Asia Pacific

China - October 13, 2015

China has removed the visa and residence permit requirements for residents of Taiwan, and implemented new immigration policy measures in Shanghai.

Visa and Residence Permit Requirements Removed for Taiwan Residents

On June 14, 2015, China amended its regulations on Chinese citizens traveling to or from Taiwan to facilitate travel between mainland China and Taiwan. First and foremost, China removed the visa requirement for Taiwan residents visiting the mainland. For Taiwanese working in mainland China with a valid work permit, who previously needed a residence permit to enter and live in China, the rule also removes the need for a residence permit. The only required travel document is a travel pass, TaiBaoZheng. The travel pass has been recently upgraded to an electronic card that can be scanned, just like the Chinese ID card. There are two types of TaiBaoZheng. The short-term card is valid for three years with unlimited entries, while the long-term card is valid for five years with unlimited entries.

New Immigration Policy Measures Implemented in Shanghai

On June 9, 2015, the Ministry of Public Security of China issued several new immigration policies in Shanghai. On August 5, local authorities in Shanghai published implementing measures for the new policies. The measures list required documents and application instructions for permanent residence, the R visa, and expert certificate applications by individuals qualified as high-level foreign talent.

The measures also specify the criteria for high-level foreign experts, including: (1) recipients of prominent awards or talent selected in high-level talent programs; (2) scholars, prominent experts, professional talent, or extraordinary talent; (3) extraordinary talent or professional talent in commercial enterprises; or (4) other talent with expertise in great demand in the Shanghai municipal area.

In addition to providing implementation details for the June policies, the measures also amend the validity of the Shanghai Foreign Talent Residence Certificate ("B" Certificate) to 10 years (from one to five years previously).

India tightens in-country compliance and registration requirements - Oct 06, 2011

Under the Indian Bureau of Immigration's general policy, all foreign nationals who arrive on a visa valid for more than 180 days and who expect to remain in India for more than 180 consecutive days during a single visit or stay must register at the designated registration office in the place of residence.

Until recently, employment visa holders intending to remain in India for more than 180 consecutive days were required to register (unless otherwise indicated on their visa endorsement). However, now all foreign nationals with employment or visas that are valid for more than 180 days must register with the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) within 14 days of arrival in India.

Accompanying spouses and dependents who intend to reside in India also must register. Such individuals now must submit additional documents at the time of registration. For example, a spouse on a dependent visa must present the original civil marriage certificate authenticated with an apostille. In cases where a country does not issue apostilles, the certificate must be legalized by an appropriate Indian consular post. A dependent spouse also must provide a "no work" letter to the FRRO confirming that he or she will not engage in any productive work while residing in India. Currently, the FRROs are not asking for authenticated birth certificates for dependent children, but this could change with little or no advance notice.

Hong Kong Makes Changes to Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES) - Feb 01, 2011

The Hong Kong Capital Investment Entrant Scheme has been extremely popular. Successful applicants can benefit from one of the premier financial centers of the world with a robust economy and a low, simple and predictable tax regime. Initially launched by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government in October 2003 to attract investments from qualifying individuals who wished to obtain Hong Kong residency through making a capital investment without the need to establish or join in a business in Hong Kong, as of the end of 2010, 16,600 applications had been received and 8,924 applicants had invested a total of $63.31 billion, representing an average of HKD $7.09 million per entrant.

On October 14, 2010, responding to Hong Kong's Chief Executive Donald Tsang's concerns about surging property prices n Hong Kong expressed in his annual policy address, the government temporarily removed real estate from the permissible investment asset classes under the CIES because 40% of the investments in the first half of 2010 had been in real estate.

More specifically, the amendments included the following changes:
i) The threshold of investment (and net assets/net equity requirement) for admission to Hong Kong under the CIES was raised from HK$6.5 million (USD $834,000) to HKD $10 million (USD $1.28M);
ii) Real estate was suspended temporarily as a class of Permissible Investment Assets (PIA) under the CIES; an
iii) An insurer authorized to carry on Class C business as specified in Part 2 of the First Schedule to the Hong Kong Insurance Companies Ordinance became eligible, in addition to banks, to act as a financial intermediary for the purpose of the CIES
The government believes that despite the amendments, the scheme remains competitive compared with the investment programs of other jurisdictions, and promised that the investment threshold (and net assets/net equity requirement) will be reviewed once every three years. With respect to the temporary suspension of real estate as a class of PIA, this decision will be assessed at the next regular review, or earlier as necessary.

In the short term, the beneficiary of these changes is the U.S. EB-5 program, which has become relatively "cheap" at USD $500,000, since Canada's investment threshold is currently CDN $800,000, while effective January 1, 2011, the Singapore Monetary Authority's Financial Investor Scheme (FIS) requires applicants to place S $10 million in assets for a continuous period of five years, up from a minimum of S $5 million previously, with a financial institution regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, although a portion - up to $2 million - can be used to buy private residential properties.

India Changes Work-Related Visa Rules - Nov 21, 2010

In an effort to protect India's lesser skilled workers and attract highly skilled foreign workers, the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an order and released a new FAQ (frequently asked questions) document stating that employment visas are intended for foreigners desiring to come to India to work if the applicant is a highly skilled and/or qualified professional engaged or appointed by a company, organization, or industry undertaking in India on a contract or employment basis.

Employment visas will not be granted for positions for which qualified Indians are available, the FAQ states. Also, employment visas will not be granted for "routine, ordinary or secretarial/clerical jobs." The foreign national must seek to visit India for employment in a company, firm, or organization registered in India or for employment in a foreign company, firm, or organization engaged in the "execution of some project in India." Further, the FAQ states, the foreign national being sponsored for an employment visa in any sector should draw a salary above US $25,000 per year, with the exception of ethnic cooks, language teachers (other than English) and translators, and staff working for the "concerned Embassy/High Commission in India."

The MHA also has announced the elimination of the prior maximum of 1% of the total workforce, or up to 20, for each Indian company that sponsors foreign workers.
The employment visa must be issued from the country of origin or country of domicile of the foreigner, provided the period of permanent residence of the applicant in that country is more than 2 years.

Documentation pertaining to the proposed employment, such as registration of the company under the Companies Act, proof of registration of the firm in the State Industries Department or the Export Promotion Council concerned, or any recognized promotional body in the field of industry and trade, will be reviewed to decide the category of visa that may be issued.

The name of the sponsoring employer or organization must be clearly stipulated in the visa sticker.

The following categories of foreign nationals are also eligible for employment visas provided they meet the basic conditions for an employment visa:

1. Foreign nationals coming to India as consultants on a contract for whom the Indian company pays a fixed remuneration (this may not be in the form of a monthly salary).
2. Foreign artists engaged to conduct regular performances for the duration of an employment contract given by hotels, clubs, or other organizations.
3. Foreign nationals coming to India to take up employment as coaches of national or state-level teams or reputed sports clubs.
4. Foreign sportsmen who are given contracts for a specified period by Indian clubs or organizations.
5. Self-employed foreign nationals coming to India for providing engineering, medical, accounting, legal or other such highly skilled services in their capacity as independent consultants, provided the provision of such services by foreign nationals is permitted under law.
6. Foreign language teachers and interpreters.
7. Foreign specialist chefs.
8. Foreign engineers or technicians coming to India to install and commission equipment, machines, or tools under the terms of a contract for the supply of such equipment, machines, or tools.
9. Foreign nationals deputed for providing technical support or services, or transfer of know-how or services, for which the Indian company pays fees or royalties to the foreign company.

Regarding the duration of the employment visa, the rules have different validity dates depending on the employment arrangement. These are summarized as follows:

1. A foreign technician/expert coming to India under a bilateral agreement between the Indian government and the foreign government, or pursuant to a collaboration agreement that has been approved by the Indian government, may be granted a multiple employment visa for the duration of the agreement, or for a period of five years, whichever is less.

1. Highly skilled foreign personnel being employed in the IT software and IT-enabled sectors may receive a multiple entry employment visa with a validity of up to three years or for the term of assignment, whichever is less.

Applicants who are not covered under any of these two arrangements may obtain a multiple entry employment visa for up to two years or the term of assignment, whichever is less.

Finally, the rules provide for extensions beyond the initial visa validity period, up to a total period of five years from the date of issue of the initial employment visa, on a year-to-year basis, subject to the individual's good conduct, production of necessary documents in support of continued employment, filing of income tax returns and to there being no adverse security inputs relating to the foreign national. The period of extension shall not exceed five years from the date of issue of the initial employment visa.

Australia News - Mar 01, 2010

The Australian government has announced it is reforming the permanent skilled migration program to ensure that it is more responsive to the needs of industry and employers and better addresses the nation's future skill needs.

The reforms will deliver a demand- rather than supply-driven skilled migration program that meets the needs of the economy in sectors and regions where there are shortages of highly skilled workers, such as healthcare, engineering, and mining. The major reforms to the skilled migration program include:

1. 20,000 would-be migrants will have their applications cancelled and receive a refund
All offshore General Skilled Migration applications filed before September 1, 2007, will have their applications withdrawn. These are people who applied overseas under easier standards, including less rigorous English language skill and work experience requirements. An estimated 20,000 people fall into this category.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will refund their visa application charges at an estimated cost of A$14million.

2. The list of occupations in demand will be tightened so that only highly skilled migrants will be eligible to apply for independent skilled migration visas.

The wide-ranging Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) dating from September 2009 will be revoked immediately. The list is outdated and contains 106 occupations, many of which are less-skilled and no longer in demand.

A new and more targeted Skilled Occupations List (SOL) will be developed by an independent body, Skills Australia, and reviewed annually. It will be introduced mid-year and will focus on high-value professions and trades.

The Critical Skills List introduced at the beginning of 2009, which identified occupations in critical demand at the height of the global financial crisis, will also be phased out.

3. The points test used to assess migrants will be reviewed to ensure that it selects the best and brightest.

Potential migrants gain points based on their qualifications, skills and experience, and proficiency in English. The current points test puts an overseas student with a short-term vocational qualification gained in Australia ahead of a Harvard-educated environmental scientist.

A review of the points test used to assess General Skilled Migration applicants will consider issues including whether some occupations should warrant more points than others, whether sufficient points are awarded for work experience and excellence in English, and whether there should be points for qualifications obtained from overseas universities.
The review will be reported to the government later this year.

4. Certain occupations may be capped to ensure that skill needs are met across the board
Amendments to the Migration Act will be introduced this year to give the Minister the power to set the maximum number of visas that may be granted to applicants in any one occupation. This will ensure that the Skilled Migration Program is not dominated by a handful of occupations.

5. Development of state and territory-specific migration plans

Individual state and territory migration plans will be developed so they can prioritize skilled migrants of their own choosing. This recognizes that each state and territory has different skill requirements. For example, Western Australia may have a shortage of mining engineers, while Victoria may need more architects. Under the new priority processing arrangements, migrants nominated by a state and territory government under their State Migration Plan will be processed ahead of applications for independent skilled migration.

Senator Chris Evans, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, has said the new arrangements will give first priority to skilled migrants who have a job to go to with an Australian employer. For those who do not have an Australian employer willing to sponsor them, the bar is being raised.

The government has acknowledged that the changes will affect some overseas students currently in Australia intending to apply for permanent residence. International students who hold a vocational, higher education or postgraduate student visa will still be able to apply for a permanent visa if their occupation is on the new SOL. If their occupation is not on the new SOL, they will have until December 31, 2012, to apply for a temporary Skilled Graduate 485 visa on completion of their studies, which will enable them to spend up to 18 months in Australia to acquire work experience and seek sponsorship from an employer.
The changes will not affect international students coming to Australia to gain a legitimate qualification and then return home.

Long Stay Business Visas in Australia - Nov 21, 2009

The most common visa used to transfer corporate employees to Australia is the Subclass 457 Business (Long Stay) Visa. If granted, the visa enables the visa holder to live and work in Australia for a period of up to four years. Family members are included in the visa grant. Spouses have full work rights.

There are essentially three applications to be made: the Sponsorship, the Nomination, and the Visa Application.

The Sponsorship Application is made by the prospective Australian employer to be approved as a Sponsor. In brief, an Applicant for Sponsorship is required to establish that it has been lawfully operating a business in Australia. In certain circumstances, overseas businesses that do not trade in Australia are also entitled to apply for sponsorship. The business must demonstrate a strong record of, or commitment to, local recruitment. Training benchmarks also must be met. If granted, the sponsorship approval is valid for three years.

The approved Sponsor then makes a Nomination Application, or Applications, depending upon the number of positions to be filled by the prospective employee or employees. Only certain positions may be nominated and recent amendments have imposed stringent requirements on the salary levels and conditions of employment that are proposed to be offered to the employee. In essence, the employee should not be employed at a lesser salary or subject to less favorable terms of employment than an Australian hire and the base salary must be equal to or exceed the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold.

If a Nomination Application is approved, the employee is then entitled to file a Visa Application. In certain circumstances, the employee will be required to meet specified English language standards.

In practice, all three applications are electronically filed simultaneously. In most cases, the employee is entitled to be in Australia at the time of application.

It should be stressed that there are substantial complexities to this subclass of visa that are beyond the scope of this brief overview.