CHINA | Some Consular Posts No Longer Accepting Alien Employment Licenses for Z Visa Applications
The ongoing implementation of the new nation-wide work permits processing system in China continues to bring changes to the country’s corporate immigration scheme. As the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) and provincial authorities transition away from the previous Alien Employment License to the new Foreigner’s Work Permit, Chinese consular posts around the globe are likewise altering their procedures for obtaining the single-entry Z Visa which allows foreign employees to enter China in order to finalize their immigration procedures. A pilot program for the new “Electronic Foreigners Work Management System” was introduced in seven provinces in late 2016, and the system is anticipated to be rolled out throughout the country in April 2017.
During the ongoing transition to the new work permits system, Chinese overseas consular posts have been accepting both the old Alien Employment License (issued by the Labor Bureau) and the new Foreigner’s Work Permit (issued by the Foreign Expert Bureau) in support of Z Visa applications. However, it is now being reported that many embassies and consulates are no longer accepting the old Alien Employment License. Reportedly, this change has been implemented at the Chinese embassies and consulates in Australia, Iran, Poland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland. Instead, these Embassies and consulates will now only accept the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit issued by the Foreign Expert Bureau pursuant to the new process.
INDIA | PIO to OCI Card Conversion Deadline Postponed Again
The deadline to convert Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards to Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards has been extended once again. With an announcement of the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, the previous deadline of December 31, 2016 has now been extended to June 30, 2017. While the deadline has been pushed forward several times previously, Pro-Link GLOBAL still urges holders of the PIO card to act promptly before June 30 to obtain their new OCI card. Holders of the PIO card have already been given the benefits, rights, and guarantees of the OCI guard, but issuance of new PIO cards has already ceased and their use is being phased-out in favor of the OCI card.
We anticipate that conversion to the OCI card will eventually become mandatory, and PIO holders may begin to encounter travel difficulties. For instructions on converting to the OCI card, affected individuals should contact their local Indian Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or Indian overseas mission or consular post. For assistance with this process, feel free to reach out to your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist.
ISRAEL | Contrary To News… No Major Visa Changes, But Salary and Pension Levels Increases
Contrary to recent reports, there have been no recent rule changes to the permissible activities or application timing for business visas to Israel. Reports first began circulating in late November that the rules had changed to require that business visitors to Israel obtain work visas to participate in activities that were traditionally permissible under a business visa. However, with the seemingly persistent confusion on these issues, we are taking this opportunity to bring some clarity.
The rules defining Israel’s permissible business activities and those activities that do require a work authorization have not changed. Business visas are still appropriate for business meetings, conferences, negotiations, passive trainings, etc. Work visas, on the other hand, must be obtained where the individual will be engaged in more traditional hands-on, productive work activities. Companies sending employees to Israel who are unsure which visa is required should contact their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist for an evaluation of the specific activities to be performed.
KAZAKHSTAN | New 10-Year Multiple-Entry Visas for U.S. Citizens and More Visa-Free Nations
In Pro-Link GLOBAL’s recent Global Brief of December 20 on Kazakhstan’s expansion of its visa-free regime and revision of its work permits scheme, we identified a trend toward more global openness for international business in this key Eurasian nation, and promised to continue watching for further developments. Two more pro-immigration moves favoring international business appeared on our radar within days of publishing our Global Brief.
The U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan announced that the governments of the United States and Kazakhstan signed a bilateral agreement to grant each other’s respective nationals 10-year multiple-entry visas for business and tourism. The move was in celebration of the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the countries. The announcement was made with immediate effect, and new 10-year multiple-entry visas have reportedly already been issued by both nations.
UNITED KINGDOM | Certain Tier 2 Applicants Must Now Have Criminal Clearance Certificates
The Home Office has announced that, effective April 6, foreign nationals coming to the United Kingdom for employment under the Tier 2 category in a variety of health, education, and service occupations will be required to provide a criminal record clearance (CRC) certificate from every country where they resided for more than 12 months in the past 10 years. With an effective date of January 1, sponsors are also required to notify such foreign nationals of the new CRC requirement before assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to give them sufficient time to complete their entry clearance application.
The affected occupations include 26 specific Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes, ranging from physicians, dentists, and other healthcare professionals (including healthcare managers and directors), to primary and secondary education professionals, to probation officers and welfare professionals. For the specific job titles affected, please reach out to your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist.