2016 saw big changes across the EMEA region, with the new Posted Workers and ICT Directive. Other big news across the region was that the UK voted to leave the EU and countries across the Middle East implemented stricter regulations for foreign workers.
In 2016, two EU Directives pertaining to immigration were due to be transposed into national legislation by the Member States. New Document Regulations & Visa Waiver Agreements were also implemented.
The Enforcement Directive on the Posting of Workers
Directive 2014/67/EU (the so-called Enforcement Directive) was approved in 2014 with the aim of strengthening the practical application of the 1996 Posting of Workers Directive, by addressing issues related to fraud, the circumvention of rules, and the exchange of information between the Member States.
The Enforcement Directive was due to be implemented into the national legislation of the Member States by 18th June 2016, but at the time of writing only half of the 28 Member States had fully or partially implemented its provisions.
The EU ICT Directive
Directive 2014/66/EC of 15th May 2014 “on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer” aimed to create a consistent EU-wide system for non-EU nationals sent on assignment within a group of companies to the EU Member States. The United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark opted out of the directive.
The deadline for the EU Member States to transpose this directive into their national legislation was 29th November 2016. However, as of the time of writing, only six Member States have implemented the directive.
In light of the migrant crisis, tighter border controls were implemented between Schengen states. Travellers within the Schengen zone were advised that they may face delays at border crossings due to passport control and should, therefore, ensure that they carry all required documentation such as passport, Schengen visa or residence permit if applicable whenever travelling between Schengen countries. We covered this in January and announced the New Schengen Borders Code in April.
In January, we provided a Summary of Tier 2 MAC Recommendations.
In June, following the referendum that saw the majority of the British public vote to leave the EU, we explained how this could affect UK Nationals Living in the EU and EU Nationals Residing in the UK.
In July, the Home Office announced Significant Changes to the Immigration Act 1971, which introduces a new illegal working offence for migrants and an amended illegal employment offence for employers.
In November, the Home Office published a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules.
In December, we reported on a Potential Deal for EU Expats to Continue Living in the UK.
The French government published the first Decree that will implement the Law on Foreign Workers of 7th March 2016. The Decree came into effect on 1st November 2016 and applies mainly to two immigration categories and one work permit exemption.
In August, Israel”s Prime Minister appointed a special commission, consisting of high-ranking officials from the Ministry of the Economy and Industry and the Ministry of the Interior, which will be tasked with attracting foreign technology specialists to Israel.
Since 19th February 2016, foreign nationals applying for an initial or renewal Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS) work permit to Russia must hold a passport valid for one year, rather than the three years validity currently required.
On 16th December 2016, a new immigration Law was passed with the aim of preventing a deeper dispute with the European Union and to avoid endangering Switzerland”s access to the single market.
Bahrain”s Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) announced that a new flexible work permit will be introduced and will be available exclusively to workers who have overstayed their visa due to being exploited by their employers.
At the end of the year, Qatar formally announced the end of its labour sponsorship system that requires foreign workers to seek their employer’s permission to change jobs or leave the country.
Saudi Arabia announced the implementation of “Weighted Nitaqat” as an enhanced version of their Nitaqat program. The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Labour (MOL) also introduced a local labour market test, and dramatically increased the fees for several visa types, in an effort to improve the country”s “Saudization” policy.
In September, Turkey made several amendments to the to the 2014 Law on International Protection (Residence Permit Law) via the Law on International Workforce.
On 12th May 2016, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) passed the rule that Dubai will no longer allow visa holders to transfer any employment or dependant visas which have been issued in other emirates.
The Ghanaian Registrar of Companies announced that from August 2016, any local company that fails to file their Annual Return or renew their company registration will be liable for monetary penalties of 300 Ghanaian New Cedi (approximately $76 USD) per day.
Upcoming Reform for Long and Short Term Work Permit Regulations were announced, although we have yet to receive confirmation of any implementation of the changes.
In September 2016, the Federal Ministry of Interior (“FMI”) commissioned 28 new Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Alien Card (CERPAC) production centres across Nigeria, increasing the total number of centres country-wide to 36.
Earlier in October, the new term of the temporary Nigerian visa – for temporary tourists, business and general visitors, was been updated to just 56 days, with various penalties for overstaying.
Since October 2016, hard copy South African Police Clearance Certificates were no longer required for in-country applications.
Earlier in the year, the Minister of the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa announced that business travellers from 3 of the other 4 BRICS countries – Russia, India and China – are eligible to be issued long-term multiple-entry visas (for up to 10 years).