Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration dispatch – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada and China

Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, and China.

Sydney Australia Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration dispatch

Featured Update

Australia – new rules limit accompanying family members

The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has announced that, starting 19 November, certain family members of foreign nationals relocating for work in Australia may no longer be able to accompany them as dependents. The definition of qualifying "members of the family unit" for dependent visas will be significantly narrowed to exclude extended family members such as parents and adult children over the age of 23-years-old. The change applies to families of most Australian visa holders and includes those in the highly utilised Subclass 457 visa category, the most commonly used temporary work visa in Australia.Under the current regulations, adult children and extended family members – such as parents, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews – are included in the definition of "family unit" where they are financially dependent on the primary work visa holder or their spouse. They are eligible for dependent visas based on the employee holding a temporary work visa.Under the new regulations, the "family unit" is defined more narrowly to include only the primary visa holder’s "nuclear family": their spouse or de facto partner, and their dependent children and step-children under 23 years of age. Adult children over 23-years-old will now be eligible dependents only if it can be shown that the child is dependent on the family head or their spouse/partner because of a “mental or physical disability that stops them from earning a living to support themselves.” This does not mean that extended family cannot join a foreign national relocating to Australia for work, but it does mean the process now becomes more difficult. Once these new rules come into force, extended family members who desire to accompany their family member working in Australia must file their own independent visa applications under the visitor category, one of the employment-based or skills-based categories, or under the "Family Stream" category. However, those routes certainly present more challenges, such as finding an Australian sponsor or fitting under quotas and caps.

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This change in policy brings significant concern for foreign nationals considering employment in Australia, and special concern for families from nations, like India, where the idea of family is culturally broader than the western concept of “nuclear family,” and commonly includes parents and unmarried adult children. While historically the United Kingdom has been the country of origin for the greatest number of employment-based migrants to Australia, India has recently surpassed the UK as the largest population migrating into the country. While exact numbers of dependent family members immigrating to Australia are not officially announced, a recent study by the International Organization for Migration suggested an almost one-to-one ratio of dependents to primary visa holders relocate to Australia under its employment-based immigration system.Beyond the obvious burden the new regulation places on foreign nationals and their families, Pro-Link GLOBAL is concerned about what unintended consequences this policy may have on Australia business sectors that heavily rely on engineering and technical talent from countries like India. We will be watching the coming months to be see what impact the new rules may have on companies assigning and recruiting highly-skilled foreign nationals to Australia. 

Immigration changes from around the world 

Brunei Darussalam – new licensing rules speed corporate authorisation processing, add foreign worker ratio

The Brunei Department of Labour (DOL) and Ministry of the Interior (MOI) have introduced new rules and procedures for companies applying for a license allowing them to hire foreign nationals. Effective 1 October, these sponsoring companies must now obtain a “Foreign Worker License” rather than the former “Labour Quota License” in order to hire foreign employees in this small Southeast Asian nation. At this point, the new rules apply only to companies submitting new applications for the Foreign Worker License. Companies with existing Labour Quota Licenses may continue to follow the old rules until April 2017. The new rules provide a faster, seven-step application process (down from twelve steps) and claim to reduce the estimated processing time from 40 days to only 9 days. However, with the simplification of the application process comes a new requirement. Companies will now be required to maintain a certain ratio of local workers to foreign workers employed in order to be eligible to hire additional foreign nationals. The applicable ratios, yet to be announced, will purportedly vary by industry, and compliance will be monitored through inspection by the DOL. Reportedly, exceptions to the ratios may be considered on a case-by-case basis where companies are unable to recruit local employees with the special skills required for a project.Like many nations around the world, Brunei is focusing on protecting their local labour markets in the face of the globalising world economy. The new rules are part of an overall effort by the government of Brunei to deal with a recent spike in the unemployment rate, which prior to 2011 ran at a steady 3 to 4 per cent, but in recent years has jumped as high as 9 per cent. While its 400,000 citizens have historically enjoyed a high standard of living with one of the highest per-capita GDPs in Asia, Brunei’s heavy reliance on oil and gas production causes concern among policy-makers as global oil prices lag and local supplies eventually dwindle. In response, the government has embarked on its ambitious Wawasan 2035 long-range development plan aimed at increasing the size and diversity of its local economy. 

Canada – "Global Skills Strategy" report recommends new work permit exemption and fast permit processing

Proposed improvements to the Canadian work permit and visa process were part of the Government of Canada’s Fall Economic Statement 2016 which Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivered in the House of Commons on 1 November. The Economic Statement is an 80-page summary of the state of Canada’s economy and the government’s plans for its future growth.In a single-page section titled “Global Skills Strategy,” the report provided some promising proposals to benefit corporate mobility in Canada. While the proposal is encouraging and already being reported with interest in the corporate immigration industry, companies should bear in mind that the proposal is simply one of many outlined in an overall economic plan coming from the Ministry of Finance. It is not currently a part of introduced legislation or announced policy of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). We are not likely to see actual legislative action on the proposal (if any is taken at all) until at least Spring 2017, after the House of Commons’ Winter break.With that being said, Pro-Link GLOBAL is enthusiastic about the recommendations. The report’s statement regarding immigration clearly signals that the Canadian government continues to be “immigration-friendly” and demonstrates that it sees corporate immigration as a vital part of its plans for Canada’s economy."Our future success is largely driven by attracting talented people from around the world," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is quoted in the report. "Our diversity not only brings its own economic and social rewards, but with Canada’s aging population, having a robust, effective, and efficient immigration system is critical to our long-term economic growth." Notably, the report recognises that the current work permits system needs improvement, with its "long processing times for work permits."The report sets out the following goals:
  • The establishment of a "Global Skills Strategy" specifically designed to attract foreign investment and talent to facilitate business growth
  • The Strategy will focus on supporting both local and global companies that can show economic benefits to Canada through investment, knowledge transfer to Canadian workers, local job creation, and expansion of production in Canada
  • A new work permit exemption will be created for short-term assignments (under 30 days) for "inter-company work exchanges, study exchanges, or the entrance of temporary expertise."
From the descriptions, the work permit exemption proposal appears aimed at short-term assignments at the management and executive level, and at specialists and experts with technical expertise. Pro-Link GLOBAL will continue to monitor announcements from the Canadian government for details as more becomes available.

China ­­­– changes to document requirements for work permits in Beijing and Shanghai

As promised, Pro-Link GLOBAL continues to actively monitor the activity surrounding the implementation of the “Foreigners Service Work Management System” and related process changes. See our Global Brief of 27 October and Immigration Dispatch of 7 November for details. To date, the new system is up and running only in Shanghai, and the procedures appear to be a combination of the old and the new for the present. The work permits process elsewhere in China continues under the current procedures.One change of which we have learned this week applies to work permit applications initiated in Beijing. Starting 1 December, certificates and diplomas for university degrees and police clearance certificates (PCCs) in support of employment license applications will now need to be notarised and legalised outside of China before submission. A similar policy is also coming soon in Shanghai, but no date for implementation there has been announced.Legalisation of documents is always one of the more time-consuming aspects of any immigration process. Given this fact, and the state of flux in the in-country work permits process in China, Global Mobility teams should expect their immigration specialists to begin requesting legalisation of degree documents and PCCs, and they should consult their immigration specialists well ahead of any upcoming assignments to China to begin the document gathering phase. Continue to watch for future Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Dispatches, as we expect there to be frequent changes in process and document requirements in China over the coming months as the new system takes shape. Our China Immigration Specialists in our Shanghai and Tianjin offices are continuing to proactively work with government authorities to develop guidance on the new procedures.

Reminders: recent and upcoming immigration implementations 

The following are reminders of recent or upcoming implementation dates that you should know:
  • 19 November, Australia – Major changes to the Temporary Activity Visa scheme take effect. See our Global Brief this week for details.
  • 24 November, United Kingdom – Changes to Tier 2 immigration category take effect. See our Global Brief of 8 November for details. 

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Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory   now to our Global Mobility Toolkit 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 Brunei Darussalam Office “Orientations Inc.” 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 (km@pro-linkglobal.com) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.