Global Updates – Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, and United Kingdom
PORTUGAL – New Immigration Law Introduces EU Intra-Corporate Transfer Permit
Law no. 102/2017 of 28 August 2017 transposes into Portuguese 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” by introducing a new residence permit category for intra-corporate transfer (ICT).
This new law also adopts into Portuguese law, Directive 2014/36/EU on the conditions of entry and stay of third-country nationals for the purpose of employment as seasonal workers, as well as Directive 2016/801/EU on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of research, studies, training, voluntary service, pupil exchange schemes or educational projects and au pairing.
The new law will fully enter into force once implementation procedures have been published, which must be done by 28 November 2017.
ICT Residence Permit
The new ICT residence permit is available to third-country nationals transferred to work in Portugal within the same group of companies as managers, specialists and trainees.
A holder of intra-company transfer residence permit issued in Portugal 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 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 intra-company transfer residence permit issued in another EU member state can work at a company of the same group in Portugal for up to 90 days without obtaining a separate permit.
For assignments of more than 90 days in Portugal, a holder of an intra-company transfer residence permit issued in another EU member state can apply for a residence permit for long-term mobility.
Further details of qualifying criteria and benefits will be available closer to the implementation date in late November 2017.
Employers intending to transfer third-country nationals to Portugal from outside the EU within the same group of companies should consult with their immigration advisor at McCown & Evans to confirm the latest requirements.
SAUDI ARABIA – Validity of Block Visas Reduced to One Year
Effective immediately, companies in Saudi Arabia will have to utilize their block visas more quickly in order to hire foreign employees. The Saudi Ministry of Labor has announced that it is reducing the validity period of its block visas from two (2) years to one (1) year. Thus, companies now have just one (1) year to recruit and hire the needed foreign workers before their block visa automatically expires.
Only block visas for foreign domestic workers and those employed by Saudi government agencies are exempt from the new shorter validity period.
Block Visa Scheme
Block visas are the primary basis by which companies bring foreign workers to the Kingdom. Under the scheme, employers receive a pre-approved “block” of visas to hire foreign workers. With these recent changes, employers will now have just one (1) year for each block visa in which to recruit and hire workers and then apply for work visas at the Saudi overseas consular posts in the workers’ home country.
Companies relying on foreign labor may want to reexamine their recruitment and hiring processes to ensure that they are ready to proceed with the immigration procedures for their prospective foreign workers immediately upon receipt of the company’s block visas.
Companies should also involve their immigration advisors at McCown & Evans early in the workforce planning process. This will help ensure that they are aware of the company’s hiring plans and ready to obtain the necessary work visas through the Saudi consulates in the new employees’ countries of residence.
The move to shorten the validity period of block visas is reportedly part of the ongoing efforts to encourage the hiring of Saudi citizens and reduce local unemployment. The move comes ahead of a scheduled increase in work permit fees slated for 2018. Whether the change in validity period will affect any new block visa fee remains undetermined.
SINGAPORE – Detailed Recruitment Questions Added to Employment Pass Application Form
Effective immediately, and without any official announcement, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has added several questions to the online form for initial Employment Pass (EP) applications, requiring sponsoring employers to give additional, detailed information about their recruitment practices.
The changes may cause delays with applications which have not yet been submitted, as additional information on the recruitment process will need to be gathered.
What has changed?
The additional questions on the Employment Pass online application form are as follows:
- Has your firm searched for candidates for this job using other recruitment methods and channels?
- Has your firm considered other candidates for the job?
- Please provide the number of Singapore citizens, permanent residents and foreigners who (a) applied for this job, (b) were interviewed for this job, (c) were offered this job, and (d) were hired for this job.
- How did your firm source for this EP applicant?
Employers applying for initial Employment Passes for foreign national employees in Singapore must keep detailed records of all applicants for any position, to enable them to answer the new questions on the online application form.
SWEDEN – New Intra-Corporate Transfer Permit Announced for March 2018
The Swedish Migration Agency has announced that it plans to implement 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” from 1 March 2018, including an online application procedure.
The new intra-corporate transfer (ICT) work and residence permit will be available to third-country nationals transferred to work in Sweden within the same group of companies, as managers, specialists and trainees.
A holder of an ICT permit issued in Sweden 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 Sweden for up to 90 days without obtaining a separate permit. For assignments of more than 90 days in Sweden, a holder of an EU ICT permit issued in another EU member state can apply for a work and residence permit for long-term mobility.
Employers intending to transfer third-country nationals to Sweden from outside the EU within the same group of companies after 1 March 2018 should consult an immigration expert to confirm the latest details of the new ICT permit.
UNITED KINGDOM – Government Doubles Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visas
The UK Home Office has announced that the number of visas available annually through the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route is increasing from 1000 to 2000.
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas are available to non-EEA nationals who are recognized as existing global leaders or promising future leaders in the digital technology, science, arts and creative sectors by one of five UK endorsing organizations:
- Tech City UK;
- Arts Council England;
- The British Academy;
- The Royal Society; and
- The Royal Academy of Engineering.
The current allocation of 1000 visas – which is split between the five endorsing organizations – will remain, and the additional places will be made available across all the endorsing bodies dependent on need.
Non-EEA nationals considering the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category should consult with their immigration advisor at McCown & Evans for the latest advice on eligibility.