Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration dispatch – Belgium, Morocco, Panama, Qatar, South Africa and Vietnam

Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Belgium, Morocco, Panama, Qatar, South Africa and Vietnam.

BELGIUM: New law on posted workers enacted

Effective 1 January, the Belgium Federal Parliament has enacted the provisions of the European Union (EU) Posted Workers Enforcement Directive (2014/67/EU); however, some of the details regarding actual employer compliance requirements and changes to the current LIMOSA declaration process remain unclear. Belgium had previously adopted into its local laws the provisions of an earlier iteration of the EU Posted Workers Directive (96/71/EC) in 2002 and has since that time required companies with foreign workers posted to Belgium to file a “LIMOSA declaration” with the Ministry of Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue. With the recent enactment of the enforcement provisions by Parliament,  Pro-Link GLOBALis expecting an additional Royal Decree in the coming weeks setting down the particulars and potentially refining the current LIMOSA declaration process.For the time being, companies with foreign employees posted in Belgium should evaluate their current policies and processes regarding posted workers and take the following action steps now to comply with current and coming requirements:
  • Designated Representative – Ensure that the company has designated a representative to liaise with authorities regarding the legal requirements of all postings of foreign workers to Belgium.
  • LIMOSA Declarations – Continue to submit LIMOSA declarations before the start of the assignment whenever a foreign worker is posted to Belgium.
  • Document Retention Requirements – Ensure that the company is retaining for one year after the assignment end (either in paper or electronic form), and is prepared to provide to requesting authorities, the following documents:
    • Copy of the assignment letter
    • Time sheets
    • Salary slips
    • Proof of payment of wages
Pro-Link GLOBAL continues to monitor the developments in Belgium regarding the requirements for companies with posted workers and will report on any additional process changes or requirements once a Royal Decree is issued on the subject. In the meantime, please reach out to your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist if there are specific questions or concerns regarding these requirements.

Immigration Changes from Around the World

MOROCCO: Stricter scrutiny and enforcement of residence permit rules

Although there has been no official announcement of a formal policy change, Pro-Link GLOBAL has been seeing a shift over the last several weeks toward heightened scrutiny of foreign nationals seeking or holding Moroccan residence permits. The following are the stricter enforcement actions and process changes that have been reported, about which companies and foreign nationals in Morocco should be aware:
  • Reduced Tolerance of Late Residence Permit Renewals – Border authorities have been preventing foreign nationals from exiting the country where their residence permit (Carte de Séjour) has expired. Authorities have been requiring foreign nationals with expired residence permits to obtain a specific exit authorization from the immigration authorities (Bureau des Étrangers) in order to leave Morocco.
  • Additional Requested Application Documents – Immigration authorities have been requesting additional documents – such as utility bills, CVs and bank account statements – when processing applications for new, and renewals of, residence permits.
  • Interviews with Police Officers – Immigration authorities have been requiring an interview with a General Directorate for National Security (DGSN) officer as part of the application process for new and renewal residence permits.
  • Daily Application Limits – Many local police stations have begun limiting the number of residence permit applications they will accept each day. Applicants are now encouraged to arrive early before business hours to ensure an early position in the queue.
  • Restricted Access to Police Stations – Many local police stations are not permitting applicants to be accompanied by representatives inside the station when submitting applications and attending interviews.
The immigration process in Morocco is already known for being challenging, with extensive document requirements and the inefficient and inconvenient processing through local police stations, and these latest developments only make it more so. However, all should bear in mind that these additional measures are likely intended to improve security and safety for foreign nationals in the Kingdom. Companies and their foreign employees in Morocco should take extra effort to strictly follow all rules and procedures, and be prepared ahead of time for these additional requirements, to avoid delays and conflicts with authorities. For specific concerns, please reach out to your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist well ahead of any anticipated needs for travel and new or renewed residence permits in Morocco.

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PANAMA: New rule requiring local employment contracts does not impact foreign-local ratio

In a 15 February statement, the Ministry of Labour announced a new requirement that foreign nationals applying for Work Permits under the “Friendly Nations” and “Professional Foreigner” categories now be employed under an employment contract with a Panamanian company and enrolled in the local payroll. An employment contract between the local company and the employee applicant is now required to be submitted with the Work Permit application.At the time of this earlier announcement, many immigration professionals interpreted this new document requirement to also mandate that foreign employees holding Friendly Nations and Professional Foreigner Work Permits to be counted when calculating the permissible foreign-to-local worker ratio. This was of obvious concern to many companies employing foreign nationals, as it would have effectively pushed them over the permissible ratio or reduce the number of future foreign hires.In a meeting last week with Minister of Labour Luis Ernesto Carles, Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Panamanian immigration specialists were able to confirm that foreign employees under the Friendly Nation and Professional Foreigner categories will not be considered in calculating a company’s foreign-to-local worker ratio, even though they now must be on local contract and paid through local payroll. For any companies who continue to have concerns regarding this new rule and its impact on the number of foreign employees they may hire, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist.

QATAR: All foreign nationals must present round-trip air tickets upon arrival

Effective immediately, Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority has announced that all foreign national airline passengers arriving in Doha must have round-trip return tickets booked, and be prepared to present them upon arrival to immigration officers. If foreign passengers arrive without a return air ticket, they will be denied entry and returned to their port of departure. The announcement, dated 5 February, on its face makes no exception based on the visa status of the passenger. Therefore, all foreign nationals traveling to Qatar by air holding business and work visas should be sure they have round-trip tickets to present to border authorities regardless of the length of their stay in Qatar. Pro-Link GLOBAL will continue to monitor developments here and report with further clarification if the situation changes.

SOUTH AFRICA: New visa validity and transfer policy put on hold

The South African Department of Home Affairs is apparently indefinitely delaying the implementation of the recent policy circular making extensive changes to the rules regarding visa validity, transfers, rectifications and appeals. No reason was given for putting the policy change on hold; but Pro-Link GLOBAL welcomes this surprise announcement, as the abrupt decision changing the maximum visa validity period, and no longer allowing the transfer of valid visas to new passports in some cases, had the potential to create serious problems for some foreign nationals already in South Africa.With this pause in implementing the circular, the previous practices of being able to travel on an old passport containing the valid visa and a new passport, and transferring visas in-country into a new passport, remain acceptable for the time being. However, Pro-Link GLOBAL stands by our earlier advice and strongly encourages companies, their foreign employees and their family members currently in South Africa to check the expiration dates of their current visas and passports, and contact their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists immediately if they discover that the validity period of their current visa is longer than 30 days before the expiration of the passport containing the visa. Just as the policy change was abruptly rolled-out and then quickly put on hold, it could just as abruptly reappear without notice.

VIETNAM: New 30-day e-visa available to nationals of 40 countries

While primarily aimed at attracting more tourist visitors, Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security has introduced a new single-entry, 30-day e-visa that also presents an attractive option for business travelers from 40 countries – including the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe and South America. Starting 1 February, the new e-visa became available through an online application for a processing fee of just USD $25.00 and is reportedly issued within three days. Applicable for both tourist and business travel, it carries an initial validity period of 30 days, with the option for an in-country extension of up to an additional 30 days.Notably, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have been omitted from the list of eligible countries. However, as the new e-visa has been initially rolled-out as a pilot program, it is anticipated that more nations will be added to the list in coming months.Vietnam has made numerous improvements to its tourist and business visa scheme over the past year, including a new one-year, multiple-entry visa for U.S. nationals. This new e-visa is now possible because of the multi-million-dollar investment by the Vietnamese government in new technology modernizing its immigration system, which Pro-Link GLOBAL reported on last Autumn.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 Luxembourg Office “map relocations NV” and our PLG | KGNM Vietnam Office “Orientations” 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. 

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