Global immigration news

This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam.

Australia: Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement pilot program

Effective 1 July 2023, the Australian Government, working in collaboration with Talent Beyond Boundaries​, is piloting a program aimed at providing skilled refugees with a pathway to live and work in Australia. Under this pilot program, endorsed Australian businesses will be able to use a Labour Agreement to sponsor skilled refugees to work in their business.​​

The Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement pilot program can be used by endorsed Australian employers to sponsor an approved skilled overseas worker on a permanent or temporary basis under the following employer sponsored visa programs:

  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (SESR) (subclass 494) visa program with a permanent pathway to a Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (subclass 191) available after three years;
  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (subclass 186) visa program on a direct entry basis;
  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (subclass 482) visa.

The following occupations are now available for businesses seeking to sponsor workers under a Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement for any of the above employer sponsored visas.

Before an Australian business can apply for a Labour Agreement under the Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement pilot program, they must receive written endorsement from Talent Beyond Boundaries. Employers interested in participating in the pilot should register their interest with Talent Beyond Boundaries.

Canada: New immigration measures to help Canadian businesses

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced several important new measures aimed at helping businesses in Canada.

These measures include:

  • The creation of an open work permit stream for H-1B specialty occupation visa holders in the US to apply for a Canadian work permit, and study or work permit options for their accompanying family members.
    • Effective 16 July 2023, H-1B specialty occupation visa holders in the US, and their accompanying immediate family members, will be eligible to apply to come to Canada.
    • Approved applicants will receive an open work permit of up to three years in duration, which means they will be able to work for almost any employer anywhere in Canada. Their spouses and dependants will also be eligible to apply for a temporary resident visa, with a work or study permit, as needed.
    • This measure will remain in effect for one year, or until IRCC receives 10,000 applications. Only principal applicants, and not their accompanying family members, will count toward the application cap.
  • The development (by the end of 2023) of an Innovation Stream under to the International Mobility Program to attract highly talented individuals, with a new exemption from the labour market impact assessment process, options for which include:
    • employer-specific work permits for up to five years for workers destined to work for a company identified by the Government of Canada as contributing to our industrial innovation goals;
    • open work permits for up to five years for highly skilled workers in select in-demand occupations.
  • A return to the 14-day service standard for work permits under the Global Skills Strategy.
  • The promotion of Canada as a destination for digital nomads (after consultation with public and private partners).
    • Currently, digital nomads working remotely for an employer outside of Canada can live and work in Canada for up to six months at a time. They don’t need a work permit. All they need is visitor status.
  • The creation of a STEM-specific draw under category-based selection to issue additional invitations to apply under the Express Entry program.
  • Improvements to the Start-up Visa Program:
    • More places allocated to this program for 2023, with further increases planned for 2024 and 2025.
    • Applicants will be able to apply for a work permit that is up to three years in duration instead of one year.
    • Applicants will be able to apply for an open work permit instead of one that limits them to working for their own start-up.
    • This three-year open work permit will be available to each member of the entrepreneurial team instead of only those who are essential and urgently needed in Canada.
    • Prioritizing of applications that are supported by venture capital, angel investor groups and business incubators and have capital committed, along with applications that are supported by business incubators who are members of Canada’s Tech Network.

Canada: Limit on length of study programs removed for temporary foreign workers

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced a new temporary measure removing the limit on the length of the study programs that temporary foreign workers can enrol in without a study permit, effective immediately.

Previously, foreign workers could study while working, but only in programs of six months or less. For longer programs, they had to apply for a separate study permit.

With this new three-year temporary measure, foreign workers can study full time or part time while their work permits are valid or until the expiration of the policy, with no restrictions on the length of the program.

This applies to those who hold a valid work permit or who have submitted an application to renew their work permit on or before 7 June 2023, and are authorized to work.  If a foreign worker wishes to study longer than the duration of their work permit, they still need to apply for a study permit.

Ireland: Review of Critical Skills Occupation List

On 26 June 2023, the Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail launched a review of the occupations on the Critical Skills Occupation List and Ineligible Occupations List for employment permits and called for employers and stakeholders to make a submission.

Submissions are invited from representative bodies, Government Departments, Agencies, and other interested parties to a public consultation to review the eligibility of occupations appearing on the Critical Skills Occupations List and the Ineligible Occupations List for employment permits.

Interested parties who feel that there are skills/labour shortages or surpluses in relation to occupations in their sector and that these are adversely affecting their industry, are invited to make a submission.

Stakeholders should include in their submission any relevant actors that they consider are impacting on their sector so that consideration can be given to making adjustments to the lists, for example, data on the skills or labour shortages, information on recruitment efforts undertaken, retention difficulties, relevant training incentives, impact on business, expansion plans etc., and any other evidence or data such as industry surveys or reports and views within their sector.

Submissions will only be accepted using the form made available on the department’s website and will be open from 26 June 2023 until 18 August 2023.

New Zealand: Health screening reimbursements for 2021 Resident Visa applicants

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will offer reimbursements to 2021 Resident Visa applicants for the costs of new health screenings – including medical checks and chest X-rays – that were requested but were not required.

In 2022, the Enhanced Immigration Online system requested new medical certificates from applicants when it could not find their existing medical certificates.

INZ will contact the 1049 affected applicants they have identified and invite them to request a reimbursement. Applicants have until 23:59, 30 September 2023 New Zealand Daylight Time (NZDT) to submit their request.

Applicants who are requesting reimbursement must provide evidence of payment such as either:

  • A receipt from their medical practice
  • A letter or email of confirmation from the medical practice, or
  • A copy of the bank statement showing the relevant transactions.

New Zealand / United Kingdom: Youth Mobility and Working Holiday visa schemes

Effective 29 June 2023, the age limit for New Zealanders going to the UK under the UK-New Zealand Youth Mobility and Working Holiday visa schemes rose from 30 to 35, and the maximum stay increased to three years.

The same changes will apply to British nationals going to New Zealand on the scheme from 1 July 2023.

South Korea: Changes to K-ETA scheme

Effective 3 July 2023, the Korean government will extend the validity period of the Korea Electronic Travel Authorisation (K-ETA) and exempt certain age groups from the K-ETA requirement.

  • The validity of K-ETA will be expanded from two years to three years.
  • Travellers aged 17 years old and under, and 65 years and above, will no longer be required to obtain a K-ETA. However, those who wish to receive the of from K-ETA, such as not having to submit an arrival card upon entry, may apply for K-ETA, and in this case, the application fee (10,000KRW) will be charged.

K-ETA eligible nationals who wish to enter South Korea visa-free must obtain K-ETA approval before boarding the flight or ship. Approval processing can take up to 72 hours. K-ETA holders are not required to submit an arrival card on entry.

Vietnam: E-visa validity extension

On 24 June 2023 the National assembly approved the extension of the validity of e-visas to 90 days from the current 30 days. E-visas holders will also be permitted to make multiple entries.

This new policy will take legal effect on 15 August 2023.

Vietnam currently offers e-visas to citizens of 80 countries and allows visa-free entry for nationals of 25 countries, mostly for between 15-30 days. Under the new law, visa-free nationals will be granted stays of up to 45 days.

Expert advice on global immigration

If you need support with any aspect of global 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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