Autoren

Julie Filliard

Counsel

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Bart Hunnekens

Partner

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Sean Nesbitt

Partner

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Charlie Pring

Senior Counsel

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Mag. Walter Pöschl

Partner

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Vikki Wiberg

Senior Counsel

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Juultje van der Zanden

Counsel

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Jonas Warnken

Partner

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Autoren

Julie Filliard

Counsel

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Bart Hunnekens

Partner

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Sean Nesbitt

Partner

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Charlie Pring

Senior Counsel

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Mag. Walter Pöschl

Partner

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Vikki Wiberg

Senior Counsel

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Juultje van der Zanden

Counsel

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Jonas Warnken

Partner

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23. Mai 2024

Frontiers - immigration update – 1 von 3 Insights

Frontiers - immigration update

In the third edition of our immigration focused newsletter we give a snapshot of the latest immigration law developments below.

Please get in touch with your usual Taylor Wessing contact if you would like to discuss anything you have seen in the newsletter.

UK

Dawn of a new age: UK transitions to e-visas

Holders of UK Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) cards have started to receive emails from UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) inviting them to set up an online UKVI account in preparation for the UK government's move to digital "e-visas" for most visa categories. If this affects you, you will need to take active steps to manage this move. 

Why is there a move to e-visas?

Due to the UK not having the "next generation encryption technology" to hold biometric data beyond 31 December 2024, UKVI was restricted to issuing BRP cards with an expiry date of 31 December 2024, regardless of visa length or those with Indefinite Leave to Remain. Following Brexit, rather than reissue new BRP cards with later expiry dates, the UK government plans to have a fully digital border, with no physical visa documents for most visa categories. BRP card holders who do not already have a UKVI account must take active steps to transition to an e-visa before 31 December 2024. Until now UKVI has not provided much information on this process. The e-visa will confirm the actual visa expiry date, as confirmed on the BRP card holder's decision letter or email.

How do I know when I need to apply?

In due course you should receive an email from DoNotReply.evisadirectmail@notifications.service.gov.uk entitled, "Important information about your BRP and changes to the UK immigration system". Please do not ignore it! The UKVI account application process and information needed is set out in the email. Given the number of people this will affect we recommend taking action to create your account as soon as you receive the invitation to do so.

All BRP card holders must create an individual account and obtain an e-visa. This includes children and dependants who cannot remain on their family member's account. 

Once you have created a UKVI account, it is important to update your passport linked to the account to ensure that your status can be checked accurately and quickly. It is also important to ensure that you update any contact detail changes. 

BRP card holders who have become British Citizens (and obtained a British passport) and those with a UKVI account as they already hold an e-visa or EUSS Pre-Settled or Settled Status do not need to take any action. British Citizens with a Certificate of Entitlement will need to take further action later this year to confirm their status (UKVI has not yet provided information for those holding this status). 

What happens if I don't apply?

BRP card holders who do not obtain an "e-visa" by 31 December 2024 will not be able to provide evidence of their status to employers, landlords, banks etc. They may also be refused entry to the UK from 1 January 2025. The Home Office has indicated that there will be a transitional period for those who do not apply but we would recommend not relying on this period. 

I have not received an email. What should I do?

If you have not yet received an email, keep looking out for one over the next few months and check your junk mail in case it has been blocked. Emails are being sent out in batches so yours may not arrive for a while yet. 

If your adviser at Taylor Wessing was listed as the contact on your application form, we may be emailed instead. UKVI plans to contact legal representatives later in 2024. We will then be in contact. We will issue more advice on the application process when information becomes available. 

Please contact us if you have any questions on creating your UKVI account or your e-visa status.

Read original article.

UK immigration changes on 4 April 2024 – the latest details

As we reported in our update on 25 January 2024 the Home Office announced significant changes to the UK immigration system. This flows from the Home Office's five-point plan to significantly reduce net migration announced in December 2023. In March, the Home Office released further details in a Statement of Changes which confirms some points. Many of these changes came into effect on 4 April 2024.

Increased Minimum Salary Thresholds:

The minimum salary for a Skilled Worker visa has risen to the higher of £38,700 or the job's going rate.

The salary data has shifted from the 25th percentile of the 2021 ASHE data to the median (50th percentile) of the 2023 ASHE data, setting minimum salaries above £38,700 for some roles.

Transitional Salaries:

For current visa holders extending their stay or changing employers, the minimum salary is the higher of £29,000 (up from £26,200) or the going rate based on the 25th percentile of the 2023 ASHE data. This transitional threshold applies until 4 April 2030.

Occupation Code Changes:

Roles are now classified under SOC 2020 instead of SOC 2010, changing many occupation codes and reflecting updates in job classifications.

New Entrant Salary Discounts:

The 'new entrant' discount remains, setting the threshold at the higher of £30,960 or 70% of the job's going rate, applicable for up to four years. The full going rate must be paid when applying for settlement.

Supplementary Employment:

Skilled Workers can undertake supplementary employment in any role eligible for Skilled Worker sponsorship, not exceeding 20 hours a week, alongside their primary sponsored role.

Global Business Mobility - Senior or Specialist Worker:

The salary threshold for this visa has increased from £45,800 to £48,500 or the updated occupation code's going rate, including allowances in the total salary calculation.

Stricter Application Scrutiny:

New sponsor licence applications face increased scrutiny, and compliance visits and audits are more frequent, potentially causing delays.

Employers should review these new regulations to ensure compliance and consider the impact on potential and existing employees. Do contact us if you'd like to chat through the impact of these changes.

Read more.

Austria/Ukraine

Austria empowers Ukrainian refugees with unrestricted work rights

To integrate Ukrainians who have fled the Russian war, the government is proposing to grant them permanent and unrestricted access to the labour market in the form of a "Red-White-Red Card Plus". A bill is expected to pass into law in June or early July 2024. The prerequisite for the RWR Card+ is employment above the marginal employment threshold (a regular monthly salary above EUR 418.44 gross) for at least twelve months within the last 24 months or to have been self-employed within the social insurance system for entrepreneurs. According to the government, this requirement is currently fulfilled by c. 7,000 displaced Ukrainians.

In addition, there are amendments to the employment of foreigners' package, which includes amendments to the Employment of Foreigners Act, the Settlement and Residence Act, the Asylum Act, and the Compulsory Education Act which allows displaced young Ukrainians to be included in the compulsory education requirement applicable in Austria up to the age of 18. In doing so, the government wants to close a gap between compulsory education and access to the labour market. According to the government this would also relieve the burden on those obliged to provide care - predominantly displaced women of working age.

Spain

Goodbye, Golden Visa: Spain eliminates real estate investment option

The Golden Visa for real estate investment is being abolished. The law has yet to be drafted, but it is expected to be passed in summer 2024 and enforced straight away.

All signs point to the elimination of the €500,000 real estate investments that were used to obtain residence permits in Spain.

The rest of the investment options are likely to remain, so the Golden Visa will continue to exist for investment in:

  • public debt (€2 million)
  • shares or equity investments in companies with Spanish capital (€1 million)
  • investment funds, closed-end investment funds or venture capital funds incorporated in Spain (€1 million)
  • bank deposits in Spanish financial institutions (€1 million)
  • investment in a business project in Spain (will depend on valuation).

It is too early to say what will happen to visas which have already been granted through real estate investment. There are two possibilities:

  • The residence permits will remain in force and effective if the investment conditions in force at the time of acquisition of that residence are maintained.
  • A transitional period may be established, during which the beneficiaries of this kind of Golden Visa need to change their migratory status in Spain to a different type of residence permit.

For more details and discussion on the range of changes, please contact Ignacio Peyró at ECIJA.

Germany

Modernised German citizenship law on the way: multiple nationalities allowed

The new Naturalisation Act 2024 will come into force on 27 June 2024. With the modernisation of the Naturalisation Act, Germany is on the verge of significant legal changes.

Currently, about 14 % of people living in Germany do not have a German passport and about 44% of these people have been living in Germany for at least ten years. Only some of those eligible are currently seeking citizenship. At 1.1 %, the naturalisation rate in Germany is below the EU average of 2.0 %. This is despite the fact that the German passport has been considered one of the most valuable passports in the “Passport Index” for years. Under the current citizenship law, many people with an immigration background are reluctant to apply for German citizenship, primarily because the prohibition of multiple nationalities often requires them to give up their prior citizenship to obtain German citizenship. The German government has recognised this problem and is now emphasising the importance of improving nationality law to meet foreign workers' needs.

Shorter naturalisation periods

The new Act seeks to provide incentives for integration by reducing the minimum period of German residence necessary for naturalisation to five years (down from the current eight years). For individuals who have achieved a high level of integration and can prove this with a C1 language certificate, the minimum period of German residence is lowered further to three years. A high level of integration is shown through, for example, special academic or professional achievements or voluntary work.

Multiple citizenships

In future, everyone applying to become a naturalised German citizen will be able to retain their former citizenship without restrictions. In addition, all German nationals who wish to acquire another citizenship will be able to retain their German citizenship automatically so will no longer need to apply for permission to retain their German citizenship. German citizens will be able to hold multiple citizenships.

Currently, except in rare circumstances, multiple citizenships are not allowed. However, for more than 15 years, more than half of all naturalisations have been carried out with the acceptance of multiple nationalities. This trend is continuously rising. In 2022, the rate of multiple citizenship for naturalisations was as high as 74.1 %. The principle of avoiding multiple citizenship has thus been merely the exception. It is, however, to be assumed that many applications for naturalisation were simply not handed in because of the rather rare exceptions and so the statistics are misleading. Many foreigners living in Germany do not want to give up their previous nationality as they also feel connected to their country of origin. In addition, the nationality of one person may have an impact on inheritance law matters or minimise the risk of becoming a victim of expropriation of assets abroad.

Relaxed naturalisation for children

The new Act also strengthens citizenship at birth. Children born in Germany to non-German parents will now automatically be granted German citizenship if one parent has been legally living in Germany for more than five years with unlimited residency status.

Due to the possibility of multiple citizenship, the “Optionspflicht” (where some dual national children had to decide whether to keep their German citizenship or their other citizenship at the age of 21) is also being abolished entirely.

Guest worker easements

The new Act also allows for former guest workers to become a German citizen more easily. They will only need to demonstrate oral language proficiency in future, and they will no longer be required to take a naturalisation test.

Further relevant changes

The Act introduces several other changes:

  • The requirement to have adapted to the living environment in Germany is to be replaced with specific grounds for exclusion, including polygamy and disregard for gender equality.
  • The security clearance process is to be digitalised and accelerated. At the same time, the list of authorities from which clearance is sought has been expanded to include those security agencies that are also involved in the participation procedures under residence and refugee law.
  • A hardship clause has been created for the language certificate requirement, which in certain cases considers oral knowledge to be sufficient if the acquisition of language skills at level B1 is not possible or is permanently difficult despite serious and sustained efforts.

Summary

Becoming a German citizen has several benefits including the right to vote (or even stand for election) and full freedom of movement in the EU, with the ability to live, work and study across Europe.

The new Act is expected to significantly increase applications for German citizenship, especially since many applicants are citizens of other countries and are therefore currently stopped from naturalising without giving up their current citizenship. The new Act is also to be assumed to make Germany a more attractive labour market in the “war for talent”, as access to a German passport, one of the most valuable passports, will be easier.

The significant increase of applications is expected to further slow processing times for naturalisations. Currently, due to many Brexit related applications and a backlog during Covid, processing times are already often over one year. Submitting an application promptly is advised once the new Act is in force to avoid long waiting times.

Portugal

Discover Portugal: a guide to the D7 residence visa

Why the D7 Visa?

If you're planning to live in Portugal, you'll need to apply for a residence visa before settling permanently. This visa can be requested at a Portuguese visa centre or Consulate in your country of origin or residence. Among the various legalisation options available under Portuguese law, the D7 Visa stands out.  It is particularly attractive for retirees, pensioners, and investors with stable passive income.

The D7 Visa offers several benefits, such as access to the Schengen Area, allowing for unrestricted travel within member countries; the possibility of residency for spouses and dependents, and it it grants access to the country's healthcare system and public education. After five years of residency, holders can apply for permanent residency and/or Portuguese nationality.

Applicants need to demonstrate a monthly income equivalent to at least the Portuguese minimum wage, with additional amounts required for each family member; proof of accommodation, such as a rental agreement or proof of property ownership in Portugal; travel insurance; a criminal record certificate from your country of origin; and personal documentation, including a valid passport and other relevant documents.

Important steps for applying for the D7 Visa include detailed financial planning to ensure income is sufficient and well-documented, initiating the process well in advance to avoid delays, and having documentation reviewed by a specialist to ensure all visa requirements are met.

Applying for the visa

The application process for the D7 Visa involves several stages:

  • Review documentation to ensure eligibility for the visa.
  • Submit the application at the Portuguese consulate in the applicants' country of residence and remain in the country until the visa is issued. The evaluation process can take 60 to 90 days.
  • Once approved, applicants receive a temporary residence visa valid for 4 months and allowing two entries into Portugal.
  • Upon arrival, applicants need to schedule an appointment at the Immigration and Asylum Integration Agency (AIMA) in Portugal to obtain the residence permit, which is valid for two years and renewable for an additional three years.

It's important to emphasise that the D7 Visa is a residency visa, a big commitment to establishing a primary residence in Portugal. This classification requires a comprehensive understanding of the associated legal and financial responsibilities visa holders need to fulfil.

For more information or personalised guidance on the D7 Visa, please get in touch with Bruna Casagrande at ECIJA.

Hungary

Hungary's fresh residency and investment landscape

A new immigration act introducing new types of residence permits took effect on 1 March 2024. 

Visiting investors may now reside in Hungary for business or investment purposes more easily. This new type of permit can be granted for 10+10 years to third-country nationals who:

  • acquire certain investment units of at least EUR 250,000 issued by a real estate fund registered by the Hungarian National Bank and hold these for at least 5 years
  • acquire residential property in the value of at least EUR 500,000, located in Hungary, and hold it without any encumbrances for at least 5 years, or
  • make a financial donation in the amount of at least EUR 1,000,000 for educational, scientific research or artistic purposes to a higher education institution maintained by a public trust.

Third-country nationals may also be eligible for a residence permit for self-employment in Hungary for 1+2 years if they wish to perform independent gainful activities (eg, as a self-employed person); or wish to act as an executive of a business organisation, cooperative or other legal entity established for the purpose of gainful activity.

These new permits may be a response to increasing investments coming from the East. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Chinese companies are investing EUR 15.2 billion in Hungary, aiming to create approximately 25,000 new jobs. As part of this new alliance, Hungarian citizens will be permitted to travel to China without a visa until the end of 2025, together with the citizens of nine other EU member states.

There are more residence permit titles for the employment of third-country nationals as guest workers, namely for:

  • seasonal employment (typically in the agricultural sector),
  • skilled and unskilled labourers from certain specific third countries (eg, Vietnam, Russia, Indonesia, and the Philippines) whose employer is a registered "preferential employer” or a “qualified temporary work agency"; this permit is not available for certain jobs, mainly requiring higher professional qualifications, but also includes some positions that can be performed without higher professional qualifications (eg, software developer, secretary, hotel receptionist),
  • the purpose of regular employment, and
  • for investment related projects, in which case the employer is responsible for obtaining prior approval for group employment, concluding an agreement with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, or has accepted the offer of support, to implement this preferential investment.

When?

Applications under the new regime may be submitted as of 1 July 2024 for visiting investors and as of 1 March 2024 for guest workers.

So what?

With the new legal framework, it has become easier to reside in Hungary where a person makes significant direct financial investments, and to obtain residence permits for special projects.

With the help of registered labour leasing agencies, guest workers may be employed more flexibly with the new guest worker permit. The new legislation also sets stricter limits: for example, it has become more difficult to renew a residence permit and it is not possible to obtain a permanent residence or family reunification. Thus, the new permit types specifically aim at guest workers recruited for a certain development project by a given employer, who can only stay as long as the project requires.

The situation has become more uncertain for some foreign workers who do not have higher professional qualifications (or do not need these for their positions) but wish to work in a position outside the categories reserved for guest workers (eg as a software developer, secretary, hotel receptionist). Although they may be just as skilled, the new legislation puts them in the same legal category as guest workers, subjecting them to a stricter regulatory framework.

Netherlands

Key updates in Dutch work permit regulations: what you need to know

The Dutch government has introduced several key updates to work permit regulations that come into effect in the first part of 2024.

Suitable home requirement

An employer must provide information about the employee’s home in the application for a work permit or a combined permit for residence and work (GVVA). As from 16 February 2024, the UWV (Employment Insurance Agency) uses this information to assess whether there is a suitable home. The application for the work permit or GVVA can be rejected if this is not the case.

Timely notification of changes

An employer, qualified as the recognised sponsor at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) is obliged to report any changes in its situation as a recognised sponsor or regarding the sponsored employee within four weeks to the IND. There are certain exceptions for which a shorter notification term applies. For example, a change of the (administration) address of the company falls under the obligation to keep and retain records and must be reported within two weeks.

Reduced salary criterion

In case the recognised sponsor did rely on the reduced salary criterion in the application for a highly skilled migrant visa for its employee, then the company must make sure that it has assessed whether the highly skilled migrant is entitled to this. The necessary documents recording this reduced salary criterion must be kept in the company's records; as of April 2024, it is mandatory to do so. 

Poland

Poland's immigration overhaul: streamlining residency and work permits

What is the goal of the amendments?

In 2024, Poland is implementing numerous changes to the legalisation of residence and work for foreigners. The planned changes aim to implement EU Directive 2021/1883, streamline the legalisation of foreigners' residence in Poland, and improve the efficiency of the voivodeship government offices.

One key development is the bill dated 7 February 2024 which amends the Act on Foreigners (and other laws). The bill aims to streamline the legalisation process for foreigners' residence and employment; changing the application process for residence permits and simplifying the procedure for obtaining the EU Blue Card. It includes implementing the provisions of the October 2021 EU Directive 2021/1883 which sets conditions for the entry and residence of highly skilled third-country nationals.

Change in the method of issuing residence permits

Currently, applications for granting temporary residence permits, permanent residence permits, and long-term EU resident permits are submitted in written form during a personal visit to the voivodship office. The waiting time for issuing such permits should not exceed one month, and in cases of particularly complex matters, no longer than two months. In practice, these proceedings often last much longer, which is why this procedure will be replaced by the option to submit applications electronically through an online service. 

The process will not be entirely electronic; foreign nationals will still need to appear in person to provide fingerprints, present a valid travel document or another identity-confirming document and submit a signature for the issuance of a residence card.

Changes in the EU Blue Card procedure

The bill proposes changing the definition of 'higher professional qualifications' to cover both formal higher education qualifications and those obtained through professional experience, creating more opportunities for those with substantial experience but no formal qualifications.

Another significant change is to shorten the period required to enter a contract with a foreign national from 12 to six months, and to grant foreign nationals with an EU Blue Card the right to conduct business activities under the same conditions as Polish citizens.

EU Blue Card holders will also have new reporting obligations, such as notifying the start of a period of unemployment, a change of employer, the cessation of meeting EU Blue Card eligibility criteria and the start of long-term mobility as an EU Blue Card holder.

Slovakia

Slovakian PM rejects the EU migration pact

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico announced on 16 April that he will not adopt the European Union's new migration system. The EU's new migration pact aims to streamline security and asylum procedures while bolstering returns and relocations to address irregular immigration from the Middle East and Africa, a top priority for the bloc since 2015.

Despite the recent approval of the reform by the European Parliament, tensions surrounding migration issues persist particularly among the Visegrad countries, and Fico has stressed his view of the deal as a 'dictate'. The new pact aims to address longstanding opposition by providing alternatives for countries reluctant to accept more asylum seekers while ensuring that all member states contribute to easing the migratory burden on frontline countries.

The news of the rejection came a month before an assassination attempt on the Slovak PM in May. His controversial positions and outspoken criticism of EU policies have made him a polarising figure.

Czechia

Czechia welcomes global talent: work visa requirement lifted for seven countries

From July, Czechia will implement a groundbreaking policy to attract skilled workers from abroad. Citizens from seven non-EU countries – the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea – will no longer need work visas to be legally employed in the country.

The new policy will facilitate recruitment and reduce administrative burdens on employers, allowing skilled workers and managers from these seven countries to work without needing work permits, employee cards, blue cards, or intra-company transfer permits. The initiative is designed to make it easier for companies to hire international talent and strengthen ties with economically robust countries.

The Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs proposed this specific list of countries, highlighting that it strikes a balance between attracting highly skilled workers and safeguarding national security, as these nations are deemed low risk. Additionally, statistics from the Czech Labour Ministry indicate that individuals from these countries who are working in Czechia are predominantly employed in senior and highly skilled positions across various sectors that boost the economy. As of the end of March, around 9000 workers from these countries were recorded, with more than half holding university or doctoral degrees. Although they represent a small percentage of foreign workers in the country, their contributions significantly impact various sectors, driving economic growth and innovation.

This new policy represents a strategic effort to foster stronger international ties and position the Czech Republic as a highly attractive destination for skilled workers across the globe.

Belgium

Flanders Region implements significant changes

From 1 May 2024, the Flanders Region in Belgium will introduce substantial changes to its immigration policy, impacting employers and third-country nationals applying for work permits, including EU Blue Cards. These changes aim to prioritise local and European workers while addressing the need for foreign skilled workers.

Expanded work permit exemptions

The range of activities that do not require a work permit for business visitors will expand to include:

  • participating in conferences, seminars, business meetings, trade fairs, and exhibitions
  • negotiating business agreements
  • engaging in sales, marketing, internal, and customer audits
  • exploring business opportunities
  • attending or conducting training sessions
  • tourism-related activities
  • providing translation and interpretation services.

Under the old rules, which remain in the Brussels-Capital and Walloon regions, business visitors can attend smaller restricted business meetings for up to 20 days per trip with a maximum 60 working days per year.

Employers must ensure compliance with the 90-day stay limit within any 180-day period for these activities. All foreign nationals entering Flanders or other regions in Belgium may still need to complete a Limosa declaration. This declaration provides detailed information about the worker and the employer and can be completed online.

Employers hiring for medium-skilled shortage occupations must now provide comprehensive documentation of an applicant’s skills, experience, and qualifications. These documents will be assessed by the Regional Employment Ministry (REM).

For more information on the range of regional changes, please contact Marie Michaud-Nérard.

This article was contributed to by Ignacio Peyró, senior associate at our strategic alliance partner, ECIJA.

In dieser Serie

Aufenthaltsrecht

Frontiers - immigration update

23. May 2024

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Aufenthaltsrecht

Frontiers - immigration update

22. February 2024

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Frontiers - October

19. October 2023

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