Newland Chase | Global Immigration Updates

February 12, 2021

BELGIUM: Flanders Amends Foreign Worker Rules

Effective 1 March 2021, the Flanders government will implement amended rules for the employment of aliens, including some beneficial changes and some additional restrictions.

Benefits include:

  • A more flexible short-term work permit will be valid for up to one year, allowing work for up to 90 days in any 180-day period during that validity period. Currently, work permits are only valid for up to 90 days.
  • It is clarified that frontier workers (resident in a country neighbouring Belgium) are eligible for a work permit.
  • Holders of certain categories of work authorisation are permitted to carry out additional activities as international lecturer.
  • Employers renewing a work authorisation for a foreign employee for the same position will not require a further labour market test.
  • The following new work visa exemptions will be implemented:
    • Researchers working in a Belgian research institution for 90 days in a six-month period;
    • Foreign workers conducting training at a Belgian location of a multinational employer for up to 90 days;
    • Workers posted to Flanders by a temporary work agency in another EU Member State;
    • Foreign highly skilled workers employed as international teachers in Flanders.
  • Separately, Flanders has published their implementation of the “allowed activities for 90/180 days” from the Trade Agreement.
    • While meetings are work authorisation exempt for up to 90/180 days, a Limosa declaration is still required for stays beyond 20 consecutive calendar days and 60 days per calendar year.

Restrictions include:

  • Employers will have to notify the Flemish labour authorities of any major changes in employment conditions, potentially affecting the validity of the work authorisation.
  • Work authorisations may be granted exclusively if the employer has a sponsoring entity in Flanders.
  • The Flemish law is aligned with the federal law to clarify the existing rule that foreign national dependents may only change status in country to employee status with an EU Blue Card application.
  • The validity of a posted worker’s work authorisation is limited to the validity of the certificate of social security coverage issued by the competent authority of the sending country.

COLOMBIA: Temporary Protection Statute for Venezuelan Migrants

On 8 February 2021, the government of Colombia announced the creation of the Temporary Protection Statute for Venezuelan Migrants, consisting of the Single Registry of Venezuelan Migrants Under the Temporary Protection Regime, and the Temporary Protection Permit with a validity of 10 years.

Holders of the Temporary Protection Permit may remain in Colombia, exercising any legal activity or occupation including work, and accumulating time towards qualifying for a Residence Visa.

According to the draft decree that would create the Statute, it would apply to Venezuelan migrants who meet any of the following conditions:

  • In Colombia on a permanent basis as holders of a valid Entry and Permanence Permit (PIP), Temporary Permanence Permit (PTP) or a Special Permanence Permit (PEP).
  • In Colombia on a permanent basis as holders of a Safe-pass of Permanence SC – 2 within the framework of the processing of an application for the recognition of refugee status.
  • Being undocumented in Colombian territory on 31 January 2021.
  • Entering Colombian territory through an immigration control post, complying with the requirements established by the immigration regulations, during the first two years of validity of the Statute.

Implementation of the registration and issuance process for the new permit will begin after 90 days from the publication of the final decree.

HUNGARY: 2021 Minimum Salary Level

The minimum salary level (MSL) for Hungary is HUF 167,400 per month (gross). Effective July 2021, this will increase to HUF 169,000.

For skilled positions requiring at least a secondary school level education, the minimum salary level (MSL) for Hungary is HUF 219,000 per month (gross). Effective July 2021, this will increase to HUF 221,200.

For a combined work and residence permit application, the salary should be no less than 80% of what a local resident worker would expect to receive for the same position. If payroll is split between the home country and Hungary, the part paid in Hungary should still reach the amounts according to rules described above. The average salary used in Hungary over the previous year for the specific job title must be considered too when a new employment contract is concluded. Foreign workers may require a higher monthly salary when applying for the work and residency permit, on the assumption that their living costs may be higher than those of a local worker.

PANAMA: New Immigration Routes for Manufacturing Services

The government has published regulations for the new EMMA licence issued to multinational companies, whether foreign or national, that from Panama provide manufacturing services to related or affiliated companies (not to unrelated or client companies).

The new immigration routes created by these regulations include the following:

  • EMMA temporary personnel visa, for foreign nationals providing operational or training services to the company, granted for up to 2 years (extendable) and also applicable to dependents;
  • EMMA permanent personnel visa, granted for up to 5 years (extendable) and also applicable to dependents;
  • Permanent residence, for foreign nationals who have held a temporary or permanent EMMA personnel visa for at least 5 years

Dependents of holders of EMMA or SEM (Multinational Companies Headquarters) visas can request work permits once their dependent visa has been approved. Previously, dependent visa holders could not apply for work permits.

RUSSIA: Changes to Purposes of Entry for Visas and Invitations

Effective 8 February 2021, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has approved a new list of the purposes of entry for issuing letters of invitation and visas to foreign nationals. The implementation of the new list may lead to some processing delays.

  • The “Work for hire” purpose of entry has been renamed to “Work activities”;
  • The “Technical services” purpose of entry has been renamed to “Installation works” and the category of the relevant visa has been changed from “Business” to “Work”.
    • Note that all work visas are issued as single entry visas for 90 days with possibility of in-country extension (with exception to HQS employees and their family members who are eligible to multiple visas valid for 3 years).
  • The “Commercial” and “Aim tourism” purposes of entry are not included in the new list. A regular business visa should be requested for any type of business activities in Russia;
  • The “Private” purpose of entry has been renamed to “Guest”;
  • Work visas with “accompanying family member” purpose of entry may be issued only to HQS dependents as well as dependents of foreign mass media workers
    • Note that the new list does not provide for issuance of dependent visas to family members of employees who work based on regular (non-HQS) work permits.
  • Please note:
    • The filing of work visa invitation applications in the Moscow migration department (Pokrovka Street 42) has been temporarily suspended due to technical reasons and in connection with the above changes.
    • Some Russian consulates abroad have suspended the filing of applications for work visas and technical services visas.
    • Applicants may experience delays due to temporary suspension of application submission and processing at migration departments in Russia and Russian consulates abroad.

UNITED STATES: USCIS Delays Rule Prioritizing High-Wage Earners in the H-1B Cap Selection Process; and Announces Cap Registration Period

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has delayed the effective date of the 7 January H-1B Selection final rule, which prioritized high-wage earners for the H-1B cap selection process, until 31 December 2021. Therefore, the fiscal year (FY) 2022 H-1B cap registration and selection process will proceed as in previous years, with selection based on a random lottery.

USCIS also announced that the FY 2022 H-1B cap initial registration period will be open from 9 March 2021, 12:00 p.m. EST to 25 March 2021, 12:00 p.m. EST.

Our Advice

Employers who may be affected by any of these immigration changes are encouraged to contact Newland Chase for case-specific advice.