Global immigration news

This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following updates from Italy, Malaysia, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Vietnam.

Italy: New decree amending Italian immigration law

On 9 March 2023, the Italian government approved a new decree, amending Italian immigration law. The decree will be converted into law by parliament within 60 days from its publication in the official gazette on 10 March 2023 (i.e. 9 May 2023).

Some of the below changes may be amended by parliament before the decree is converted:

  • Residence permits for work and family purposes are renewable for three years, rather than two years as currently.
  • It will be possible to convert study residence permits into work permits without being subject to quota limitations, including for students not graduating in Italy.
  • The quota will be updated every three years rather than every year (via the Decreto Flussi).
  • Foreign nationals may engage in work-related activities while waiting for the contract of stay to be signed.

Malaysia: New ePass system

Effective 17 Mar 2023, companies registered with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) must use the new ePass system for the renewal of an Employment Permit (EP) and related Dependant Pass (DP) and Long-Term Social Visit Pass (LTSVP).

This replaces the physical Pass endorsement sticker that was previously affixed into the passport.

The ePass will only be issued for renewals  (not initial Pass applications) using the same passport (not for a transfer of endorsement from one passport to another or for a change in passport during the renewal process).

The ePass can be stored on a mobile device but MDEC requires that the ePass be printed out and kept together with the passport at all times.

Portugal: Update on Golden Visa Scheme cancellation

The government of Portugal has frozen the processing of new applications for golden visas submitted after 16 February 2023.

On that date, the government announced its intention to cancel the golden visa scheme, officially known as the Residence Permit for Investment (ARI). However, the proposed law must first be publicly debated, then approved by parliament and ratified by the president.

In the meantime, ARI holders who seek to renew their visas are now required to provide proof of permanent tax residence by the holder or their descendants, or a lease agreement proving that the house is rented out for housing for at least five years.  The respective proof must be submitted within 90 days of the expiry of the ARI.

Renewal applications that are currently pending will have to be supported by one of the above proofs.

Qatar: New online work permit services

The Ministry of Labour has implemented new online services related to work permit management.

These include applications for an initial or renewal work permit, for, for a work permit cancellation, for a new or renewal labour recruitment approval or for amending a labour recruitment approval.

Saudi Arabia: Tourist visa eligibility extended

Residents of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries can now obtain a Saudi tourist visa regardless of their profession, according to a tweet by the Kingdom’s tourism minister.

The eVisa to the Kingdom was previously applicable only to GCC residents with certain approved occupations.

United States: H-1B registration process extended

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it is extending the H-1B electronic registration process due to a technical issue experienced by some users.

The existing H-1B registration deadline is 17 March 2023, and the new extended deadline has not yet been confirmed.

Vietnam: Visa waiver scheme expanded

The government has announced that it will expand its visa waiver scheme and e-visa program to more countries and extend the permitted duration of visa-free stays.

Under the current policy, the Government unilaterally exempts visa for citizens of thirteen countries, namely Russia, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Belarus, with a duration of stay of 15 days. This policy is applicable until 14 March 2025 and may be considered for further extension.

Vietnam also has agreements on bilateral visa exemption for nationals of twelve countries: Chile, Panama, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, and Myanmar.

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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