Immigration changes in Saudi Arabia, Austria, Canada, Singapore, Tanzania and Tunisia

SAUDI ARABIA | Validity of Block Visas Reduced to One Year
Effective immediately, companies in Saudi Arabia will have to utilize their block visas more quickly in order to hire foreign employees. The Saudi Ministry of Labor has announced that it is reducing the validity period of its block visas from two years to one year. Thus, companies now have just one year to recruit and hire the needed foreign workers before their block visa automatically expires. Only block visas for foreign domestic workers and those employed by Saudi government agencies are exempt from the new shorter validity period.

Block visas are the primary basis by which companies bring foreign workers to the Kingdom. Under the scheme, employers receive a pre-approved “block” of visas to hire foreign workers. With these recent changes, employers will now have just one-year for each block visa in which to recruit and hire workers and then apply for work visas at the Saudi overseas consular posts in the workers’ home country.


AUSTRIA | New EU Intra-Corporate Transfer Permit Implemented
Austria has transposed into their national law the European Union (EU) Directive 2014/66 “on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer” and has introduced a new combined work and residence permit category for intra-corporate transfer (ICT). While the new ICT route –  which replaces the “Rotationsarbeitskraft” scheme for intra-corporate transfers – has been available since 1 October 2017, the legislation was only formally passed on 19 October 2017.

ICT Permit – The new ICT residence permit is available to third-country nationals transferred to work in Austria within the same group of companies as managers, specialists and trainees. The foreign employee must have worked for their sending company at least nine months (six months for trainees). The Rotationsarbeitskraft had no similar requirement. While the Rotationsarbeitskraft could be renewed annually for a maximum total of five years, the new ICT combined work/residence permits are issued with a validity of twelve months, renewable up to only a total of three years for managers and specialists (non-renewable for trainees).


CANADA | Alberta Immigration Nominee Program to be Expanded and Streamlined
As of 2 January 2018, the Province of Alberta’s Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) will streamline its provincial economic immigration program into two streams.

Alberta Opportunity Stream – This new stream will be the primary route under the AINP and will be formed by combining the current Employer-Driven Stream, the Strategic Recruitment Stream, and their 11 sub-categories into a single stream with a single application form and set of qualification criteria. Details on the new stream will be released by the provincial government around the time of its opening on January 2. Reportedly, those details will include the eligibility requirements and new applicable quotas.


SINGAPORE | Mobile Phone Numbers Required for Work Permit Issuance or Renewal
Effective November 17, employers must provide their foreign workers’ mobile phone numbers when completing the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM’s) Online Foreign Worker Address Service (OFWAS) portal prior to issuing or renewing their Work Permits (WPs). The requirement to confirm the employee’s residential address in the OFWAS portal will remain. This change is intended to facilitate the MOM in contacting WP holders in the event of emergencies.


TANZANIA | November 4 Audit Deadline to Verify Residence Status Approaching
Foreign nationals and their employers in Tanzania are reminded that they have until November 4 to verify the foreign national’s residence status. The requirement applies to all foreign nationals in the country – including foreign workers, business owners, students, and family members. Ongoing since October 5, the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Immigration Service Department (ISD) is conducting an audit of the residence status of all foreign nationals in the country.

Foreign employees and their employers have a joint responsibility to ensure that the employee completes this process. Failure to do so before the deadline may result in fines and imprisonment.


TUNISIA | Expats in GCC Countries Now Eligible for Visa-on-Arrival
Effective immediately, foreign nationals holding residence visas from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries no longer require consular visas to enter Tunisia and are now eligible for visas-on-arrival valid for stays of up to 15 days. Visas-on-arrival are reportedly now available to GCC expats at all Tunisian airports and border crossings.

To qualify, foreign nationals must present the following documents to border authorities upon arrival:

  • Valid passport;
  • Residence visa/permit issued by one of the GCC member nations valid for six months from the date of entry into Tunisia; and
  • Hotel reservations or other proof of accommodation in Tunisia.