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1. BELGIUM - New sanctions and measures against employers of unauthorized workers have been implemented, as has a new legal framework for enhanced inspection coordination relating to the employment of foreign nationals. Also, the administrative fees for residence permits have increased.
2. CANADA - The Federal Skilled Worker Program reopens in May; certain new permanent residence application categories are now open.
3. GERMANY - The EU Blue Card visa category is an interesting option available to companies assigning personnel to Germany.
4. NETHERLANDS - The new Modern Migration Policy Act amounts to a complete revamp of the Dutch Aliens Act with respect to employment, study, and family reunification.
5. RUSSIA - Quotas for foreign workers and associated procedures are causing problems.
6. UNITED KINGDOM - Various new developments have been announced; a commentary follows below the news.
7. Member News - Member News
 

 
 
1. BELGIUM
 

New sanctions and measures against employers of unauthorized workers have been implemented, as has a new legal framework for enhanced inspection coordination relating to the employment of foreign nationals. Also, the administrative fees for residence permits have increased.

New Sanctions/Measures

The Belgian Act, dated February 11, 2013, provides for sanctions and measures against employers of third-country nationals without authorization. The law implements European Directive 2009/52.

Under the new rules, in addition to already existing sanctions, an employer who employs third-country nationals staying in Belgium without authorization can be sanctioned financially (for example, back payment of remunerations, taxes, and social security contributions).

A potential employer of a third-country national also is subject to a threefold "information obligation." The employer must: (1) verify before the start of employment whether the third-country national holds a valid residence permit or other authorization of stay; (2) keep available for inspection a copy or record of the residence permit or other authorization to stay; and (3) notify the authorities of the start and termination of employment under the applicable rules. Infringement of these rules, including document fraud of which the employer was aware, is considered a serious infringement under the Code on Labor and Social Security Criminal Law.

The Belgian Act also provides sanctions and, to some extent, potential liability with regard to a portion of wages for parties who work, directly or indirectly, as a contractor or subcontractor, with employers of unauthorized third-country nationals.

These new provisions took effect March 4, 2013.

Legal Framework for Enhanced Inspection Coordination

Inspections for compliance relating to the employment of foreign nationals in Belgium is a responsibility at both the federal and regional levels (Brussels, Flanders, and Walloon Regions, and the German-speaking community).

On June 11, 2011, the Belgian federal authorities entered into a cooperation agreement with these regional authorities. The agreement will enhance inspections related to the employment of foreign nationals in Belgium by coordinating inspections and facilitating the exchange of information between the inspection services.

The Belgian federal authorities have approved the cooperation agreement by an Act dated March 1, 2013, which took effect March 31, 2013.

Increase in Administrative Fees for Residence Permits

Belgian residence permits are electronic identification cards, issued by the municipal authorities but produced by an external company. The Belgian Ministry of Interior Affairs recently decided to slightly increase (from 3 to 5 EUR) the fees that are charged to municipalities for these electronic ID cards. The overall fees charged to applicants also will increase.

A Royal Decree dated March 15, 2013, that took effect on April 1 determines the new fees chargeable to the municipal authorities:

  • The fee for "regular" processing (3 to 5 weeks) of an electronic residence permit is now 15 EUR;
  • If transport of the permits is handled exclusively by an external company, the fees for "very urgent" processing (2 working days) and "urgent" processing (3 working days) are 180 and 116 EUR, respectively. If the municipality is also involved in the transport of the permits, these fees may be 86 or 57 EUR, respectively.
 
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2. CANADA
 

The Federal Skilled Worker Program reopens in May; certain new permanent residence application categories are now open.

Canadian Federal Skilled Worker Program to Re-Open Doors on May 4, 2013

After more than a 10-month pause in accepting applications under the Canadian Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program, with the exception of candidates under the PhD stream or those with a qualifying job offer, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has announced that the FSW Program will re-open on May 4, 2013. All of the details of the modified FSW Program have not been released yet, but it is clear that although the new FSW selection system will remain points-based, significant changes to the FSW selection criteria are on the horizon.

The new FSW selection system will establish a minimum threshold for official language ability in English/French and will award increased points for official language proficiency. Another major change is that designated organizations will need to assess the education of applicants wishing to be awarded points for their education, before they arrive in Canada. The new FSW selection system will award increased points for age to applicants aged 18 to 36 than under the previous FSW Program, privileging younger immigrants who are expected to make greater contributions to the Canadian economy. For applicants to receive any points for arranged employment, those who are not exempt will need both an indeterminate job offer and a Labour Market Opinion from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

As with the previous program, the new FSW Program will include a list of priority occupations designated by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and will limit the number of applications that will be accepted in the first year of the program. Qualified applicants should submit their applications as soon as possible because the number of applicants is expected to be high due to the prior temporary freeze on applications to the program.

Certain New Canadian Permanent Residence Application Categories Now Open

Foreign workers seeking to apply for permanent residence in Canada may now do so based on three new categories. Some of these permanent residence categories have caps and restricted occupations, such as the new Federal Skilled Trades Class and the Skilled Worker Class. For example, the Federal Skilled Trades Class only accepts up to 100 applicants within certain types of occupations. Most of the new permanent residence categories have already opened and are accepting applications, except for the skilled worker class, which cannot be filed before May 4, 2013. The lead time to prepare an application for government filing is approximately two to three months. It is recommended that clients wishing to file applications for permanent residence under these new or existing permanent residence categories start the application preparation process now, and conduct their language tests and obtain documentation in support of their credentials assessments and/or certificates of accreditation early in the process.

 
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3. GERMANY
 

The EU Blue Card visa category is an interesting option available to companies assigning personnel to Germany.

The German residence and work permit regulations are complex. Regulations have to be well understood to maximize the chances for success of international transfers. Even if the German labor market is basically still affected by the so-called ban on recruitment (i.e., the categorical ban on the recruitment of foreign employees), foreign employees can regularly be employed under certain circumstances in practice.

In particular, there are certain advantages to employing highly qualified staff compared to “normal” staff. There is a considerable accumulated need in Germany for highly qualified employees against the background of intensified global competition for the most qualified labor.

The relatively high former salary threshold for executives and the highly skilled (€86,400 gross until December 31, 2008) had been reduced significantly (to €67,000 gross per year as of January 1, 2012) and was further reduced last year. Effective August 1, 2012, the salary threshold was eliminated for the highly skilled visa category. It was reduced by the implementation of the European Union (EU) Blue Card Directive and the implementation of the EU Blue Card (Blaue Karte EU) visa category in Germany. As of January 1, 2013, the salary threshold now is €46,400 gross for academic persons and is down to €36,192 gross for certain job categories (such as natural scientists, mathematicians, engineers, doctors, or IT consultants) and applicants holding a degree from a German university.

The grant of a residence permit to take up employment under the EU Blue Card visa category is possible without the need for a job market test, which cuts the processing time to 4-8 weeks instead of 8-12 weeks for visa categories that can only be granted once a job market test has been carried out. However, the conditions of employment must be comparable to those that would be offered for the position to a person from the local (German and EU) job market. It is not yet clear if a local employment contract is required for the EU Blue Card.

The EU Blue Card may be granted as a settlement permit after a certain period of time if the employee has duly contributed to the social security system. This is an advantage for the holder of the permit but not necessarily for the sponsor, because the permit is not linked to employment with a specific company. Nevertheless, the EU Blue Card visa category is a very interesting option available to companies assigning personnel to Germany.

 
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4. NETHERLANDS
 

The new Modern Migration Policy Act amounts to a complete revamp of the Dutch Aliens Act with respect to employment, study, and family reunification.

The Modern Migration Policy Act (MOMI) will take effect on June 1, 2013. MOMI amounts to a complete revamp of the Dutch Aliens Act with respect to employment, study, and family reunification. The Immigration Service (IND) promises that employers will see shorter processing times and simplified filing procedures. On the other hand, companies will face more compliance responsibilities and financial penalties.

MOMI introduces a system in which the sponsor is the most relevant actor. Sponsors may apply on behalf of the foreigner for a long-stay visa (MVV) and residence permit.

Under MOMI, only companies that are recognized by the IND as "recognized" sponsors will be able to employ highly skilled migrants. Recognized sponsors will have access to a facilitated application procedure. The processing time by the IND will be two weeks.

The formal filing procedure will also change. Under MOMI, only a single application for the MVV and the residence permit is required. The residence card will be ready for the foreigner to pick up at an IND office immediately after arriving in the Netherlands.

According to the new legislation, all sponsors have essentially three obligations: a duty to inform; an administration duty; and a duty of care. Sanctions for noncompliance with these obligations will range from a warning to EUR 4,500, or even withdrawal of recognized sponsorship. In addition to these sanctions, the IND will be able to recover repatriation costs from sponsoring employers if, within a year after the sponsorship has ended, the foreign worker remains in the Netherlands illegally.

 
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5. RUSSIA
 

Quotas for foreign workers and associated procedures are causing problems.

Russia's national quota system requires companies to forecast the number of foreign workers they will need to hire in the following year. The most sensitive current issue in Russian immigration is the quotas set for these workers and their associated procedures and problems.

Many companies that filed quota applications for the year 2013 got a full rejection in 2012. The government's reasons varied, but the most common included "have not eliminated violations of employment of foreign nationals and use of quotas within previous years and 2012" as well as "the possibility to find local (Russian) labor instead."

A number of companies whose quotas were initially approved may also lose them due to a recent decision of the Interdepartmental Committee on the Employment of Foreign Nationals. The reasons for this rejection may include: "violation of labor legislation with reference to occupational safety and health"; "non-compliance with terms and complete payment of salary as well as firing of Russian employees to replace them with foreign nationals"; "violation of tax legislation with reference to late payment of taxes as well as companies taken off the tax records and in the process of liquidation"; "lack of notification of employment centers on employment of foreign nationals"; "non-compliance with law #90 dated December 22, 1994, on quota allocation of workplaces"; and "lack of notification of employment centers on existing vacant positions."

The same Interdepartmental Committee issued a resolution stating that companies whose quota applications for 2013 were rejected will not be able to obtain employment permits (and hence work permits) for non-quota positions either. In such instances, the Labor Department will issue a Conclusion on the unreasonable employment of foreign workers, and the Federal Migration Service will issue an official refusal of employment permit processing. Observers do not expect this to affect processing of non-quota work permits for Commonwealth of Independent States (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine) nationals because the application is filed and processed only by the Federal Migration Service and the Labor Department of Moscow is not involved.

If a company's 2013 quota was rejected, it has only two options to employ foreign nationals:

  1. File a quota amendment application for the year 2013. The company will need to file additional documents confirming the lack of a violation or explain why Russian nationals cannot fill current positions (depending on the reason for initial rejection). There is no guarantee that the application will be approved. It usually takes at least two months for the government to review the application.
  2. Process a "highly qualified specialist" work permit.
Companies whose applications were rejected by mistake should send an official query to the Labor Department for Moscow with a request to provide clarification.
 
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6. UNITED KINGDOM
 

Various new developments have been announced; a commentary follows below the news.

UK Border Agency Conducts Business Helpdesk Pilot

Since the introduction of the Points-Based System in the United Kingdom (UK), it has often been difficult to contact relevant UKBA staff to obtain status updates. This has caused frustration for businesses, which need more certainty and timely information when applying to sponsor migrants. In response to requests from the Immigration Law Practitioners Association, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) ran a Business Helpdesk Pilot until the end of March 2013. Following the trial and subject to satisfactory feedback, the UKBA will consider expanding the service to include businesses based overseas.

The time frames for obtaining updates under the pilot were as follows:

  • Status updates for applications made in the UK should be provided within two working days of the request;
  • More complex queries, such as interpreting guidance or when anomalous situations arise, should be provided within three working days; and
  • Passport/identity document-checking service, where there are concerns regarding a migrant's right to work in the UK, should be provided within 10 working days.

Changes to Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Category

On January 31, 2013, changes to the Immigration Rules for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route of the Points-Based System took force.

UK Immigration Minister Mark Harper explained that the changes were being made in an effort to tackle what he described as "abuse of the entrepreneur migration route." Specifically, Mr. Harper cited "strong evidence" that fake businesses were being created and applicant funds were being recycled to game the system and fraudulently establish the eligibility of multiple applications.

Significantly, in addition to applying prospectively to any applications made on or after January 31, 2013, almost all of the changes will apply retroactively to applications filed before this date but not yet decided.

Funds

Before the changes, applicants needed to demonstrate only the availability of sufficient funds to meet the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) requirements at the time of application. Under the amended rules, to be considered "available," funds must now meet the following criteria on an ongoing basis:

  • be in the possession of the applicant;
  • be in the financial accounts of a UK-incorporated business of which the applicant is a director; or
  • be available from the third party or parties named in the application.

Additionally, applications made on or after January 31 that will rely on third-party funds must include a declaration from the third-party donor confirming that the funds will continue to remain available to the applicant until such time as they are transferred to either the applicant or the applicant's business.

Genuineness

UKBA caseworkers may test the credibility of applicants whom they deem suspicious. This may come in the form of additional questions as well as in-person interviews. Information used to assess the genuineness of an application may include but is not limited to:

  • evidence submitted by the applicant;
  • the viability and credibility of the source of the funds;
  • the viability and credibility of the applicant's business plan;
  • the previous educational and business experience of the applicant; and
  • the previous immigration history of the applicant.

Curtailment of Leave

For individuals who have already obtained leave as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrant, the UKBA may now curtail that leave if funds used for the application are no longer available (as defined above), unless the funds were already spent in setting up or running the venture. It should be noted that "spent" does not include spending on one's own remuneration.

UK Border Agency Accepts Migration Advisory Committee Recommendations on Changes to Appropriate Salary Rates for Occupations

On March 4, 2013, the UKBA published its latest Statement of Intent, accepting the Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC) recommendations on changes to appropriate salary rates for occupations effective April 6. The main changes are:

  • Pay thresholds for experienced workers should be set at the 25th percentile (which allows for regional and industry variation in salaries without overcomplicating the system) for full-time employees in each occupation, using the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE);
  • A new, lower pay threshold for new entrant employees should be set at the 10th percentile of the pay distribution for full-time employees in that occupation;
  • New entrants should be subject to the 25th percentile threshold when applying for leave to remain after three years (in practice this means that any extension applications that take the migrant's stay in Tier 2 and/or the work permit arrangements beyond three years, including settlement applications); and
  • For some occupations (such as those in the health and education sectors, part-qualified architects, and barristers undertaking pupillages), the appropriate rates should use "bespoke" pay scales rather than "new entrant" and "experienced" rates. ["Bespoke" in this context means tailored to the broader spectrum of the occupation as opposed to falling into "new entrant" or "experienced" rates.] These occupations will not be subject to the above rules on pay progression.
New entrant employees are defined as:
  • Graduates switching from Tier 4 into Tier 2 under UKBA post-study provisions;
  • Graduate recruits where the employer has used a university "milkround" to satisfy the Resident Labour Market Test ["milkround" refers to employers in the UK visiting university career fairs to promote their companies and advertise open positions to prospective graduates];
  • Those sponsored in the Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Trainee route; and
  • Anyone age 25 or under on the date of their initial Tier 2 application (analysis shows that workers normally reach the 25th percentile by age 26).

In all cases, applicants will not be classed as new entrant employees if they are applying to extend their total stay in Tier 2 and/or as a work permit holder beyond three years and one month (the maximum grant for initial Tier 2 applications). This is a slight change from the definition proposed by the MAC, which referred to the number of years since leaving full-time education. This would have required employers and the UKBA to see and verify an applicant's educational history. It may also not always be clear when an applicant left full-time education.

Minimum rates of pay will be increased across the Tier 2 categories as follows:

  • Tier 2 (General), up from £20,000 to £20,300
  • Tier 2 (General) jobs that are exempt from advertising in Jobcentre Plus, up from £70,000 to £71,000
  • Tier 2 (General) jobs that are exempt from the annual limit and the Resident Labour Market Test, up from £150,000 to £152,100
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Short-Term Staff, Skills Transfer, or Graduate Trainee, up from £24,000 to £24,300
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Long-Term Staff, up from £40,000 to £40,600
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) for workers who can extent their stay in the UK for up to nine years, up from £150,000 to £152,100; and

Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson) earnings that qualify for settlement, up from £35,000 for settlement applications made on or after April 6, 2016, and £35,500 for settlement applications made on or after April 6, 2018.

SOC Codes To Be Updated on April 6

The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes for Tier 2 will be updated from SOC 2000 to SOC 2010 on April 6, 2013. This will result in many of the job titles and SOC numbers changing. To make the transition easier for sponsors, the UKBA has provided a comparison between the two at Annex C, page 31 of the Statement of Intent. From a practical perspective, the change to SOC 2010 will have implications for assigning certificates of sponsorship as follows:

  • Any unrestricted certificates of sponsorship prepared before April 6 but not assigned will need to have the "job type" field amended and an appropriate SOC 2010 job type selected;
  • Any restricted certificates of sponsorship (RCoS) granted will need to be assigned before April 6 because the "job type" field cannot be amended to the new SOC 2010. If it cannot be assigned, a new application for a RCoS will need to be submitted;
  • During the transitional phase, the timings of the monthly allocation for RCoS will need to change for March, April, and May; rather than accepting applications from March 6 to April 5 to be decided on April 11, the UKBA will accept applications from April 6 to April 17 and decisions on these applications will be made on April 19. Applications for the May allocation of RCoS will be accepted from April 18 to May 5 and decisions will be made on May 13. The monthly allocation process for June will revert to the usual schedule.

If an RCoS is required urgently between March 6 and April 18, the application must be submitted through SMS and exceptional consideration requested by e-mail to Tier2Limits@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. This e-mail must be forwarded to the UKBA on the same day as the application for an RCoS is submitted.

New Immigration Rules - Changes to Tier 2

The UKBA announced on March 14, 2013, new Immigration Rules to be introduced on April 6, 2013. The categories of migrants affected by these changes include Points-Based System migrants, as well as foreign migrant spouses of British nationals. The changes to Tier 2 include:

  • As noted in the last Global Immigration Update, Tier 2 migrants who leave the UK and whose leave expires are subject to a 12-month "cooling-off period" before they can return under Tier 2. The UKBA is making this change in response to requests from businesses to reduce the impact of this policy on their ability to recruit and transfer very senior staff. The change means that the "cooling-off period" will no longer apply to Tier 2 migrants being sponsored in a job with an annual salary of £152,100 or more. 
  • A further change is that Intra-Company Transferees earning £152,100 or more annually will be exempted from the current requirement of proving their English-language ability when they extend their stay in the UK beyond three years.
  • To reduce administrative burdens on applicants and sponsoring employers, the UKBA is changing the requirement that Intra-Company Transferees provide 12 months of payslips to prove they have worked for their sponsoring employer's organization for at least 12 months. The 12-month prior employment rule will continue to apply but will need to be confirmed through the provision of payslips only where there is any doubt.
  • The UKBA is changing the post-study work provision for students graduating in the UK to switch into Tier 2. The existing rules require such students to have existing valid leave and to have graduated during a period of continuous leave, which includes their current grant of leave. Breaks in leave of up to 28 days will now be acceptable, in line with the policy on overstayers established in HC 194 (set before Parliament on June 13, 2012). The changes also clarify that undergraduate master's degrees are eligible under the provisions as well as postgraduate master's degrees.
  • To improve flexibility, the UKBA is adjusting the permitted changes to a Tier 2 migrant's salary that may be made without requiring a fresh application. The changes permit reductions in salary as well as increases, provided the salary does not fall below the appropriate rate for the occupation or any overall salary threshold that applies to the applicant. These changes apply in addition to the existing provisions for maternity, paternity, or adoption leave; long-term sick leave; and company-wide reductions in pay to avoid redundancies.
  • The UKBA is confirming that Tier 2 (General) migrants may apply for extensions to continue working in the same occupation (not just the same job) with the same sponsor, without a Resident Labour Market Test being required.

Migration Advisory Committee Publishes Recommendations for Shortage Occupation List and Creative Occupations in Tier 2

Following a call for evidence issued by the MAC in September 2012 on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and review of the creative occupations in Tier 2, the MAC published the following recommendations on February 15, 2013:

  • Reducing employment covered by the UK's SOL to 180,000 employees, or less than 1 per cent of the total workforce. This was in excess of 1 million in 2008 but the MAC has steadily decreased it following regular reviews;
  • Increasing the number of engineering jobs on the SOL by 20 and reducing the number of jobs in the health sector by 19;
  • Not automatically removing jobs from the SOL after two years, as proposed by the government, but maintaining the status quo or removing jobs after four years with an opportunity to appeal against removal. The MAC removes jobs periodically anyway when they no longer meet the criteria for inclusion. It recognizes that the government may wish to impose some time limit to focus employers on the need for "up-skilling" in certain sectors;
  • Maintaining the present system within Tier 2 for creative occupations that do not require the National Qualifications Framework level 6 (NQF6), the usual skill level needed to qualify for a Tier 2 visa. The government had asked MAC to examine whether there should be a separate route within Tier 2 for such creative occupations. The MAC suggested that the present system should be maintained whereby certain specified creative occupations (actors; authors; artists; dancers; choreographers; and product, clothing, and related designers) do not have to pass the skill threshold.

The chairman of the MAC, Professor David Metcalf, CBE, has said that overall migration through the Tier 2 visa routes is already limited and therefore the reduced SOL will have only a limited impact on overall migration volumes.

February MAC report, "Skilled Shortage Sensible: Full Review of the Recommended Shortage Occupation Lists for the UK and Scotland, a Sunset Clause and the Creative Occupation"

Commentary: Escaping the Bell Jar

There is a deficit of meaningful dialogue in the UK immigration debate. Despite unprecedented access to countless news sources, rich information, and varied points of view, we often tend to only consume our favorite flavor of opinion.

In part, due to the explosion of online media and the self-learning algorithms of search engines, it is now easier than ever to segregate oneself, willingly or not, to a tribalism of sorts in which we encounter only those ideas with which we already agree. Within the confines of these hermetic environs it becomes second nature to be outraged at, while simultaneously oblivious to the content of, the other side’s position. Rather than seeking to understand the merits of differing beliefs, we prefer to digress into ad homonym attacks, misplaced anger, and deafness.

On the political stage, this absence of discussion and information isolationism plays itself out through the crafting of policies that are more focused on beating the opposition, toeing a party line, or gaining ephemeral political capital than arriving at coherent, practical solutions. Responses are often more ideological than logical.

Nowhere, in recent weeks, has this been more apparent than with the debate concerning Romania and Bulgaria.

A2 Countries

Bulgaria and Romania, also known as the A2 nations, joined the European Union in 2007. At the time of their accession, transitional arrangements were put in place to restrict A2 nationals' access to the job market. With these interim measures set to expire in early 2014, reactions have been predictably drawn down familiar party lines, with neither side paying particular attention to the other.

In the past several months, a host of politicians, media outlets, and organizations have begun to circle the wagons and sound the alarm that a fresh wave of immigrants will soon flood the UK. This influx of more immigrants, critics claim, will further strain the social, economic, and cultural well-being of the UK. As one headline warned, "30 million Bulgarians and Romanians are set to gain unrestricted access to UK as EU regulations are lifted."

As would be expected, many of the direst warnings are either dangerously misleading or objectively false. By way of example, the combined populations of Bulgaria and Romania total approximately 30 million. It is therefore doubtful, as is implied in the above headline, that all 30 million citizens of both nations will leave hearth and home to hang a shingle in the UK. Indeed, it could also be pointed out that 60 million British citizens have unrestricted access to Romania and Bulgaria – double the population of both countries.
Similarly, a number of news sources have made comparisons to 2004 when A8 workers (Czech Republic; Estonia; Hungary; Latvia; Lithuania; Poland; Slovakia; and Slovenia, Malta, and Cyprus) were granted permission to work. This, too, is in large part a specious analogy. At that time, unrestricted access was granted only to the labor markets of three countries—the UK, Sweden, and Ireland—not 25 countries, as is the number lifting restrictions now. Moreover, the economy in the UK, as with the rest of Europe, has weakened since 2004. In a time when the UK is potentially facing a triple-dip recession, and where many of the jobs previously occupied by earlier immigrants no longer exist, it is unlikely that the draw will be as dramatic or the impact as dire as many would suggest.

Recently, there have been reports that the government is considering launching an anti-UK ad campaign to dampen Romanian and Bulgarian enthusiasm for migrating to the UK. These ads, in theory, would highlight the perceived negative aspects of life in the UK, such as poor weather, low pay, and scarcity of work.

Beyond the expected and justified shock, this has led some to counter with similarly negative, though ironic, advertisements. Gandul, a Romanian newspaper, ran mock ads asking why anyone would want to leave Romania where half the women look like Kate Middleton and the other half like her sister. Similarly, the Guardian held a contest to come up with the catchiest anti-ad, generating such taglines as:

  • UK? YUK!
  • Come Here and Clean the Loo (a play on the WWII poster, "Keep Calm and Carry On")
  • Summertime and the Living Ain't Easy. Britain: Don't bother; we're closed
  • The sky in the UK is this color (set on a solid dark gray background) for 8 months of the year. Try Miami instead

The idea of a consciously negative ad, aside from being counterproductive and offensive, is even more astonishing in light of the very recent public relations push surrounding the London 2012 Olympic games, which promoted the UK to the world. It is also indicative of how far the immigration debate has strayed from a meaningful exchange of ideas.

Discussing the Issues

It is often too easy to live within the vacuum of our own bell jar, safely tucked away from the tumultuous, bouncing collisions of external ideas. However, honest debate and informed discourse demand much more of us. This can only come from experiencing the jarring impact of conflicting ideas that exist outside of a vacuum.

The proposed anti-UK ad response to the lifting of A2 nation employment restrictions illustrates how a lack of meaningful dialogue can lead to poor policy (or at least poor proposals). Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event. As former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith noted in her response to the Institute for Public Policy Research's recent report, "Fair and Democratic Migration Policy: A Principled Framework for the UK," "[d]ebate on immigration policy and election pledges in this area are too often based on broad statements verging on prejudice on the one hand tied to very specific process proposals. It is unusual for any party to put forward a set of values and principles on which to base their approach."

Clearly, it is necessary to discuss and debate the approaching changes and potential effects that will occur upon lifting the A2 employment restrictions in 2014. Indeed, there are valid concerns and questions to be raised. But this, as well as all other political discourse, must be guided by shared values and conscious decisions rather than empty rhetoric and kneejerk reactions.

 
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7. Member News
 
Several ABIL members and firms were listed in Chambers Global 2013:

Barrios & Fuentes Abogados (Ariel Orrego-Villacorta)
Bener Law Office (Maria Celebi)
FosterQuan, LLP (Robert Loughran)
Ivener & Fullmer LLP (Mark Ivener)
Klasko Rulon Stock & Seltzer (H. Ronald Klasko)
Laura Devine Solicitors (Laura Devine)
Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick (Bernard Caris)
Pearl Law Group (Julie Pearl)
Seyfarth Shaw LLP (Angelo Paparelli)
Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group (Bernard Wolfsdorf)

Other Notable Practitioners:
Francis Chin
Charles Kuck
Cyrus Mehta
Stephen Yale-Loehr

Jacqueline Bart was appointed by the Canadian Bar Association in February 2013 to liaise with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in furtherance of an evaluation of CIC Business Immigration Programs (i.e., Investor and Entrepreneur).

Ms. Bart will speak on "Canadian and International Mobility: A Challenge for Business and Government in an Interconnected World" at the American Bar Association's Section of International Law Spring Conference in Washington, DC, on April 23-27, 2013.

Ms. Bart will speak on "Strategies to Remain Competitive: Lessons from the West in Managing the Skilled Labour Shortage" for The Canadian Institute's Labour Relations program on April 16-17, 2013, in Toronto, Canada.

Klasko, Rulon, Stock & Seltzer, LLP will hold its Annual Spring Seminar on April 23, 2013, at the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Topics will include legislation, USCIS policies and practices, CBP programs, J-1 waivers, university/hospital roundtable, corporate roundtable, employment eligibility verification, travel issues, prevailing wage issues, and more. Mr. Klasko will be speaking. FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO REGISTER

Jelle Kroes will speak on a panel on "The 21st Century Demographic Gap in the Global Workforce" at the IBA Employment and Discrimination Law Conference in Amsterdam on April 18, 2013.

Charles Kuck has published a new blog entry. "USCIS and Why You Need an Immigration Attorney

Robert F. Loughran spoke on the latest legal revisions and policy changes to immigration law in the Americas, at the Forum for Expatriate Management's Southwest USA Totally Expat Conference, on February 25, 2013, in Houston, Texas.

Mr. Loughran organized and moderated a full-day EB-5 Immigrant Investor Summit for Attorneys and Developers in Dallas, Texas, on March 15, 2013. The event was sponsored by ILW. Mr. Loughran independently presented on "source of funds issues" in Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.

Mr. Loughran will travel with the Texas Secretary of State and economic development representatives of several Texas cities on a foreign direct investment trip to Frankfurt, Germany, and London, UK,  on April 7-12, 2013. He will present on immigration options to potential foreign investors. FosterQuan is a participant in the Texas One program, which seeks to promote foreign economic investment in Texas.

FosterQuan, LLP will hold its semi-annual Spring Immigration Update© Seminar on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Houston; Thursday, April 18, 2013, in Austin; and Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in San Antonio, Texas. This seminar will focus on new developments in the immigration law arena and will provide timely legislative updates, strategic advice for immigration compliance, and best practices critical to all employers. FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO REGISTER

Marco Mazzeschi founded Mazzeschi s.r.l., a boutique firm specializing in corporate immigration and citizenship law. Mazzeschi successfully assisted a same-sex US partner of an Italian national in obtaining one of the first long term Permits of Stay issued by the Italian authorities to same-sex couples. The firm has filed the application pursuant to the Legislative Decree 30/2007 and, to avoid any challenge with the authorities and expedite the processing time, has grounded it on the Directive of the Ministry of Interior of October 26th validating same-sex marriages and on the recent order of the Reggio Emilia’s Court. The Permit of Stay, valid for five years, has in fact been issued in less than one month.

Cyrus Mehta has authored a new blog entry. "The Many Problems Surrounding the H-1B Visa Cap"  "The Status of Internet Proxy Marriages Under Immigration Law" He also has co-authored a new blog entry. "Wanted: Great STEM and Tandoori Chicken" "The Blocking of an Entrepreneur: A Broken Immigration System At Work

 Mr. Mehta participated in a seminar on Basic Immigration Law on March 14, 2013. COURSE HANDBOOK

Mr. Mehta also spoke at the American Immigration Lawyers Association's Philadelphia Chapter conference on March 16, 2013.

Angelo Paparelli has published several new blog entries. "Rethinking Immigration: If America Will Welcome More Entrepreneurs, Why Not More Creatives?" "Will the New Labor-Business Accord Produce an Immigration Death Panel?"

Mr. Paparelli was recently quoted in La Opinion, El Diario, and Rumbo. He noted that the lengthy and complicated visa system in the United States has the effect of pushing people across the border without waiting for authorization because they know there are jobs immediately available on the other side.

Mr. Paparelli was also quoted in the Daily Journal on April 3, 2013. In an article on the surge in H-1B visa applications, he noted that there will always be some measure of fraud in any program so that should not stop the H-1B program, because it "spawns innovations." The Daily Journal is available by subscription.

Ms. Pearl recently moderated a session on "Global Business Traveler Compliance" at the Bay Area Mobility Management (BAMM) annual conference, with panelists from Bechtel, Ernst & Young, and salesforce.com.

Pearl Law Group has announced the donation of its SuperLawyers Pro Bono cash award to Project Sandy Far Rockaway (helping victims of Hurricane Sandy), and to establish a firm fund to assist needy pro bono clients with government application filing fees.

Several ABIL members co-authored and edited the Global Business Immigration Practice Guide, 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 issues.

 

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 and was a finalist for the International Photography Awards. The writer, Saundra Amrhein, was nominated as a finalist on the short list for the 2011 Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards. Green Card Stories is also featured on National Public Radio's photo blog.

 
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