Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration dispatch: Argentina, Australia, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates

Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Argentina, Australia, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates.

Immigration update: Argentina, Ireland, United Arab Emirates and Australia

Featured Update

United Arab Emirates – major changes to visa-on-arrival rules

The United Arab Emirates is changing the way it calculates the validity period of its 30-day visas-on-arrival. Under the new calculation method, the past practice of receiving a 30-day visa-on-arrival, exiting prior to the 30 days, and then returning, still within the original 30 days, and receiving a new visa-on arrival for another 30-day period is no longer possible.Now the 30-day validity period for the initial visa-on-arrival continues to run even if the foreign national exits the country. If the employee returns to the UAE within the 30-days, he or she may enter on the initial visa-on-arrival he received, but will not be eligible to apply for a second visa-on-arrival at that point. Instead, the foreign national can enter using the initial visa and apply for an extension of 20 days if needed. The UAE gives a 10-day “grace period” for holders of the 30-day visa-on-arrival; so in practice, the initial visa-on-arrival may be used for 40 days with a 20-day extension possible, for a total of 60 days.This new way of calculating the validity period will greatly impact those frequent business travellers to the UAE who have relied heavily on the ability to receive successive 30-day visas-on-arrival automatically at each entry. Common practice was to simply arrive at the port-of-entry, receive the visa-on-arrival, stay for up to 40 days, exit the country for a day, and then return and repeat the process. Now business travellers will have to plan their trips to the UAE more strategically, as a new visa-on-arrival will not be available until 40 days after the date the previous visa-on-arrival was received.No official announcement of the change has yet been published, but Pro-Link GLOBAL’s KGNM offices in the UAE have confirmed with immigration officials that the new policy is currently in effect in Dubai. However, it appears Abu Dhabi has not yet converted over to the new calculation method.The rules for the 90-day multiple-entry visa-on-arrival, regularly given to European Union nationals, are not affected by this change. Holders of this 90-day visa-on-arrival may stay in the UAE for 90 days in the 180-day period beginning on the date of obtaining the visa-on-arrival. Once the 90-days has been exhausted, these foreign nationals must exit the country and may then receive another 90-day visa-on-arrival once they have been out of the country for 90 days.Additionally, on September 4, the Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates approved a measure to add China to the list of nations whose foreign nationals receive visa-on-arrival to the federation. This is welcomed news for the almost half a million Chinese visitors to the Gulf nation each year. The move is designed to further cement China’s relationship with the UAE as a top trading partner.A study by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry earlier this year revealed that China was responsible for AED 176 billion (USD 48 million) in trade to that emirate alone in 2015. The exact date when the visas-on-arrival will begin being extended to Chinese travellers has yet be announced. Media outlets in the Gulf are also reporting that similar visas-on-arrival may soon follow for India and Russia as well.

Immigration changes from around the world

Argentina – reciprocity fee for US nationals permanently eliminated

Effective 21 September, Argentina’s National Immigration Directorate (DNM) has made permanent the elimination of the visa reciprocity fee for US nationals traveling to Argentina on short-term visas. The USD 160 fee, in effect since 2009, had been temporarily suspended since March of this year. This is welcomed news for US nationals headed on business trips to Argentina for less than 90 days.The action was part of the Presidential Decree 959/2016 which also made changes to various immigration fees for work and residence authorisations and entry fees. Note that the reciprocity fee still remains in effect for nationals of Canada and Australia traveling to the country.

Australia – High Court removes visa exemption for oil and gas workers

The High Court of Australia has ruled that the policy of the Ministry of Immigration (MOI) exempting certain foreign workers in the oil and gas industry from visa requirements is invalid. Since last December, the Ministry was granting work permit exemption to foreign nationals working on non-Australian “vessels and structures” used for offshore resource operations. The MOI had considered such vessels and structures outside the migration zone of Australia and therefore exempt from visa requirements. A legal challenge to the Ministry’s policy was brought by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Australian Maritime Officer’s Union (AMOU), who argued that the policy cost jobs for local labour markets and encouraged employers to exploit foreign workers with cheaper wages and poor working conditions.On the other side, the MOI and industry groups argued that invalidating the exemption would result in burdensome regulation and costs for Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry. In ruling in favour of the unions, the High Court found that the Ministry had exceeded its powers under the Migration Act by essentially negating the Act’s provisions in the case of such workers.. As a result of the ruling, all foreign nationals working in the offshore oil and gas industry within Australian waters – regardless of the vessel or structure on which they work – will now be subject to visa requirements and be protected by Australia’s labour laws on working conditions.The High Court’s ruling was handed down August 31 and invalidated the Ministry’s policy effective immediately. Therefore, employers of foreign nationals working on offshore oil and gas vessels and facilities should immediately contact their immigration advisors to obtain proper work visas and ensure that employment contracts and working conditions for such workers are in compliance with Australian law to avoid potential penalties for employing illegal workers and violating labour standards.

Ireland – new EPOS System goes live and act on posted workers takes effect

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation’s (DJEI’s) new Employment Permits Online System (EPOS) went live last week. The new electronic system provides intuitive online application completion and filing, document submission, and fee payment, making the method of applying for new employment permits, and renewing expiring ones, a more convenient and faster process for employers and their foreign national employees. See our Global Brief of 11 August for more details.In addition, the DJEI has now enacted into law by Statutory Instrument 412 of 2016 the provisions of the EU Posted Worker Directive (2014/67/EU). Ireland is the latest European Union nation to implement the directive, which is designed to provide uniform protection throughout the EU for foreign nationals sent to member nations for limited period work assignments. The directive is already in force in most member nations with Poland being the latest to implement the decree. See our Immigration Dispatch of 18 August for more details.The new regulations, effective 27 July, require that foreign employees posted in Ireland receive the same working conditions afforded local employees under Irish labour law – including minimum salary and overtime pay, working hour restrictions, rest periods, holidays, health and safety standards, protections for pregnant workers and maternity leave, equal treatment and non-discrimination rights, and temporary worker rights. Employers are now required to submit to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) reports including the number of posted workers, start and end dates of their assignments, their work locations, and the nature of the services provided.Further, employers must maintain records of the posted worker’s employment contract, pay slips, time sheets, and proof of the actual payment of wages made. Non-compliance is subject to a monetary fine, so employers of posted foreign workers in Ireland should contact their labour law advisors if they are unsure that their current employment policies and procedures meet the requirements of the new law. 

Reminders: recent and upcoming immigration implementations

The following are reminders of recent or upcoming implementation dates that you should know:

  • 12 September, Brazil – The labour strike by workers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs enters its fourth week. Significant backlogs and delays in the processing of visas, work and residence authorizations have been reported in numerous overseas Brazilian Embassies and Consulates. Some consulates have suspended visa services altogether, but many Embassies and some consulates continue visa processing at diminished capacity. Affected applicants should expect these significant delays to continue. (See our Immigration Dispatch of 7 September for additional details)
  • 11-15 September, Muslim nations – The Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha is being 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 are closed.
  • 14-16 September, APAC region – The Mid-Autumn or Moon Festival will be observed over one to three days by various nations in this region, including China (15-16 September), Hong Kong (16 September), South Korea (14-16 September), and Taiwan (15-16 September). Private companies, public offices and government offices will be closed.

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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 Argentina Offices “Estudio Kaufer Barbe & Vinent” and “Holistic Mobility Services”, our PLG | KGNM Ireland Office “Actus, Business Immigration LTD”, 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.