Latest updates in global

This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following updates from the European Union and the United States.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland: Visa restrictions for Russian nationals

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland will bar entry on their external borders for all Russian nationals with a short-stay Schengen visa. The restriction will come into effect in Estonia on 19 September 2022 and will also enter into force in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland no later than that date.

This is not an outright entry ban and commonly agreed legitimate exceptions will remain in force for dissidents, humanitarian cases, family members, holders of residence permits, for the facilitation of freight and transportation services, diplomatic missions, Kaliningrad facilitated transit of persons.

European Union: EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement suspended

Effective 12 September 2022, the visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Russia is fully suspended.  Consequently, the general rules of the visa code now apply to Russian citizens.

This will result in an increase in the visa application fee from €35 to €80, the need to present additional documentary evidence, increased visa processing times and more restrictive rules for the issuance of multiple-entry visas.

The EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement entered into force on 1 June 2007. Its purpose was to facilitate the issuance of short-stay visas (no more than 90 days per 180 days) on the basis of reciprocity.

On 25 February 2022, the EU adopted the partial suspension of the visa facilitation agreement for diplomats, other Russian officials and business people.

The full suspension affects all categories of travellers coming to the EU for a short stay. The Commission is expected to present additional guidelines to ensure this suspension does not negatively impact certain people travelling to the EU for essential purposes, such as journalists, dissidents and civil society representatives.

The European Commission has published non-binding guidelines for member states’ consulates on the handling of visa applications submitted by Russian citizens.

Consulates are advised to conduct a strict assessment of security risks, which could possibly lead to visa refusal as well as to the revocation of existing valid visas.

Consulates could take up to 45 days to take a decision on visa applications (against 15 days in regular cases) so as to ensure more thorough checks on applications lodged by Russians. They can also request additional documents beyond the standard list, to ensure a high level of scrutiny, in particular in cases of possible threats to public policy, public order and international relations

Russian applicants travelling for non-essential reasons, such as tourists, will face a longer and more thorough process for lodging applications.

The EU will remain open to Russian visa applicants travelling for essential purposes, including notably family members of EU citizens, journalists, dissidents and civil society representatives.

United States: Premium processing expansion

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is implementing the next phase of the premium processing expansion for certain petitioners who have a pending Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, under the EB-1 and EB-2 classifications.

Similar to the first phase and second phase of the expansion, this phase only applies to certain previously filed Form I-140 petitions under an E13 multinational executive and manager classification or E21 classification as a member of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver (NIW).

Petitioners who wish to request a premium processing upgrade must file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.

From 15 September 2022, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests for:

  • E13 multinational executive and manager petitions received on or before 1 January 2022; and
  • E21 NIW petitions received on or before 1 February 2022.

USCIS will reject premium processing requests for these Form I-140 classifications if the receipt date is after these dates. USCIS has 45 days to take an adjudicative action on cases that request premium processing for these newly included Form I-140 classifications. USCIS will not accept new (initial) Forms I-140 with a premium processing request at this time.

On 24 May 2022, USCIS published a new version of Form I-907, dated 31 May 2022. As of 1 July 2022, USCIS no longer accept the older 30 September 2020 edition of form I-907.

As previously announced, USICS is expanding premium processing to additional form types as part of its efforts to increase efficiency and reduce burdens to the overall legal immigration system.

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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