What's new in global

Global immigration rules are changing by the day, both in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and as a result of legislative updates across the globe.

Smith Stone Walters is here to help businesses and individuals keep on top of these developments and identify any changes that may impact your immigration goals. With this in mind, we would like to highlight the following key updates in global immigration.

Australia: Visa extensions for Hong Kong Passport Holders

The Australian Department of Home Affairs will officially be granting a range of visa extensions for Hong Kong Passport holders. This new arrangement has only recently come into effect in mid-August and will extend to support up to 10,000 Hong Kong passport holders currently in Australia.

The recent announcement will allow individuals to extend their stay for up to five years. In addition to this, the Australian government will also allow secondary family members to extend their visas irrespective of the passport that they hold.

Whether individuals are granted a five year extension or an initial five year visa, both will equally qualify for permanent residency upon the completion of their five years. As always, permanent residency applications will be considered on the condition that they pass all associated character, security and health checks.

The new visa extension categories are as follows:

  • Hong Kong passport holders who held a temporary graduate (subclass 485) or temporary skilled shortage (subclass 482 or 457) visa on 9 July 2020 will automatically have that visa extended for five years.
  • Both current and future students from Hong Kong will be eligible for a five year temporary graduate visa on the successful completion of their studies. As usual, applications will still need to meet the requirements of this visa, which include meeting the Australian study requirements.
  • Those who apply for a temporary skilled visa will be eligible for a 5 year visa if they have qualifications listed on the occupational skills lists and meet the labour market testing requirements.

Latvia: Fast track visa for Belarusian businesses

The Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) has developed a fast-track visa application process to specifically welcome Belarusian businesses and their employees to work and live in Latvia.

The fast track visa process has been introduced to increase the speed at which Belarusians are able to apply for a visa in Latvia, and other EU or NATO member states. In order to facilitate the fast track services, a dedicated team has been provided to assist Belarusians throughout the application process.

In addition to this, a direct line of communication with the Office of Citizenship and Migration affairs (OCMA) has been installed to ensure that there is faster processing of all visa and resident permit applications.

Visas and resident permits available for the LIAA fast track programme include:

  • Start-up visas for founders of businesses and their families
  • EU Blue cards for highly skilled workers and their dependents
  • Temporary residence permit if they do not meet the requirements of the other two categories

Those individuals and business that are interested in participating in the fast track visa programme are invited to contact the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia for further details.

Philippines: Entry visa requirement for foreign spouses

First announced in mid-August, the Bureau of Immigration will now require all foreign spouses and dependents of Filipinos to obtain an entry visa before arriving to the Philippines.

Foreigners will need to apply for an appropriate entry visa in one of their consulates abroad in order to be granted entry into the country. This new measure only applies to foreign spouses and dependents of Filipinos who do not currently have existing visas.

Moreover, the Bureau of Immigration have advised that foreign spouses need to present authenticated marriage certificates and other supporting documents at the border.

Before travelling to the Philippines, we encourage foreign spouses to first approach their local consulate of Philippines to seek further advice and assistance with obtaining their entry visa. For additional support, Smith Stone Walters’ consultants are available to help clients through the application process.

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.

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