitting documents that have been previously requested.

The registration procedure will be facilitated for any company that is a member of an industrial association. Because the government is still introducing this online work permit application process, the details of the new procedure remain in the implementation stage and not all information has been provided.

The new procedure will include the following:

  1. The company must sign a framework agreement with the Ministry. For this purpose, the company must contact the Ministry and provide a copy of a certificate filed with the company’s register, bylaws and articles of incorporation.
  2. The Ministry will forward to the company a draft framework agreement that must be approved and signed by the company. The company may also ask the local industry association (Confindustria), provided it is a member, to adhere to the agreement that has already been stipulated between the Confindustria and the Ministry.
  3. After the execution of the agreement, the company is given a password and access to the online system and can file new applications according to the new procedure.
  4. Applications filed under the new procedure will be subject to the security checks on each individual by the police, while a clearance from the Labour Office will no longer be required.
  5. When the application is approved (the status may be checked through the online system), the individual applicant will receive a work permit approval and will be entitled to request the employment visa at the relevant Consulate.
  6. Once the employment visa is issued, and within eight days from entry into Italy, the individual applicant still must execute a Contract of Stay at the Immigration Office (Sportello Unico) and subsequently file the permit of stay application.

Serious bureaucratic delays expected

While new simpler procedures are being introduced, serious delays in work permit issuance are occurring as a result of government cut backs and resulting strikes at various Prefecture offices, which issue work permits, across Italy. In addition, many Prefectures are not issuing appointments for those work permit holders who have entered Italy and must sign a contract of stay within eight days, as a result of which they cannot apply for their residence permits.

For more information on working, traveling, or immigrating to Italy, see http://www1.interno.it/mininterno/export/sites/default/it/temi/immigrazione/english_version/.

 
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8. NETHERLANDS
 

Implementation of the Modern Migration Policy bill, which amounts to an overall revamping of the Dutch Aliens Act, has been postponed until mid-2011.

The Modern Migration Policy bill (MMP), which will amount to an all-over revamping of the Dutch Aliens Act, was intended to take effect on January 1, 2011. Due to information and communication technology (ICT) issues, implementation has been postponed until mid-2011. The MMP introduces a system entirely focused on the sponsor. Sponsors will be allowed to apply on behalf of the foreigner for a visa and residence permit. The sponsor will face stricter obligations under the MMP, sanctioned with financial and administrative penalties. Companies acting as sponsors may apply for recognized status from Immigratie en Naturalisatiedienst (IND), giving them access to facilitated visa procedures, in particular for knowledge migrants.

The Knowledge Migrant Scheme, a fast-track immigration program based on salary thresholds, is still the most relevant immigration scheme for highly skilled migrants. The salary thresholds as of January 1, 2011, are as follows: foreigners aged 30 or over must earn a gross annual salary of € 50,619. For foreigners under the age of 30, the knowledge migrant salary threshold is € 37,121. For foreign students graduated in the Netherlands, the threshold is € 26,605. The government plans to introduce a skills test, but no such legislation has been proposed yet.

The EU Blue Card will definitely be implemented this year. It was intended to be introduced together with the MMP, but since the MMP has been delayed, the EU Blue Card will most likely come into force on June 19, 2011, which is the final implementation date for EU members to implement EU Directive 2009/50 in national legislation, in the absence of which the Directive has a direct effect and must be respected by the national authorities when anyone invokes its provisions. The EU Blue Card is primarily based on a salary threshold. The Dutch government has announced a threshold of € 60,000 gross annual salary.

The points-based system for independent entrepreneurs and investors was eased somewhat as of October 22, 2010. Before this date, at least 30 points had to be scored for each of the three categories: personal experience, business plan, and added value to the Netherlands. Under the new policy rules, 45 points or more in each of the first two categories are also sufficient, rendering the criteria "added value to the Netherlands" no longer decisive for foreign entrepreneurs and investors who apply for a residence permit.

As of January 1, 2011, sponsors or guarantors of applicants for a short-stay Schengen visa will have to use a new form with the name "proof of guarantee and/or private provision of accommodation." This form replaces the old invitation letter and the sponsor declaration. The form has to be authorized by the municipality where the sponsor or guarantee is located, before it is sent to the consulate.

For more information on working, traveling, or immigrating to the Netherlands, see http://www.newtoholland.nl/NewToHolland/app/en/home?init=true.

 
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9. TURKEY
 

Significant changes have been implemented in work permit criteria.

Turkey's Ministry of Labor and Social Security released a communiqué on July 28, 2010, regarding the criteria to be considered in adjudicating work permits. This communiqué is pursuant to Article 13 of the Implementation Regulation on the Foreigner's Work Permit Code #4817. It was a first for the Ministry to publicly announce concrete details of the factors in adjudication. The communiqué is posted at http://www.yabancicalismaizni.gov.tr/tr/index.html.

The Ministry indicates in the communiqué that in adjudicating work permits, the following criteria must be met:

  1. New 5:1 Ratio: At least five Turkish citizen employees per foreign applicant as evidenced on payroll records. (Exception: for a newly established legal entity founded by a foreign individual. If that investor owns at least 20% (but amounting to not less than Turkish Lira/TRY 40,000) worth of shares of the entity, and if within 6 months, the five-employee criteria can be met, a work permit may be approved for the foreign partner/investor.)
  2. Capital Requirements: The employer's paid in capital must be at least TRY 100,000. In the alternative, the employer can show a gross (assumedly annual) sales amounting to TRY 800,000, OR exports with a gross annual value of USD 250,000. (Exception: in the case of a non-profit or private employer, criterion #2 will not apply.)
  3. Salary: The foreign employee's salary must be commensurate with the position offered. More specifically, certain managers, pilots, engineers/architects, and teachers cannot be paid less than a specified amount times the minimum wage. All others cannot be paid less than 1.5 times the minimum wage.

The communiqué offers guidance on other professions and workplaces as well.

Additionally, changes were issued in the Official Gazette on July 31, 2010, to the "Application Regulation of the Law No. 4817 Related with Work Permits for Foreigners."

The two most significant amendments specify:

  1. Online Filing: Work permit applications may now only be filed online. The signed application form and supporting documents must be sent to the Ministry within 6 business days from the online application date.
  2. Employer's Finances: The Ministry now again requires the last year's profit-and-loss statement and balance sheet approved by the certified financial advisor or Tax Office. (Note that this is the reverse of the decision in February 2010 no longer to require them in most cases.)

2010 saw an unprecedented level of changes in Turkish immigration law, both in procedure and detail of adjudication criteria. Last fall, the implementation of the online filing system caused a tremendous increase in adjudication time and formal "requests for further documentation." It is hoped that many of the above changes will be integrated fully soon, and that adjudication will return to a smoother process.

For more information on working, traveling, or immigrating to Turkey, see http://www.mfa.gov.tr/sub.en.mfa?cc4e437c-6769-4d79-9017-10b63c651224.

 
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10. UNITED KINGDOM
 

The government has announced a permanent immigration limit.

On November 23, 2010, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced the government’s plans for a limit on work visas beginning on April 1, 2011. There will be an annual cap of 21,700 on the number of skilled and highly skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area allowed into the United Kingdom (UK).

Tier 1

The Tier 1 (General) non-sponsored route for the highly skilled will be closed. This route is already subject to an interim limit introduced on April 19, 2010, under which only 600 visas have been available globally per month. The Tier 1 (General) monthly limits were reached on the day on which they were released on December 1, 2010.

A new Tier 1 route for persons of exceptional talent will be introduced. This will cover migrants who have won international recognition in scientific and cultural fields, or who show sufficient exceptional promise to be awarded such recognition in the future. Applications by those with exceptional promise must be endorsed by a competent body in the relevant field. The "exceptional talent" category will be subject to a limit of 1,000.

Tier 2 (General)

The Tier 2 (General) route will be subject to an annual limit of 20,700 for 2011/12. The limit will not apply to in-country applications from those already in the UK or their dependents. Nor will it include Tier 2 (General) new hires who are filling a vacancy with a salary of more than £150,000. The Tier 2 (Sportsperson) and Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) routes will also be exempt from the limit.

Beginning on April 1, 2011, Tier 2 (General) applications will be restricted to graduate-level vacancies. The Migration Advisory Committee will advise the UK Border Agency on what are to be considered graduate-level jobs, and the graduate occupation list will be amended accordingly. Existing Tier 2 (General) migrants in jobs below graduate level will be able to extend their permission to stay if they meet current requirements. The minimum level of English language competency will be increased from basic to intermediate level (B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference).

Applications for certificates of sponsorship will, where the limit applies, be considered on a monthly basis. If the monthly allocation is oversubscribed, applications will be ranked according to whether they are for shortage occupations; the post requires higher academic qualifications and salary. Potential workers who are granted a certificate of sponsorship will have three months in which to apply for a visa.

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfers)

The limit will not include those applying under the Tier 2 (intra-company transfer) category. Intra-company transferees in the "established staff" subcategory paid more than £40,000 will be able to stay in the UK for up to 5 years; those paid between £24,000 and £40,000 will be able to enter for up to 12 months within a specified period. The current rules will continue to apply to Tier 2 (intra-company transfer) migrants in the "graduate trainee" and "skills transfer" sub-categories.

Applications for certificates of sponsorship will, where the limit applies, be considered on a monthly basis. If the monthly allocation is oversubscribed, applications will be ranked according to whether they are for shortage occupations; the post requires higher academic qualifications and salary. Potential workers who are granted a certificate of sponsorship will have three months in which to apply for a visa.

Settlement

There will be a new criminality threshold, requiring applicants to be clear of unspent convictions, for all those applying for settlement (permanent residence). Tier 1 and Tier 2 migrants applying for settlement will need to meet the salary criteria that applied when they last extended their permission to stay and will be required to show English language skills (in addition to the current knowledge of life in the UK).

For more information on working, traveling, or immigrating to the United Kingdom, see http://www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en/.

 
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