Global Immigration Updates | Week of 1 March 2021

March 5, 2021

CHINA: New Policies to Attract Foreign Talent to Shanghai

Effective 1 March 2021, Shanghai authorities have expanded the definition of high-level talents.

High-level talent now includes scientific research workers and fresh PhD graduates in disciplines including science, engineering and agriculture.

These foreign nationals can now apply directly for the R visa and benefit from a streamlined process for visa application.

The requirements regarding age, educational background, and years of work experience for foreign talent in certain scientific and technological sectors will also be relaxed where there is an urgent need for such professionals.

For talents in the technology sector who specialize in fields where there is an urgent demand and for those holding internationally recognized certificates for their professional skills, the age limit may be relaxed to 70.

SAUDI ARABIA: New Foreign Worker Sponsorship Rules Take Effect 14 March 2021

Effective 14 March 2021, the Labor Reform Initiative (LRI) takes effect. The LRI replaces the existing kafala sponsorship system, regulating the mobility of foreign workers.

The existing system requires foreign workers to obtain permission from their employers (or sponsors) to change jobs or to travel out of the country.

Under the LRI, foreign workers are permitted to leave their jobs without the consent of their employer upon expiry of their employment contract. If they have been in Saudi for at least one year and have given 90 days’ notice to their employer, they can leave their job before the contract expires without the employer’s permission.

Moreover, under certain conditions, foreign workers may change jobs within the first year of employment.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has established an online portal where both workers and employers can submit notifications, job offers and transfer requests (previously only permitted for employers).

Under the LRI, the employer’s permission is no longer required to leave or re-enter the country. Workers may instead make the request themselves online. The Saudi authorities may refuse exit if any debts or fines are outstanding.  If approved, the employer will receive an automatic notification

Similarly, an employer-signed “final exit visa” is no longer required for a foreign worker to return to their home country.

Other regulations governing the employment of foreign workers remain in effect, including the Nitaqat program of Saudization, which gives companies privileges, requirements, or limitations in the visa process for their foreign workers, based on the percentage of their workforce made up of Saudi nationals.

Note that, effective January 2021, private sector employers with at least 5 engineering jobs must set aside at least 20% of these positions for Saudi nationals.

SINGAPORE: Updated Work Arrangements for Dependant’s Pass Holders

Effective 1 May 2021, all Dependant’s Pass (DP) holders who wish to be employed during their stay in Singapore will need an applicable work pass, such as an Employment Pass (EP), S Pass or Work Permit, instead of a Letter of Consent to Work (LOC).

Existing LOC holders may continue to work until the expiry of their LOCs. If the existing LOC holders wish to continue working after the expiry of their LOCs, their employers will need to apply for an applicable work pass for them. Should the existing LOC holders and their employers wish to do so, Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will facilitate their transition to a work pass. However, please note that the qualifying salary, dependency ratio ceilings, and/or levies for the respective work passes will apply.

Should the affected employers wish to continue employing their existing LOC holders after the expiry of their LOCs, they should start assessing the work pass eligibility of their existing LOC holders to make sure that the prevailing criteria for the respective work passes are met.

Affected employers are advised to start the work pass applications for their existing LOC holders early, so that they can secure the In-Principle Approval (IPA) in time before the expiry of the existing LOCs.

As per the current requirements of the Fair Consideration Frameworks (FCF), S Pass and EP applications that are submitted for existing LOC holders before the expiry of the LOC is exempted from job advertising requirements.

LOC or Pre-approved Letter of Consent (PLOC )of Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) holders who are spouses or children of Singapore citizens and Singapore PR are not affected.

UNITED STATES: Ebola Border Measures

Effective 5 March 2021, to limit the spread of Ebola virus into the United States, international flights carrying individuals recently present in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or the Republic of Guinea within 21 days prior to entry in the US are only permitted to arrive at the following US airports:

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (New York);
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (Illinois);
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Georgia);
  • Washington-Dulles International Airport (Virginia);
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (New Jersey); and
  • Los Angeles International Airport (California).

Our Advice

Employers who may be affected by any of these immigration changes are encouraged to contact Newland Chase for case-specific advice.