Key changes to immigration regulations in the European Union, Italy, Nigeria, Panama and South Africa

Pro-Link GLOBAL advises of significant changes to the immigration regulations in South Africa, the European Union, Italy, Nigeria and Panama.

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South Africa: All South African visa applications filed in India to be submitted through VFS

Effective 1 June, all South African visas filed in India must be submitted through VFS Global in India. VFS Global is a popular third-party visa and passport processing agency through which several countries outsource many of their consular procedures. VFS Global has long processed short-term visa applications for South Africa; however, before 1 June, the High Commission of South Africa in Mumbai previously maintained authority over all long-term visa applications (including those for employment purposes).Shortly after the 1 June transition, VFS Global made several amendments to the document requirements for Intra-Company Transfer Work Visa applications. Beyond adding a new processing fee of INR 1,382-1,643 (USD $20-25) for all applications, the following new documents and/or information must be provided for the local South African worker as part of the required Skills Transfer Plan documentation:
  • Certified national identification
  • Certified educational qualifications
  • Certified resume
Employers should anticipate a possible delay in processing times due to the transition of all visa applications to VFS Global the increase in application volume.

Immigration changes from around the world

European Union: Document requirements to be eased for citizens of EU member states

The European Parliament recently passed a new regulation that will eventually ease time-consuming and expensive document formalities for citizens of EU countries moving within the EU borders. Currently, vital documents such as birth, marriage, police clearance certificates must be authenticated via Apostille or legalization. The new regulations, passed on 9 June, will eliminate the following document formalities:
  • Vital public documents issued by an EU member state will no longer require an Apostille or legalization to be considered authentic by the receiving EU country;
  • Many vital public documents issued by an EU member state in official or accepted non-official language of the receiving country will no longer require certified translation. Rather, the EU national can attach a new multilingual standard translation aid to the public document.

Italy: Law passes recognizing same-sex marriages officiated abroad

As of 5 June, an Italian law came into force recognizing same-sex civil unions officiated within Italy, as well as same-sex marriages and civil unions officiated outside of Italy. While the law has been published officially, various decrees within Italy have yet to be issued specifying exactly what rights same-sex couples will be granted; same-sex couples will not be given full marriage rights.Traditionally, a same-sex spouse accompanying a foreign employee on assignment in Italy was significantly limited in his or her immigration options. Once the subsequent decrees are issued to integrate the new law into Italy’s immigration regulations, it is anticipated that foreign same-sex couples will have significantly easier and more streamlined immigration processes into Italy. Although the Italian immigration authorities have inconsistently recognized same-sex marriages officiated abroad for immigration purposes over the past few years, the law should enable a same-sex spouse to qualify automatically and consistently as an accompanying dependent and subsequent residence permit.

Nigeria: New corporate documents required for Temporary Work Permit applications filed by oil and gas industry

Effective 6 June, per a directive from Mohammed Babandede, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), oil and gas sector companies must submit additional corporate registration forms for temporary work permit (TWP) applications. Thus, all affected companies must now show proof of registration with both the Nigerian Content and Development Management Board (NCDMB) and, for those companies working on engineering projects, the Council for the Regulations of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).These new requirements stem from worries by local labour groups that oil and gas companies are abusing the TWP immigration stream in attempts to avoid the highly-regulated long term work permit process (STR visa and permit). This directive aims to ensure not only that companies in the Nigerian oil and gas industry are properly registered, abide by federal policies, and remain compliant with immigration regulations, but that the local labour market is not being overlooked for these jobs.

Panama: Return of employee ID cards now required for final departure

Upon finalization of a foreign national’s assignment in Panama, employers must now return the employee’s Identification Card to the National Migration Service at least 10 days prior to the work assignment ending. This allows the authorities to cancel both the ID card and the employee’s visa. Failure to cancel these documents will result in additional mandatory applications for the company, possible monetary fines, and increased difficulty for the foreign employee to re-enter Panama in the future.Should the employee remain in Panama beyond the termination of his/her assignment and does not return the ID card, they may face fines of up to PAB 5,000 and automatic cancellation of the card.

Reminders: Recent and Upcoming Immigration Implementations

The following are reminders of recent or upcoming implementation dates that you should know:

  • June 6-7 July, 2016: In observance of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, many government offices and private businesses in many Islamic countries in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and parts of Asia will have reduced business hours. Immigration applications still in process or filed during Ramadan and the subsequent Eid al-Fitr holidays may be subject to delays due to the reduced working hours. Note that the exact days of observation will vary by country.
  • 22 June, 2016: The 90-day elimination of visa reciprocity fees for US nationals entering Argentina for short term tourism and business trip will come to a close. The waived fee came into effect in March of this year after a visit between US President Barack Obama and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri. Note that it is still possible for Argentina and/or the United States to pass resolutions to extend the waived fees.
  • 1 July, 2016: Several increases in levies for Work Permit and S-Pass holders will come into force in Singapore.
Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader  This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change at a moment's notice without any warning. Please contact a Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL's Counsel and Knowledge Management teams. We worked with our PLG | KGNM France Offices “Cosmopolitan Services Unlimited” and “Home Conseil,” our PLG | KGNM Germany Office “Cheryl Koenig Relocation Services Group,” our PLG | KGNM Italy Offices “LCA Lega Colucci & Associates” and “Professional Relo,” our PLG Netherlands Office, our PLG | KGNM Nigeria Offices “Equita Law Firm” and “Jon-An International Ltd,” our PLG | KGNM Panama Offices “Icaza Gonzalez Ruiz & Aleman” and “LARM,” and our PLG | KGNM South Africa Office “IBN Consulting (Pty) Ltd.” to provide you this update.Information contained in this Global Immigration Dispatch is prepared using information obtained from various media outlets, government publications and our KGNM immigration professionals. Written permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders must be obtained for any reuse of any content posted or published by Pro-Link GLOBAL that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Knowledge Management Department () with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.

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