Immigration changes around the world – Australia, Angola, Canada, India, Panama & Slovakia

AUSTRALIA | New “Skilling Australians” Foreign Worker Levy Coming in March 2018
As if all the recent immigration changes in Australia were not enough keep global mobility managers scratching their heads, the Turnbull administration handed down its national budget last Tuesday for fiscal year 2017-18 which includes another major complication for which sponsoring companies in Australia must prepare. Beginning in March 2018, companies employing foreign workers under the current Subclass 457 Visa Program – which, at the same point, will become the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa program – will be required to pay a one-time payment of AUD $5,000 and an ongoing annual payment of $1,800 per worker into a Skilling Australians Fund. A discount will be afforded to small and medium-sized companies (those under $10 million annual gross revenue) to $3,000 for the one-off payment and $1,200 annually. The intent of this “Skilling Australians Fund Levy” is raise funds for a $1.5 billion program to train Australians in new job skills.

ANGOLA | Companies May Pay Foreign Employees in Foreign Currency and Offer Agreed Benefit Packages
In March, Pro-Link GLOBAL reported on Angolan Presidential Decree (No. 43/17) which required foreign workers in the country to be paid only in kwanzas (the local currency), capped benefit packages at 50 percent of base salary, and placed a maximum length on foreign employment contracts of 36 months. See our Immigration Dispatch of March 20 for more details. At that time, we believed the policy to be misguided and likely detrimental to business activity in Angola by making it more difficult to recruit the needed skilled foreign labor. Apparently, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos now agrees and, on April 24, the President signed a new decree (No. 78/17) repealing the earlier decree.

CANADA | “Dependent Child” Age Increased, Relief for Sponsored Spouses, Alberta Limits Occupations
Last week, immigration authorities announced several changes which impact foreign nationals working in Canada. The changes included a suspension of work permits for certain occupations in Alberta and positive improvements to rules for sponsoring adult children and spouses. Improvements to permanent residence rules are always of special interest to foreign nationals working in Canada. Current statistics indicate that one-in-five temporary work permit holders will eventually become Canadian permanent residents, a significant increase from less than one-in-ten just twenty years ago.

Dependent Child Age Increased to “Under 22” – Effective October 24, IRCC is returning to the “under 22” rule for all regulations impacting sponsorship of dependent adult children. This reverses the August 2014 decision of IRCC to limit the definition of “dependent child” to include adult children only up to age 19. The return to the “under 22” rule effectively changes all rules regarding sponsorship of children for dependent visas and permanent residency. After October 24, foreign nationals will once again be able to sponsor all children up until their 22th birthday.

INDIA | Government Reverses Stance – Foreign Nationals Do Not Need Aadhaar Cards
In a surprise move late last week, the Indian Ministry of Finance released Notification No. 37/2017 (dated 11 May 2017), reversing the impact of Section 139AA of the Finance Act of 2017 which purported to require all persons – including foreign nationals – to obtain the new Aadhaar Card in order to file Indian income tax returns. Effective July 1, the Notice now exempts all individuals who are “not a citizen of India” from the requirement. Foreign nationals may return to the previous practice of filing their necessary income tax returns using their current Permanent Account Number (PAN).

PANAMA | Stricter Scrutiny of Social Security Documents Submitted in Work and Residence Applications
One of the most important documents when applying for work and residence permits in Panama is the Aviso de Entrada, which is a certificate issued by the Panamanian Social Security Office confirming when the applicant foreign employee will be placed on the company’s payroll and enrolled in Panamanian Social Security. Recently Pro-Link GLOBAL has been seeing increased scrutiny of work and residence permit applications regarding this requirement. Therefore, companies are reminded to:

  • Include the Aviso de Entrada with the Certificado de Externo, the external audit certificate that specifies the number of local and foreign employees; and
  • Provide receipts showing payment of social security officially stamped and sealed by the authorities receiving the payment.

SLOVAKIA | EU Intra-Company Transfer Directive Adopted, Streamlined Processing for Key Sectors, Longer Stays for Seasonal Workers
Effective May 1, the National Council of the Slovak Republic enacted amendments to the Act on Residence of Foreigners (No. 404/2011) and the Act on Employment Services (No. 5/2004). The amendments bring the Republic into the growing list of European Union nations to have adopted the EU Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Directive (2014/66/EU), as well as make significant improvements to the processing times for certain key business sectors and rules for work/residence permits for seasonal workers in Slovakia. The changes to the ICT rules and streamlined permit application processing will be of particular benefit to those multinational companies involved in the Republic’s large automobile, machinery, and electronics manufacturing sectors.