AUSTRALIA | Changes to Health Insurance Requirements for 457 Visas and Proposed Changes to Eligible Occupations Lists
Pro-Link GLOBAL is following two developments impacting companies employing foreign nationals in Australia. The first concerns a change to health insurance requirements for foreign employees applying for Subclass 457 Visas. The second concerns proposed future changes to the eligible occupations lists for Australia’s employment-based visa categories.
Changes to Health Insurance Requirements for 457 Visa Applicants
Starting November 18, foreign nationals applying for subclass 457 visas are no longer required to provide documentation confirming their health insurance coverage – such as a letter from an insurer – as part of the visa application process. The online application form has been amended to simply require applicants to indicate that they have made adequate arrangements for health insurance for their intended period of stay in Australia. This change applies to all subclass 457 visa applicants, including family members and subsequent entrants, and is effective for all applications lodged and still pending adjudication on November 18.
MOZAMIBIQUE | DIRE Residency Document No Longer Required for New Foreign Hires
Effective immediately, foreign nationals entering Mozambique with a work visa will no longer be required to obtain an Identification and Residency Document for Foreigners (DIRE). Instead, their work visas will be extended up to one year based on the length their employment contracts.
This change only affects new hires going forward. Current DIRE holders will continue to use their DIRE until their current work visa expires. Also note that this change only applies to the work visa holder, and dependent family members of work visa holders are still required to obtain a DIRE.
QATAR | 30-Day Visas-On-Arrival May Only Be Extended Through New Online Portal
The Qatari Ministry of Interior (MOI) has announced that visitors who have entered Qatar on a 30-day tourist visa-on-arrival and who wish to extend their stay for an additional 30 days must do so through a new online portal, rather than through the Airport Passports Department.
This measure applies to visitors from the 46 countries whose nationals are eligible for the 180-day multiple-entry visas-on-arrival to Qatar. These visas are valid for stays of up to 30 days, renewable in-country for an additional 30 days. Eligible citizens include those of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States nationalities. A complete list of eligible nationals is available here. Note that this change does not apply to nationals of the 34 countries who are eligible for visa-free entry for stays of up to 90 days, which are not eligible to extend their stays in-country.
ROMANIA | 2017 Quotas for Local Hire and Secondment Work Permits Exhausted
In Romania, the 2017 quotas of work permits both for local hires and secondments has been exhausted, and the 2018 quotas may not be available before the end of this year. Therefore, currently pending work permit applications in these categories will not be approved. However, work permits for other categories – such as intra-company transferees, highly-skilled workers, and trainees – are still available for the current year.
Details regarding how authorities are treating pending applications in these affected categories are now being released, but remain unclear. If the 2018 quotas are released within 30 days of the application submission, these applications will be processed under the new quotas. If the new quotas are not released within 30 days of submission, the application deadline will reportedly be extended by 15 days to allow those applications to be processed from the new quotas. However, it is also unclear whether this extension will be automatic or if the applicant must request it.
SAUDI ARABIA | New Online Document Attestation Service at Riyadh Chamber of Commerce
The Riyadh Chamber of Commerce has launched a new online attestation service for some documents involved in the immigration process. The online service is available through the “My Business Portal” and allows users to complete the attestation of certain documents – including the visa request letter to the Labor Office – without the need of visiting the Chamber offices in person. Note that some documents that require physical attestation – such as Saudization certificates, business agreements, employment contracts, family visas, and other government forms – will continue to require in-person visits.
SOUTH AFRICA & ANGOLA | New Reciprocal Visa Waiver
Effective December 1, the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will implement a reciprocal visa waiver for Angolan citizens for stays of up to 30, to a maximum of 90 days per year. Angolan passport holders will no longer require Port of Entry Visas in advance of travel to South Africa for the purposes of general business, tourism, or family visits and will be issued a 30-day Visitor’s Visa at the Port of Entry upon arrival in South Africa. Reciprocally, Angolan authorities are expected to no longer require visas for South African citizens to enter Angola for the same purposes and periods of stay.
TURKEY | Latest State Department Guidance on U.S. Citizens Traveling to Turkey
On November 21, the United States Department of State issued an update on the latest status for U.S. citizens entering Turkey. The key points of this latest State Department guidance are as follows:
- Airports in Turkey – U.S. citizens (with no other nationality) will be issued sticker visas upon entry into Turkey if they can show legal residency (residence permits) in another country other than the U.S. Note that this is a clear departure from the policy over the past month where all U.S. citizens were regularly being issued sticker visas at Turkish airports as long as their flight originated outside the U.S.;
- Turkish consulates outside the U.S. are now consistently issuing visas to U.S. nationals physically present at that consular post without issue. However, whether a particular consulate requires the U.S. applicant to have a verifiable local residence continues to be apparently considered on a case-by-case basis;
- Turkish consular posts inside the U.S. are still offering visa appointments to U.S. citizens in some cases, based on certain criteria such as medical needs, urgent family issues, international conferences, or sporting events, etc.; and
- Currently valid Turkish visas (including sticker visas) continue to be accepted by border authorities for entry into Turkey.