Latest updates in global
14 August 2023
This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from Brazil, Canada, Iceland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and Panama.
Brazil: Visit visa requirements reinstated for some nationalities
The Brazilian government has decided to reinstate the visit visa requirement for citizens of Australia, Canada and the United States, as these countries have not granted Brazilian citizens reciprocal visa-free entry.
From 1 October 2023, citizens of these countries will again require a visit visa to enter Brazil. Those entering before 30 September 2023 will be exempt from the visit visa requirement even if they leave after 1 October 2023.
The Brazilian visit visa is valid for stays of up to 90 days for tourism, business or study.
Canada: Recognized Employer Pilot
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has launched a Recognized Employer Pilot (REP).
The REP is a three-year pilot enabling qualifying employers to benefit from Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) validity periods of up to 36 months and access to a simplified LMIA application when hiring additional workers through the LMIA Online Portal.
To qualify, employer must have a minimum of three positive LMIAs for the same occupation over the past five years from the REP occupations list.
REP will be rolled out in two stages:
- Stage one begins in September 2023, when employers in the Primary Agriculture stream will be able to apply in time for the 2024 season.
- Stage two begins in January 2024 and opens intake to all other industry sectors.
Applications for both streams will be accepted until September 2024.
Employers who are expected to meet REP eligibility criteria will be proactively invited to apply using a dual-purpose LMIA application which differs from the regular LMIA. Employers can request that the application be used to apply for recognized status under REP and for the LMIA at the same time.
Canada / Iceland: New Youth Mobility arrangement
The governments of Canada and Iceland have announced the signing of a new Canada–Iceland Youth Mobility Arrangement.
Under this arrangement, which will be implemented in 2024, Canadian and Icelandic youth aged 18 to 30 will benefit from reciprocal work opportunities in each other’s country, for up to 12 months (renewable for an additional 12 months) through International Experience Canada (IEC) and the Icelandic equivalent.
International Experience Canada (IEC) is a reciprocal program that allows Canadian and international youth to work and travel in each other’s country. The program has three categories:
- Working Holiday participants receive an open work permit that allows them to work anywhere in the host country to support their travels.
- International Co-op (internship) participants receive an employer-specific work permit that allows students to gain targeted experience in their field of study.
- Young Professional participants receive an employer-specific work permit to gain targeted, professional work experience that is within their field of study or career path.
The arrangement between Canada and Iceland will allow up to 120 youth annually from each side to work and travel in each other’s country.
Canada has signed youth mobility agreements or arrangements with 38 countries and foreign territories.
Iceland: Longer permits and greater right to family reunification
Foreign nationals now have expanded right to family reunification and may be granted longer permits under amendments to the Foreign Nationals Act which have already taken effect.
The main changes to the different categories of permit are listed below:
Residence permits on the basis of employment:
- A residence permit for work requiring expert knowledge may now be granted for four years instead of two years;
- A residence permits for athletes may now be granted for two years instead of one year;
- A residence permit for specialised staff on the basis of a collaboration or service contract may now be granted for one year instead of six months;
- A residence permit due to a shortage of labour may now be renewed for two years instead of one year, and a foreign national who has held a residence permit on this basis is no longer required to spend two consecutive years abroad before being able to apply again;
- The holder of a residence permit on the basis of expert knowledge may now be granted a permit for one year, when an employment relationship is dissolved, so that he or she may seek employment on the basis of his or her expert knowledge;
- The holder of a residence permit due to shortage of labour may now be granted a residence permit for six months, when an employment relationship is dissolved, so that he or she can seek another job;
- A residence permit due to shortage of labour and a residence permit for specialised staff on the basis of a collaboration or service contract are now accompanied by the right to family reunification with spouses, children and parents over the age of 67.
Residence permits on the basis of studies and cultural exchanges:
- Doctoral students may now be present in Iceland when applying for a residence permit;
- A residence permit for a foreign national who has completed university studies in Iceland may now be renewed for up to three years from the date of graduation for the purpose of seeking employment in Iceland on the basis of his/her expert knowledge. Previously the duration was six months;
- A residence permit for students now comes with the right to family reunification with spouses, children and parents over the age of 67 for all students;
- A residence permit for students now comes with the right to work up to 22,5 hours per week (60% work) instead of 15 hours previously (40% work);
- A residence permit for au pair placement may now be renewed once for one year.
Residence permits on the basis of family reunification:
- A residence permit for children may now be granted to children born in Iceland even if their parents hold residence permits that are not accompanied with the right to family reunification;
- A residence permit for children may now be granted to children who have reached the age of 18 as long as they were not 18 years old at the time of application;
- A residence permit for the spouses and children of foreign nationals, who hold a residence permit for work that requires expert knowledge, is now accompanied by the right to work without a work permit in Iceland.
Italy: New quotas for vocational training courses and internships
The government has made available 7500 new quota places in Italy for vocational training courses and another 7500 places for internships in the years 2023 to 2025. The quota is unchanged from the previous three-year period, even though only 3219 places were used in the last period.
Applications for a professional training visa or an internship visa can be submitted at an Italian consulate and do not require a work permit.
Following recent regulatory changes, residence permits issued for study purposes can now, at the end of the training period, be converted into a work permit outside the quota limits.
Professional training courses are defined as courses which lead to a professional qualification or a certification of skills, which last up to 24 months and are organised by accredited institutions. University courses are not included.
Internships must be part of a vocational training course started in the country of origin, based on an agreement between an accredited intermediary organization and the hosting employer, and must obtain regional approval.
Japan: Visa waiver for Brazilian nationals
Effective 30 September 2023, the government of Japan will introduce a visa waiver for nationals of Brazil holding ordinary passports who wish to enter Japan for stays of up to 90 days.
The Government of Brazil will continue its visa waiver measure for Japanese nationals so that Japanese and Brazilian citizens will be able to visit mutually without obtaining visas from 30 September 2023.
New Zealand: Increased pay entitlements for RSE workers
Effective 1 October 2023, employers in the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme must pay workers at least the minimum wage +10% for actual hours worked. This currently works out to be $24.97 per hour.
The increased pay entitlements include RSE workers on current RSE Limited Visas granted before 1 October 2023. Employers who fail to update wages in line with the new minimum hourly wage would breach their Agreement to Recruit (ATR) commitments.
RSE workers will also be entitled to paid sick leave from the day they start work. Currently, RSE workers get sick leave entitlements after working for 6 months, under the Holidays Act 2023.
With the new sick leave provisions, RSE workers will be entitled to 2 days sick leave from the day they start work, and an additional 2 days each month until they reach their 10-day entitlement on their 4-month anniversary.
The sick leave change does not apply to workers granted RSE Limited Visas before 1 October 2023.
If a worker transfers from one RSE employer to another, the new employment agreement must also comply with minimum pay and sick leave requirements.
A review of the RSE Scheme is currently under way.
New Zealand: Work to Residence changes
Expansion of Eligibility for Work to Residence
Eligibility for Green List and Sector Agreement Work to Residence visas is being extended to include non-Accredited Employer Work Visa (non-AEWV).
When the visas open for applications from 29 September 2023, all temporary work visa holders and Critical Purpose Visitor Visa holders with work rights will be able to claim work experience to count towards them.
Applicants will require two years of work experience in a relevant role starting from 29 September 2021, and meet the relevant skill and wage thresholds.
This change aligns these residence pathway settings with the new Skilled Migrant Category, which ensures the settings are consistent, and reduces the complexity for applicants.
Applicants will also need to meet the median wage requirements and other standard residence requirements including health, character, age, and English language when they apply for residence.
Changes to Wage Requirements for Work to Residence
People on the Green List Work to Residence pathway will need to meet the median wage, or occupation-specific wage requirement threshold in place at the start of their 24-month work experience and at the time they are applying for residence.
If the median wage increases during the two-year work experience period, they do not need to meet the new threshold until they make their residence application, unless they change jobs.
There will be an exemption to this requirement for people in Green List Work to Residence occupations who hold a non-AEWV and applied for it before 29 September 2023. They will only have to meet the median wage or their occupation-specific wage requirement at the time they apply for residence.
All Green List Straight to Residence applicants will be required to have a job or job offer that meets the median wage requirement.
TAE and LTSSL work visa channel changes
From 31 August 2023, Talent Accredited Employer (TAE) and Long-Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) work visa holders who were outside of New Zealand due to border closure during the COVID-19 response will no longer be able to submit further TAE or LTSSL applications to restart their residence pathway.
Panama: New digital platform for visa applications
Effective 15 September 2023, the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI) has announced that it will implement a new digital platform for submitting visa applications for Multinational Companies (SEM) and Companies Providing Manufacturing-related Services (EMMA).
The online platform is intended to streamline and simplify the application process, and may be extended to further services in the future.
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