- Jurisdictions around the world continue to adapt their coronavirus-related travel restrictions and quarantine measures, and many have implemented extension policies and other concessions. Visit WesternTASA’s COVID-19 website for the latest immigration updates.
- Foreign nationals and their employers can expect immigration processing delays over the coming weeks in the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and parts of Asia during the observance of Eid-al-Fitr.
- United States: Effective May 4, foreign nationals who have been physically present in India within 14 days of travel to the United States are barred from entry, unless they qualify for an exception. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is soon expected to suspend the in-person biometrics requirement for H-4, L-2, and E spousal non-immigrants seeking employment authorization documents (EADs).
- United Kingdom: The UK and Indian governments have committed to creating a Young Professionals Scheme which would allow graduates aged 18-30 or applicants in this age group with comparable professional experience to obtain a two-year visa.
- Post-Brexit: Denmark and Luxembourg updated their Brexit guidance related to cross-border and posted workers. Check this consolidated alert for further details.
- These items and other news from Ireland, Seychelles, South Korea, and the United States follow in this edition of the WesternTASA Immigration Update.
Important updates in immigration this week
United Kingdom, May 6, 2021
Young Professionals Scheme for Indian Nationals Forthcoming
- The UK and Indian governments have committed to creating a new visa scheme, the Young Professionals Scheme, which would be available to graduates aged 18-30 or applicants in this age group with comparable professional experience.
- Successful applicants will receive a two-year permit which allows work and stay in the host country.
- Though this program is innovative, the impact of it is low in the United Kingdom, considering the country already receives 53,000 Indian students per year, most of whom will qualify to remain for two years after completing their degree under the Graduate route, which is being launched July 1, 2021.
- The Indian government has not confirmed the details of this program.
United States, May 4, 2021
USCIS Is Expected to Suspend Biometrics Collection for Some H-4, L-2 and E Spousal Employment Authorization Applicants
- USCIS is expected to announce soon that it will not require biometrics from certain applicants for H-4, L-2, and E spousal employment authorization documents (EADs), starting May 17, 2021 and lasting through May 23, 2022.
- Until an official announcement is made, applicants for H-4 and L-2 EADs should plan to attend any scheduled USCIS biometrics appointment.
Worldwide, May 4, 2021
Immigration Processing Delays Expected During Eid-al-Fitr
Foreign nationals and their employers can expect immigration processing delays in mid-May in the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and parts of Asia during the observance Eid-al-Fitr, in addition to the delays already caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
United States, April 30, 2021
President Biden Adds India to the List of COVID-19 Public Health Travel Ban Countries
- President Biden has issued a proclamation imposing a COVID-19 public health travel ban on foreign nationals with recent physical presence in India. This same type of travel ban is already in effect for Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, countries in the European Schengen Area, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
- Starting at 12:01 am EDT on May 4, 2021, foreign nationals who have been physically present in India within 14 days of travel to the United States will be barred from entry, unless they qualify for an exception.
- Consular operations in India are at a significantly reduced capacity due to the COVID pandemic, so those seeking exceptions to the new ban from a U.S. consulate are likely to experience delays and challenges.
Ireland/United States: Online Passport Applications Now Available – Applicants in the United States can now apply for Irish passports online, where these previously required a hard copy application. Eligible applicants benefit from a streamlined application process. Irish authorities are modernizing the passport service and seek to make it more accessible to individuals within the Irish community globally.
Seychelles: Remote Working Permit Launched – Seychelles launched its remote working permit (Visitors’ Workcation Permit) aimed at attracting self-employed travellers, freelancers or foreign nationals employed by a company abroad to live and work remotely in the country. It is issued for up to 12 months and is renewable. Eligible foreign nationals must submit proof of being a business owner or an employee; proof of source of income and or wealth; and a valid medical and travel insurance policy. Permit holders are not permitted to enter the local labour market. The launch of the new remote working permit is expected to assist in the recovery of the tourism sector which has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Seychelles is following the footsteps of Mauritius, which launched a similar scheme in October 2020.
South Korea: Electronic Travel Authorization System to Enable Visa-Free Entry to Certain Foreign Nationals – South Korea launched an Electronic Travel Authorisation system (K-ETA) pilot to allow visa-free entry to foreign nationals of 21 countries. The four-month pilot, which launched on May 3, is expected to run through August. It is anticipated that the new system will then be fully implemented starting September 1, 2021. During the pilot period, eligible visa-free nationals can enter South Korea without obtaining the ETA. They would, however, be required to obtain the ETA to travel visa free to Korea once the system is fully implemented on September 1, 2021. As the pandemic situation improves globally, South Korea is expected to lift the visa-free entry restriction on certain countries whose nationals would then be able to resume traveling to South Korea without a visa and after obtaining the ETA. Eligible travellers will need to apply for the ETA online or via an app at least 24 hours before traveling to South Korea. The application will cost KRW 10,000 (about USD 9), and the ETA is valid for two years from the issue date on a multiple-entry basis. Certain travellers, such as APEC business card (ABTC) holders and transit travellers, will be exempt from the ETA requirement.