What's new in global

This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from Bahrain, Denmark, the European Union, Luxembourg, New Zealand and the United States.

Bahrain: Residency and work permit renewals

The Interior Ministry has announced that residency and work permits will soon be renewable from outside Bahrain.

The new service, which applies to foreign nationals working in the commercial and government sectors, registered labourers and domestic workers, will be jointly delivered by the Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (NPRA) and the Labour Market Regularly Authority (LMRA). As yet, no implementation date has been announced.

Denmark: New Health Agreement in Greenland

Effective 6 September, a new Health Agreement has taken effect in Greenland, affecting “healthcare persons” (those with a healthcare education) who have been offered employment in the Greenlandic Health Care System.

Those who apply for a residence and work permit according to the Health Agreement are not required to send their authorizations or documentation for education or for previous employment.

The change of the requirements for documentation only applies to healthcare persons that are hired in The Greenlandic Health Care System, when the position is covered by the Greenlandic collective bargaining agreement.

Denmark: New requirement for family members to sponsors in the Faroe Islands

On 2 September 2023, a new requirement for support for accompanying family members to sponsors in the Faroe Islands will be introduced.

The changes mean that accompanying family members from now on must document that the sponsor in the Faroe Islands is able to support them.

All accompanying family members to sponsors in the Faroe Islands are subject to the requirement. However, this rule does not apply if the person has residence under the Sports Agreement.

  • All first-time applications submitted on or after 2 September 2023 are subject to the changes. The permit will state whether it is a condition for the residence permit that the sponsor can support the accompanying family member. The requirement for support will in these instances also apply to applications for an extension of a residence permit.
  • For applications for a residence permit or for an extension of a residence permit submitted before 2 September 2023, the requirement for support does not apply.
  • For applications for an extension of a residence permit granted before 2 September 2023, the requirement for support does not apply.

The applicant must submit the sponsor’s current employment contract in the Faroe Islands and, if they have already started work in the Faroe Islands, their pay checks for the last three months.

The documents must show that the sponsor has:

  • 34,716.12 kr. in gross income each month, for a spouse or a cohabiting partner.
  • 39,797.37 kr. in gross income each month, for a spouse or a cohabiting partner and for a child under the age of 18 that is also traveling to the Faroe Islands, as an accompanying family member. 1,248.25 kr. is added for each additional child, for a maximum of 4 children.
  • 28,317.70 kr. In gross income each month, for a child under the age of 18. 3,186.58 kr. is added for each additional child, for a maximum of 4 children.

The fixed amount applies for all of 2023. The amounts are partially regulated by the development of wages in Føroya Arbeiðarafelago’s (the labour union of the Faroe Islands’) collective agreement for unskilled workers, and partially by the government’s regulation percentage annually, on 1 January, which is fixed according to Løgtingslóg um javningarprosent til almannaveitingar (the Lagting law on the regulation rate for social benefits).

European Union: Proposed steps to make it easier for Europeans to live, work and travel abroad

The European Commission has proposed measures to make it easier for European citizens to live, work and travel abroad by making access to social security services quicker and simpler across borders.

The Commission’s Communication lays out suggested actions for Member States to further digitize the coordination of social security systems, including the following:

  • Accelerate the national implementation of the Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information (EESSI) so that it is fully operational by the end of 2024 across Europe. EESSI digitalises the exchanges among national social security institutions, to move away from paper-based, time-consuming and cumbersome procedures.
  • Deliver more social security coordination procedures fully online, to make it even easier for people to move and work abroad, and ensure they get fast access to their eligible benefits. Member States can build on the Single Digital Gateway Regulation, which foresees a fully online delivery of some important administrative procedures to citizens and businesses by 12 December 2023 at the latest.
  • Fully engage in the European Social Security Pass (ESSPASS) pilot activities, which explore how to simplify the issuance and verification of citizens’ social security entitlements across borders.
  • Work towards introducing EU Digital Identity (EUDI) wallets, which will allow EU citizens to carry digital versions of entitlement documents, such as the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), making it easier for social security institutions, labour inspectorates and healthcare providers to instantly verify these documents.

The Commission invites the European Parliament and the Council to endorse the approach set out in this Communication and calls on Member States and all stakeholders to work together to implement its actions.  Advancing the digitalisation of social security coordination is also relevant in the context of ongoing negotiations by co-legislators on the revision of EU social security coordination rules. The Commission encourages the European Parliament and on the Council to modernise the legal framework by reaching an agreement on the revision.

EU nationals are entitled to travel, work and live in another EU country. EU rules (Regulation No 883/2004 and Regulation No 987/2009 on its implementation) protect people’s social security rights when moving within Europe, for instance when it comes to healthcare, family benefits and pensions, and make sure they get access to their eligible benefits as quickly as possible across the EU.

Luxembourg: New law to tackle skilled worker shortage

Effective 1 September 2023, a new law aims to address the shortage of skilled workers by assisting companies to hire skilled foreign workers. The key changes are outlined below.

Third-country national family members of third-country national residents are now permitted to work without obtaining a separate work permit.

  • Third-country nationals who have a ‘family member’ residence permit now have free access to the Luxembourg labour market as soon as they arrive on the basis of a temporary authorisation to stay. However, they must take the necessary steps to obtain a residence permit as soon as possible.
  • Third-country nationals holding a ‘family member’ residence permit issued before 1 September 2023 were only authorised to work in Luxembourg if this was explicitly stated on their residence permit and under the conditions set out therein. Since 1 September 2023, they are authorised to work in Luxembourg, regardless of any observations stated to this effect on their residence permit. There are no plans to replace these residence permits which will only cease to be valid on their expiry date. It is only the note or observation on the back of the permit that ceases to be valid from 1 September 2023.

The procedure for approving temporary employment for international protection applicants will also be expedited. For asylum seekers whose process has not been completed after six months, as well as for individuals whose deportation has been postponed or cancelled, the National Employment Agency (ADEM) will no longer conduct a job market test when granting approval for temporary employment.

The period of validity of residence permits issued from this date for the purposes of job search or business creation has been extended from nine to twelve months.

The process for issuing a certificate permitting the recruitment of third-country nationals will also be simplified.

Companies looking to hire a third-country national must have reported the job vacancy to ADEM and apply for a certificate that authorizes them to hire the person of their choice.

  • For professions listed as shortage professions, ADEM will no longer be required to conduct a job market test. In such cases, the certificate will be issued within five days of receiving the application.
  • For positions not listed as shortage professions, the job market test will still be conducted, but with shortened deadlines.
    • ADEM now has seven working days to assess the availability of job seekers with the required qualifications for the reported position.
    • If no suitable candidate can be proposed, the certificate will be issued within five working days after the seven-day period has expired.
    • However, if ADEM can suggest candidates with the desired qualifications, they have an additional 15 working days to provide the employer with placement suggestions.

New Zealand: New median wage

A new median wage of NZD 31.61 per hour will be adopted into the immigration system from February 2024.

Many work and residence visa categories have wage thresholds or criteria that are based on the median wage, and most of these will be updated. This includes the Accredited Employer Visa (AEWV), the Skilled Migrant Category, and some occupations covered by Sector Agreements and the Green List.

Parent category wage thresholds are updated separately and the tourism and hospitality wage threshold will also be updated separately in April 2024.

In 2022, a standard process was set up to update the median wage in the immigration system in February the following year. This gives businesses around six months to prepare for the change from the time it gets updated by Statistics NZ.

United States: MRV fee update

The US Department of State has confirmed that all receipts for payment of Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) fees issued before 1 October 2022 will expire 30 September 2023.

There will be no extensions of fee validity. Applicants must schedule an appointment or submit an interview waiver application before 30 September 2023 to avoid paying a new fee.  Please note that the interview itself does not need to take place before 30 September 2023, but an interview appointment needs to be made in the system, even if it is scheduled months into the future.

Furthermore, applicants using MRV fees paid before 1 October 2022 to book an appointment are cautioned not to attempt to change their appointment dates on or after 1 October 2023. Doing so will result in forfeiture of both the original appointment slot and the MRV fee receipt. The applicant will be required to pay a new fee and submit a new application package.

Under a temporary COVID pandemic policy, all receipts for payment of MRV fees issued before 1 October 2022 were extended until 30 September 2023.

All MRV fee payment receipts issued on or after 1 October 2022 are valid for 365 days from the issuance date.

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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