As countries around the world have begun to loosen or even eliminate entry requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan has maintained comparatively stringent restrictions on entry by foreign nationals. However, the Japanese government is increasingly easing these restrictions, allowing larger numbers of foreign nationals to enter the country through several different visa pathways. While major restrictions remain in place, foreign nationals seeking to enter Japan now have greater opportunity to do so than at any point in the last two years.

Continue Reading Japan Begins Easing COVID Entry Restrictions for Foreign Nationals

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is experiencing longer-than-usual processing times for key employment-based visa categories, according to data released by the government. Specifically, expanded processing times have been recorded for the Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage visa and the Subclass 400 Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) visa. The expanded processing times come amid recent changes to Australia’s permanent residency pathways and the relaxation of COVID-related restrictions on entry by foreign nationals. 

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Employers are responsible for verifying the identity and employment authorization of newly hired employees. The Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) is critical to any employer’s onboarding process for new hires, but ongoing Form I-9 maintenance is equally important with respect to existing employees who need to renew their work authorization documents with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Some employers have faced challenges in this regard following DHS’s recent announcement of a Temporary Final Rule increasing the automatic extension period for employment authorization for certain individuals from 180 to 540 days. The rule was intended to provide additional security to both employees and employers while their renewal applications are being adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). However, the rule also raises significant considerations for employers seeking to maintain proper Form I-9 compliance and avoid liability for past errors.

Continue Reading Critical Form I-9 Compliance Risks as DHS Changes Work Authorization Rules

Effective June 1, 2022, the Italian government has lifted all COVID-related entry requirements for international travelers. Under the new rules, travelers are no longer required to conduct pre- or post-arrival testing, complete pre-departure registration, or demonstrate proof of vaccination. The elimination of COVID-related entry requirements makes Italy part of a growing number of countries that have loosened or eliminated COVID-related entry requirements on international travelers, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden.

Continue Reading Italy Eliminates All COVID-Related Entry Requirements

Effective May 23, 2022, South Korea has loosened its pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirements for foreign nationals. Specifically, foreign nationals seeking to enter the country can now present either a negative PCR test or a supervised rapid antigen test (RAT). Previously, only PCR tests were accepted. The RAT must be conducted by a health care provider such as a hospital or clinic; at-home RATs are not accepted. South Korea’s move represents another incremental relaxation of the country’s COVID-19 entry requirements and follows the easing of quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers in April.

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On April 27, 2022, the European Commission – the executive arm of the European Union – proposed the digitalization of the Schengen visa process. If implemented, the proposal would enable an online visa application platform and replace visa stickers in passports with a secure electronic status. Applicants may still need to visit consular posts to submit biometric data, such as fingerprints. Under the Commission’s proposal, Schengen Area member countries would have five years from the date of implementation to switch to the digitalized visa platform.

Continue Reading EU Moves Toward Digitalizing Schengen Visas

Effective May 9, 2022, the Taiwanese government will reduce the required quarantine period for all international arrivals from ten days to seven, followed by a seven-day self-health management period. The announcement from Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is an incremental step toward normalizing international travel procedures. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan has barred most foreign nationals from entering the country.

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On April 22, 2022, the Irish government announced an expansion of the eligibility criteria for the country’s multiple entry short stay visas. The changes mean that foreign nationals from all visa-required countries will now be eligible to apply for a five-year, multiple entry short stay visa.  The government’s announcement is intended to ease administrative burdens and facilitate multiple short-stay trips by visa-required nationals as the country emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continue Reading Ireland Expands Eligibility for Multiple Entry Short Stay Visas

On April 12, 2022, the Chilean government announced the implementation of a new framework to govern the country’s border restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lowest level of the new framework, Alert Level 1, does not require foreign nationals seeking to enter Chile to submit their vaccination status for prior approval, though travelers may still submit this information voluntarily and are required to submit it to obtain a Pase de Movilidad (“Mobility Pass”). In adopting the new framework, the government aims to enable a more agile response to the pandemic, including through detection and containment of new variants of concern.

Continue Reading Chile Updates Framework for Pandemic-Related Border Restrictions

On March 28, 2022, the Italian parliament approved a law creating a new “Digital Nomad” visa for remote workers from outside the European Union (EU). The government has thirty days to implement the law and to provide the operational details, including the required documents and application procedures. Once implemented, the new visa is expected to provide flexibility for non-EU nationals seeking to live and work in Italy without first obtaining sponsorship from an Italian employer. Italy’s adoption of a Digital Nomad visa follows the introduction of similar immigration pathways in Romania, Iceland, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries.

Continue Reading Italy Creates New “Digital Nomad” Visa