There were many significant changes amongst the APAC region last year including the new 10 year visitor visa announced in Australia, the increase in employment pass salary requirements in Singapore and recommendations from the Audit Commission to help the Hong Kong Immigration Department.
A new Frequent Traveller stream of the Subclass 600 visitor visa, allowing multiple entries for business or tourism for up to three months at a time, came into place on 19th November.
In June we published changes to the Subclass 457 Accredited Sponsorship criteria which came into effect from 1st July.
Certain Chinese nationals applying for work visas to Australia will no longer require Labour Market Testing (LMT) under the terms of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), which came into effect on 20th December 2015.
The Indonesian immigration authorities prohibited third-party agents from representing companies or assignees at immigration offices to obtain visas and permits. The order came into effect on the 14th November.
In May recommendations were proposed by the Audit Commission in Hong Kong to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of The Hong Kong Immigration Department (HKID), having been questioned over the past decade. The Commission”s aim was to find ways to improve the current procedures.
On 1st July 2016, the levies for work permits and S Passes increased by up to 18%. Foreign workers in the services and construction sectors were affected by these increases, as well as S Pass holders.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Singapore also decided to raise the bar for the income criteria for Employment Pass (EP) applications from $3300 to $3600 which came into on 1st January 2017, to keep in line with the rise in local wages and to sustain the quality of the foreign workforce.