What's new in global

This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from Australia, Italy, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.

Australia: Further details of the new pre-application ballot process for the Work and Holiday visa program for China, India and Vietnam

On 14 May 2024, the government delivered the 2024-25 Federal Budget.  This included a new pre-application ballot process for the capped Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa program for China, India and Vietnam, to help manage demand and application processing times, as demand is anticipated to significantly exceed available places for these countries.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has now released further details of this new procedure:

  • An AUD 25 ballot registration fee will be payable, on top of the existing AUD 635 Visa Application Charge;
  • Registrations for the first Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa ballots for China, Vietnam and India will open later in 2024 (dates to be confirmed). Those interested in registering for a ballot will be able to submit an online registration form via ImmiAccount. The system will randomly select valid registrations electronically. DHA will notify selected registrants and give them a timeframe to make an online visa application;
  • The pre-application process will only apply to first Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa applicants from China, Vietnam and India. Nationals of these countries who have already been granted a first Work and Holiday visa can continue applying for a second or third Work and Holiday visa online via ImmiAccount.

DHA says that the legislation and systems changes required to implement the pre-application ballot system took longer than expected and that, therefore, it has decided to pause applications from China until the new system opens, later in 2024.

Italy: Residence permit for pending citizenship allows work

The government has clarified that holders of a residence permit for pending citizenship are permitted to work.

An eligible foreign national wishing to apply for Italian citizenship must first enter Italy and register their residency at the city hall (commune). They should have prepared all the supporting documents, duly legalised and translated as necessary, before arrival. Once they have submitted a citizenship application in Italy, they can submit an application for a residence permit for pending citizenship through police headquarters (questura) via the authorized Post Office.

According to the government’s latest guidance, residence permits for pending citizenship can be converted into a residence permit for work purposes, allowing the holder to carry out work, even before the residence permit has been issued. While waiting for the appointment at the police headquarters for the issuance of the residence permit for pending citizenship, the holder can start carrying out a work activity supported by the submission receipt of the residence permit application, subject to the employer sending the necessary communication (Unilav) in the case of employment or reporting the employment relationship to INPS (in the case of domestic work).

For the crediting of the salary it is necessary to open a bank or postal account, which is possible even before the issuance of the residence permit, using the submission receipt of the residence permit application.

The government guidance also clarifies that a holder of a residence permit for pending citizenship can also apply for family reunification.

Kuwait: Fingerprinting deadline extended

The Kuwaiti Ministry of the Interior has extended the deadline for citizens to register their fingerprints in the national biometric database until 30 September 2024, and for foreign residents until 30 December 2024.  The original deadline, announced in March 2024, was 1 June 2024.

After the respective dates, anyone who has failed to register will be denied access to Ministry of Interior transactions.

Registration centres with biometric scanners have been opened at all border crossings including at Kuwait international airport, and at certain shopping centres. Citizens and foreign nationals can also book an appointment through the Meta platform (English language only) or the Sahel app.

Travellers are permitted to leave Kuwait without registering their fingerprints, as they will be registered on their return.

Saudi Arabia: Businesses must update branch location details

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) has urged all private sector businesses to update the location data of their branches through the “establishment location management” service available through the Qiwa platform.

The “establishment location management” service allows establishments to digitally link their workers to the locations where they actually work.

The Ministry set a specific deadline for the completion of the update process. Businesses with 20 or fewer workers must complete the update by 30 May 2024, while the deadline for establishments with 21 to 49 workers expires on 30 June 2024, and for establishments with 50 or more workers on 30 July 2024.

South Africa: Updated regulations introduced points-based system, digital nomad visa

The South African government has republished amendments to its immigration rules which introduce a new points-based system for general work visas, as well as a new digital nomad visa.

The amended immigration regulations were gazetted and came into effect on 28 March 2024, the day before the period of public comment was due to close.   Because of this error, the Department of Home Affairs withdrew the amended regulations to allow further public comment and to address any confusion about the amendments.

The principal amendments are as follows:

  • A points-based general work permit is introduced, assessing applicants on their work experience, job offer, qualifications, age, language skills and ability to adapt within the Republic;
  • A new digital nomad visa category is introduced, with a three-year duration, which allows family to accompany the principal applicant and has a minimum income requirement;
  • The new Trusted Employer Scheme, which has already been implemented, is incorporated in the immigration regulations.
  • The amendments introduce a one-year critical skills visa which requires a job offer and proof that an application for professional registration has been submitted (rather than proof that professional registration has been granted.

Sweden: Digital passport check pilot for foreign residents

The Swedish Migration Agency has announced a pilot for digital passport check to make it easier to apply for a residence permit. Foreign students and workers from 23 countries are the first to be able to use the identification app Freja to show their passports.

The Digital Passport Check e-service has been developed so that visa-free students and workers applying for residence permits can avoid time-consuming and sometimes expensive journeys to a Swedish mission abroad.

The first offers of a digital passport check will be sent in the last week of May 2024, in the form of an automated email within a couple of days of an online application for a work or study permit. The email contains a personalised link to the e-service that is valid for one week.  The Migration Agency (Migrationsverkert) will also send an offer to all eligible individuals who have submitted an application in 2024 but have not yet shown their passport.

The passport check is done with the help of Freja eID Group AB, which offers functions for reviewing and transmitting passport information to Swedish authorities.

Using the Freja app will also be a first step in creating an e-ID that other authorities can rely on during the application process. Once the user has obtained a Swedish personal identity number or coordination number, it can be updated to a full Swedish e-ID.

Around 19,000 workers and 5,000 students are expected to benefit from the new digital passport check service every year based on statistics on the 23 countries in 2023.

The 23 countries whose nationals may be eligible for the digital passport check pilot are:

Albania, Argentina, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Georgia, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Peru, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.

United Arab Emirates: New Blue Residency visa

On 15 May 2024, the Cabinet announced approval of a new, ten-year Blue Residency visa for specialists in the field of environmental conservation and sustainability.

This visa is given to supporters of environmental action, including members of international organisations, international companies, members of associations and non-governmental organisations, global award winners, and distinguished activists and researchers in environmental work. It is given to both Emiratis and resident advocates of the environment.

Sustainability advocates and experts interested in obtaining the UAE’s Blue visa can apply directly to Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security, or through nomination by competent authorities in the UAE.

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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