SWITZERLAND | Third Quarter Quota for EU/EFTA L and B Permits Exhausted
The quota of Swiss L and B Permits available for European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) country nationals has been exhausted across Switzerland for the third quarter of 2016. Depending on the canton where the employee will be working, some EU/EFTA nationals assigned to Switzerland will not be able to obtain their L or B Permits until the new quota for the fourth quarter opens on October 1. Shorter assignments for up to 120 days are not affected.
The L Permit is the most common residence authorization for foreign nationals who will reside in Switzerland for three months to one year, and the longer-term B Permit is issued to foreign nationals for residences up to five years. For 2016, 2,000 L Permits and 250 B Permits were allocated to EU/EFTA nationals, and 4,000 L Permits and 2,500 B Permits were allocated to non-EU/EFTA nationals.
BRAZIL | Public Servants Strike and Presidential Impeachment Causing Immigration Delays
The labor strike by the National Union of Public Servants of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Sinditamaraty) continues. The strike by workers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs both in Brazil and abroad has been ongoing since August 22. According to Sinditamaraty, the strike is a partial work stoppage designed to allow Brazilian Embassies and Consulates to operate at 30 percent capacity and continue to provide “essential services,” including passports and consular assistance. While some consulates are experiencing only minor processing delays, others are beginning to report more significant service backlogs.
In the case of foreign nationals immigrating to Brazil for employment, the strike greatly impacts the ability of the Ministry of External Relations (MRE) to forward work permit approvals issued by the Ministry of Labor to the Brazilian overseas consulates for processing of the work visas. Foreign nationals and their employers should be prepared for significant delays for the foreseeable future, both during the strike and after as the MRE and Brazilian Embassies and Consulates process the resulting backlog.
The Cambodian government announced that, starting September 1, it will begin offering new multiple-entry business and tourist visas for periods as long as three years to foreign nationals of various countries. Details of this new policy are still being clarified, however, and no official information has been published regarding the eligible nationalities, requirements, and fees.
According to an official within the General Department of Immigration, the conditions of the visas and the fees will vary depending upon the agreements between the governments of the applicants and Cambodia. So far, Japan has finalized an agreement for its citizens to receive three-year visas, and China and South Korea are likewise negotiating for a three-year visa option. Currently, most business visitors to Cambodia receive a one-year visa.
VIETNAM | New E-Visas and One-Year Visas Coming
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has announced that another VND 200 billion (USD 8.8 million) has been allocated to advance Vietnam’s transition to an e-visa system. The hope is that the new system could debut as early as January 1, 2017. Once implemented, the new e-visas should greatly speed-up the visa application process for business travelers. Vietnam does currently provide visa waivers for citizens of 22 countries and visas-on-arrival for others, but long queues and consular requirements often make the process inconvenient for travelers.
This push towards the e-visa system appears to be part of ongoing efforts to streamline and liberalize the immigration scheme in Vietnam. Earlier this year, the government renewed its 15-day visa waiver policy for citizens of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Italy for another year. Further, Vietnam is reportedly working towards a policy of extending the validity of visas for nationals of numerous countries from three months to one year. Currently, these visas are issued with a standard 90-day validity, with one-year visas occasionally granted on a case-by-case basis. Now it appears there is a concerted effort to normalize the one-year option, and some observers expect to see official implementation ahead of the e-visa system coming online.