Global immigration news

This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from Brazil, Mexico, China, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Brazil / Mexico: Mutual e-visa system

The governments of Brazil and Mexico have agreed to establish a mutual e-visa system, with a view to eventually resuming the visa waiver agreement between the two countries.

The e-visa is intended to simplify applications by Brazilian and Mexican nationals for visitor visas for tourism or business in each other’s countries.  Further details are not yet available.

In December 2021, Mexico cancelled the visa waiver for Brazilian nationals; in August 2022, Mexico revoked the e-visa option for Brazilian nationals.

Mexican nationals can currently enter Brazil for tourism or business for stays of up to 90 days, which can be extended for another 90 days.

China: Entry-Exit facilitation policies

The Ministry of Public Security has announced 12 measures to facilitate immigration and entry-exit applications. The measures, effective 1 August 2023, include the following:

  • China will ease the permanent residence application for more high-level foreign talents, including foreigners with doctoral degrees, and those who have made significant contributions to the country. Foreign spouses and children of qualified applicants can join the permanent residence application simultaneously.
  • Long-term visas and residence permits, valid for two to five years, will be issued to foreign talents invited for technical cooperation, economic and trade activities or work by China’s prestigious universities, science research institutes and well-known enterprises, as well as to high-level foreign talent teams and their auxiliary personnel.
  • Foreign graduates from China’s key colleges and universities or renowned foreign universities, who started businesses in China or were invited to undertake internships in China, will enjoy policy support and convenience in applying for visas and residence permits.
  • Efforts are to be made to explore the establishment of immigration service centres in areas where a large population of foreigners live, and services will be provided for resident foreigners to facilitate their work, study and life, such as consultation concerning policies, residence and travel, legal assistance, as well as language and culture services.

Further, China will facilitate the issuance of port visas and multiple renewals for foreign businesspeople:

  • Foreign nationals coming to China for business negotiations, trade exchanges, installation and maintenance, participation in exhibitions, investment, and entrepreneurship, and who have no time to apply for visas to China outside the country, can apply for port visas to enter the country with the invitation letter and certification materials of the enterprise.
  • Those who need to leave and return to China multiple times for business reasons can apply for a multiple entry business visa within three years after arriving in China.
  • Residence permit applicants in China will be permitted to keep their original passport after verification and during application processing, rather than submitting them for the entire period of processing, as currently.

Estonia: Posted worker notifications

Effective 17 July 2023, posted worker notifications must be submitted in TEIS, the self-service platform of the Labour Inspectorate.

Previously, employees posted to Estonia had to register by filling in a registration form found on the website of the Labour Inspectorate and forwarding it to the Labour Inspectorate by email.

Employers are obliged to register employees posted to Estonia with the Labour Inspectorate before the employee commences work.

To register a posting notice, the following information must be submitted in TEIS:

  • the name, personal identification code or registry code, area of activity, details of residence or location and means of communication of the employer of the posted employee;
  • the name and details of the means of communication of the contact person who represents the employer of the posted employee;
  • the number of posted employees, their names and personal identification codes or dates of birth and numbers of their identity documents;
  • the expected duration of the posting and the scheduled start date and end date;
  • the name, personal identification code or registry code, area of activity, details of residence or location and means of communication of the contracting entity or contracting authority for whom the posted employee works in Estonia;
  • the name and/or details of the means of communication of the contact person who represents the contracting entity or contracting authority for whom the posted employee works in Estonia;
  • information regarding the area of activity in which the posted employee will be working in Estonia, and the address of the place in which the posted employee will perform the work.

Finland: Finnish immigration services in Russia

Effective 1 September 2023, the customer service counter at the Finnish Consulate general in St Petersburg will be closed. This follows the Russian government’s announcement on 6 July 2023 that the Consulate General will close on 1 October 2023.

From 1 August 2023, the St Petersburg office of Visa Facilitation Services Global (VSF) will not receive applications for visas and residence permits to Finland.

  • Moreover, due to limited resources, applications for visas and residence permits to Finland will not be received at the Embassy of Finland in Moscow or at any of the VFS offices in Russia between 1 August and 31 August 2023. Applications submitted before 1 August 2023 will be processed as normal.

From 1 September 2023, the Finnish Embassy in Moscow will assume the duties for consular and immigration matters previously handled in St Petersburg (all passport and notarial services and all cases of Finnish nationals needing help in Russia).

The Foreign Ministry will provide updates regarding the possible submission of applications for visas and residence permits at the VFS office in St Petersburg from 1 September 2023.

Ireland: Significant changes to citizenship law

Effective 31 July 2023, the government has implemented significant amendments to citizenship and naturalisation law in Ireland, contained in the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2023.

Among the changes are the following:

  • Children born in Ireland who do not automatically qualify for Irish citizenship by birth are now eligible for naturalisation after three years of residency in Ireland, rather than the five years required previously.
  • Minor applicants for naturalisation aged 14 or above will be subject to a good character assessment.
  • Applicants are now permitted up to 70 days of absences from Ireland in the continuous year preceding a naturalisation application. This replaces the “six-week rule”.
  • An additional 30-days of absences may be permitted if these are due to exceptional circumstances. These exceptional circumstances may include health, family, employment and study.

These changes apply to naturalisation applications which are pending as well as to new applications.

New Zealand: Online systems in high demand

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has stated that there is unusually high demand on its online system causing difficulties for some users attempting submit applications for the Working Holiday Scheme (WHS) or Expressions of Interest (EOI) in the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC).

SMC customers who are trying to lodge their EOI and are having difficulty accessing the system can use an editable PDF of the paper form ‘Expression of Interest Form – Skilled Migrant Category (INZ 1100)’.

The form can be scanned and emailed to: This will need to be done before 11.59pm on Tuesday 15 August 2023. People emailing the form should not include their credit card details. INZ staff will contact each person submitting their EOI through this channel to obtain payment details.

Saudi Arabia: Electronic Visa Waiver for British nationals

Effective immediately, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched a new Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) for nationals of the United Kingdom.

The EWV allows a single entry for a stay of up to six months for business, tourism, study or medical treatment.  It cannot be used for work or for the Hajj pilgrimage.

The application can be submitted online between three months and 48 hours before the date of travel.  The visa approval will be sent to the applicant via email within 24 hours of submitting the application.

The UK government introduced an electronic visa waiver for nationals of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on 1 June 2023, with equivalent benefits and requirements.  This service is also available to nationals of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates travelling to the UK.

United States: Second H-1B selection completed

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has completed the recently-announced second random selection from previously submitted registrations for the financial year 2024 H-1B cap.

USCIS has selected a sufficient number of registrations projected as needed to reach the cap and has notified all prospective petitioners with selected registrations from this round of selection that they are eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition for the beneficiary named in the applicable selected registration.

In March 2023, USCIS conducted an initial random selection on properly submitted electronic registrations for the FY 2024 H-1B cap, including for beneficiaries eligible for the advanced degree exemption.

An H-1B cap-subject petition must be properly filed at the correct service centre and within the filing period indicated on the relevant registration selection notice. The period for filing the H-1B cap-subject petition will be at least 90 days. Online filing is not available for H-1B petitions, so petitioners filing H-1B petitions must do so by paper. Petitioners must include a printed copy of the applicable registration selection notice with the FY 2024 H-1B cap-subject petition.

Registration selection only pertains to eligibility to file an H-1B cap-subject petition. Petitioners filing H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those petitions eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must still establish eligibility for petition approval based on existing statutory and regulatory requirements.

United States: Updated receipts process for Form I-129S

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced changes to the way it issues receipts for L-1 nonimmigrant intracompany transferees (executives, managers or specialized knowledge professionals) under a previously approved blanket L petition.

When submitting Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, together with Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, the petitioner will now receive two notices: the receipt notice and the approval notice (if approved). Petitioners will no longer receive a stamped and signed Form I-129S in conjunction with the Form I-129 approval. Instead, the petitioner will receive a separate approval notice for the Form I-129S, which serves as the endorsement.

This approval notice will serve as evidence that a USCIS officer has determined the beneficiary is eligible for L-1 status based on an approved blanket L petition and constitutes an endorsement of Form I-129S as required by 8 CFR 214.2(l)(5)(ii)(E). A copy of that notice will also be provided to the beneficiary to be included with their visa and/or admission papers.

This change will provide petitioners with quicker, more organized, and more secure processing of Form I-129S, by eliminating the need for USCIS to print, stamp, sign, and annotate the paper form.

Expert advice on global immigration

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To speak to a member of our global immigration team, please contact us today.

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