21 July 2020
In the rapidly changing landscape of global immigration, there have been a number of recent developments that could impact employers, applicants and students.
With this in mind, Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following key updates surrounding global immigration.
USA: Restrictive F-1 policy revoked for students
US authorities recently stated that they would prevent F-1 students from entering or remaining in the US if their educational providers were not offering in-person tuition. This was responded to with much anguish from not only students, but Universities too.
However, following a lawsuit by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the policy has now been reversed.
This means that students and Universities will now be able to benefit from the relaxation of the policy, which was initially introduced in March.
However, some uncertainty still remains over whether further restrictions will be imposed limiting the ability of F-1 students to attend online courses in the US.
Quebec: Experience Program (“PEQ”) criteria change
Quebec’s immigration department recently announced key changes to the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ).
Under the PEQ Foreign Worker category, applicants will now require 24 months’ work experience, rather than the initially proposed 36 months. This change is set to be introduced on 22 July 2020.
The experience must be full time with at least 30 hours per week, and the new 24 month period must fall within the last 36 months before the date of application submission. The experience in Quebec cannot be at lower skill levels.
For employers, this is not as severe as the initial proposal of 36 months, but still represents an increase on the current 12 month requirement.
Further to the above, spouses or common-law partners of those under this visa route must be able to demonstrate level 4 of verbal French to secure their accompanying visa. This requirement also comes into force on 22 July 2020.
This means that some individuals may now need to look outside Quebec for their visa route if the French requirement cannot be met.
USA: Further clarity on travel bans
In March 2020, the Trump Administration imposed a COVID-19 travel ban on individuals from the European Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Much uncertainty surrounded exemptions to the ban, although the State Department has now provided some clarification.
The following groups may be able to enter the US, even if they have been in the aforementioned areas within 14 days of their entry to the US:
- E-1/E-2 treaty traders and investors.
- Students (F, M and J categories); and
- Those with ESTAs for business travel.
Exceptions to the immigrant and non-immigrant entry bans were also covered, with the following groups now also listed as exempt:
- Family members of H, J, and L main applicants who themselves are exempt from, or not subject to, the non-immigrant proclamation.
- Child immigrant applicants who would be above the age qualification threshold by January 14, 2021.
- Certain H and J visa holders traveling to work in support of a critical US foreign policy objective or traveling at the request of the US government.
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At Smith Stone Walters, moving people across borders is our business. Our team of immigration experts manage and support immigration moves throughout the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.
If you need advice or support in reaching your business’s global immigration goals, Smith Stone Walters would be delighted to help. Contact us today to discuss your requirements – we are immigration experts.