Latest updates in global

This week, the SSW Global Immigration team would like to highlight the following updates from the United States, New Zealand and the Philippines.

United States: General immigration update

Authorities in the United States have recently implemented a number of key updates in relation to immigration, including the following:

  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has run a second lottery for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 H-1B cap after not receiving enough cap petitions to meet the quota during the initial filing period.  USCIS also announced that employers may again file H-2B petitions for returning workers from any country of origin because it did not receive enough petitions to exhaust the Northern Triangle carve-out outlined in the recent supplemental H-2B regulation.
  • The US Secretary of Homeland Security has announced that registration for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti will open on Tuesday 3 August, and the designation will be extended for 18 months until 3 February 2023. The agency posted a pre-publication notice of the designation and registration instructions. An official version will be published in the Federal Register on 3 August.
  • The USCIS has extended accommodations to F-1 Optional Practical Training applicants affected by processing delays. The F-1 students applying for OPT-based EADs between 1 October 2020 and 31 October 2021 should receive a full 12 months of work authorisation and will have recourse from improperly rejected Form I-765 applications. They will also be able to submit OPT applications earlier than normal due to the new accommodation. Applicants are reminded that these flexibilities do not change the requirements for F-1 students to submit timely and properly completed EAD applications.

New Zealand: Changes to Essential Skills Visa

In New Zealand, changes have been made to the Essential Skills visa to streamline the processing of applications and increase visa duration. The key changes are as follows:

  • Online system temporarily suspended: Until 28 August 2021, applications must be submitted on paper and applicants cannot use the government’s electronic filing system until 30 August 2021.
  • Less documentation for renewals: Applicants for an Essential Skills visa remaining in the same role do not need to provide their employment agreement, medical and police certificates if these were submitted with their previous visa application.
  • Visa validity for jobs paying below median wage: The maximum visa period that can be granted for a job paid below the median wage (currently NZD 27 per hour) has been increased from 12 months to 24 months.
  • Overall three-year visa validity period waived for jobs paying below median wage: The usual three-year visa validity limit for applications for jobs with salaries below the median wage has been eliminated temporarily. This applies to applications lodged until 30 June 2022.

Philippines: Quarantine requirements and entry restrictions updated

The Philippines government have recently shortened quarantine policies for fully vaccinated foreign nationals and updated entry restrictions for spouses, dependents and parents of Filipino citizens. The key changes are as follows:

  • As of 26 July 2021, quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from a green-list country have been reduced from 14 days to a seven-day, facility-based quarantine if they meet the following requirements
    • Arrived from a green-list country.
    • Stayed in a green-list country for at least 14 days before entering the Philippines.
    • Are fully vaccinated and the vaccination was verified by Filipino authorities upon arrival.
  • Beginning 1 August, foreign spouses, children and parents of Filipino citizens with valid tourist visas may enter the country without an entry exemption document.
  • Foreign nationals will have to undergo a 10-day, facility-based quarantine and a four-day, home quarantine if they:
    • Have arrived from a country not on the green-list.
    • Have travelled to a country not on the green-list within 14 days of entering the Philippines.
    • Are not fully vaccinated or the vaccination cannot be verified by Filipino authorities upon arrival.

Global immigration support

Due to the constantly evolving nature of global immigration, country-specific rules may change at short notice. For this reason, Smith Stone Walters recommends checking the entry rules of your destination country before departure.

For up to date advice before you travel, please contact the SSW Global Immigration team.

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