What's new in global

With global immigration rules and guidance changing by the day, it is important for businesses and individuals to keep on top of the latest developments to identify any changes that may impact your immigration goals.

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

South Africa: Proposed revisions to the critical skills list

On 18 February 2021, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs released a draft revision of the critical skills list and recommended minimum NQF levels for different professions. Employers and other stakeholders have until 31 March to offer their comments on the draft list.

The critical skills list affects which occupations companies are eligible to recruit foreign nationals to fill without the need for labour market testing. The proposed draft of the new list is more expansive than the earlier 2014 list and includes more than 125 jobs across a number of economic sectors, including information technology, financial services, healthcare, construction, higher education and the arts.

USA: H-1B lottery registration period to open in March

At 2pm EST on 24 February, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will hold a webinar to instruct the H-1B petitioners on the process of submitting registrations during the H-1B electronic registration period. The registration period opens on 9 March at noon EST, and closes on 25 March at noon EDT.

During this period, H-1B cap-subject petitioners must submit a registration for each prospective H-1B candidate and pay a $10 government fee per registration in order to enter them into the H-1B lottery process. Petitioners will be invited to file full H-1B petitions only for registrations that are selected in the lottery.

In other immigration news from the United States, a comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill that President Joe Biden announced and sent to Congress on his first day in office has now been introduced in Congress. The Bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, sets out Biden’s vision for restoring the USA’s immigration system, including broad reforms to legal immigration paths. The Bill and its timing is an indication that President Biden is prioritising immigration reform as a policy goal.

Ireland: Justice Plan aims to deliver immigration reforms

The demand for Irish immigration services continues to increase at a significant rate. In a bid to continue pursuing its strategy of improving Ireland’s immigration system, on 22 February 2021, the Department of Justice published the Justice Plan 2021.

The plan is the first in a series of annual plans which the Minister for Justice will introduce to drive reforms across the justice sector. The plan is built on five key goals with detailed actions within them. One of the stated goals is to ‘deliver a fair immigration system for a digital age’.

In order to achieve this, the Minister proposes to open a new regularisation scheme for thousands of undocumented migrants who have made Ireland their home, and to publish a new website for immigration services in Ireland.

The key objectives and actions in the Justice Plan relating to immigration include:

  • To develop a fully digital customer-centric immigration service under a regularisation scheme
  • Communicate effectively with service users by publishing a new website for immigration services in Ireland, with all content written in plain language
  • Publish a roadmap for the transition of all immigration services to online application processes and eliminate processing backlogs across all immigration application types
  • Commence pilot transfer of immigration functions from the Garda National Immigration Bureau to the Department of Justice
  • Introduce a new online appointment scheduling system for customers who require in-person appointments to register their residency in Ireland
  • Begin accepting online payments for visa applications
  • Carry out a review of additional application types which could transition to a pre-clearance model, providing applicants with certainty in advance of their arrival in Ireland
  • Review and expand to additional countries the Short Stay Visa Waiver and five year Multi-Visa options

Need help to reach your global immigration goals?

If you have questions about global immigration issues, or if you need support in reaching your global mobility 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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