Canada: Streamlined process forthcoming for spousal visa applications

On or after December 15, 2016, most spousal visa applications submitted in and outside Canada will be processed within 12 months, instead of the current average of 24 months, according to the Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Additional streamlining of the application process will include the following changes:

  • One application kit (applicants will no longer have to choose between two kits depending on whether they live in or outside Canada);

India: Minimum salary threshold to be simplified

As part of the Indian government’s efforts to simplify the Indian visa system, the annual salary threshold for foreign nationals to be eligible for the employment visa category will be changed to INR 1,625,000 from USD 25,000. The reason for the change from USD to an amount in INR is primarily to protect employers and foreign employees from falling below the threshold due to foreign exchange fluctuation.

India: Simplified visa system forthcoming

India is revising its visa system to attract travellers and boost trade.

The first step will be a transformed e-Tourist Visa (eTV) scheme that will merge tourist, business, medical and conference visas into a 60-day multiple-entry visa under a new name.

The new scheme will be extended to nationals from eight additional countries, so nationals from a total of 158 countries will be eligible for the program.

Canada: Mexican citizens can now apply for electronic travel authorization

When their visa requirement is lifted on December 1, 2016, Mexican citizens flying to or transiting through Canada will require an electronic travel authorisation (eTA).

Mexican citizens can apply now apply through a paper application at any Canadian visa application centre abroad until December 1. After December 1, they will be able to apply for an eTA online. Until December 1, 2016, Mexican citizens still need a temporary resident visa to travel to Canada.

Mexican citizens will not need an eTA if they are entering Canada by land or sea.

Canada: New Express Entry scoring system

New Express Entry Scoring System Means Faster Selection for Labour Market Impact Assessment-Exempt Work Permit Holders.

On or after November 19, 2016, permanent residence candidates applying through the Express Entry program will be subject to a new scoring system, according to new ministerial instructions issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The most notable changes and their results include the following:

Canada: Reminder: Electronic Travel Authorization required on or after November 10

Following the extension of the deadline to apply for Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), as a reminder, on or after November 10, 2016, visa-exempt nationals who enter or exit and re-enter Canada by air must apply for an eTA prior to boarding a flight to Canada.

Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa and those entering Canada by car. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, and Canadian permanent residents, cannot apply for an eTA and will need a valid Canadian passport to board their flight to Canada.

Australia: Dependent rules restricted

On or after November 19, 2016, children and step-children age 23 and over will no longer be eligible for dependent status unless the child is physically incapacitated for work.

Additionally, other family members, such as parents, will no longer qualify as dependants on the main applicant’s visa application. The restrictions will not impact Humanitarian, Protection or Refugee visas.

Canada: Faster work permit and visa processing and new short-term work permit program proposed

To attract foreign investment and talent, the Canadian government plans to launch a Global Skills Strategy that will reduce visa and work permit processing times to two weeks. Additionally, the government plans to introduce a short-term work permit exemption for intracompany transferees, international exchange students and experts. Specific information regarding the implementation of the programs is not yet available

New Zealand: Skilled Migrant Residence Visa eligibility criteria restricted

The Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa eligibility criteria has been restricted, according to an announcement by the Minister of Immigration. The points threshold for selection has been increased from 140 to 160 (regardless of whether an applicant has a job offer) and some applicants must now complete formal tests to prove their knowledge of the English language.

All other policies, including work and work-to-residence visas, remain unchanged.

Canada: Electronic Travel Authorization deadline relaxed

To allow more time to prepare for changes when flying to or transiting through Canada, the government has extended the deadline to apply for Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

On or after November 10, 2016, visa-exempt nationals who enter or exit and re-enter Canada by air must apply for an eTA prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The previous deadline was September 30, 2016

Canada: Visa-exempt nationals to require Electronic Travel Authorization

On or after September 30, 2016, visa-exempt nationals who plan to enter or exit and re-enter Canada by air must apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) prior to boarding a flight to Canada.

Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian Temporary Resident Visa. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, and Canadian permanent residents cannot apply for an eTA.

Malaysia: New Employment Pass requirements expanded

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) recently announced that a series of new requirements for Employment Pass (EP) applications and related filings will be extended to employers within the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) sector on or after September 1, 2016.

Canada: Latest Express Entry draw remains low with higher qualifying score

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is conducting its 41st Express Entry draw today.

IRCC will issue 750 invitations to those who have submitted an Expression of Interest to apply for permanent residence.

The minimum qualifying score for this draw is 538, a substantial increase from the last draw’s qualifying score of 490.

Singapore: Employment Pass minimum salary to increase in January

On or after January 1, 2017, the minimum salary for Employment Pass (EP) applicants will increase from SGD 3,300 (approximately USD 2,427.90) to SGD 3,600 (approximately USD 2,648.62), according to an announcement by the Ministry of Manpower.

The new salary threshold is essentially for young graduates. EP holders with more years of experience will have to earn higher salaries commensurate with their work experience and skill sets, as per current practice.

Malaysia: Changes in multiple Employment Pass categories

A new set of regulations by the Expatriate Services Division of the Immigration Department will implement three major changes to several Employment Pass (EP) categories on or after August 1, 2016.

UK: New criminal penalties for foreign nationals working illegally and their employers

In an effort to further prevent illegal work in the United Kingdom, new provisions were introduced by the Immigration Act 2016 stating that foreign nationals found to be undertaking employment in the United Kingdom after disqualification from employment for immigration-related reasons are subject to a criminal offence.  Employers are also subject to new penalties if they know or have reasonable cause to believe that a foreign worker has no right to work in the United Kingdom. Both offences can lead to imprisonment or a fine.

Ghana: Visa-on-arrival available for African Union nationals

African Union nationals whose countries do not have a visa-free agreement with Ghana are now eligible for a 30-day visa-on-arrival for business and tourism.  The visa-on-arrival program will be piloted for three months starting at Kotoka International Airport and will be extended to other ports of entry in the future.  Travellers can extend their visa upon expiry in Ghana, and business travellers can apply for a longer-term visa at a Ghanaian consular post.

Canada: Vancouver Mayor's proposal could affect Domestic Secondments and Global Assignments

Vancouver's mayor has announced that the city is looking at imposing a tax on vacant homes.

Depending on how the proposed law is written this could increase the cost of domestic secondments and global assignments. However, we first have to remind ourselves of Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) guidelines for such assignments.

Canada: Latest express entry draw remains low

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is conducting its 37th Express Entry draw through tomorrow.