The immigration environment today has become a scene of shifting sands as legal and political landscapes continue to change. This has put compliance at the forefront for every business that hires foreign nationals and uses cross-border employee transfers to support critical business missions. Much like tax, there is not much in immigration that is globally consistent. Every jurisdiction is a unique environment with specific work and employment requirements and options that need to be explored, usually on a case by case basis. 

Amy Kobler, one of Plus's Consulting Services experts, has some great information to catch you up on the latest immigration happenings that might impact your global mobility programs:

What’s Trending in Immigration?

As Covid numbers are waning, people are starting to feel more comfortable traveling. This lends itself to more assignments, international moves, and a checkup to see how global immigration networks are faring.

Envoy Global released their 2022 Immigration Trends Report and announced that green card sponsorships are stabilizing and remain critical to retaining foreign talent, with 82% of employers predicting higher than projected sponsorship levels of foreign national employees. It appears immigration will be increasing as the pandemic slows and employers look to diversify their talent pools. With this in mind, let’s dive into some location-specific details.

  • United States – The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the H-1B, the non-immigrant visa for highly-educated workers coming to the U.S. to work in specialty occupations, has reached its cap for the 2023 fiscal year.  Non-selection notices were sent to the petitioners who did not receive acceptance to the H-1B program. The USCIS reserves 65,000 H-1B visas for the regular cap and an additional 20,000 for the master’s cap.
  • Singapore – Starting on September 1st, the monthly salary for employment pass, the pass that allows foreign nationals to work in Singapore, increased from SGD 4,500 to SGD 5,000 (SGD 5,000 to SGD 5,500 in the finance sector). Employers must meet this new minimum wage for employees before renewal applications in September of 2023. Also beginning in 2023, Singapore will launch a new 5-year pass intended for “top global talent” called the Overseas Network & Expertise Pass. This pass will be for field leaders, and they must earn at least SGD 30,000 per month.
  • Japan – The Japanese government has announced that they will now be accepting short-term stay visa applications for U.S. and Canadian nationals. The eVisa application will permit a 90-day stay applicable for business travel, visiting relatives, or tourism.
  • China – The Chinese embassies in many countries have announced that valid APEC business travel card holders and those with student visas/permits will now be permitted to enter China. They will also resume issuing X1 student visas and S1/2 visas to dependents. These changes will ease restrictions for entrance into China.
  • United Arab Emirates – The UAE government is looking to create a more dynamic labor market and will be introducing three new types of visas to encourage new job seekers, investors, and entrepreneurs to enter the country without sponsorship. This will allow trainees with a sponsor to enter for educational and internship opportunities. These new visas will also allow immigrants to stay in the country longer since they do not require a sponsor for employment.
  • Switzerland – Less than 50% of Switzerland’s work permit quotas had been utilized by the mid-year mark. Newland Chase reported that a particularly low number of UK nationals have been utilizing the work quotas which is abnormal for the time of year and are continuing to monitor as the year progresses.
  • Ireland – Irish government will be implementing a new law that is intended to streamline the Employment Permit system. They will be introducing a seasonal employment permit and will make changes to enhance the program and increase efficiency.
  • Netherlands – The Dutch Immigration Authority (IND) has considered the longer wait times at IND desks and Expat Centers and decided that non-visa nationals are permitted to work as Highly Skilled Migrants for up to four months from their date of approval. These migrants can work without a residence permit or residency endorsement sticker for this period.
  • Canada – Canadian Immigration Minister Fraser has announced that a taskforce is planning on hiring up to 1,250 new employees to tackle the current immigration backlog and modernize Immigrations, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) operations. They plan to welcome over 300,000 new permanent residents and approve hundreds of thousands of permits for work and study as well as authorization for emergency travel for Ukrainian citizens into Canada.
  • Mexico – The National Immigration Institute has initiated a test program in two airports in Guadalajara and Cancun to speed up the entrance of foreign nationals into the country. According to Newland Chase, the program applies to visitors and foreigners who enter to do “their local registry processes.”

Given the constantly changing nature of things these days, we highly recommend reviewing any global mobility inquiries on a case-by-case basis, including any consulate-specific or immigration authority resources, in “real-time” before traveling internationally. Tracking the changes occurring around the world, along with where your people are has never been more challenging or important.