CZECH REPUBLIC | Restrictions on Short-Term Visas to Delay Assignments
Short-term visas will no longer be available to foreign nationals headed to the Czech Republic for work assignments that are expected to last longer than 90 days. As a result, foreign nationals beginning a long-term assignment in the Republic will now face delays upwards of 60-90 days in beginning their assignment.
The Employee Card, issued by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), is the long-term work and residence authorization for foreign nationals working in the Czech Republic for more than 90 days. The Employee Card can be obtained for periods of up to two years and renewed indefinitely. As with most long-term authorizations, the Employee Card has a more-lengthy processing time than the short-term work visa – typically 60 to 90 days, depending on the complexity of the case. Due to the processing times, it was common practice for some foreign nationals to submit both an application for a short-term visa and an application for the Employee Card at the outset. While waiting for the Employee Card, the applicant would receive the short-term visa – typically within two weeks – and be able to travel and begin their assignment in the Republic ahead of receiving the Employee Card. However, these simultaneous applications will no longer being permitted, according to the new policy of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
ITALY | New Rules for Employers of Posted Workers Implemented
Italy is the latest European Union nation to implement into its law the mandates of the EU Posted Worker Directive (EU Directive 2014/67). We’ve recently reported on similar implementations of the Directive in Poland and Ireland. See our Immigration Dispatches of July 25 and September 12 for additional details.
Italian Decree No. 136/2016 brings new obligations for employers of foreign national employees posted in Italy to provide the Ministry of Labour (MOL) notice of the posting prior to the employee starting work and within five days of any change in the employee’s work status. Employers must also, for a minimum of two years after the posting ends, maintain records – available for MOL inspection – which include the worker’s employment contract, pay slips, time sheets, and proof of the actual payment of wages made. The Decree further holds liable for two years both the sending company and the host company for the requisite social security contributions. To ensure compliance, the employer is further required to designate a person within the company permanently residing in Italy as responsible for all records and notices to the MOL.
QATAR | New Stricter Requirements of Education Certificates Submitted for Visas
The Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now applying stricter requirements to educational certificates and diplomas submitted in support of visa applications. Now, along with the certificate or diploma, applicants must submit a course transcript and a “Letter of Education Certificate of Authenticity” from the educational institution that issued the certificate or diploma. The Authentication Letter must contain:
Mode and type of study (i.e. resident study, and whether fulltime or part-time);
Place of study and examinations;
Awarded title (i.e. certificate, Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate); and
Duration of study (i.e. the start and ending dates).
SOUTH AFRICA | Change in Visa Validity Date Benefits Holders
Per Immigration Directive No. 19 of 2016, the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has effectively lengthened the usable time of all visas for foreign nationals traveling to South Africa. Beginning August 1, all printed visas issued through the DHA’s Visa Adjudication System (VAS) will now bear a “Valid From” date rather than an “Issue Date,” as was the previous practice. While this a small change in form, it will produce significant benefits for travelers to South Africa.
Under the old form bearing the “Issue Date,” the validity period of the visa began running immediately upon issue. This meant that if there was any delay in travel upon obtaining the visa, some portion of the validity period had already been used prior to arrival in South Africa. With the new “Valid From” date, visa recipients may now plan their arrival in South Africa to fall on or soon after the validity date, so that they receive the full benefit of the validity period.
THAILAND | Applicants for Long-Term B Visas Must Now be Placed on Local Payroll
Effective September 5, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand now requires foreign nationals working in Thailand on long-term B visas to be placed on the local Thai company’s payroll. Previously, the Ministry would accept either personal income tax form PND 1 or form PND 93 as proof of income in support of either new applications or renewals of long-term B visas. Now the Ministry is only accepting form PND 1 in support of the visa application.
Foreign nationals residing in Thailand for more than 180 days in the year are required to pay Thai income tax both on any income derived from their activity in Thailand and on any income derived from foreign sources and brought into Thailand that year. For income from foreign sources, the foreign national is required to file income tax form PND 93. For income paid through a local payroll, the foreign national must file form PND 1. However, the Ministry is no longer accepting PND 93 forms (income derived from foreign sources) as proof of income in support of either new applications or renewals of long-term B visas. Instead, only the PND 1 forms (income paid on a local payroll) will be accepted. Because foreign nationals requiring B visas must now have locally-derived income in order to generate a PND 1, all foreign nationals working in Thailand must be paid through the sponsoring company’s local payroll.
VIETNAM | One-Year Visas Now Offered to All US Visitors
The Embassies and Consulates of Vietnam are now, as a matter of practice, granting one-year multiple-entry business and tourist visas to all nationals of the United States. This new one-year multiple-entry visa replaces the one-month and three-month visas previously given to US citizens. We had already seen Vietnam beginning to grant one-year visas to US applicants on an ad hoc basis. See our Immigration Dispatch of September 6. But the one-year visa has now become the standard for US visitors, with the shorter-term visa options being eliminated.
With the increase in visa length comes a corresponding increase in the visa fee to USD 135, up from the USD 45 for the previous one-month visa. While regular US business travelers to Vietnam benefit from no longer having to obtain multiple visas each year, they should bear in mind that their stay in-country is still limited to 90-days on each entry. As Pro-Link GLOBAL reported earlier, these improvements for US travelers appear to be part of an overall effort in Vietnam to streamline and liberalize its visa system which may lead to similar positive changes for citizens of other nations as well.