What's new in global

This week, the SSW Global Immigration team would like to highlight the following updates from the United States, the European Union, Sweden and Indonesia.

United States: EAD renewals

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a Temporary Final Rule (TFR) that increases the automatic extension period for employment authorization and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), available to certain EAD renewal applicants, to up to 540 days.

The increase, effective 4 May 2022, will help avoid gaps in employment for noncitizens with pending EAD renewal applications and stabilize the continuity of operations for US employers.

Clearing the application backlog:

The rule, which only applies to those EAD categories previously eligible for an automatic up to 180-day extension, will temporarily provide up to 360 days of additional automatic extension time (for a total of up to 540 days) to eligible applicants with a timely-filed Form I-765 renewal application pending during the 18-month period after publication of the TFR while USCIS continues to work through pending caseloads that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This timeframe will allow USCIS an opportunity to address staffing shortages, implement additional efficiencies, and meet Director Jaddou’s recently announced goal of achieving a three-month cycle time for EAD applications by the end of FY23. Beginning 27 October 2023, automatic extensions of employment authorization and EAD validity will revert to the up to 180-day period for those eligible applicants who timely file Form I-765 renewal applications.

Pending applications:

Noncitizens with a pending EAD renewal application whose 180-day automatic extension has lapsed and whose EAD has expired will be granted an additional period of employment authorization and EAD validity, beginning on 4 May 2022 and lasting up to 540 days from the expiration date of their EAD, so that they may resume employment if they are still within the up to 540-day automatic extension period and are otherwise eligible.

Noncitizens with a pending renewal application still covered under the 180-day automatic extension will be granted an additional up to 360-day extension, for a total of up to 540 days past the expiration of the current EAD.

Noncitizens with a pending renewal application and valid EAD on 4 May 2022, or who timely file an EAD renewal application before 27 October 2023, will be granted an automatic extension of up to 540 days if their EAD expires before the renewal application is processed.

The automatic extension generally will end upon notification of a final decision on the renewal application or the end of the up to 540-day period (meaning, up to 540 days after the expiration date on the applicant’s facially expired EAD), whichever comes earlier.

Certain noncitizens who are in the United States may file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with USCIS to request employment authorization and an EAD. Other noncitizens whose immigration status authorizes them to work in the United States without restrictions may also use Form I-765 to apply for an EAD that shows such authorization.

European Union: Qatar and Kuwait considered for visa-free travel

The European Commission has proposed lifting visa requirements for nationals of Kuwait and Qatar. Under this proposal, once agreed, Qatar and Kuwait nationals holding biometric passports would no longer need a visa when travelling to the EU for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period for business, tourism or family purposes.

It is now for the European Parliament and the Council to examine the proposal and decide whether to grant visa-free travel to the EU to nationals of Qatar and Kuwait. If the proposal is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, the EU will negotiate a visa waiver agreement with Qatar and Kuwait, respectively, to ensure full visa reciprocity for EU citizens. Visa-free travel to the EU for nationals of Qatar and Kuwait will start applying once the visa waiver agreement enters into force.

The EU currently has visa-free regimes in place with more than 60 countries and territories. EU law lists the non-EU countries whose nationals need visas to travel to the EU and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement.

Visa-exempt travellers visiting the Schengen area will be subject to the EU Entry/Exit System (EES) as of second half of 2022 and to the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) as of May 2023.

Under the visa exemption, travellers can visit all EU Member States except for Ireland, as well as the four Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). The visa exemption is independent from possible work permit requirements in EU Member States. It does not provide for the right to work in the EU, although Member States have the possibility to allow travellers to conduct a paid activity during their stay.

Sweden: Changes to the Aliens Act

On 20 April 2022, the Swedish parliament adopted changes to the Aliens Act which will enter into force on 1 June 2022.

The key changes include the following:

  • The introduction of a new type of residence permit for highly qualified job seekers and entrepreneurs.
  • The removal of the current maximum limit for the permit period of 48 months (72 months under special circumstances).
  • Measures to counteract the expulsion of skilled workers – labour migrants should no longer be expelled from the country as a result of minor mistakes.
  • The requirement to have an employment contract for a work permit to be issued.
  • The obligation for employers to report if terms of employment are changed or become less favourable.
  • The introduction of a maintenance requirement for family member immigration in connection with foreign labour.

Indonesia: Single-Entry Visitor Visas

Single-Entry Visitor Visas issued before 16 April 2022 can now only be granted a one-time extension of the Stay Permit with a maximum of 60 days. The applicant must apply at the immigration office and pay a Stay Permit fee of IDR 2,000,000.

Single-Entry Visitor Visas issued from 16 April 2022 (valid for a stay of 60 or 180 days) cannot be granted a Stay Permit extension.

Visa on Arrival can only be granted a one-time extension of the Stay Permit with a maximum of 30 days. The applicant must apply at the immigration office and pay a Stay Permit fee of IDR 500,000.

Foreigners or sponsors can still apply for a Visitor Visa within the Indonesian Territory (onshore visa) through the Online Visa Approval application.

Expert advice on global immigration

If you need support with any aspect of worldwide immigration, Smith Stone Walters is here to help.

To speak to a member of our Global Immigration team, please contact us today.

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