EQUATORIAL GUINEA | Residence Authorizations Significantly Delayed by New Decree
A recent governmental decree is significantly lengthening the process for securing residence authorization in Equatorial Guinea. The decree mandates that the Equatorial Guinea Secretary of State must first obtain the authorization of the Vice President before approving any Permanencia Visa or Resident Permit applications.
The addition of this required step is causing significant delays for foreign nationals applying for both forms of residence authorization. In the case of Permanencia Visa applications, some immigration advisors are reporting that processing times have now increased from one month to three months. For Resident Permit applications, processing times have reportedly doubled from three months to six months.
IRELAND | Short-Stay Visa Waiver Extended To 2021
The Republic of Ireland’s Short-Stay Visa Waiver program has been extended for another five years. The popular program, in place since 2011, was scheduled to expire on October 31, but will now continue through October 31, 2021. While the primary intent of the Short-Stay Visa Waiver was tourism, it has become a convenient option for business travelers from the eligible countries engaged in commerce in both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
Ireland’s Short-Stay Visa Waiver program essentially relies on the UK’s short-stay visa scheme, allowing holders of a UK short-stay visa to enter Ireland. Under the provisions of the UK’s short-stay visa, travelers may remain in the UK for up to 180 days each year. The Irish program allows foreign nationals of 18 countries who hold a UK short-stay visa to use a portion of those 180 days in Ireland. The 18 nations whose citizens are eligible under the program include: Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Oman, Montenegro, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan.
SINGAPORE | Minimum Salary for Employment Passes Increases January 1
Starting January 1, the minimum salary required by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower for applicants to receive an Employment Pass will increase from SGD 3,300 to SGD 3,600 per month (or approximately USD 2,592 monthly, or USD 31,104 annually). This is a regularly scheduled increase in the minimum salary standard and the first increase since 2014.
The Employment Pass is the most common work authorization route of foreign nationals in the executive, managerial, and skilled occupations in Singapore. This upcoming increase, however, should have minimal effect on most foreign nationals seeking employment in Singapore. According to a recent survey by HSBC Expat Explorer, almost half of Singapore’s expats earn over USD 200,000 annually, and even those working in traditionally middle-income skilled occupations typically earn USD 36,000 to USD 54,000 per year.
VENEZUELA | Stricter Enforcement of Rules for TR-L Visas
The Venezuelan Service Administration of Identification, Immigration and Aliens (SAIME) is tightening enforcement of some procedural rules regarding Transient Labor (TR-L) Visas. The TR-L Visa is the primary work authorization route for foreign nationals working in Venezuela.
The SAIME is now requiring all TR-L Visa holders to have their renewed work permits in-hand from the Ministry of Labor (MOL) prior to submitting applications for renewal of their TR-L Visas. Applications submitted prior to obtaining the renewed work permit are now being rejected. This requirement is not new, but its enforcement has been lax in recent years. This new emphasis by SAIME on strictly following procedures was reportedly prompted by recent urging of the MOL.