Americas: 2016 Round-up

January 5, 2017

The election of the new President of the USA, Donald Trump, dominated headlines at the end of last year due to his administration’s immigration policies. However, there were also a number of changes across the region including the introduction of new work permits in Canada and a number of Latin American countries providing visa-free entry to increase business and tourism to their countries. 

North America


Donald Trump becoming the new President of the United States was certainly huge news for not just North America but the entire World, and it was largely publicised that President-elect Trump and his new administration would not only focus on illegal immigration, but also on legal business immigration, this was discussed in detail in our article at the end of last month.

In April, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection introduced new steps in the entry clearance process for Chinese visa holders to facilitate their entry to the USA.

Due to changes in US immigration law, all passports holders are now required to hold a biometric passport in order to gain entry.  The Department of Homeland Security announced that from 1st April 2016, individuals travelling to the US without a biometric passport will no longer be able to enter the US under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).


At the beginning of last month, Immigration Minister John McCallum confirmed that government will introduce new work permit programs aimed at supporting high growth companies in attracting highly skilled talent from around the world.

On 15th March 2016, the Canadian government will enforce the new Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) program. The eTA process came into effect in August 2015 but was not mandatory until 15th March 2016. This was then extended until 9th November as highlighted in a more recent article

The Government of Canada also made changes to the Express Entry immigration program that are designed to level the playing field between various types of work permit holders who apply for permanent residence.  The new rules comes into effect on 19th November 2016.

At the end of December, the Canadian government cancelled a regulation that restricted most temporary foreign workers from staying in Canada for more than four years.  


South America

Brazil & Chile

Brazil, Chile and Morocco signed the Apostille Convention back in August, which eliminated the need for consular legalisation of public documents. This came into for Morocco and Brazil on 14th August and Chile on 30th August 2016.


On 14th March 2016, the European Union (EU) signed a short-stay visa-waiver agreement with Peru on behalf of its Schengen Area Member States, allowing Peruvians to enter any Schengen Area country visa-free.

From 21st September 2016, qualifying Chinese nationals were able to enter Peru visa-free for business or tourism, for one or more stays totalling up to 180 days per six months.

To qualify, Chinese nationals must hold permanent residence or a visa valid for at least six months for Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, or a Schengen Area country.


On 17th May it was announced that additional categories of visa-required nationals were now exempt from obtaining a visa to enter Mexico for visits of up to 180 days (six months).

Prior to the change this exemption only applied to valid visa holders for the US and permanent residents of certain countries, these countries and the full article on the above can be found on here.


On 2nd February 2016, the Colombian government authorised certain nationals of Colombia and Myanmar to enter Colombia without a visa. The Colombian government also decided to issue Schengen nationals with PIP-5 entry and stay permits instead of the PIP-10 category introduced in November 2015.