3 June 2020
As COVID-19 related restrictions begin to ease around the world, there have been a number of recent updates to global immigration rules and processes which employers should be aware of.
With this in mind, Smith Stone Walters would like to share the following global immigration news and updates.
USA: Some USCIS offices to resume In-Person Services
From 4 June, some United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) offices will resume In-Person Services for the first time since lockdown.
Closure of such offices has meant no biometric appointments nor have any green card or naturalisation interviews and ceremonies been possible. This has been ongoing since 18 March and has of course had a significant impact on those moving to, or extending their leave in the United States.
The USCIS office closure page details the latest information on the reopening, which at first will only be for some offices. Hours of opening may have also changed so it is vital to check ahead. Appointments and interview logistics will also change as a result of social distancing measures, with interpreters attending via phone, less frequent appointments and limitations on family members accompanying.
Employers and individuals alike should be aware that the reopening is a small step to normality and significant delays may still occur. Applicants with cancelled appointments should await rescheduling notices and take heed of any information published online before attending in person.
Singapore: Updates to visa application system
With already one of the most technologically advanced immigration systems in the world, Singapore is once again leading the way with yet further updates to its visa application system.
The new service will replace the Employment Pass Online System and is intended to roll out in phases.
From 11 June, applicants under the Employment Pass and S Pass categories will be able to utilise the new submission method. Further changes are set to follow in 2021, although it is not yet confirmed which other categories will be included under the new system.
For applicants and employers, this should mean an even more efficient system that is both intuitive and easily accessible. It is important to note that it will fully replace the current system and draft applications will not be transferred.
Schengen Area: Intra-Schengen movements post-Covid
The European Commission has published guidelines on how Schengen member states should reopen borders as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
The guidance is set out as a three-phase approach with a view to securely but promptly enabling free movement between states.
Phase 0 is where we currently stand with only essential cross-border travel permitted. This includes those such as seasonal workers and urgent service providers. Phase 1 will see countries and/or regions open borders where there is a common level of the virus and the surrounding circumstances suggest it would be safe to do so. Phase 2 will see all internal borders re-open.
The Schengen Area has seen progress to Phase 1 already, with countries such as Germany and Austria opening their shared borders. However, the Area is some way off seeing any entrants from non-Schengen countries, with that not being possible until beyond Phase 2.
Need help to reach your global immigration goals?
Smith Stone Walters will continue to post updates on the latest global immigration news to ensure you stay informed. If you have questions about the latest changes, or need support reaching your global immigration goals, we are here to help.
At Smith Stone Walters, moving people across borders is our business. Our expert team are experienced in managing and supporting immigration moves throughout the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.
Contact us today to discuss your requirements – we are immigration experts.