QATAR | Increasing Globalization Bringing Pro-Business Immigration Reforms
While Qatar suffered its slowest economic growth in two decades in 2016, government and business leaders remain optimistic, with analysts predicting a modest rebound of global oil prices in 2017 and infrastructure investment intensifying ahead its hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Numerous major housing and stadium projects, a new Doha Metro rail system, and a major expansion of Hamad International Airport are all currently ongoing. As Pro-Link GLOBAL identified earlier, the increased global attention, and the need to diversify its economy with the softening oil market, is bringing increased openness and globalization in the gulf monarchy. The significant reform of Qatar’s restrictive foreign worker “kafala system” in December was a major improvement. For more details, see our Immigration Dispatch of December 12. We expect to continue to see refinements in Qatar’s international business climate and corporate immigration process over the coming months. Below are some changes we are seeing now.
Four-Day Transit Visas, and Fast-Track Visa System on the Horizon
ARGENTINA | New Decree Brings Attention to Length of Stays Abroad by Foreign Residents
Effective January 31, a new Decree 70/2017 of the Argentinian government is causing a stir among foreign nationals with temporary or permanent residency in the country. While the motivation behind the Decree is clearly an attempt to combat international organized crime – with increased revocations and deportations of foreign residents who are convicted of serious crimes in other countries – two provisions of the Decree apply to all foreign residents in Argentina regardless of criminal record. These two provisions, covering the cancellation of residency for prolonged stays outside Argentina, do not actually create new law, but rather confirm rules already in effect.
Pro-Link GLOBAL reminds foreign nationals with temporary residency or permanent residency in Argentina of the following:
- Temporary residence holders who remain outside Argentina for more than 50 percent of their visa’s duration automatically lose their temporary residency; and
- Permanent residence holders who remain outside Argentina for a period of two consecutive years automatically lose their permanent residency.
PANAMA | Visa-Free Entry Extended to Holders of Certain Foreign Visas, Revoked for EU/Schengen Visa Holders
Effective January 13, a new Resolution No. 591 of December 28, 2016 by the Panamanian government has revised the rules on entry for nationals requiring Panamanian visas. Foreign nationals of countries otherwise requiring a visa to visit Panama may still enter for 30-day business and tourist stays using a multiple-entry visa issued by the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, or Australia – provided the visa has been used at least once previously in one of those countries and is valid for at least one remaining year. The 30-day stay may then be extended for an additional 60 days.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | Upcoming Changes May Present Opportunities for Highly-Skilled Workers
Walking out of the federal cabinet meeting last Sunday, United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum posted to Twitter, “we agreed on a new entry visa system that focuses on attracting exceptional talent. The new system aims to attract entrepreneurs, pioneers and talented minds in the medical, scientific, research, IT and intellectual sectors.” The Tweets were then followed by a public ceremony later that day at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi, where gulf media reported a new “advanced entry visa system” was launched.
While the reports out of the UAE are thin on details, the Ministry of Interior’s Security Media Department reports that the fanfare is regarding a project to re-launch an entry visa program for “tourism, education, medical treatment, and talented foreign workers.” The description of the program provided by Security Media seems to intimate a competitive system where companies are ranked on various performance indicators into four groups (Platinum, Green, Yellow, and Red) with further A through E letter grades within each group. The companies would then presumably be given assistance in attracting and bringing foreign talent to the UAE.