Changes in Indian, Russian and Australian Visas

July 2010

India: Relaxation of Quota for Employment Visas

In February 2010 the Indian High Commission introduced a quota system for the issuance of Employment visas at Indian Diplomatic Posts. The number of foreign nationals working at the Indian entity was limited to a maximum of 20 foreign nationals or 1% of the total workforce.

In support of their visa applications, applicants were required to provide details on the total number of workforce and the number of foreign nationals working at the Indian sponsor company. In cases where the Indian sponsor company exceeded the quota, the Employment visa applications were referred to the Immigration authorities in India, which caused considerable delay to the processing of such applications.

1. The Immigration authorities in India have recently issued new guidelines on the issuance of employment visas which provide that foreign nationals going to work in the IT Software or IT Enabled Service Sectors in India are no longer subject to the quota. 2. The foreign national MUST receive a remuneration package worth a minimum of USD 25,000 and not hold a People’s Republic of China passport. If the new guidelines’ requirements are met, the Indian Diplomatic Post may issue an employment visa up to a period of 3 years. The visa can be extended in India by the Indian State Government, the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or the Foreigner Registration Office (FRO) for a further 2 years.

Although there have been no written statements from the Indian authorities confirming the quota has been abolished for other sectors, based on our current experience the Indian Diplomatic Posts in the UK no longer require details on employee numbers working at the Indian sponsor company. This seems to indicate that they are no longer applying the quota to any business sector.

Recent articles published in local Indian press also indicate the Indian authorities intend to abolish the quota for all business sectors. The articles also speculate that the minimum salary level will also be abolished.

Clients should contact our Global Immigration team if they have any queries regarding the changes or any other global immigration matters.

Russia simplifies Work permit process for Highly Qualified Professionals

The Russian Parliament has approved amendments to the Federal law on the legal status of foreign nationals in the Russian Federation.

The amendments, which were implemented on 1 July, simplify the work authorisation procedure for highly qualified professionals.

Under the new procedure:

1. The foreign national is not be subject to the quota limitations for visa invitations and work permits

2. The foreign national is not required to prove to the Russian State authorities that he/she qualifies as a highly qualified professional. The employer can determine whether the foreign national’s experience, skill and qualification is suitable for the role

3. The employer is not required to obtain a permit allowing them to hire highly qualified professionals

4. Permits are issued for a period up to 3 years subject to the term of the agreement between the Russian company and the foreign national, an increase on the current period of 1 year

5. The foreign national is permitted to work in multiple cities in Russia

6. The authorities are required to process applications within 14 working days of receipt as opposed to the 3-6 months for other permits

With the new rules come new obligations on the employer including:

1. providing details of the salary and remuneration packages of all highly qualified professionals they employ to the Federal Migration Service; and

2. providing medical insurance for the highly qualified professional and their family and

3. notifying the Migration Services of termination of employment

To qualify for the new simplified procedure a foreign national must possess solid work experience, skills and achievements in a particular professional field and receive a minimum annual income of RUB 2,000,000 (approximately GBP 44,000 or EUR 53,000).

Clients should contact our Global Immigration team if they have any queries regarding the changes or any other global immigration matters.

Australia: Changes to work visa requirements

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (“DIAC”) recently announced a number of significant changes to the requirements for obtaining work authorisation which took effect on 1 July 2010:

1. Increase in Income Threshold for 457 Temporary Skilled Migration visas – Applicants must receive a salary in line with the current market rate in order to qualify for a 457 visa. The market rate must meet the minimum Income Threshold set by the DIAC and applicants working in occupations that have a market rate lower than minimum Income Threshold will not qualify for a 457 visa. The DIAC increased the minimum Income Threshold from AUS 45,220 to AUS 47,480.

2. Increase in Salary level for migrants exempt from the English Language requirement for 457 visas – the previous minimum salary level has been increased from AUS 81,040 to AUS 85,090 for the following groups who are considered exempt from the English language requirement:

a) Migrants from Canada, USA, New Zealand, Ireland and UK where the nominated occupation does not require a minimum level of English competency for registration, membership or obtaining a licence b) Non-trade applicants where the nominated occupation does not require a minimum level of English competency for registration, membership or obtaining a licence c) Trade applicants who have completed 5 consecutive years full-time study in a secondary level institution or higher 3. Visa Application Fees increased – the visa application fees for the majority of visa applications have increased. Applicants should check the new fees before filing an application.

4. Creation of Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) – The current standard used by DIAC for information about occupations in all visa categories, Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO), has been replaced by ANZSCO, which contains some differences in terms of the occupation codes and job descriptions in a number of sectors. All new applications filed on or after 1 July will be assessed using the ANZSCO.

Clients should contact our Global Immigration team if they have any queries regarding the changes or any other global immigration matters.