What's new in global

This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from Austria, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States.

Austria: Changes to the Red-White-Red card

The Austrian government has announced that amendments to the rules for Red-White-Red (RWR) cards will come into force on 1 October 2023.

The principal changes announced are as follows:

  • Faster processing of applications;
  • Loosening of the criteria for obtaining the Red-White-Red card: changes in the allocation of points for qualifications, work experience and language skills; age-independent minimum salary for the Other Key Workers category; elimination of the minimum salary for the Graduates category; extended allocation of points for the criterion “age” for the Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations category;
  • The introduction of an employment permit for specialists within the framework of projects;
  • The inclusion of regular workers in tourism, agriculture and forestry in the RWR card system;
  • Expansion of the Regular Seasonal Worker scheme;
  • Implementation of the new EU Blue Card Directive: facilitating changes of employer, improving the mobility of EU Blue Card holders and lowering the required minimum wage threshold;
  • Implementation of ABA WORK in AUSTRIAas an advice centre for companies and skilled workers.

ABA Work in Austria is an independent agency which is separate from both the Public Employment Service and the residence authorities. It is authorised to enquire about the status of an application, whether there are any missing or incomplete supporting documents and the expected time to completion of application processing. The ABA Work in Austria website has detailed information and advice about work immigration procedures.

The Red-White-Red Card (“Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte”) offers qualified third-country workers (with a binding job offer) and their family members a single permit for working and residing in Austria.

There are currently seven categories under the RWR Card scheme:

  • Very Highly Qualified Workers
  • Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations
  • Other Key Workers
  • Graduates of Austrian Universities and Colleges of Higher Education
  • Regular Workers in Tourism, Agriculture and Forestry
  • Self-employed Key Workers
  • Start-up Founders.

Family members of RWR card holders can apply for a Red-White-Red – Card Plus enabling them to freely access the Austrian labour market.

Canada / Finland: Youth Mobility Agreement

The government has announced the signing of the Canada-Finland Youth Mobility Agreement. The agreement is expected to come into force in 2024, after it is ratified by both countries.

This new agreement will allow Canadian and Finnish youth, aged 18 to 35, to work and travel in each other’s country under International Experience Canada (IEC) or the Finnish equivalent.

There are three categories under IEC: Working Holiday, International Co-op (internship) and Young Professionals. Youth will be able to participate in the program for up to 12 months per category.

With this latest agreement with Finland, Canada now has youth mobility agreements with 36 countries and territories.

For the 2023 season, Canada is extending this opportunity to come to Canada through IEC to nearly 90,000 international youth. This expansion will help Canadian employers find the workers they need to fill labour shortages across the country.

Denmark: New immigration fees

The fees for applications through the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) for residence permits for work or study have increased. The new fees apply to all applications submitted on or after 17 May 2023.

The previous and current rates per application type are as follows:


  • Previous fee 4405 DKK
  • New fee 4670 DKK


  • Previous fee 1890 DKK
  • New fee 2115 DKK

Au pairs or interns

  • Previous fee 4175 DKK
  • New fee 4320 DKK

Accompanying family

  • Previous fee 1615 DKK
  • New fee 2635 DKK

Applicants should ensure that they create their Case Order ID, pay the fee and submit the application in the same fee rate period. That is, those who have paid the fee before 17 May 2023 but submit the application on or after 17 May 2023 will have to make an additional payment of the remaining fee. If the fee has decreased, they will be refunded the overpaid amount.

SIRI’s fees for processing applications for residence permits are normally adjusted on 1 January each year. The adjustment on 17 May 2023 is due to the fact that the national budget for 2023 takes effect on this date.

The Danish Immigration Service also adjusted its fees for applications for family reunification and permanent residence permits effective 17 May 2023.

Hong Kong: Talent List expanded to 51 professions

Effective 16 May 2023, the government has expanded the Talent List from 13 professions to 51.

The expanded list immediately applies to the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS), the General Employment Policy (GEP) and the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents & Professionals (ASMTP).

Under GEP and ASMTP, employers who seek to fill vacancies falling under professions on the Talent List are eligible for an exemption from labour market testing (i.e., they are not required to prove their difficulties in local recruitment).

Eligible QMAS applicants who meet the requirements of the Talent List will be awarded 30 bonus points under the General Points Test. QMAS applicants are not required to have a job offer in Hong Kong before entry.

The updated list includes 51 professions in nine industry sectors, namely business support; creative industries, arts and culture, performing arts; development and construction; environmental technology services; financial services; healthcare services; innovation and technology; legal and dispute resolution services; and maritime services.

Further information about the Talent List is available here and applications can be submitted online here.

Hong Kong aims to attract 35,000 workers under the Talent routes this year, and again in each of the next two years.

New Zealand: New conditions for partner work visas

Effective 31 May 2023, new work conditions will apply to most partner work visas.

From that date, partners of Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) and Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV) holders who successfully apply for a new Partner of a Worker Work Visa may have to meet the following new conditions:

  • They can only work for an Accredited Employer.
  • They cannot work in roles covered by capped sector agreements.
  • If working in a role not covered by a sector agreement, they must be paid at least the median wage in effect at the time they receive their visa, or when they receive a job offer, whichever is later. This is currently NZD 29.66.
  • If working in a role covered by an uncapped sector agreement, they must be paid at least the relevant wage threshold in place. They will not be subject to a stand-down period.

Partners do not need to have a job offer to apply for this visa, and employers do not need to complete a Job Check. When granted, partners can change employers without applying for a Variation of Conditions. There is no minimum number of hours that partners need to work.

People who are currently employed will need to ensure their employment meets the conditions of their new visa when any new visa takes effect. People who are not employed will need to ensure any future job offer meets these conditions.

Any later changes to the employer’s accreditation, the median wage and sector agreements will not impact the visa holder if they remain in the same employment.

From 31 May 2023, people will be able to check on the INZ website if an employer is accredited.

The changes do not affect current work visa conditions or people who apply before 31 May 2023. There are no changes to visa conditions for partners of New Zealanders or partners of those holding other work visas (such as a Post Study Work Visa).

Exceptions for partners of certain work visa holders

Some partners of AEWV or ESWV holders will continue to be eligible for a work visa allowing them to work in any occupation for any employer in New Zealand (whether accredited or not), with no median wage threshold. This includes partners of:

  • Migrants who are paid at least twice the median wage, or
  • Migrants who are working in a role on the Green List.

These exceptions include migrants who did not meet these requirements when they received their visa but have since met them through a pay increase or their role being added to the Green List. Evidence of eligibility will be needed as part of the Partner of a Worker Work Visa application, or through a Variation of Conditions request.

Non-eligible work visa holders

AEWV holders who are covered by a sector agreement and paid below the median wage are not eligible to support a partner work visa. ESWV holders paid below the median wage (or lower-skilled if the visa application was made before 27 July 2020) are also not eligible to support a partner work visa.

If they receive a pay rise that means they earn at least the median wage, they may be able to support their partner for a work visa. They do not need to apply for a new work visa to support a partner, unless they want their eligibility for a longer work visa to be assessed based on the new salary. This is because partners generally receive a visa for the same length of time as their supporting partner’s work visa.

Partners of temporary workers can explore other visas to see if they are eligible to apply in their own right. Partners who do not want to work can apply for a Visitor Visa.

Singapore: New online services for Employment Passes

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has implemented new online services enabling employers or employment agents to apply, renew, appeal, issue, cancel, withdraw or replace most types of Employment Pass (not Work Permits).

The new Employment Pass (EP) eService, which is accessed through the myMOM Portal and replaces EP Online, can also be used to apply for a Training Employment Pass (TEP); extend the validity of an In Principal Approval (IPA); check the status of submitted application/renewal/appeal; or request a card replacement.

It also allows employers to review their company profile and details of their transactions and payments.

Pass holders can use the new system to update their passport and contact details.

The new system cannot currently be used to update a pass holder’s salary; to issue or cancel a Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) or EntrePass; or to request a replacement card for an EntrePass, PEP, Dependant’s Pass, or Long-Term Visit Pass holder.

Moreover, forms do not need to be endorsed using a company stamp, even is this section still appears on the form.

Applicants who previously submitted any transactions using EP Online will be able to continue these on the new EP eService platform.

MOM encourages users to login at least once every three months to ensure there are no irregular transactions. Inactive accounts will be terminated after 12 months.

United States: Reduced administrative processing times

The US Department of State has stated that it has reduced the time required for “administrative processing” – various additional steps that must be carried out before a consular officer can complete a visa application, which may include national security vetting.

The State Department said that it has recently adopted new technology and enhanced coordination with the National Vetting Center which has dramatically reduced the number of visa applications requiring administrative processing on the grounds of national security.

Since October 2022, most cases that would have previously required additional administrative processing were resolved immediately without additional, time-consuming handling, according to the State Department statement.

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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