Latest updates in
global immigration

Global immigration rules and procedures are changing by the day, as governments around the world begin to ease lockdown measures and certain overseas visa centres begin a phased reopening.

With this in mind, Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following key updates in global immigration this week.

Barbados: Remote Worker Visa introduced

The Government of Barbados has introduced a new visa category which will allow successful applicants to work remotely in the country for up to 12 months.

The main requirement is that the applicant must declare that either they intend to earn 50,000 USD during the 12 month period of remote working, or prove that they have adequate funds to accommodate themselves and family members during that time.

Individuals are not permitted to work for a local employer whilst in Barbados and thus the work must be truly ‘remote’. Employers should be aware of this type of visa category and their obligations to ensure compliance.

Australia: Provisions for Hong Kong SAR passport holders

Hong Kong SAR passport holders have been afforded a raft of new visa options in Australia, following the introduction of China’s new security law in Hong Kong. The measures are wide ranging and cover students, temporary workers and long term workers, with some initiatives already in place and others to follow in due course.

Already in place, students completing eligible tertiary studies in Australia are eligible for a five-year Graduate Skilled visa. Meanwhile, Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa holders from Hong Kong SAR who are currently in Australia are already eligible for an additional five-year stay, on top of the time that they have already been in Australia.

For students, current Graduate Skilled visa holders are being given extensions for up to five years and Graduate Skilled and TSS visa holders are offered a pathway to permanent residency after five years.

For highly skilled workers, those applying for TSS will be eligible for a five-year visa and again this will provide a route to permanent residence. Applicants to the Global Talent Independent program and the Business Innovation and Investment visa program will be processed on a priority basis.

Although only some changes for students are currently in place, they represent a significant shift from the Australian Authorities and could open up opportunities for employers and applicants alike.

USA: New visa fees set

New US visa fees set to take effect in October 2020 will see costs increasing for nearly all application types, with naturalisation costs doubling.

A token reduction for some online applications masks the otherwise quite severe changes. These changes are seen as a response to the USCIS’ shortfall as a result of lower volumes of applications throughout the pandemic.

For employers, a significant change is that Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker will be split into different forms for each visa type, with different fees levied for each. The fee changes impact the H-1B, H-2 (A&B), L-1, O, and TN categories. In particular, the L-1 category represents a 75% increase to 805 USD.

As well as the fee increases outlined above, employers should also consider additional border security fees, longer priority processing times and changes to biometric fees. We recommend employers carefully cost out their immigration charges for the year ahead to ensure budgets accurately reflect likely costs. Along with submitting applications, this strategic planning is something Smith Stone Walters are able to assist with.

SSW Global Immigration

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. We have spent years refining our global immigration capability, with a carefully selected choice of local partners to meet every client need.

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.

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