Immigration changes in China, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iraq, Ireland, Malaysia, Russia, and South Africa.

CHINA | Work Permit Renewals Due 30 Days Ahead; Shanghai Entry-Exit Bureau Closing for System Upgrade
Immigration authorities in China continue to make changes to the country’s systems and requirements in an attempt to improve the operation of its employment-based immigration scheme. This week, Pro-Link GLOBAL reports on new rules for work permit renewals and a temporary closure of the Shanghai Entry-Exit Bureau for a systems upgrade.

Work Permit Renewals Must Be Submitted 30 Days Before Expiry

The State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs (SAFEA) has announced that, effective February 28, 2018, all work permit renewal applications nationwide will have to be submitted at least 30 working days before the expiry date. Those who fail to comply with this new deadline will be denied renewal and required to apply for a new work permit, rather than being able to renew their current permit. At present, there is no national standard establishing a deadline for submitting work permit renewal applications.


COSTA RICA | New Social Security Requirements for Family Members
Effective immediately, dependent family members of applicants for permanent or temporary residence are required to register separately with the Social Security Administration of Costa Rica (CCSS) after completing the residence application process. Previously, dependent family members could be included in the CCSS registration of the principal applicant. This new requirement applies to all dependent family members over 18 years of age; children aged 17 years or under remain exempt from CCSS registration.

In cases where the principal applicant is employed, their employer is required to enroll them in a CCSS insurance program at the nearest CCSS office before the residence application is submitted. While registration processing for the principal applicant typically takes just one business day, this new CCSS registration for dependent family members, taking place after residency has been approved, can take up to ten days and requires more supporting documents. Included in the registration documents must be evidence of the relationship between the principal and the dependent family member and their economic dependence on the principal applicant.


HONG KONG | Speeches and Presentations Now Permitted on Visitor Status
Effective immediately, foreign nationals entering Hong Kong as visitors are allowed to attend events to give speeches and presentations without obtaining a separate employment permit under certain conditions. Conditions include:

  • Duration of the event must be no longer than seven days;
  • No remuneration for speaking or presenting at the event (other than reimbursement for accommodation, travel, meals and other expenses relating to the event); and
  • Visitors can only attend one event to deliver speeches or presentations during each permitted stay.

Nationals of about 170 countries and territories may visit Hong Kong without a visa/entry permit for periods ranging from seven to 180 days. Other non-exempt nationals must obtain a visit visa to enter Hong Kong. Persons in Hong Kong on visitor status, either visa-free or on a visit visa, may not engage in paid or unpaid employment, establish or join any business, or enroll as a student.


IRAQ | Exit Visas No Longer Available at Airports
Effective immediately, foreign nationals exiting Iraq may no longer obtain their exit visas at the airport on their way departing Iraq. Just this morning, the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior (MOI) issued instructions with immediate effect that the MOI Visa Offices at all federal Iraqi airports will no longer issue exit visas. All requests for exit visas now must be submitted and processed through the MOI Residency and Immigration Office.

Under past practice, foreign nationals could typically submit exit visa request letters, pay any fines for overstay, and receive their exit visa at the airport visa office just prior to going through passport control at the departures terminal. Now, exit visa request letters and any overstay fines payments must be submitted at the MOI Residency and Immigration Office. The MOI will then affix an exit visa sticker to the individual’s passport, valid for ten calendar days in which to exit the country.


IRELAND | Residence Permit Replaces GNIB Card
Effective December 11, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) has replaced the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) card with a new residence registration card called the Irish Residence Permit (IRP). With the change in residence registration cards comes some procedural changes as well.

For registration in Dublin, the IRP will not be issued on the day of application but will be sent by post. For those registering outside Dublin, there will continue to be a two-step process of presenting documents and payments and returning to the Immigration office to collect the IRP card. Current GNIB card holders may continue to use their GNIB cards and should not apply for a new IRP until their current GNIB card expires or needs to be replaced in the event that it is lost or stolen. The fee is for the new IRP remains at EUR 300 per registration.


MALAYSIA | MYXpats Centre Year-End Closure
The Malaysian MYXpats Centre has announced that the Expatriate Service Division (ESD)’s online system will be closed for system maintenance and updates from December 26 at 6pm to January 2, 2018 at 8am. During the closure, the system will not be accessible for submission of online applications (ESD company registrations, Employment Passes, Dependent Passes, Long Term Visit Passes, and Professional Visit Passes) or for the monitoring of the status of these applications.

Applications for passes should be submitted as early as possible for approval to be obtained before the closure date.  For applications submitted but still pending on December 26, the status can only be determined after the system resumes on January 2.


RUSSIA | Moscow Migration Department Issuing Electronic Invitation Letters
Effective December 11, the Moscow Migration Department has temporarily stopped accepting requests to issue Letters of Invitation (LOIs) in paper form. The Department is for the time being only issuing LOIs as electronic documents; however, the issuance of paper LOIs is expected to resume in early 2018.

Until further notice, companies accredited with the Moscow Migration Department should include requests to issue the LOI in electronic form in their LOI applications to avoid delays.


SOUTH AFRICA | Hardcopy Police Clearances No Longer Required for In-Country Applications
Effective December 31, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) of South Africa is automating the process of checking a foreign national’s South African criminal record, It will then no longer be necessary to apply for a hardcopy South African Police Clearance Certificate (“SA PCC”). The DHA will continue to accept hard copy SA PCCs until December 31; but the automated verification process will become mandatory starting January 1. Welcomed news for foreign nationals residing in South Africa, the new automated process is expected to significantly reduce document procurement time, in some cases trimming months from the processing times.

All foreign nationals who have resided in South Africa for twelve months or more since their 18th birthday require an SA PCC to support any application to renew their visas, change visa conditions, change visa status, apply for a Permanent Residence Permit, or submit a new application for a long-term Temporary Residence Visa from abroad.