Global immigration news

This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Nigeria, Peru and the United States.

Ireland: Stamp 4 changes

Effective 30 November 2023, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) will cease taking applications for Stamp 4 support letters. This will impact Critical Skills Employment Permit holders, Researchers on a Hosting Agreement, and NCHD Multi-Site General Employment Permit holders wishing to transfer to a Stamp 4 Immigration permission.

However, all applications received by DETE prior to 30 November 2023 will continue to be processed.

The Registration Office, Immigration Services will continue to accept these support letters for applications to register a Stamp 4 residence permission.

Individuals who did not apply to DETE for a support letter prior to 30 November 2023 will be required to provide The Registration Office, Immigration Services the following evidence in support of applications to register a Stamp 4 residence permission:

  • A copy of the biometric page of their current valid passport(s).
  • A copy of the front and back of their current Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card.
  • Copies of the relevant Employment Permit or Hosting Agreement issued by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
  • A copy of the most recent payslip.
  • A letter from the employer, dated within the last three months, confirming the job title, location of employment, and dates of employment.
  • Copies of ‘Employment Detail Summaries’ issued for each year of employment covering the duration of the Employment Permit, available here.

Applicants must have been registered and in permission for a total of 24 months under a Stamp 1 on the basis of a Critical Skills Employment Permit and/or Hosting Agreement, or under Stamp 1H as a Non-Consultant Hospital Doctor on the basis of a Multi-Site General Employment Permit. Applications for renewal of permission are accepted up to 12 weeks before expiry to allow sufficient time for processing.

Israel: Special measures for foreign workers

  • In view of the security situation and in order to assist the operation of hotels, the Population and Immigration Authority has extended, until 31 January 2024, permission for foreign workers in the hotel industry to work in hotels in the same chain or owned by the same owners, throughout the country.
  • The government has authorized the Population and Immigration Authority to admit up to 10,000 construction foreign workers into Israel. Licensed Human Resources companies for foreign employees in the construction sector, will now have the authorization to recruit these foreign workers even in the absence of bilateral agreements with the workers’ countries of origin. This framework will remain effective for a period of 90 days.
  • In addition, government officials have decided to extend, until 31 December 2023, the application submission deadline for companies seeking authorization as Human Resource Organizations to employ foreign workers in the construction industry.

Kenya: Immigration fees increased

On 7 November 2023, the Kenyan Department for Immigration and Citizen Services (DICS) published increased fees for immigration services, including for work permits, visas and consular services, permanent residence, citizenship, passports and the registration of births and deaths.

However, after the High Court suspended the gazette notice, the government revoked it and, on 14 November 2023,  published a new notice with adjusted fee increases, which is intended to take effect on 1 January 2024.

The State Department for Immigration and Citizen Services has been directed to conduct and complete a public consultation no later than 10 December 2023.

Nigeria: Expat quota returns via e-Citibiz

The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Interior (FMI) has announced that, effective 8 November 2023, all companies holding expatriate quota positions must submit their monthly returns through the FMI’s e-CITIBIZ website within the first ten days of each month.

A penalty fee will be implemented effective from December 2023 for companies who fail to comply.  Any company that fails to submit their quota returns within this number of days from the following month will pay:

  • After the first 10 Days – N100,000;
  • After 20 Days – N150,000;
  • After 25 Days – N200,000.

The monthly quota return is a mandatory report detailing the status of expatriate quota (EQ) positions granted by the FMI to Nigerian companies. The quota return provides comprehensive information, including details on the utilization of expatriate positions, workforce composition, understudies and other relevant data.

Peru: Regularization deadline passes; new digital nomad visa introduced

The deadline to initiate the online immigration regularization procedure passed on 10 November 2023.  During the previous six months, foreign nationals in Peru with an irregular migration status could register and obtain a temporary residence permit (CPP).  A face-to-face appointment for the registration of biometric data was also required.

After six months, CPP holders can apply for special resident immigration status, allowing them to receive an immigration card for a period of one year (this is renewable).  Irregular migrants who did not register in time under this procedure are subject to administrative sanctions which may include a mandatory exit order or expulsion.

Recent amendments (Decreto Legislativo No.1582) to the Migration Law have created a faster deportation process for certain foreign nationals with an irregular immigration status and those who carry out activities that threaten public order, national security or the security of citizens.

The same amendments introduced a new resident visa for digital nomads working in Peru while employed and paid by an employer outside of the country.

The decree also ties the validity of identification cards (carné de extranjería) to the validity of the holder’s visa.

Further details and administrative regulations are expected.

United States: FY2024 H-2B availability

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Department of Labour (DOL) have published a temporary final rule making available an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker visas for fiscal year (FY) 2024, on top of the statutory cap of 66,000 H-2B visas that are available each fiscal year.

The H-2B supplemental includes an allocation of 20,000 visas to workers from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, and Honduras..

In addition to the 20,000 country-specific allocation, 44,716 supplemental visas will be available to returning workers who received H-2B visas or were otherwise granted H-2B status during one of the last three fiscal years. The rule allocates these supplemental visas for returning workers between the first half and second half of the fiscal year to account for the need for additional seasonal and other temporary workers over the course of the year, with a portion of the second half allocation reserved to meet the demand for workers during the summer season. The semi-annual cap of 33,000 H-2B visas authorized under the Immigration and Nationality Act (statutory cap) for the first half of FY 2024 was reached on 11 October 2023.

The supplemental H-2B visas have been divided into the following allocations:

  • First half of FY 2024 (1 October to 31 March): 20,716 visas are immediately available to returning workers – those who were issued H-2B visas or held H-2B status in FY 2021, FY 2022, or FY 2023, regardless of country of nationality.  These petitions must request employment start dates on or before 31 March 2024.
  • Early second half of FY 2024 (1 April1 to 14 May): 19,000 visas are limited to returning workers – those who were issued H-2B visas or held H-2B status in FY 2021, FY 2022, or FY 2023, regardless of country of nationality. These early second half of FY 2024 petitions must request employment start dates from 1 April 2024 to 14 May 2024.
  • Late second half of FY 2024 (15 May to 30 September): 5,000 visas are limited to returning workers – those who were issued H-2B visas or held H-2B status in FY 2021, FY 2022, or FY 2023, regardless of country of nationality. These late second half of FY 2024 petitions must request employment start dates from 15 May 2024 to 30 September 2024.
  • For the entirety of FY 2024: 20,000 visas are reserved for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Colombia, Ecuador, and Costa Rica, regardless of whether such nationals are returning workers. Employers requesting an employment start date in the first half of FY 2024 may file such petitions immediately after the publication of this temporary final rule.

The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform non-agricultural labour or services in the United States. The employment must be of a temporary nature, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, or intermittent need. Employers seeking H-2B workers must take a series of steps to test the US labour market. They must obtain certification from DOL that there are not enough US workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to perform the temporary work for which they seek a prospective foreign worker, and that employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers. The maximum period of stay in H-2B classification is three years. A person who has held H-2B nonimmigrant status for a total of three years must depart and remain outside of the United States for an uninterrupted period of three months before seeking readmission as an H-2B non-immigrant.

Petitions requesting supplemental allocations under this rule must be submitted at the USCIS Texas Service Centre. Petitions filed under the supplemental allocations in this rule at any location other than the Texas Service Centre will be rejected, and the filing fees will be returned.

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