CANADA | Temporary Worker “4-In, 4-Out” Rule Eliminated
In a December 13 joint announcement by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Ministry of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, Canada has eliminated the “4-in, 4-out” rule under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), effective immediately. The announcement brought immediate praise from industry groups in sectors where employers struggle to fill jobs with local labor.
The TFWP is the major route used by companies in Canada to bring temporary foreign labor to meet labor shortages and allows employers to fill open local jobs with foreign workers after receiving a favorable Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
AUSTRALIA | New 10-Year Multiple-Entry “Frequent Traveler” Visa Stream
Effective November 19, a new “Frequent Traveler” stream was added to Australia’s Subclass 600 visitor visa. The Frequent Traveler visa is issued valid for ten years and allows the holder multiple entries into Australia for stays up to three months each entry. The new visa is available for business or tourism, so long as the holder does not remain in Australia for more than 12 months in any 24-month period.
The Frequent Traveler visa will only be available to nationals of select countries specified on a list maintained by the Ministry of Immigration and Border Protection (MIBP). Currently, the only nation on the list is China; however, MIBP’s intent is to gradually add to the list of eligible nations and expand the use of the visa going forward. The fee for the new visa is AUD 1000 (currently approximately CNY 5115).
COSTA RICA | Several Changes to Entry Visa Rules
Effective December 14, The Costa Rican General Directorate of Migration announced several changes to its visa rules. The changes include:
- Consolidation of the current four visa categories into two categories:
- Nationals of visa-exempt countries, and
- Nationals of countries that require a visa.
- Nationals of countries that require a visa may still be exempt from visa requirements if:
- They hold a multiple-entry visa issued by the United States or Canada, or
- They are permanent residents of the United States, Canada, or a European Union country.
Note, unlike previous permissions, holders of multiple-entry visas issued by European Union countries or by Japan will not be exempt from Costa Rican visa requirements.
- Eight additional countries have been added to the list whose citizens may enter Costa Rica visa-free: Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Peru, Qatar, Taiwan, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates.
HONG KONG | Hong Kong Requires “Pre-Arrival Registration” for Visa-Free Indian Travelers
Effective January 23, Indian travelers to Hong Kong will be required to complete an online pre-arrival registration before entering using their visa-free option. After this implementation date, Indian nationals will still be exempt from visa requirements for stays of up to 14 days in Hong Kong, but they will not be permitted entry if the pre-registration has not been completed prior to arrival. This heightened security measure is in response to a recent sharp rise in the number of Indian asylum seekers entering Hong Kong.
Only Indian diplomatic passport holders, holders of Hong Kong Travel Passes, or those frequent travelers enrolled in the e-Channel system will be exempt from this new requirement. All other Indian travelers should register before travel on the Immigration Department of Hong Kong website here and print the notification slip to present to immigration authorities upon arrival. Registration is free, valid for six months, and may be used for multiple trips. Starting January 23, airlines will request the notification slip for Indian nationals on flights to Hong Kong prior to boarding.
SAUDI ARABIA | “Balanced Nitiqat” Scheme Postponed
In a surprise announcement by the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, Saudi Arabia has postponed the implementation of its new “Balanced Nitiqat” scheme. As Pro-Link GLOBAL reported earlier, this latest iteration of the Nitiqat system was slated to come into force December 12. See our Immigration Dispatch of October 10 for more details. The new implementation date has yet to be announced by the Saudi authorities.
When implemented, the “Balanced Nitiqat” system will add another level of complexity to the current rules regarding the required “Saudization levels” of company workforces. This long-standing program rewards or penalizes companies operating in the Kingdom based on their percentage of Saudi employees. Since 2011, the Nitiqat system has attempted to increase employment for Saudi nationals in an economy dominated by foreign workers, with limited success. The “Balanced Nitiqat” rules will bring additional requirements for companies regarding the salary and longevity of local workers.
SOUTH AFRICA | Visa-on-Arrival Suspended for New Zealand Nationals
In what is being described by many observers as a “tit-for-tat” move, South Africa has responded in kind to New Zealand’s earlier move suspending its visa-on-arrival for South African nationals. See our Immigration Dispatch of October 17 for more details. In a December 6 announcement, South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba stated that, effective January 16, New Zealand passport holders will need visas to enter South Africa.
New Zealand and South Africa had enjoyed a mutual visa-waiver arrangement since 1996, until New Zealand withdrew the visa-waiver status for South Africans on November 21. This earlier action by New Zealand was predicated on a perceived sharp increase in the number of South Africans arriving with “altered or fraudulent” passports. Several other nations have taken similar action against South African travelers in recent years and, in response, South Africa has implemented improvements to its passport security measures.
VIETNAM | Guidance on New Decree 11 Finally Available
Effective December 12, Vietnamese authorities have finally issued a new guidance Circular 40 for the implementation of Decree 11. Officially in effect since April 1, Decree 11 made broad changes to the rules and procedures for the hiring of foreign nationals in Vietnam. See our Global Brief of March 3 for more details. Circular 40 now gives companies much-needed clarification on how to comply with the new law.
Circular 40 provides a new set of official forms and detailed guidelines, including the following:
- A new Form 14 (replacing Form 16) has been released for the Foreign Labor Use Report –Companies must provide this report to their provincial labor department before the 5th of the month following each quarter. The new form allows companies to report the number of foreign employees holding work permits, work permit exemption certificates, and those foreign employees exempt from either work permits or exemption certificates;
- Clarification of acceptable qualification documents for foreign experts and specialists – A confirmation letter issued by an overseas agency, organization, or enterprise confirming the field of expertise will be accepted;