Immigration changes in Taiwan, Austria, England, Oman and Thailand

TAIWAN | New Foreign Recruitment Law Benefits Foreign Professionals
The new Act Governing Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals will come into effect on February 8, introducing various benefits for foreign nationals working in Taiwan and their employers. The Act introduces three categories of foreign professionals with differing qualifying criteria and benefits, as well as benefits for their dependent family members.

Foreign Professionals” who have been approved for permanent residence (APRC) will be able to participate in a retirement pension scheme, a portion of which will be paid for by their employer. The current 183-days per year minimum duration of stay for Alien Permanent Residence Card (APRC) holders to maintain their permanent residence will be eliminated. Qualifying foreign professionals will also be eligible for a six-month multiple-entry “employment-seeking visa”.


AUSTRIA | Diploma Authentication Required for Initial Red-White-Red Card Plus Applications
Effective immediately, university diplomas and school certificates submitted in support of some initial applications for Red-White-Red Card Plus (RWR Card Plus) applications by dependent family members of RWR Card holders must be legalised and authenticated under the ENIC-NARIC framework. Previously, ENIC-NARIC recognition of university diplomas and certificates was not required for these applicants.

This new requirement only affects dependents of RWR Card holders who are applying for an initial RWR Card Plus and cannot demonstrate proof of German language skills at the A1 level (according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). Dependents applying for renewal of their RWR Cards Plus were already required to provide an ENIC-NARIC recognised diploma or proof of A2 level German language skills.


OMAN | Six-Month Ban on Hiring of Foreign Nationals in 87 Occupations
Effective immediately, Oman’s Ministry of Manpower has suspended for six months the recruitment of foreign nationals in 87 occupations across ten industry sectors. The affected sectors include: information systems; media; “technical professions”; engineering; air transport; accounting and finance; insurance; sales and marketing; management and human resources; and medicine. A full list of the affected job titles was published in the Times of Oman here.

Exempted from the measure are work permits issued before January 29; these will remain valid until their date of expiry. Also, employers registered with the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development or the Public Authority for Social Insurance are exempt from the ban.


THAILAND | Four-Year SMART Visa for Top Foreign Talent Now Available
Effective February 1, the Thai Board of Investment has now introduced the previously-announced SMART Visa for highly-skilled foreign workers and investors in selected industries. The SMART Visa is valid for up to four years (compared to the typical one-year for most visas) for qualifying highly-skilled professionals, senior executives, and investors and valid for one year (renewable for two years) for start-up entrepreneurs. Under this streamlined process, SMART Visa holders are exempt from the usual requirements to obtain work permits, to report to the immigration authorities every 90 days, and to obtain re-entry permits to exit and re-enter Thailand. Spouses and children of SMART Visa holders are also granted residence. Spouses can work in Thailand without a work permit, and dependent children over 18 years of age can work without a work permit under the SMART “T” Talent Visa.


UNITED KINGDOM | Immigration Health Surcharge to Double and Tier 2 General Oversubscribed for Second consecutive Month 

In the United Kingdom, two recent developments have the potential to negatively impact companies employing foreign nationals.

First, the UK government has announced that sometime this year the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will increase from £200 to £400 per year. Similarly, the discounted IHS for Tier 4 students and those on the Youth Mobility Scheme (Tier 5) will also rise from £150 to £300 per year. Introduced in 2015, the IHS is levied on those foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area coming to the UK to work, study, or re-join family for six months or longer.

Second, the supply of Tier 2 (General) Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS) available for January 2018 was exceeded by demand for a second consecutive month. The total number of RCoS available to employers in January 2018 stood at 1651 after 91 RCoS were borrowed by the December 2017 allocation, which was also exceeded. RCoS applications submitted in January were rejected where the applicant’s salary was less than £50,000, other than those employed in PhD-level or shortage occupations or those recruited via the milkround exercise for recent graduates. RCoS applications that were rejected in January may be resubmitted in February, provided that the advertising carried out by their prospective employer remains valid.