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What’s new in global immigration?

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This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from Canada, Estonia, France / United States, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.

Canada: Changes to inadmissibility fees

Effective 1 December 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has increased the fees for foreign nationals applying to regain their status or to return to Canada after being inadmissible.

  • Authorisation to return to Canada has increased from CAD 400 to CAD 459.55;
  • Rehabilitation for those inadmissible on the grounds of criminality has increased from CAD 200 to CAD 229.77;
  • Rehabilitation for those inadmissible on the grounds of serious criminality has increased from CAD 1000 to CAD 1148.87;
  • Restoration of status as a visitor, worker or student has increased from CAD 200 to CAD 229.77;
  • Restoration of status as a worker with a new work permit has increased from CAD 355 to CAD 384.77;
  • Restoration of status as a student with a new study permit has increased from CAD 350 to CAD 379.77;
  • A temporary resident permit has increased from CAD 200 to CAD 229.77.

These fees will continue to be adjusted annually for inflation every 1 December.

Estonia: Residence permit appointment booking opens

Effective 27 November 2023, applicants can book appointments for submitting applications in December for residence permits on the basis of the 2024 immigration quota.

The recently-announced 2024 quota is 1303 permits, in the following categories:

  • 200 temporary residence permits for employment in the transport and storage sector;
  • 35 temporary residence permits for employment as a journalist accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • 34 temporary residence permits for professional activities as an athlete, coach, sports referee or sports professional at the invitation of the relevant sports federation;
  • 15 temporary residence permits for employment in a performing arts institution as a creative employee within the meaning of the Performing Arts Institutions Act;
  • 5 temporary residence permits on the basis of a treaty;
  • 1,014 temporary residence permits freely distributed.

Some foreign workers are excluded from the quota, including those working in information and communications technology and start-up workers; those in short-term employment or in a growth company; those employed as lecturers, or highly-paid specialists; and family or student migrants. Citizens of the European Union and their family members, citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan, and applicants for international protection are also not included in the quota.

To submit an application for a residence permit at the Police and Border Guard Board (PBGB), an appointment should be booked on the PBGB’s website.

Applicants can also apply for a permit at the nearest Estonian embassy, but the PBGB asks applicants to contact the embassy in advance.

If an applicant for an extension of a residence permit has provided a fingerprint image to the PBGB in the last six years, they may also apply by e-mail or mail.

Important information for employers and foreigners arriving for work:

  • The submission of an application for a first residence permit does not give the applicant a legal basis for stay in the country. If the applicant’s visa or other basis for stay expires before a decision has been made on the application for a residence permit, they must leave Estonia and wait for the decision in their home country. In this case, it may also be necessary to inform the PBGB and amend the place of receipt of the residence card on the application if Estonia was initially indicated as the place of receipt of the document.
  • Russian and Belarusian citizens are still subject to sanctions and will not be issued residence permits for employment or business.
  • A booking is mandatory for a foreign national when submitting an application for a residence permit – the booking is not intended for the employer and cannot be used by the employer for another employee.
  • A booking is only intended for the person in whose name it was registered. An application will not be accepted based on a booking registered in the name of another person.
  • Applicants will not be able to change their booking later. If they cannot arrive at the scheduled appointment, they will have to cancel the appointment and make a new booking.
  • Cancelled bookings will be re-opened in the calendar for everyone to book after a while.

France / United States: Mutual visa agreement for investors

Effective 16 November 2023, a new visa and residence permit mechanism for French and US investors allows US investors and their family members to access a fast-track process for obtaining visas and four-year “passeport talent” residence permits.

At the same time, French citizens wishing to invest in the US are now eligible for US Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas valid for four-years, up from 25 months.

Passeport talent” residence permits allow stays of up to four years for highly-qualified employees, intra-company transferees, employees of “new innovative enterprises”, business creators, investors and performers, among others.

Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation, including France. Applicants must be going to the United States to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country; to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which they have invested a substantial amount of capital; or to fill an executive/supervisory role or provide skills essential to the operations of a firm that qualifies as an E-1 or E-2 business.

Portugal: Automatic extension of immigration documents

Effective immediately, the validity of all immigration documents expiring on or after 10 November 2023 is extended until 30 June 2024.

Moreover, these documents will continue to be accepted after 30 June 2024 if the holder provides proof that they have scheduled their renewal.

The extension has been implemented to help the Portuguese immigration services to clear pending applications for issuance and renewal of residence permits caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responsibility for immigration procedures has recently been transferred from the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) to the Agency for Integration, Migrations and Asylum (AIMA).

Sweden: Temporary passport checkpoints

The Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) will open temporary passport control checkpoints around the world in December 2023.

The temporary checkpoints are open to applicants who

  • live in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Hong Kong, or Taiwan; and
  • have applied for a residence permit to study or work in Sweden; and
  • do not need an entry visa to travel to Sweden.

Applicants for a residence permit as a student or employee who do not need an entry visa to travel to Sweden still need to show their passport in person before they can receive a decision.

Pop-up passport controls are available as follows:

Canada

  • 1 December: University of British Colombia, Vancouver, Canada

USA

  • 2 December: The University of California Berkeley, San Francisco, California, USA
  • 3 December: Honorary Consulate of Sweden in Los Angeles, California, USA
  • 6 December: Honorary Consulate of Sweden in Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • 7 December: Honorary Consulate of Sweden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Brazil

  • 6 December: Honorary Consulate of Sweden in São Paulo, Brazil
  • 7 December: Honorary Consulate of Sweden in São Paulo, Brazil

Taiwan

  • 4 December: Business Sweden in Taipei, Taiwan

Hong Kong

  • 5 December: Consulate-General of Sweden in Hong Kong

No appoint­ment needed:

Those who want to have their passport verified at one of the temporary checkpoints do not need to book an appointment. They also do not have to wait for the Swedish Migration Agency to notify them that it is time to show their passport. If they meet the requirements above, they are welcome to visit any of the temporary locations.

No inter­views at the tempo­rary check­points:

Applicants who need a residence permit card or entry visa to enter Sweden should not visit the temporary checkpoints. They must visit a Swedish embassy or consulate-general as usual to be photographed and leave their fingerprints. The same applies for those who need to be interviewed, for example if they have applied for a residence permit to be reunited with a close relative in Sweden. They should contact the embassy in question for information on how to book an appointment.

Switzerland: Work permit quota unchanged for 2024

On 29 November 2023, the Federal Council decided to leave unchanged work permit quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals and for service providers in 2024. The separate quota for UK nationals will also remain unchanged for now, but will be incorporated into the regular quota for third country nationals in the medium term.

Up to 8500 skilled workers can be recruited from third countries in 2024:

  • 4500 with a category B residence permit;
  • 4000 with a short-term category L permit.

Up to 3500 permits are available to service providers from the EU/EFTA with stays exceeding 90 or 120 days per year:

  • 3000 short-term category L permits;
  • 500 category B permits.

Since 1 January 2021, the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) between Switzerland and the UK no longer applies. UK nationals are therefore now considered third-country nationals. Separate quotas apply to them as a transitional arrangement. According to the Federal Council’s decision, 3,500 permits will be available to this category once again in the coming year:

  • 2100 category B residence permits;
  • 1400 short-term category L permits.

In recent years the quotas have not been fully used. At the end of October 2023, 68% of category B residence permits and 65% of short-term category L permits had been reached for third-country workers. Of the quotas for service providers from the EU/EFTA for a duration of more than 90 and 120 days per year, 36% (B permits) and 45% (L permits) had been reached respectively. In the case of the separate quotas for UK nationals, only 23% of category B permits and 18% of category L permits had been utilised; a comparatively low rate.

Expert advice on global immigration

If you need support with any aspect of global immigration, Smith Stone Walters is here to help.

To speak to a member of our global immigration team, please contact us today.

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