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, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia and New Zealand.

Australia: New citizenship application fees from 1 July 2024

From 1 July 2024, new citizenship application fees will apply. Fees are changing to reflect the cost of processing applications. On 1 July each year, indexation is applied to citizenship application fees based on the consumer price index (CPI).

The new fees apply to all citizenship applications received by the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) at or after 12 am (AEST) on 1 July 2024.​

The new fees applicable from 1 July 2024 are set out in the table here. There will be no changes to the eligibility for fee exemptions.

Online applications:

  • Those who apply online at or after 12 am (AEST) on 1 July 2024 will pay the new fee, regardless of when they started the application. The application is considered submitted when the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) receives it, along with the fee.
  • For those who apply online and pay by credit card or debit card, PayPal, or UnionPay, the application and fee is generally received on the same day.
  • Those who submit an incomplete application may need to submit a new application and pay the relevant fee.
  • Online services, including ImmiAccount, may not be available between 2 pm (AEST) on 30 June 2024 and 9 am (AEST) on 1 July 2024 due to systems maintenance.

Paper applications:

  • For paper applications sent by post, an application is considered submitted on the date DHA receives the application, not the date the application form is posted. If DHA receives the application at or after 12 am (AEST) on 1 July 2024, the new fee applies. To avoid the risk of postal delays, DHA recommends applying ​online where possible.
  • If DHA  receives a paper application without the full fee applicable on the date received, it cannot consider the application until the correct fee has been paid.
  • Those who pre-paid a lower fee, but do not submit the application before the fee change, can make a ‘top-up’ payment using ImmiAccount.
  • For those who do not pay the ‘top-up’ amount, the application will be returned. They will need to submit a new application with the correct fee.

Canada: Border applications no longer available for post-graduation work permit

On 21 June 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced that foreign nationals can no longer apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) at the border, effective immediately.

This measure is intended to reduce what is known as “flagpoling.” Flagpoling occurs when temporary residents of Canada bypass the normal wait times involved in applying for a work or study permit online by leaving the country and then immediately re-entering to receive same-day immigration services.

Flagpoling hours were recently reduced at 12 ports of entry across Canada to allow border services officers to efficiently process the large volume of travellers in peak periods and to focus on other key priorities, including high-risk travellers and trade facilitation.

Other recent measures to address flagpoling have included:

  • speeding up processing times for in-Canada work permit applications;
  • simplifying online application forms and processes so foreign nationals can continue working while they wait for a decision on their new application;
  • authorizing workers to start working for a new employer right away, rather than waiting to have their new work permit application processed before changing jobs.

In most cases, a study permit expires 90 days after the expected completion of an international student’s study program. When an eligible graduating student applies online for a PGWP before their study permit expires, they can work full-time while they wait for approval on a work permit and receive an automated letter that can be shown to employers. When a work permit is approved, it’s mailed directly to them.

China: 15-day unilateral visa-free policy for Polish citizens

On 24 June 2024, the Chinese premier announced that China has decided to include Poland in its list of unilateral visa-free countries.

This will allow Polish passport holders to enter China without a visa  for business, tourism, visiting relatives and friends and transit for up to 15 days. China granted a similar visa waiver a week earlier to nationals of Australia and New Zealand.

Hong Kong: Old identity cards to be invalidated in phases in 2025

The government has announced that, following the conclusion of the Territory-wide Identity Card Replacement Exercise (Replacement Exercise) on March 3 2023, the old form of smart identity cards issued before 26 November 2018 (old ID cards), will be invalidated in two phases in 2025.

Phase I of the invalidation exercise will cover holders of old ID cards born in 1970 or after, whose old cards will become invalid on 12 May 2025. Phase II of the invalidation exercise will cover holders of old ID cards born in 1969 or before, whose old cards will become invalid on 12 October 2025.

“Old identity cards” refers to smart identity cards issued between 23 June 2003 and 25 November 2018, or issued on or after 26 November 2018 as a result of an application made before that date.

If the old ID cards have not been replaced, they will be invalidated on the specified dates in accordance with the Invalidation Order.

The Invalidation Order covers all Hong Kong residents, whether they are permanent residents or non-permanent residents who are permitted to take up employment, make investments, reside or study in Hong Kong, or residents of residential care homes who are eligible for the On-site Identity Card Replacement Service.

According to the Immigration Department (ImmD), residents still holding old ID cards should make appointments for replacement as soon as possible. Those who are unable to have their ID cards replaced during the specified call-up periods due to absence from Hong Kong should replace their ID cards within 30 days of their return to Hong Kong. Failure to apply for a new ID card within the specified call-up periods without a reasonable excuse is an offence. Offenders may be prosecuted and be liable to a fine of HKD 5000 upon conviction.

The aged, the blind or the infirm who satisfy a registration officer that their personal attendance for registration of Hong Kong ID cards will injure their health or the health of others may, instead of applying for replacement of a new ID card, apply for a Certificate of Exemption.

The invalidation of old ID cards will not affect the right of abode in Hong Kong of the holders of old ID cards unless he or she has lost permanent resident status under the Immigration Ordinance.

Members of the public can apply for replacement of new ID cards at the Registration of Persons (ROP) – Kwun Tong (Temporary) Office or during the extended service hours at the four designated ROP offices, viz. Hong Kong Office, Kowloon Office, Tseung Kwan O Office or Tuen Mun Office.

Members of the public may use the ImmD mobile application, visit the website (www.gov.hk/icbooking) or call the 24-hour telephone booking hotline 2598 0888 to make an appointment for ID card application at any aforementioned ROP offices.

India: New fast-track trusted traveller scheme

On 22 June 2024, the government inaugurated the “Fast Track Immigration – Trusted Traveller Programme” (FTI-TTP) at terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.

The programme will run on e-gates or automated border gates and will be implemented in two phases. In the first phase, Indian citizens and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders will be covered and in the second phase, foreign travellers will be covered.

To enrol in the scheme, the applicant must register online with their details and required documents. After verification, a White List of Trusted Travellers will be generated and fed for implementation through e-Gates. The biometrics of the Trusted Traveller passing through e-Gates will be captured at the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or at the time of passage of the registered traveller through the airport. The TTP registration will be valid for the validity of the passport or five years (whichever is earlier) and will be renewed thereafter.

Under the process, as soon as the ‘registered passenger’ reaches the e-gates, they will scan their boarding pass issued by the airlines at the e-gates to obtain the details of their flight. The passport will also be scanned and the biometrics of the passenger will be authenticated at the e-gates. Once the genuine identity of the passenger is established and biometric authentication is complete, the e-gate will open automatically and immigration clearance will be deemed to have been granted.

FTI-TTP will be launched at 21 major airports in the country. In the first phase, along with Delhi Airport, it will be launched at seven major airports – Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi and Ahmedabad.

Malaysia: Expatriate Services Division extends online services

On 27 June 2024, the Expatriate Services Division (ESD) of the Immigration Department of Malaysia announced that, effective 1 July 2024, applications for the following “sub-product services” must be submitted via the ESD Online system:

  • Amendment of Pass Information
  • Shortening of Pass
  • Cancellation of Pass
  • Transfer of Endorsement (ToE) / Take-up Balance (TuB)
  • Permission to Study
  • Permission to Work at a Second Location.

Processing time will be three working days, plus (for the ToE and TuB services) at least 24 hours for online payment processing and up to five days for postal delivery.

The current processing of these applications via MYXpats/Immigration counters, which takes between one and three days, will no longer be available.

New Zealand: Further changes to Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has announced that, effective 26 June 2024, people holding an AEWV in roles at Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) levels 4 and 5 without a pathway to residency are no longer able to support work, visitor or student visa applications for their partners and dependent children.

Partners and dependent children will still be able to apply for a visa in their own right to come to New Zealand, such as an Accredited Employer Work Visa or an international student visa, provided they meet the requirements.

The government has made this change to align with the broader suite of changes to the AEWV scheme earlier this year, and returns the settings to similar ones under the previous Essential Skills Work Visa.

The change will not impact:

  • people that already hold visas as a partner or dependent child, or
  • AEWV holders working in ANZSCO level 4 and 5 roles with a pathway to residency, such as the Green List, sector agreements with residence pathways, and
  • those earning at least 1.5 times the median wage threshold for the Skilled Migrant Category.

People who have an application as a partner or dependent child in progress will also not be affected. Those applications will be considered against the requirements that were in place on the date they applied.

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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