Global Updates – Australia, Austria, Brazil, and Canada

AUSTRALIA – Update on Forthcoming Changes to Employer-Sponsored Skilled Visas

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) have begun to clarify the changes to employer-sponsored skilled visa programs that were announced on 18 April 2017.

Significantly, DIBP has announced transitional or ‘grandfathering’ arrangements to permit individuals who held, or had applied for, a subclass 457 visa on 18 April 2017 to access certain existing provisions under the Temporary Residence Transition stream.

Data Matching and Sponsor Sanctions

From 31 December 2017, the DIBP will commence the collection of Tax File Numbers for permanent employer-sponsored skilled visa holders, and data will be matched with records held by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to ensure that visa holders are not paid less than their nominated salary.

Breaches of sponsorship obligations can result in sponsor sanctions. DIBP has powers to impose a range of penalties depending on the severity of the breach and or number of breaches.

Changes to Permanent Employer-Sponsored Skilled Visa Programs (ENS and RSMS)  

The following changes to the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) will apply from 1 March 2018:

  • Occupation Lists: Only jobs on the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) will be available on the Direct Entry stream for both ENS and RSMS, with some additional occupations available through the RSMS to support regional employers;
  • Residence Requirement: The eligibility period to transition from temporary to permanent residence (TRT) will be extended from the current two years to three years (unless the individual is eligible under transitional or ‘grandfathering’ arrangements – see below);
  • Age: Applicants must be aged under 45 years, rather than the current 50 years, at the time of application, unless transitional arrangements apply;
  • Training Requirement: Employers nominating a worker for an ENS or RSMS visa will be required to pay a contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF), which replaces the current training obligation requirements. The contribution will be payable in full at the time the worker is nominated, and is set at AUD 3000 for small businesses (those with annual turnover of less than AUD 10 million) and AUD 5000 for other businesses;
  • Work Experience: At least three (3) years of work experience relevant to the occupation will be required;
  • Minimum market salary rate:Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (et at AUD 53,900 as at 12 April 2016).

Transition Arrangements

People who held, or had applied for, a subclass 457 visa on 18 April 2017 will be able to access certain existing provisions under the Temporary Residence Transition stream:

  • Occupation requirements remain the same (i.e. there are no restrictions if the nominee continues to work in the same position for the same employer as approved for their subclass 457 visa);
  • The age requirement will remain at less than 50 years of age; and
  • The work experience requirement, and the requirement to have worked at least two out of the three years prior to nomination on a subclass 457, will remain at two years.

Action Items

Employers are advised to work with their immigration advisor at McCown & Evans to prepare for these changes and to avoid non-compliance.

AUSTRIA – New Intra-Corporate Transfer Permit

Austria has transposed into national law European Union (EU) Directive 2014/66 “on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer”, and has introduced a new combined work and residence permit category for intra-corporate transfer (ICT).

The new ICT route, which replaces the “Rotationsarbeitskraft” scheme for intra-corporate transfers, has been available since 1 October 2017, but the legislation was only passed on 19 October 2017.

ICT Permit 

The new ICT residence permit is available to third-country nationals transferred to work in Austria within the same group of companies as managers, specialists and trainees. The foreign employee must have worked for their sending company at least nine (9) months (six (6) months for trainees). The Rotationsarbeitskraft had no similar requirement.

The combined work/residence permits are issued with a validity of twelve (12) months, renewable up to a total of three (3) years for managers and specialists only (non-renewable for trainees). The Rotationsarbeitskraft could be renewed annually for a maximum total of five (5) years.

Intra-EU Mobility

A holder of an ICT permit issued in Austria will be able to work in another EU member state for a company of the same group, for stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day period, without a separate work permit, although the host country may require a notification. For stays of more than 90 days, a “mobile ICT permit” for that country may be required.

A holder of an EU ICT permit issued in another EU member state can work at a company of the same group in Austria for up to 90 days without obtaining a separate permit. For assignments of more than 90 days in Austria, a holder of an EU ICT permit issued in another EU member state can apply for a residence permit for long-term mobility.

Action Items

Employers intending to transfer third-country nationals to Austria from outside the EU within the same group of companies should consult with their immigration advisor at McCown & Evans to confirm the latest details of the new ICT permit.

BRAZIL – New Immigration Law Takes Effect

On 21 November 2017, Decree 9.199/2017 was published and the new Brazilian immigration law (13.445/2017) took effect.

It is important to note that the normative resolutions which provide guidelines for visa processing have not yet been published, and until they are published applications under the new law will not be available.

The new law, which we described in June introduces several significant changes to the immigration rules in Brazil:

  • The introduction of a new visitor visa, for various activities including tourism and business, consulting and auditing services and the crew of foreign ships;
  • The elimination of the permanent visa;
  • The creation of a residence permit that is available to all foreign nationals in Brazil on a temporary or visitor visa; and
  • An increase in the time allowed to register a temporary visa after entering the country to 90 days. The deadline to perform an in-country change of status from visitor visa to residence permit is 30 days.

Action Items

Employers of foreign nationals working in Brazil are advised to consult their immigration advisor at McCown & Evans for the latest details about the implementation of the new law.

CANADA – Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program to be Expanded and Streamlined

Effective 2 January 2018, the Province of Alberta’s Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) will streamline its provincial economic immigration program into two streams.

Alberta Opportunity Stream

This new stream will be the primary route under the AINP and will be formed by combining the current Employer-Driven Stream, the Strategic Recruitment Stream, and their eleven (11) sub-categories into a single stream with a single application form and set of qualification criteria. Details on the new stream will be released by the provincial government around the time of its opening on January 2. Reportedly, those details will include the eligibility requirements and new applicable quotas.

The current Self-Employed Farmer Stream will remain unchanged and continue to operate under the current applications process and qualification criteria.

Alberta Express Entry Stream

Also slated to be operational in January, Alberta will add an Express Entry Stream through which the province will select candidates from the federal Express Entry pool.  The AINP is designed to provide a route for foreign nationals in eligible occupations already residing and working in Canada temporarily to seek permanent residence in Alberta. Eligible occupations include most occupations in the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill levels 0, A, B, C, and D. Various education, work experience, income, and language requirements apply.

Action Items

Individuals who are interested in settling in Alberta Canada should reach out to their immigration advisor at McCown & Evans for further assistance.