Global Updates – Columbia, Costa Rica, Croatia, and Czech Republic
COLOMBIA – New Regulations Modify All Visa Types
A major new set of immigration regulations has established new visa categories and requirements in Colombia. Resolution 6045 of 2 August 2017 repealed Resolution 5512 of 4 September 2015, and will come into force on 14 December 2017.
Visas issued prior to the entry into force of Resolution 6045 will keep their validity and conditions. Before expiration, a new visa must be requested in accordance with the regulations established in Resolution 6045.
What are the new categories?
Under the new regulations, the previous visa sub-categories have been reorganized into the following three broad categories of visas:
- Visitor (V): applicable to tourists, business travelers, ships’ crew, short-term service providers, lectures, artists and trainees, among others, and may be valid for up to two years (longer than under the previous regulations);
- Migrant (M): valid for up to three years, and applicable to to Mercosur nationals, foreign spouses and partners of Colombian nationals, foreign nationals employed in Colombia, investors, students and others; and
- Resident (R): valid indefinitely, for foreign nationals wishing to establish themselves permanently in Colombia.
What are the other key changes?
- Work permits will be automatically granted in certain cases, allowing the visa holder to work and provide paid services in the country;
- Transversal permits will be granted to visitor visa holders, allowing them to carry out business negotiations, market research, direct investment plans and enterprise creation;
- Self-employed Migrant visa applicants will now need to provide proof of professional accreditations to exercise a regulated profession or occupation in Colombia;
- Individuals who receive visas electronically will need to request a visa stamp/tag within 30 days of the visa approval date;
- Visitor visa holders should be able to provide temporary technical assistance in Colombia, with or without a work contract, to public or private companies;
- All visa applicants will be required to submit motivation letters as part of their visa applications;
- Residence visa will not be granted to foreigners who have been out of the country for more than 180 continuous days;
- All supporting documents must not be older than three months from the time of visa lodgment; and
- All visas will be issued for multiple entries.
Companies employing foreign nationals in Colombia are advised to contact their immigration advisor at McCown & Evans for the latest information about these new regulations.
COSTA RICA – Changes to the Post-Arrival Temporary Residence Application Process
Effective 16 August 2017, changes have been made to the application procedure for temporary residence for employees of registered companies who are applying post-arrival in Costa Rica.
Fingerprinting and Consular Registration
The main applicant must now register with their home country consulate in Costa Rica and attend an appointment at the Public Security for fingerprinting before submitting their temporary residence application.
Previously these steps could be completed after obtaining temporary residence approval. Fingerprinting is required for all temporary residence applicants and their dependents over the age of 12, and consular registration for all foreign nationals and all dependents regardless of age.
Social Security Registration
The main applicant and all dependents over the age of 18 must now register with Costa Rican Social Security Office once temporary residence is approved and before applying for a residence card. Previously, only the principal applicant needed to complete social security registration.
Registered Companies hiring foreign nationals should ensure their employees and their dependents complete the fingerprinting, consular registration and social security registration steps according to the new process, and should allow more time before the principal applicant can start work. Please contact your immigration advisor at McCown & Evans for further details.
CROATIA – New Intra-Corporate Transfer Permit and Posted Worker requirements
Amendments to Croatia’s Foreigners Act recently took effect, implementing the new European Union (EU) intra-company transfer (ICT) permit, and updating the rules for the posting of workers into Croatia.
Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Permit
The amendments transpose European Union Directive 2014/66/EU “on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer”.
Duration of Stay
The following restrictions on ICT permits will are now in effect:
- Maximum validity of ICT permits:Third-country nationals on assignment in Croatia from outside the European Union for more than 90 days, within the same group of companies, can obtain an ICT stay and work permit valid for up to three years for managers and specialists, or up to one year for trainees; and
- Cooling-Off Period: ICT permit holders must wait a cooling off period of six months before filing a new ICT application once they have reached the three or one year maximum validity period of their permits.
ICT permit applicants will be subject to the following qualifying criteria:
- Managers and Specialists must have been continuously employed by the same group of companies for at least nine months, and demonstrate the professional qualifications and experience required by the host company; and
- Trainees must have a university degree, and must have been continuously employed by the same group of companies for at least six months.
Companies should be mindful that the amendments to the Foreigners Act have introduced the possibility of the government setting a quota for stay and work permits issued to intra-corporate transferees, but as of yet, no quota has been set.
Under the new law,
- A holder of an ICT permit issued in Croatia will be able to work in another EU member state for a company of the same group, for up to 90 days in a 180-day period, without obtaining a separate permit in that country (the host country may require a notification). For stays of more than 90 days, a “mobile ICT permit” for that country may be required; and
- A holder of an EU ICT permit issued in another EU member state can work at a company of the same group in Croatia for up to 90 days without obtaining a separate permit. For stays of more than 90 days they can apply for a long-term mobility stay and work permit issued outside the stay and work permit quota.
Requirements for Posted Workers
The amendments also transpose European Union Directive 2014/67/EU “on the enforcement of Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services”.
Under the amended law, employers of foreign nationals posted to Croatia from within or outside the European Economic Area (EEA) must submit a declaration by email to the Ministry of Labor and Pension System before the posting starts.
Companies should keep the following requirements in mind:
- The declaration must now include details of the sending employer; a designated contact person in Croatia responsible for liaising with the Croatian authorities and for keeping certain documents related to the posting; the location of the posting documents in Croatia; the company in Croatia hosting the posted worker; the place of work; the assignment; and the posted worker(s) themselves;
- Another form must be submitted to notify the authorities of any changes to information in the posting declaration, within three days of any such changes; and
- Fines are payable if the employer fails to submit a complete and accurate posting declaration.
Employers of third-country nationals assigned to Croatia from outside the EU within the same group of companies should consult with their immigration advisor at McCown & Evans to confirm the latest requirements.
CZECH REPUBLIC – Major New Immigration Law Includes New EU Intra-Company Transfer Card
Effective 15 August 2017, a significant legislative amendment makes extensive changes to Czech immigration law.
Act 222/2017 amends Act 326/1999, and includes changes to the rules on employee cards, residence permits and long-term visas. The various ministries have not yet published details of how they will implement the new rules, and the changes could initially cause delays and confusion.
Perhaps the most significant change is a new residence permit for intra-company transferees, which transposes the European Union intra company transfer (ICT) directive (2014/66/EU).
New EU ICT Permit vs Existing Czech ICT Permit
The amendments to the immigration laws transpose European Union Directive 2014/66/EU “on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer”, introducing a new EU ICT permit combining work and residence.
The existing Czech route for non-EU national intra-corporate transferees is a non-dual employee card requiring a separate work permit. Each route has advantages and disadvantages.
Under the new EU scheme, non-EU national managers and specialists can obtain an ICT work and residence permit valid for up to three years (up to one year for trainees). The EU ICT permit is non-renewable and a “cooling-off period” may be required after it has expired before a new application is allowed. The assignee needs to have been employed by the sending company for at least six months, prior to the assignment.
The existing Czech ICT permit does not require the applicant to be a manager, specialist or trainee, and is valid for up to two years initially, in line with the work permit, but is renewable indefinitely. There is no minimum requirement for seniority at the sending company.
The most innovative and attractive provision of the EU ICT Directive is intra-EU mobility, (this is not available with the existing Czech ICT permit).
This means that:
- A holder of an ICT permit issued in the Czech Republic will be able to work in another EU member state for a company of the same group, for up to 90 days in a 180-day period, without obtaining a separate permit in that country, although a registration procedure may be required. For stays of more than 90 days, a “mobile ICT permit” for that country may be required; and
- A holder of an ICT permit issued in another EU member state will be able to work at a company of the same group in the Czech Republic for up to 90 days based only on a labor office registration without obtaining a separate work permit. For stays of more than 90 days, a Czech ICT permit will be required.
The new EU ICT permit is a combined work and residence permit, and should be processed in 60-90 days.
The existing Czech national ICT permit scheme has a similar processing time but requires a separate work permit which should take an additional 30 days, but is currently taking 60-80 days at the labor office in Prague.
Directive 2014/66/EU of 15 May 2014 “on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer” aims to create a consistent EU-wide system for non-EU nationals sent on assignment within a group of companies to EU Member States.
Employers of non-EU nationals assigned to work at a related company in the Czech Republic should consult with their immigration advisor at McCown & Evans for advice about the most appropriate route.