Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Dispatch – Turkey, China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE

Discover key changes to immigration regulations in China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates.

Blue Mosque in Turkey Immigration update

Featured Update

Turkey - new act brings sweeping changes to immigration process

While recent weeks have been challenging ones for foreign nationals in Turkey, especially with the failed coup and imposition of the State of Emergency Act (see our Immigration Dispatch of 23 August), foreign nationals and their employers received some welcomed news this month. A new law making sweeping changes to the Turkish immigration system was enacted and published 13 August in the T.C. Resmi Gazette, the official government journal of new laws. Once implemented into practice, the new Law on International Workforce should provide employers more flexibility in hiring or posting foreign employees in Turkey.Among the provisions, this new act calls for:
  • Creation of a new International Workforce Policy Board under the Ministry of Labor to establish new policies for foreign workers
  • New points-based system for evaluating work permit applications
  • New work permit category, called the “Turquoise Card,” for foreign nationals who meet certain educational, professional, or investment requirements. Holders of the Turquoise Card will have much the same rights as Turkish citizens and their dependents granted long-term residence permits. This new permit would be issued for an initial three-year conditional period with the potential of being extended indefinitely
  • New independent work permit category for qualified foreign workers which does not require a sponsoring employer. Qualifications for this new category will be set by the new International Workforce Policy Board based on the needs of the Turkish labor market, but the category is certain to include engineers and architects at its outset
  • New work permit exemption for foreign board members of certain companies, non-executive partners, and international service workers good for stays under 90 days
  • New pre-approval requirement for medical and academic workers to have permission to work in their fields from the applicable professional authorities
  • Loosening of some current rules, including lengthening the time that a foreign national has to arrive in Turkey after the work permit is granted from three months to six months
While the act is now law, the actual regulations and practices implementing its provisions have yet to be published, and timeframes have yet to be announced for its full implementation. For the time being, the present regulations and practices continue in effect. Pro-Link GLOBAL will continue to monitor these changes through its KGNM Office in Turkey and report on developments.

Immigration Changes from Around the World

China – visa applicants required to provide old passports

Chinese Embassies and Consulates overseas now have a new policy in effect regarding the passports of foreign nationals applying for visas to China. Foreign nationals whose current passport was issued on or after 1 January 2014 are required to additionally provide their previous passport as part of the application process for all visa categories. In the event that such applicants no longer have their previous passports, they must provide documentation from their home country’s passport issuing authority or Embassy stating that the old passport is not available or the current passport was the first issued to them.As this new requirement has not yet been officially published, some details of its implementation are still unclear. Pro-Link GLOBAL continues to reach out to the Chinese Embassies and consulates around the world for clarification of the policy and whether it is being implemented in all countries. Initial word from the Embassies and Consulates with whom we have been in contact indicate that the policy will apply to nationals of all nations regardless of where the visa application is submitted. We are advising all visa applicants going forward be prepared to provide their previous passport if their current passport was issued after 1 January 2014.

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Malaysia – new requirements for employment passes in the MSC Malaysia

Malaysia continues to make changes to its immigration processes (see our Immigration Dispatch of 9 August for more details). The Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), the government-owned entity which manages the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC Malaysia), has announced new Employment Pass (EP) regulations for the MSC economic zone effective 1 September. These new regulations are designed to complement the similar regulations implemented on 1 August by the Expatriate Services Division of the Immigration Department.The new regulations – applicable to employers operating in the MSC and their employees in Employment Pass Categories I, II, and III – include the following:
  • All EP applicants and their dependents must first obtain the employee’s approval letter from the MDEC before entering Malaysia. Nationals requiring a visa to enter Malaysia must further have obtained their Visa or Visa With Reference (VWR) from the Malaysian Embassy or consulate in their country of residence prior to traveling. The past practice of arriving in Malaysia and awaiting approval is no longer valid
  • Foreign nationals already in Malaysia on Category III EPs who are completing their work contract or have reached the maximum period for their employment pass (three years with renewals) are required to have their current EPs cancelled. They must now exit the country until their new employment approval letter and entry visas, if required, are obtained. The past practice of remaining in Malaysia pending the issuance of the new EP is no longer valid
  • There is also now a three-month “cooling off period” before an employer may file a new application for certain foreign national employees, during which the employee and dependents must remain outside Malaysia. This applies to foreign nationals in EP Category III who are switching employers or who have reached the maximum period for their EP (three years with renewals) and to foreign nationals converting Temporary Employment Passes (PLKSs) or Professional Visit Passes (PVPs) to EPs in Category I, II, or III
  • For all work and residence authorizations and visa matters, the applicant’s passport must be valid for at least 12 months further at the time of endorsement.
Additional regulation changes regarding employment pass holders desiring to study at Malaysian colleges and universities, children born in Malaysia to foreign nationals, and social visit passes for adult children and common-law spouses were also included in the announcement.

Saudi Arabia – UAE applicants for visit visas required to purchase health insurance

The VFS TasHeel visa application centers for Saudi Arabia located in the United Arab Emirates now require foreign nationals applying for Saudi visitor visas from within the UAE to obtain health insurance covering the duration of their stay in the Kingdom. The cost of the insurance is AED 200 to 400 depending on the level of coverage and applicant details and is being automatically assessed at the time of submitting the application. Applicants must purchase this medical coverage regardless of whether they already have applicable coverage from another provider.The measure is not new, having been implemented in other countries on 20 June of this year (see our Immigration Dispatch from 14 July). However, until recently the requirement had not been enforced for visa applications in the UAE.

United Arab Emirates – new electronic process for dependent visas

The General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) is now requiring foreign nationals in Dubai to use the new online UAE Vision system for all applications for dependent visas. This system replaces the previous manual process of typing the application at the authorized typing center and submitting the completed application along with required documents in-person at the Immigration Office.  Dependent visa applicants will still visit the typing center where their applications are entered, but then all required documents will be scanned and uploaded into UAE Vision there. Applicants will then receive an SMS message of their case approval, modification, or rejection and their e-Visa delivered by email if approved. If applicants require a physical visa stamp, they may visit the Immigration Office after receiving SMS approval notification.

In addition to the change in application procedures, an additional document requirement has also been added to the dependent visa application process. Applicants must now provide the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) of their sponsor’s local bank account for automatic electronic return of the sponsor’s deposit upon cancelation of the residence permit. Previously, sponsors were required to visit the GDRFA office with their original receipt to receive the deposit.The UAE Vision system was introduced in April, and has been gradually rolled out, to provide a faster and more convenient process for foreign nationals and their families. The aim was to relieve the long queues often experienced at the GDRFA Immigration Offices. However, as the various typing centers are in differing stages of transition to the new system, applicants may experience some delays in the short-term until the new system is fully implemented.

Reminders – recent and upcoming immigration implementations

The following are reminders of recent or upcoming implementation dates that you should know.
  • 31 August, Chile – Chile joins The Hague Apostille Convention and begins accepting apostilled documentation. (See our Immigration Dispatch of 9-15 August for additional details)
  • 25-29 August, Sri Lanka – Department of Immigration is moving offices from Colombo to Battaramulla. Expect delays in application processing during this time.
  • September, Ireland – New EPOS online Employment Application system comes online this month. Previous paper application forms are no longer accepted. DJEI Employment Permits Section urges applications to wait for EPOS to come online to submit new applications. (See our Global Brief of August 10 for additional details)
  • 1 September, Malaysia – New regulations for Employment Passes take effect in the MSC Malaysia. EP categories I, II, and III affected. (See this Immigration Dispatch Aug 23-29 for additional details)
  • 1 September, Taiwan – Visa-free travel using online TTAC application system is available for nationals of fifteen countries – Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. (See our Immigration Dispatch of 2-8 August for additional details)
  • 9-13 September, Muslim nations – The Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha will be observed in Muslim nations throughout the world. Exact dates of observance may vary by a day or two in some countries. Private companies, public offices and government offices will be closed.

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For more Relocate Global news and features about the latest immigration regulations, visit our immigration section.

Caveat Lector – Warning to Reader This 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 China Offices “Asian Tigers Mobility” and “Long King Consulting”, our PLG | KGNM Malaysia Offices “Asian Tigers Mobility” and “Moore-Bzi Sdn Bhd”, our PLG | KGNM Saudi Arabia Offices “Proven”, our PLG | KGNM Turkey Offices “Specialist Relocation & organization” and “Yalcin Toygar Tufekci Law Office”, and our PLG | KGNM United Arab Emirates Offices “Executive Expatriate Relocations” and “Move One 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.