Global immigration news

This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from Australia, Canada, China, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Malaysia and Sweden.

Australia: Permanent residency applications for TSS visa holders

The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed that by the end of 2023, subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) short-term stream visa holders will be permitted to apply for permanent residency via the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) subclass 186 visa.

  • Currently, only subclass 482 visa holders in the medium-term and employment agreement streams can apply for permanent residency.
  • TSS visa-holders applying for permanent residency will need to continue to work in their nominated occupation, but occupations will not be limited to the government’s Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).
  • Short-term subclass 482 visa holders will be permitted to renew their visas indefinitely without having to go offshore.
  • All subclass 482 visa holders will be permitted to apply for permanent residency via the TRT stream after two years of employment, instead of three.

Australia: 2023-24 Migration Program

On 9 May 2023, the Australian Government announced that the planning level for the 2023-24 permanent Migration Program will be set at 190,000 places (compared to 195,000 for the previous year).

The government stated that the 2023-24 Migration Program is intended to address persistent and emerging skills shortages and to support the transition to a net-zero emissions economy by attracting specialist skillsets that are difficult to find or develop in Australia. The Program has the following composition:

  • Skill stream (137,100 places). This includes:
    • an increase of 1825 planned places for employer-sponsored visas;
    • a decrease in places for State/Territory Nominated and Regional visas;
    • a decrease in places for skilled independent visas;
    • a decrease in places for business innovation and investment visas;
    • no change in places for Global Talent (Independent) or Distinguished Talent visas.
  • Family stream (52,500 places) – this stream is predominantly made up of Partner visas (estimated 40,500 places) and Child visas (estimated 3000 places);
  • Special Eligibility stream (400 places – up from 100 places last year) – covering those in special circumstances, including permanent residents returning to Australia after a period overseas.

Canada: Apostille Convention to come into effect in January 2024

Canada has joined the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, otherwise known as the Apostille Convention.

The Apostille Convention will come into effect in Canada on 11 January 2024. From that date, Canadian citizens and businesses will be able to submit Canadian public documents, such as birth and marriage certificates and education, export and corporate records, for an authenticity certificate called an ‘apostille.’ This certificate will allow the documents to be used in any of the 124 countries that are members of the convention. This is a cost-effective and streamlined method for authenticating documents.

Until the effective date, Canadian documents will continue to be authenticated according to the specific legalization requirements of their countries of destination and the procedures currently in place.

China: Visa-free transit for Norwegian citizens

China has added Norway to the list of countries whose citizens are eligible for its 72- or 144-hour visa-free transit policy.

Eligible transit passengers can use this policy to stay up to 144 hours in Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo and Nanjing, among other cities.  However, they must prove they have booked onward travel to a third country.

Nationals of the following 53 countries are already eligible for the visa-free transit policy: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore,  Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States.

Estonia: Sanctions exception for some Russians and Belarusians

The Estonian government has approved a sanctions exception permitting Russian and Belarusian students, doctors and researchers to apply for a new residence permit.

These exceptions apply only to those who arrived in order to study or work in Estonia before the start of Russia’s full-scale military aggression in Ukraine and who have passed all necessary Estonian language tests, Estonian curricula and have at least the B2 proficiency level in Estonian. The language requirement does not apply to academic workers.  It is thought that there are almost 300 Russian or Belarusian nationals currently studying in Estonia.

Eligible applications will be decided on a case-by-case basis, rather than automatically.

Finland: Residence permit processing backlog

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) has acknowledged that there are backlogs in the processing of residence permit application based on family ties, with more almost 11,000 applications currently waiting for a decision. The number of applications received in this category has increased significantly in the last two years.

The authorities state that more than 55% of applications submitted in 2022 in this category were processed within three months and 75% within six months. 93% of processed first-time applications received a positive decision, while 96% of extension applications received a positive decision.

Migri recommends that applicants fill in the application carefully, legalize their documents supporting the family relationship before submission, notify Migri if there are any changes in family relationships since application submission and ensure they have a valid passport.

Ireland: Stamp 4 Letter of Support for doctors

Doctors who have completed 21 months employment on an employment permit in a public hospital are now eligible to apply for a Stamp 4 Letter of Support. This arrangement is similar to the arrangements in place for Critical Skills Employment Permits holders.

Doctors can apply by completing the form available here. Applications must be accompanied by the following documentation:

  • A letter from the permit holder’s employer, dated within the last 3 months, confirming the permit holder’s employment with that employer, job title and date of commencement of employment.
  • Copies of 3 recent payslips issued to the holder of the permit dated within the last 4 months.
  • Copies of Employment Detail Summaries issued to the holder of the Employment Permit for each year of employment covering the duration of the Employment Permit, available here.

Malaysia: Information updates for ESD registered companies

The Expatriate Services Division (ESD) has announced that companies registered in the ESD online are required to update their company information as well as to purchase the latest e-SSM, by 31 May 2023. This one-off exercise is to ensure that the company details are up to date and in line with the most recent business profile.

To update their information, companies should complete the following steps:

  • Log into their ESD account and click on the “Company”tab;
  • Select the respective “Primary Sector / Industry”from the drop-down list;
  • Select the respective “Approving Agency / Regulatory Body”from the drop-down list (if applicable);
  • For “Company Establishment Globally”, select “YES” if the head office is located outside of Malaysia or “NO”if the head office is located in Malaysia;
  • If they answered “YES” to item (d), the must input the address of their overseas head office;
  • Click on “Confirm Save”to keep the changes.

Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has so far not requested a similar company update from its registered companies.

Sweden: New model for handling work permit cases

The Swedish Migration Agency has announced a new model for handling work permit cases and encouraging employers to hire highly qualified workers from outside the European Union. The introduction of the new model is planned for the end of 2023.

There is currently a certification system for handling work permit cases. The new model will replace the certification system, which will be phased out. The model also aims to shorten processing times. The model includes four categories:

  • Category A covers work permit applications for highly qualified occupations, as defined in the Swedish Standard Classification of Occupations (SSYK). Category A applies to three occupational areas: managerial occupations, occupations requiring advanced university qualifications and occupations requiring higher education qualifications. The agency intends to process applications for highly qualified workers within 30 days.
  • Category B covers applications for work permits in occupations with specific rules, such as seasonal occupations, berry pickers, intra-corporate transferees (ICT), permits under the EU Blue Card Directive, artists, researchers, athletes/coaches, au-pairs, trainees, youth exchange agreements, and volunteers. It also covers applications to start business activities and so-called “track changers” from asylum cases.
  • Category C covers occupations that do not require a higher level of academic qualification, i.e., non-highly qualified occupations, in sectors that do not require a high level of case investigation. This includes, e.g., occupations that constitute an important social benefit, even if they do not meet the criteria for being classified as highly qualified. Applications for major new establishments in growth areas also fall into this category.
  • Category D includes work permit applications for employment in industries that the Swedish Migration Agency defines as particularly demanding in terms of case investigation, including cleaning, construction, personal assistance, and hotels and restaurants.

Expert advice on global immigration

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

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