Global Immigration Updates
CHINA: New Policies to Attract Foreign Talent to Shanghai
Effective 1 March 2021, Shanghai authorities have expanded the definition of high-level talents.
High-level talent now includes scientific research workers and fresh PhD graduates in disciplines including science, engineering and agriculture.
These foreign nationals can now apply directly for the R visa and benefit from a streamlined process for visa application.
The requirements regarding age, educational background, and years of work experience for foreign talent in certain scientific and technological sectors will also be relaxed where there is an urgent need for such professionals.
For talents in the technology sector who specialize in fields where there is an urgent demand and for those holding internationally recognized certificates for their professional skills, the age limit may be relaxed to 70.
SAUDI ARABIA: New Foreign Worker Sponsorship Rules Take Effect 14 March 2021
Effective 14 March 2021, the Labor Reform Initiative (LRI)takes effect. The LRI replaces the existing kafala sponsorship system, regulating the mobility of foreign workers.
The existing system requires foreign workers to obtain permission from their employers (or sponsors) to change jobs or to travel out of the country.
Under the LRI, foreign workers are permitted to leave their jobs without the consent of their employer upon expiry of their employment contract. If they have been in Saudi for at least one year and have given 90 days’ notice to their employer, they can leave their job before the contract expires without the employer’s permission.
Moreover, under certain conditions, foreign workers may change jobs within the first year of employment.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has established an online portal where both workers and employers can submit notifications, job offers and transfer requests (previously only permitted for employers).
Under the LRI, the employer’s permission is no longer required to leave or re-enter the country. Workers may instead make the request themselves online. The Saudi authorities may refuse exit if any debts or fines are outstanding. If approved, the employer will receive an automatic notification
Similarly, an employer-signed “final exit visa” is no longer required for a foreign worker to return to their home country.
Other regulations governing the employment of foreign workers remain in effect, including the Nitaqat program of Saudization, which gives companies privileges, requirements, or limitations in the visa process for their foreign workers, based on the percentage of their workforce made up of Saudi nationals.
Note that, effective January 2021, private sector employers with at least 5 engineering jobs must set aside at least 20% of these positions for Saudi nationals.
UNITED KINGDOM: New Statement of Changes to Immigration Rules
On 4 March 2021, the Home Office published a new statement of changes to the immigration rules. Most of the changes take effect 6 April 2021. Key changes include:
- Graduate route (from 1 July 2021) - Allows graduates to stay in the UK for 2 years (3 years for doctoral graduates) to work or look for work, without sponsorship.
- New minimum hourly salary threshold for Skilled Workers – this complements the minimum yearly salary threshold.
- Sponsors of Skilled Workers who may now qualify for a lower salary threshold must submit a new application and gain approval before reducing their pay.
- Experienced deckhands on large fishing vessels now qualify for sponsorship for a Skilled Worker visa.
- The following occupations are added to the Shortage Occupations List:
- Health services and public health managers and directors;
- Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors;
- Laboratory technicians;
- Senior care workers;
- Health professionals not elsewhere classified;
- Nursing auxiliaries and assistants.
- Chefs are removed from the Shortage Occupation List.
- Effective 5 May 2021, there is a new list of “prestigious prizes” the winners of which qualify for a Global Talent visa without an endorsement by an organization in the UK. These include Nobel Prizes, Oscars, Golden Globes and Tony Awards.
UNITED STATES: Ebola Border Measures
Effective 5 March 2021, to limit the spread of Ebola virus into the United States, international flights carrying individuals recently present in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or the Republic of Guinea within 21 days prior to entry in the US are only permitted to arrive at the following US airports:
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (New York);
- Chicago O'Hare International Airport (Illinois);
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Georgia);
- Washington-Dulles International Airport (Virginia);
- Newark Liberty International Airport (New Jersey); and
- Los Angeles International Airport (California).