What's new in global

This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from Australia, Canada, Germany, Singapore, Taiwan and the United States.

Australia: Skills assessments for GSM visas

The Department of Home Affairs will now accept skills assessments obtained within 60 days of receiving an invitation for a General Skilled Migration (GSM) Visa. Previously, the skills assessment had to be provided before submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI) for a GSM visa through the SkillSelect online system.

Applicants for the following points tested GSM visas must have a suitable skills assessment for their nominated occupation:

Canada: Work permit applications for visitors

The Canadian government has extended, until 28 February 2025, its temporary policy of permitting foreign nationals who are in Canada as visitors and who receive a valid job offer to apply for and receive a work permit without having to leave the country.

Visitors applying under this public policy who held a work permit within the last 12 months will also continue to be able to request interim work authorization to begin working for their new employer more quickly.

Prior to this temporary policy change, those applying to work in Canada would typically need to apply for their initial work permit before they came to Canada. If they were already in Canada with visitor status when they were approved for a work permit, they would need to leave Canada to be issued their work permit. With this policy in place, leaving Canada isn’t necessary.

To be eligible to apply, an applicant looking to benefit from this temporary public policy must:

  • have valid status in Canada as a visitor on the day they apply;
  • have a job offer that is supported by a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) or an LMIA-exempt offer of employment;
  • submit an application for an employer-specific work permit no later than 28 February 2025;
  • meet all other standard admissibility criteria.

Germany: Visa and residence permit services

Effective 1 May 2023, the visa centre of the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Dresden will receive and process all applications for visas and residence permits within the Schengen area.

Relatedly, the visa and residence permit services of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Berlin will be terminated on 30 April 2023.

For an appointment date in May 2023, applicants should contact the Dresden visa centre at visa_dresden@mzv.cz from 15 March 2023.

Singapore: Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS)

Starting in September 2023, employers who wish to score points under Criterion 2 on “Qualifications” under the new COMPASS framework will be required to submit verification proof for qualifications declared on the EP application.

The verification must be carried out by a government-recognized background screening company, as specified here.

From 1 September 2023, EP candidates must pass a two-stage eligibility framework. In addition to meeting the qualifying salary (Stage 1), EP candidates must pass a points-based Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) (Stage 2).

From 1 September 2023, qualification verification will also be required for renewal applications.

Taiwan: New polio vaccination requirement

Effective immediately, applicants for Taiwanese visas must submit proof of having received the polio vaccination within the past year if they have resided in or visited certain high-risk countries for four weeks or more within the past year.

The countries specified are Afghanistan, DR Congo, Israel, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Pakistan.

These applicants must provide their International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (Yellow Book) issued by a hospital or healthcare professional with their polio vaccinations recorded therein as proof.

United States: Premium processing for F-1 students

On 6 March 2023, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the expansion of premium processing for certain F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) and F-1 students seeking science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) OPT extensions who have a pending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and wish to request a premium processing upgrade.

Online filing of Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, is now also available to F-1 students in these categories. USCIS continues to accept the latest paper version of this form by mail.

Premium processing expansion for certain F-1 students will occur in phases, and students requesting premium processing should not file before these dates:

  • Beginning 6 March 2023 USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed either via paper form or online, for certain F-1 students who already have apending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if they are filing under one of the following categories:
    • (c)(3)(A) – Pre-Completion OPT;
    • (c)(3)(B) – Post-Completion OPT; and
    • (c)(3)(C) – 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM students.
  • Beginning 3 April 2023, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed either via paper form or online, for F-1 students in the above categorieswhen filed together with Form I-765.

USCIS will reject premium processing requests for a pending Form I-765 if received before 6 March 2023, and will reject any premium processing request for an initial or concurrently filed Form I-765 that is received before 3 April 2023.

To file Form I-907 online, an applicant must first create a USCIS online account, which provides a convenient and secure method to submit forms, pay fees, and track the status of any pending. There is no cost to set up a USCIS online account, which offers a variety of features, including the ability to communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox and respond to Requests for Evidence online.

Applicants who previously filed a paper Form I-765 and wish to file Form I-907 online to request premium processing should reference the USCIS Account Access Notice they received for the Online Access Code and details on how to link their paper-filed cases to their online account, or they will not be able to file Form I-907 online and will need to file a paper Form I-907 with the Chicago lockbox.

The addition of online filing for Form I-907 brings the total number of forms available for online filing to 16. The Forms Available to File Online page has links to file all of these forms. USCIS continues to accept the latest paper versions of all forms by mail. More than 1.8 million applications, petitions and requests were filed online in FY 2022, a 53% increase from the 1.2 million filed in FY 2021.

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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