Global: The year ahead: Immigration trends to look for in 2016

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The fate of two key provisions of President Obama’s immigration executive actions is in the hands of the Supreme Court. The actions, which would defer deportation for 5 million undocumented immigrants, remain on hold after an appeals court upheld an injunction blocking them this year. If the Court takes the case, it could issue a ruling by June.


Canada will embark on its second year of the Express Entry system for prioritizing foreign job applicants seeking permanent residency. Citizenship and Immigration Canada issued a total of 31,063 invitations to apply in its first year, and officials recently projected an increase in invitations to apply in 2016 and a continued downward trend in the minimum qualifying score.


All eyes are on the Migration Advisory Committee, which is tasked with making recommendations to the government on reforming Tier 2 visas with a view toward the Conservatives’ policy of slashing net migration. The MAC’s report is due by mid-January 2016.


EU member states will be implementing an EU directive in the coming year that benefits multinational companies sending intracompany transferees (ICTs) to the EU. The ICT Directive calls for a common set of rules for ICTs to work and reside in a host country and move more easily within the EU. Member states are required to adopt legislation by the end of 2016. Spain was the first country to transpose the directive into its national laws by introducing an EU ICT visa in September.


In 2016, employers in Switzerland will be limited to the same B and L permit quotas as in 2015. The country announced in November that highly skilled workers from non-EU/EFTA countries will be capped at 2,500 B permits and 4,000 L permits. The cap for assignees from EU/EFTA countries will be 250 B permits and 2,000 L permits.


The Australian government will introduce a new Entrepreneur Visa in the second half of 2016. The new visa is aimed at attracting foreign innovators to Australia. The government will also make it easier for post-graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) or information and communications technologies (ICT) fields to reside in Australia.


As Brazil prepares to host the 2016 Olympics, the government has announced it will waive tourist visa requirements this summer for nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan and the U.S. The policy should help keep processing times on track and prevent a bottleneck of visa applications for business travelers and other applicants.


Beijing is introducing a new online work permit management system this month that will change the process and require employers to register and file applications online.


Singapore continues to localize its labor force. Stricter job advertising rules that include the publishing of salary ranges for job openings were implemented in October.


Although the current draft Immigration Amendment Bill will likely be enacted in early 2016 and, as such, introduce yet further sanctions for foreign nationals who overstay the expiry date of a South African visa, the Department of Home Affairs is expected to roll out several immigration concessions throughout 2016 to alleviate the implementation of strict visa rules on travelers that dominated last year’s immigration debate.