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Immigration and Global Mobility Update

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See below our Immigration and Global Mobility Update, which shows the changes in global mobility and immigration from around the world over the past few months. We aim to update you regularly.


Austria releases new list of privileged immigration professions for 2020

In general, third country nationals who intend to work and live in Austria for a period exceeding six months, must achieve a certain minimum number of ‘points’ in a special Federal system, which awards points according to special qualifications and skills, work experience, language skills and age of the nationals.

However, for certain occupational groups, the generally required minimum number of points is reduced to facilitate the immigration of well-qualified key workers to Austria. A list of privileged occupational groups is issued every year by the competent Federal Ministry. For 2020 the following occupational groups are privileged for immigration to Austria:

  • graduate engineers, especially in mechanical engineering, heavy current engineering, data processing, light current engineering and communications engineering and economics;
  • social scientists;
  • economists;
  • scientific statisticians;
  • chartered accountants;
  • medical doctors.



2020 salary thresholds for work permits in Flanders 

Non-EEA and non-Swiss employees must obtain authorisation to work in Belgium (work permit up to 90 days; single permit if more than 90 days). In our previous Alert we updated you on the salary thresholds in Brussels and Wallonia. In Flanders, however, lower thresholds for 2020 apply:

  • highly skilled employees: EUR 42,696/EUR 34,156.80 (for under 30s) gross compared to EUR 42,869 gross in Brussels and Wallonia;
  • European Blue card: EUR 51,235 gross compared to EUR 55,431 gross in Brussels and Wallonia;
  • leading personnel: EUR 68,314 gross compared to EUR 71,521 gross in Brussels and Wallonia.



New online travel authorisation system for foreign nationals in Chile

From 4 November 2019, the Department of Foreign Affairs has put in place an online system to request a travel authorisation for foreign nationals whose visa or permanent residence is still being processed.

Applications must be submitted at least five days and no more than 20 days before the travel date.


Employees in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan must now join mainland China social insurance

From 1 January 2020,employers are required to contribute mainland social insurance (all five categories) for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan (‘HMT’) employees under what are known as the Interim Measures. The social insurance application and contribution procedures for HMT employees are the same as those for mainland employees.

However, if HMT employees have already participated in the local HMT social insurance scheme and can provide relevant certificates to demonstrate this, the employer should only contribute medical, maternity and work injury insurance for these employees on the mainland.


Croatia to implement the Posted Workers Directive

In mid-January 2020, a proposal for legislation to implement the Posted Workers Directive (Directive (EU) 2018/957 amending Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of employees in the framework of the provision of services) was put into the public consultations procedure.

According to the published proposal, this legislation will be adopted and become effective in Croatia on 30 July 2020.

The aim of this new legislation is to provide a higher level of protection for employees posted or assigned to Croatia from abroad (with a temporary exemption for road transport employees). It is also designed to prevent and combat abuse and circumvention of the applicable rules on posting of employees by certain service providers more efficiently.


New minimum salary limits for third-country nationals under Pay Limit Scheme and for foreign researchers and highly-paid employees under special tax scheme

Under the Danish Pay Limit Scheme, third-country nationals can qualify for a residence and work permit if the job offered meets a specific requirement for annual salary.

The minimum amount under the Pay Limit Scheme is adjusted annually on 1 January to reflect the overall evolution of wages in Denmark. With effect from 1 January 2020, the minimum salary that a third-country national must earn to qualify for a residence and work permit is adjusted to DKK 436,000 (approximately EUR 58,345) per year. This only applies for applications submitted on or after 1 January 2020.

In addition, foreign researchers and highly paid employees meeting specified requirements, including a requirement for minimum salary, qualify for a special tax scheme. With effect from 1 January 2020, the minimum salary under this tax scheme is adjusted to DKK 68,100 (approximately EUR 9,113) per month.


Does the Posted Workers Directive apply to ‘highly mobile workers’?

On 19 December 2019, the European Court of Justice ruled that the Posted Workers Directive does not apply to on-board cleaning or catering services for passengers on internationals trains if the workers carry out most of the work in one state where they begin and end their shift.

A Hungarian company provided on-board services (such as provision of food and drink) on international trains linking Austria or Germany to Budapest (Hungary), the station of departure and terminus, using workers living in Hungary.

Following an inspection in Austria, the managing director of the Hungarian company was found guilty of non-compliance with the Austrian obligations when posting workers to Austria.

The Court of Justice ruled, however, that a worker cannot be considered as being ‘posted’ to the territory of a member state if his or her work does not have a sufficient connection with the territory of that member state.

As a result, the Hungarian workers who carry out a significant part of their work in Hungary and only ‘cross’ Austria by train do not have a sufficient connection with Austria to be considered posted workers under the Posted Workers Directive.

ECJ, Michael Dobersberger v Magistrat der Stadt Wien, case C-16/18


The UK leaves the EU with a deal: what are the consequences for UK workers in the EU?

On 29 January 2020, the EU Parliament approved the Withdrawal Agreement.

As a result, although the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, UK nationals may continue to work and live in the EU until the end of the transition period. The transition period runs until 31 December 2020, but could potentially be extended up to a maximum of two years.

UK workers (and their family members) who have exercised their right of residence in a member state in accordance with EU law before the end of the transition period may continue to live and work in that member state after the transition period.

The EU social security coordination rules will also continue to apply during the transition period.

UK nationals arriving after the transition period will be subject to local immigration rules, unless a new agreement between the EU (for the relevant member state) and the UK is agreed.


Finland implements new EESSI system for exchanging social security information

EESSI is a new IT system (Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information), which has been established for streamlining the information flow between social security authorities of EU Member States to improve the fulfilment of individual’s social security rights and information security in cross-border social security cases.

Approximately 15,000 executing social security organisations in 32 countries will gradually implement EESSI system, which is to replace the current paper-based information exchange between the authorities. In Finland, implementation started at the end of 2019.

For social security benefits, the EESSI-system contains electronic messages in every language of the EU corresponding with each other. This ensures that social security related information is processed in a uniform manner and in accordance with the mutually agreed practices across different EU Member States.

The implementation of the new system does not cause any changes or have any effect for individuals or companies.


Tax break for workers returning or moving to Italy brought forward and increased

In the Tax decree of 25 December 2019 linked to the Budget Law for 2020, which has now been converted into law, tax benefits for workers returning from abroad (known as the ‘brain return’ benefits) have been brought forward.

These benefits were recently extended by the ‘Crescita decree’ (D.L. n. 34/2019); the percentage of tax-exempt income rises from 50 to 70% for individuals who move back to Italy from 1 January 2020. In addition, the duration of this benefit can be up to ten years instead of five in cases where workers have children under 18 years old or if they buy a property in Italy, especially in the regions of Southern Italy.

The amendment introduced guarantees that these benefits apply not only to Italians and foreign workers who transfer their residence to Italy starting from 1 January 2020, but also to those who have already done so since 30 April 2019.


Registration requirements for foreign nationals arriving in Kazakhstan waived

From 10 January 2020, foreign nationals are no longer required to register with the internal affairs authority in Kazakhstan. The administrative fine for repeated failure to register over the course of a year is also no longer in force. This change has been made to create favourable conditions for foreign nationals arriving in Kazakhstan.

Nevertheless, the host party (such as the employer or hotel) must notify the internal affairs authority about foreign nationals staying with them. If a foreign national needs to stay in Kazakhstan for more than 30 days, the host party must execute a temporary residence permit.


Netherlands implements obligation to notify posted workers

As of 1 March 2020, an employer that posts a worker in the Netherlands must notify the Dutch authorities of the fact, following the Dutch implementation of the Enforcement Directive (article 9, section 1).

Additionally, the Dutch government has launched a new website. Notifications can be made through this website. The website also contains general information on posted workers as described in article 5 of the Enforcement Directive.


New salary thresholds for migrants to the Netherlands

From 1 January 2020, the following highly skilled migrant salary thresholds apply:

Salary requirement for highly skilled migrants over 30: EUR 4,612 gross per month excluding holiday allowance;

Salary requirement for highly skilled migrants younger than 30 years old: EUR 3381 gross per month excluding holiday allowance;

Salary requirement for highly skilled migrants after graduation: EUR 2,423 gross per month excluding holiday allowance;

European blue card holders: EUR 5,403 gross per month excluding holiday allowance.


New working holiday programme for Japanese and Taiwanese nationals in the Netherlands

From 1 April 2020 young people from Japan and Taiwan aged 18 to 30 can get to know Dutch culture and society on a working holiday international exchange programme of up to one year. From the same date, Dutch young people can spend a maximum of one year on a working holiday and get to know Japanese or Taiwanese culture and society. The Japanese or Taiwanese participants on the Working Holiday Programme (WHP) can follow a short course in the Netherlands and carry out temporary paid work to financially support their holiday. They do not need to have a work permit.


Romania sets new quota admitting 30,000 foreign workers in 2020

The quota of foreign workers newly admitted on the Romanian labour market is established annually by Government Decision, following the proposal of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection.

The current decision setting a quota of 30,000 foreign workers was made taking into account Romania’s potential for economic development, as well as the need to ensure the labour force required in some sectors of activity or professions, which cannot be covered by Romanian workforce.

The measure adopted by the Government took into account the data communicated by the General Inspectorate for Immigration, according to which, from 1 January to 30 September 2019, 21,366 permits for foreign employees were issued, twice as many as in the the whole of 2018.

In addition, according to the data provided by the National Agency for Workforce Employment, between January and August 2019, employers repeatedly declared 97,003 jobs as vacant, in comparison with 63,819 job vacancies, during the same reference period in 2018.

By promoting legal migration for the benefit of the Romanian society, as well as for the benefit of the immigrants and their states of origin, the main objective of the Romanian authorities is to maximise the positive effects and limit the negative effects of migration for work/employment purposes.


Swedish Migration Board still struggling with processing times for work permit applications

Despite efforts from the Swedish Migration Board to shorten the processing times for work permit applications, the applicant and his or her employer may find themselves waiting for several months or almost up to one year before the Swedish Migration Board takes a decision. As qualified and skilled employees are crucial for many businesses, the general recommendation is to submit the work permit application through a company that is certified by the Migration Board (such as Elmzell). A complete application will then normally be processed within ten to 20 days.


Applying under the UK’s EU Settlement Scheme from abroad

EEA/Swiss citizens and their family members who are living outside the UK temporarily should be reminded that they can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme without having to return to the UK.

Eligibility to apply from abroad has not been well-publicised, however the Home Office has confirmed that applicants must use the EU Exit ID Document Check App in all cases if applying from abroad. This can be downloaded from the Google Play or Apple App Store within the EEA and can then be used anywhere in the world. Individuals who cannot download the app because they are outside the EEA should seek advice on their options on a case-by-case basis.

All applicants must also prove their identity (and relationship in the case of family members), show that they have been living in the UK by 31 December 2020 and declare any criminal convictions.

EEA/Swiss citizens must verify their identity using a national passport or identity card containing a biometric chip. Non-EEA/Swiss family members must use their UK residence card containing a biometric chip.

Where the app fails to scan an identity document correctly, an EEA/Swiss applicant is allowed to post their identity document to the Home Office in the UK for verification, provided their national government does allows the document to be posted across international borders. Non-EEA applicants should seek advice from the EU Settlement Resolution Centre and should not post their document to the Home Office in the UK.


Visa-free regime for British citizens in Ukraine extended past Brexit

On 29 January 2020, the President of Ukraine issued an order (No. 28/2020) extending the visa-free regime for British citizens until 30 January 2021. During this transition period, Ukraine and the UK will negotiate a trade deal including provisions on travelling between the two countries. It is expected that the visa-free regime for the British citizens will be permanent, while Ukraine will ask the UK to soften its visa rules for Ukrainian citizens.

Up until Brexit, British citizens enjoyed visa-free entry to Ukraine (90 days within a 180-day period) as EU citizens. With the UK leaving the EU, they cannot enjoy this benefit any more. This is why Ukraine has unilaterally extended the visa-free regime for the transition period until 30 January 2021.

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Sophie Maes has been a partner at our Belgium firm, Claeys & Engels, since 2009. Within Ius Laboris she is member of the Executive Committee and chairs the Global Mobility and Immigration Expert Group.

Sophie Maes
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