Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Germany, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Namibia, Oman, and Taiwan
Malaysia – Changes to employment pass and professional visit pass process may bring delays
The Malaysian Expatriate Services Division (ESD) of the Immigration Department has announced three significant changes to the Employment Pass (EP) and Professional Visit Pass (PVP) – processes that took effect 1 August. These changes have the potential to increase application processing times for all categories of these passes so employers and employees should allow more time for their relocation plans to Malaysia.
First, foreign nationals applying for PVP and EP Categories I, II, and III are now required to present an EP or PVP Approval Letter from the ESD upon entry into Malaysia. In addition, accompanying dependents of these pass holders must also produce the employee’s approval letter in order to obtain their Dependent Pass or Long Term Visit Pass. Traditionally, foreign nationals applying for these passes were able to enter Malaysia prior to their pass approval. Now, should the applicant already be in-country when the pass is approved, they will be required to exit and re-enter with the approval letter in hand, resulting in additional fees and cost. Therefore, applicants are advised to delay their travel until the EP or PVP is approved.
Secondly, nationals from a list of 15 countries in Asia working in the construction, manufacturing or mining sectors under an EP (Category III) will now have to complete a medical examination upon entry at a Foreign Workers Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (FOMEMA) panel clinic.
Finally, visa nationals in all work categories are now additionally required to obtain a Visa With Reference (VWR) prior to their entry into Malaysia. They will be required to produce both the Approval Letter and the VWR at their port of entry into Malaysia.
Given these increased complexities being added to the process in Malaysia, it is vital that employers and their foreign employees going on assignment to Malaysia keep abreast of changing requirements and take them into account in planning employee moves. Pro-Link GLOBAL continues to monitor changes to the process for EPs and PVPs and will keep its clients doing business in Malaysia informed and prepared.
Immigration changes from around the world
Germany – Clarification issued for registration requirements
Authorities have provided some clarification of the rules regarding the registration of foreign nationals working in Germany. A law enacted last year requires all individuals – including foreign nationals – who reside in Germany for more than three months to register with their local Residence Registration (Einwohnermeldeamt) Office within 14 days of establishing their residence. However, it remained unclear whether those foreign nationals who resided in Germany for longer than three months in aggregate, but on a non-continuous basis with individual stays of less than three months were required to register.
Now there has been some clarification of the ambiguity with authorities recently confirming that the registration requirement only applies to those individuals residing in Germany for three months or more on a continuous basis. However, it is important to note that even visa-waiver nationals entering and exiting for stays less than three months who choose not to obtain a visa before arriving will still need to register in order to obtain Residence and Work Permits to work in Germany.
While this clarification from the Germany authorities is helpful, it is yet to be seen if this may alleviate some of the backlog currently being experienced by foreign nationals at the registration step of their immigration process. Foreign nationals in major cities have recently reported wait times sometimes reaching upwards of two months between the online scheduling and the date of the registration appointment. Those experiencing delays are urged to print and retain a copy of their appointment confirmation to show that they have made every effort to comply with the registration requirement.
Hong Kong – Employers required to make “genuine effort” to recruit local labour
The Hong Kong Immigration Department (HKID) is beginning to require employers to verify and provide documentation proving that they have made efforts to recruit and hire local workers when applying for work permits for foreign nationals under the General Employment Policy (GEP) and Mainland Talents and Professionals (MTP) categories.
While declaration of recruitment has for some time been part of the formal work authorization documents list for these categories, it has oftentimes been overlooked by the HKID. Now significantly more employers of foreign nationals in Hong Kong are being asked to sign a declaration under seal that “genuine efforts have been made to recruit suitable local candidate but without success” or provide reasons if such efforts have not been made. Furthermore, HKID officers are increasingly requesting proof of local job advertisements and the reasons why certain local candidates were not selected. This new enforcement is being applied both to new applications and to changes in employer.
This increase in enforcement was prompted by an audit of the HKID earlier this year, which recommended tightening of immigration standards in a number of areas. At this time, this new enforcement appears to be being implemented on a case-by-case basis, still not being required of all applications.
The HKID has stated that it will not require proof of local recruitment efforts for the Non-Local Graduates category. However, employers of foreign workers in the GEP and MTP categories should be making efforts to employ local workers before resorting to foreign labour, or be prepared to show cause why those efforts are not being made.
More stringent requirements and enforcement by the HKID may be coming in additional areas as well, based on other recommendations of the audit. We advise employers and employees to focus on the strict letter of the published rules and be prepared to meet each requirement even if in the past certain stated requirements have been overlooked.
Namibia – Visa-On-Arrival coming soon for African nationals
Speaking at the opening of the Foreign Policy Review conference in Windhoek on 26 July, Namibian President Gage Geingob stated that his country will soon offer visas-on-arrival to nationals of other African countries – with visa-free travel to Namibia for African nationals being the ultimate goal.
This announcement is part of a developing trend that Pro-Link GLOBAL is seeing in Africa towards freer mobility and increased intra-continent trade.
Oman – Length of stay increased from 3 weeks to 3 months for many nationals
On 20 July the Ministry of Legal Affairs announced that Oman is lengthening the permitted stay for visiting nationals of 38 countries – including Bangladesh, India, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and most of central and Eastern Europe. The length of the allowable stay for business and tourist travellers from these nations has increased from three weeks to three months and is available for two stays within any twelve-month period. The measure is part of an effort to increase the inflow of tourism and investment into the Sultanate.
While most nations on the list will receive the longer stay automatically, travellers from Bangladesh, India and the Philippines must provide a sponsor in order to receive the new extended stay. Reportedly, officials are looking at further expanding the list of eligible countries should this new move prove successful.
Taiwan – Visa waiver now offered to citizens of ten AEAN nations
Beginning 1 September the nationals of nine countries will enjoy visa-free travel to Taiwan using the National Immigration Agency’s online Taiwan Travel Authorization Certificate (TTAC) application system.
The citizens of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar join the citizens of Brunei, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam who already enjoy this privilege. The TTAC is an online electronic visa exemption, which is valid for a single entry and 30-day stay in Taiwan any time within the 90-day validity. The measure is part of the ROC’s Southbound Policy, which seeks to strengthen Taiwan’s relationships with its neighbours across South and Southeast Asia.
To qualify, citizens of the designated nations must have been granted visas to Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, or any Schengen Area country within the last ten years. The aim is to increase tourism from other Asian nations to Taiwan – which has fallen off in the last year as a result of mainland China’s recent limiting of tourism to Taiwan, a political move by China in the on-going dispute over Taiwanese independence. However, the visa waiver programme is open to business travellers so long as they are not engaged in work activities. The Ministry of Interior estimates that the measures should result in more than 280,000 more visitors to Taiwan this year.
Reminders: Recent and upcoming immigration implementations
The following are reminders of recent or upcoming implementation dates that you should know – 14 August – Brazil joins the Hague Apostille Convention and will begin accepting apostilled documentation. Many Brazilian consulates have confirmed they will accept apostilled documents as of 14 August however, official notices from the Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Justice have yet to be published
(See our Global Immigration Dispatch
from 1 August for additional details).
To find out more about Pro-Link GLOBAL and Immigration Services, visit their Directory page. Caveat Lector – Warning to readerThis 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 reach out to your local 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 Germany Offices “Anders Consulting Relocation Services”, “Cheryl Koening Relocation Services Group GmbH” and “Palladium Mobility Group”, our PLG | KGNM Hong Kong Offices “Asian Tigers Mobility Limited and “ExpertPlus Visa Consultancy Limited”, our PLG | KGNM Malaysia Offices “Asian Tigers Mobility Limited” and “Orientation Relocation Services Sdn Bhd”, our PLG | KGNM Oman Offices “Helpxpat Relocations”, and our PLG | KGNM Taiwan Offices “Asian Tigers Mobility Limited” 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.