Immigration changes in Canada, Malaysia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom

UNITED KINGDOM | Several Changes to Tier 1, Tier 2, Permanent Residency, and Entry Rules
On December 7, the British government published a “Statement of Changes to the United Kingdom’s Immigration Rules. The most notable among them for companies and their foreign employees include the following.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) – As we reported previously, the number of visas available under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route will increase from 1000 to 2000 per year. Internationally recognized global leaders in science, digital technology, the arts and creative sectors, endorsed under the Exceptional Talent route, will be permitted to apply for settlement after three years. This brings the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category in line with the Tier 1 categories of Entrepreneur and Investor.

Tier 2 (General) – Flexibility is being introduced to enable students to apply to switch to Tier 2 as soon as they have completed their courses of study. Currently non-PhD students cannot apply to switch within the UK until they have received their final results. Additionally, there will be exemptions from the Resident Labour Market Test for posts to be held by certain researcher applicants and established research team members.


CANADA | Visa Requirement Lifted for Bulgarian and Romanian Citizens
Effective December 1, all nationals of Bulgarian and Romania no longer need a visa to travel to Canada for short stays (normally for up to six months) for visiting, business, and tourism. However, like other visa-exempt travelers, they will need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to or transit through a Canadian airport. This further loosens requirements for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, who have been able to enter Canada with an eTA rather than a visa since May 1, only if they had held a Canadian visa in the ten years preceding their travel, or they had held a U.S. non-immigrant visa at any time.

Canada’s Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) System

Visa-exempt foreign nationals are expected to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) via the online registration system, to fly to or transit through Canada. ETAs are valid for five years, or until the expiration date of their passport, whichever comes first. Most international visitors are allowed to stay up to six months from the day they enter Canada.


MALAYSIA | MDEC 2018 Foreign Worker (FKW) Projections Now Open
Starting December 8, companies who are registered with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) can start applying for their 2018 projection for Employment Passes (EPs). Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Malaysia companies and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies registered with the MDEC intending to employ foreign nationals in Malaysia in 2018 should submit their Foreign Knowledge Worker (FKW) projection applications, along with the supporting information and documents, as soon as possible to avoid any delay in their hiring and work authorization process for foreign employees.

MSC Malaysia companies and ICT companies registered with the MDEC who intend to employ foreign nationals in Malaysia in 2018 must have the FKW projection approved before any EP applications can be submitted. The standard processing time for the projection is approximately 5-10 working days, subject to follow-up requests from MDEC for additional information or documents, especially if the company submits a high-volume FKW projection. Information required for the projection includes the total number of Malaysian and foreign staff currently employed, and the projection request for any new and renewal EPs for the coming year, along with a justification for this projection. Where possible, companies should provide copies of documents – such as client agreements, contracts, letters of award, purchase orders for new and ongoing projects – to support the projection application.


TURKEY | Updated Status – Visas for U.S. Citizens Traveling to Turkey
Following-up on our recent update on the availability of Turkish visas for U.S. citizens, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has confirmed that all Turkish consular posts in the United States are now issuing business and tourist visa to U.S. nationals. Further, applicants in certain limited circumstances – such as those with medical needs, urgent family issues, and those participating in international conferences or sport events – can visit the Turkish consular posts without appointments to submit their visa applications. All other applicants must use the MFA’s online visa appointment system at However, applicants should note that the backlog for appointments is expected to increase quickly now that visa are once again available.

In Canada, the Turkish consulates in Vancouver and Ottawa have begun issuing visas to U.S. nationals without requiring proof of residence in Canada – although this change has not been officially announced by the MFA.


BRAZIL | Normative Resolutions Published, New Immigration Law Implemented

On December 8, 2017, the National Immigration Council published the much-awaited new Normative Resolutions regulating residence authorization for foreign professionals. The resolutions implement the recent Brazilian immigration law (13445/2017, published May 25, 2017). For further details of this immigration overhaul, see our previous alert of June 23.

It is important to note that the resolutions do not mention renewal applications – these are expected to be regulated in a future publication.

In addition, as with any major change in regulations, global mobility professionals and foreign nationals should expect to see application processing delays, possible inconsistent execution of the regulations, and potential minor adjustments to the regulations as the new guidelines are rolled out in practice and the Brazilian authorities become acclimated to the changes.