Latest updates in global

This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from Australia, Canada, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Peru.

Australia: ASEAN nationals can visit for longer

The Australian government has announced that it has extended the time people from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and Timor-Leste can visit to conduct business.

The government has extended the business visitor visa to up to five years, instead of up to three years, for applications lodged after 1 April 2024. These changes were announced by Prime Minister Albanese at the 2024 ASEAN-Australia Special Summit held in March.

Business visitors with a Visitor (subclass 600) visa can stay in Australia for up to three months at a time during multiple visits, for up to five years. Visa holders can visit to:

  • negotiate contracts
  • make general business or employment enquiries
  • participate in conferences or trade fairs
  • be part of official government visits.

The government will also extend the ten-year visitor visa Frequent Traveller stream to ASEAN states and Timor-Leste later this year.

These measures do not include Myanmar.

The visa changes are part of the recommendations from Australia’s blueprint to deepen ties with Southeast Asia.

Australia / China: Reciprocal five-year multi-entry business visas

The governments of Australia and China have agreed to provide reciprocal access to five-year multiple entry visas for tourism, business and visiting family members so as to better facilitate personal exchanges.

Effective immediately, the Embassy and Consulates of China in Australia issue 5-year multi-entry visas to Australian citizens who hold valid ordinary passports of Australia and meet all relevant requirements, to visit China for business, tourism or visiting family members. All the visa applications will be handled by the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre within Australia.

China has also recently included Australia in its 15-day visa waiver program.

Canada: British Colombia implements International Credentials Recognition Act

On 1 July 2024,  the International Credentials Recognition Act came into effect in the province of British Colombia.

On 1 January 2025, regulations defining prohibited Canadian work experience and outlining exemptions will come into effect.

On 1 July 2025, the prohibition on requiring Canadian work experience will come into effect.

The act is intended to remove barriers in 29 professions and make it fairer, more transparent and efficient for qualified professionals to pursue and achieve credential recognition, wherever they were trained.

The professions include engineers, social workers, veterinarians, paramedics, early childhood educators, teachers, biologists, land surveyors and architects, among others.

In addition, the province will appoint a new superintendent of international credential recognition to oversee the fair recognition of international credentials, addressing any systemic or procedural issues. They will also have the authority under the act to issue orders for compliance and impose administrative penalties as needed.

Luxembourg: Changes to EU Blue Card rules

Luxembourg has recently adopted legislative changes concerning the status of highly qualified workers from third countries.

The new law aims to make the EU Blue Card more attractive to foreign talent by simplifying the application process, thereby meeting the needs of the labour market in the face of skills shortages.

Some of the key changes include:

  • the minimum duration of eligible employment contracts has been reduced from one year to six months;
  • the required salary threshold has been adjusted to correspond to the average gross annual salary in Luxembourg, which is currently EUR 58,968;
  • free access to the job market after 12 months instead of two years as was the case previously;
  • introduction of short-term and long-term mobility in other Member States.

Malaysia: Postponement of new online services

On 4 July 2024, the Expatriate Services Division (ESD) of the Immigration Department announced that it has postponed the rollout of its new online applications until 2 August 2024, due to a temporary disruption of the ESD online system.  The following “sub-product services” are affected:

  • 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.

Until the online Sub-Product services are fully restored, all transactions related to those listed above will temporarily revert to manual submission at ESD service counters.

Users who have previously paid for ToE/TuB submissions and were denied online processing due to the system disruption should contact ESD to inquire about the refund process.

Netherlands: New rules for EU Blue Card imminent

On 20 October 2021, a revised guideline was adopted for the EU Blue Card. Part of the rules from the revised directive have been applied since 18 November 2023.  The Dutch immigration authorities (IND) have confirmed that the remaining revisions will be converted into national regulations “soon”. They will then be included in the Aliens Decree and the Aliens Act Implementation Guidelines. The exact date on which this will happen is not yet known.

The following changes will apply:

  • The salary criterion been reduced to EUR 5331 gross per month. This makes the EU Blue Card more in line with the highly skilled migrant scheme.
  • From now on a lower salary criterion of EUR 4265 gross per month applies to recent graduates. Recently graduated means: having obtained a higher education diploma no more than three years before the application.
  • Higher professional qualifications are required for the EU Blue Card. It is now also possible to demonstrate higher professional skills with relevant work experience. Previously, the applicant could only demonstrate higher professional qualifications with a certificate of higher education.
  • If the EU Blue Card holder has an EU Blue Card in the Netherlands for more than two years, it can be withdrawn after six months of unemployment. Previously this was after three months of unemployment.
  • The validity of the EU Blue Card has been extended to a maximum of five years. The maximum used to be four years.
  • There are a number of new grounds for withdrawal or refusal:
    • The EU Blue Card can be withdrawn or refused if the employer’s legal obligations in the field of social security, tax or employment rights and requirements do not comply. It is now also considered whether the employer adheres to, for example, the WAV, Waadi or WML (Dutch laws).
    •  The EU Blue Card can be withdrawn or not extended if the (recognized) sponsor has not reported a change of employer.
    • The EU Blue Card application can be rejected if the company is or will be dissolved due to bankruptcy, or if the company is not economically active.
    • The EU Blue Card application can be rejected if the employer has mainly established the company to make access to the Netherlands possible.

Peru: New entry requirement for Venezuelan citizens

Effective 2 July 2024, Venezuelan nationals require a valid passport and corresponding Peruvian visa to enter Peru.

Since 15 June 2019, Venezuelan nationals had also been permitted to enter Peru with an expiring or expired passport.  This was based on an international agreement regarding the extension of the validity of Venezuelan passports and a decision by the Venezuelan authority itself to extend the validity of their passports. However, currently there is no

decision by the Venezuelan authority to continue with the extension of validity of their passports and no international agreement in that regard.

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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