SSW Global Immigration

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions, global immigration rules are changing faster than ever in response to the crisis. It is important for employers and business travellers to remain up to date with the latest developments which could impact their global mobility goals.

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

USA: Proposed delay to the prevailing wage rule

The United States Department of Labor has announced a proposed 18-month delay to the effective date of a final rule on calculating prevailing wages of certain immigrants and non-immigrant workers.

The prevailing wage rule was promulgated in January as one of the last regulatory actions of the Trump Administration. The rule seeks to restructure the prevailing wage system for the H-1B, E-3, H-1B1 and PERM programmes and lift wage minimums for those programmes.

The final rule affects employers seeking to employ foreign workers on a permanent or temporary basis through certain immigrant visas or through H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 non-immigrant visas.

The proposed delay will provide the department with sufficient time to consider the rule’s legal and policy issues thoroughly, and issue an upcoming Request for Information and gather public comments on the sources and methods for determining prevailing wage levels.

China: Simplified visa rules for recipients of Chinese vaccines

Chinese authorities have announced that they will simplify the visa application process for many foreign nationals who have been inoculated with Chinese-produced COVID-19 vaccines. The change will allow eligible applicants to apply for visas under pre-pandemic rules.

During the pandemic, China has barred entry to most foreign nationals, but has indicated it will now accept visa applications from foreign nationals who have received a Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine and are traveling to mainland China to resume work, for business or for “humanitarian needs,” including reuniting with family members.

Visa applicants are encouraged to check statements published by the relevant Chinese embassy or commissioner’s office for more information. Chinese embassies in multiple countries, including Japan, Israel, Thailand, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Belarus, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, United States and the Philippines have published statements so far.

The new provision applies to people who wish to visit China for several types of non-tourism purposes. The change will ease travel to China for some foreign nationals, though travellers should note that the visa facilitation is only available at this time to applicants who have received a Chinese-made vaccine.

Philippines: Entry for foreign nationals to be suspended

To combat a rise of COVID-19 cases in the country, the Phillippines has suspended the entry of foreign nationals and Returning Filipinos.

Foreign nationals who are not covered by one of the exemptions listed below should postpone travel at this time. The suspension will last from 20 March 20 until 19 April 19.

The exemptions are as follows:

  • Holders of 9(c) visas (seafarers).
  • Individuals on medical repatriation and their escorts endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
  • Distressed ROFs endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs.
  • Emergency and humanitarian cases.

In addition to suspending entry to some travellers, the Philippines will limit the number of overall inbound international travellers to 1,500 per day.

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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