Immigration changes around the world – Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Pakistan, The Philippines and Switzerland

ARGENTINA | Pro-Business Reforms Bring Visa-Free Access for Business Travel to 35 Nations
Citizens of the 35 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are now exempt from visa requirements when traveling to Argentina for business purposes. On March 28, the Argentinian Ministry of Interior issued Resolution 137-2017 authorizing visa-free entry of these nationals for stays of up to 90-days to engage in business activities. Included in these 35 OECD nations are Australia, Canada, China, most European countries, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom.



AUSTRALIA | New Pathway to Permanent Residency for New Zealand Nationals
Much of the immigration news out of Australia lately has been in the category of more bad news. However, one piece of good news for New Zealand nationals may have been eclipsed by the recent controversy surrounding the major changes to the 457 Visa program and permanent residency and citizenship rules. Beginning July 1, a new pathway to permanent residence will open to New Zealand citizens who were residing in Australia prior to February 19, 2016.



COSTA RICA | New Streamlined Residence Registration Process Available to Accredited Companies
Effective immediately, the Costa Rican Immigration and Migration Directorate (Dirección de Migración y Extranjeria) (hereinafter the “Directorate”) has implemented a new streamlined process for accredited companies to register their foreign employees’ residences, apply for special projects visas, and register their companies with the Directorate. The new process purports to schedule appointments for these applications within four weeks – a significant improvement from the typical two months or more.


PAKISTAN | New Mandatory Online Visa System Implemented and More Changes Likely Coming
Effective immediately, all applications for work visas in Pakistan must be submitted electronically via a new online processing system accessible through the Pakistani Board of Investment (BOI) online portal. Manual applications are no longer being accepted. The new system provides a field-fillable application form and the ability to upload electronic copies of any required supporting documents. However, payment of the government processing fees must still be made through the National Bank of Pakistan, as the new online system does not yet have online payment functionality. The BOI intends to process most online applications within five weeks.


THE PHILIPPINES | DOLE Lifts Suspension of Overseas Employment Certificate Issuance
The Philippines Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello has now lifted the recent suspension of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) issuance for directly-hired Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). Thus, the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has resumed issuing exemptions and OECs for Filipino citizens who have been hired directly by foreign companies without using a POEA-licensed employment agency.


SWITZERLAND | L Permit Quota Exhausted for Second Quarter
While the Swiss Federal Council moderately increased the 2017 quota numbers for L and B work/residence permits for third-country foreign nationals, the number of available L and B Permits for European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Area (EFTA) nationals remained at the same low 2016 levels. Therefore, quarterly quotas for these applicants especially will remain tight throughout 2017. The quota of short-term L Permits (three to twelve months) for EU/EFTA nationals remaining on foreign contract has already been exhausted for the second quarter ending June 30.