CHINA – New work authorization procedures introduced in 10 cities/provinces
New work authorization procedures took effect Nov. 1 in 10 pilot cities and provinces: Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Anhui, Guangdong, Hebei, Ningxia, Shandong, Sichuan and Yunnan. The changes will be implemented nationwide in April 2017.
The procedures will unify the work authorization process into one employment permit. Work permits will be classified into three types (A,B and C), and an online management system will be introduced to promote information-sharing.
- Implementation time frame: The pilot program began Nov. 1 and will be rolled out nationwide in April.
- Visas/permits affected: Employment permits.
- Who is affected: Employers sponsoring foreign nationals for work authorization in the 10 designated areas.
- Impact on processing times: Processing times will be longer because legalizations will be required for degrees, police clearances, medical reports, marriage and birth certificates and other documents.
- Business impact: Employers should anticipate new procedures and factor in additional time needed to obtain legalization of documents.
China is introducing a new foreign employment management system that merges work authorization into a single employment permit scheme. Applicants will be scored based on their annual salary, education, working duration, Mandarin language level, work location, age and other factors such as working in remote areas.
Three new categories and eligible applicants are:
Category A - High-level Foreign Experts in science, hi-tech and special talent:
- Individuals selected for the China talent program.
- Individuals who have received internationally recognized awards.
- Market-demand talent encouraged by the Chinese government.
- Entrepreneurs on innovative projects.
- Youth talent.
- Score higher than 85.
Category B - Market-Demand Talents:
- Individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher and at least two years of related work experience.
- Individuals with a master’s degree or higher from a university in mainland China.
- Individuals with a master’s degree or higher from an international top 100 university.
- Foreign language teachers in China.
- Score higher than 60.
Category C - Temporary/service market foreign employees:
- Foreign workers for government projects in China.
- Interns based on a government agreement.
- Foreign helpers coming to China to work for a High-Level Foreign Expert.
- Foreign nationals working in offshore fishing or other special areas.
- Some seasonal workers.
- No minimum score required.
Companies applying for foreign employees in one of the pilot regions should prepare for additional processing and document preparation time.
GERMANY – EU Blue Card minimums to increase
The salary threshold for EU Blue Card holders will increase in January.
The minimum gross annual salary for non-shortage occupations will increase to €50,800 (from €49,600 in 2016). For shortage occupations, the minimum salary will increase to €39,624 (from €38,688 in 2016).
- Implementation time frame: Jan. 1.
- Visas/permits affected: EU Blue Cards.
- Who is affected: German companies sponsoring non-EU foreign nationals on EU Blue Cards.
- Business impact: Businesses may see a slight increase in labor costs.
- Next steps: New and renewal applications for EU Blue Cards starting Jan. 1 or later must meet the new salary levels.
Background: EU Blue Card salaries are indexed annually. For non-shortage occupations, employers who meet the minimum income level are not required to obtain approval of the Federal Employment Agency for issuance of EU Blue Cards. In shortage occupations, Blue Card applicants usually require agency approval, except when the foreign employee holds a German university degree. Shortage occupations include information and communications specialists, engineers, medical doctors and mathematicians. EU Blue Cards are only available to foreign nationals with a local contract to work in Germany who hold a degree from a German university or an accredited foreign equivalent.
The new salary levels represent about a 2.5 percent increase over this year’s thresholds that employers should factor into their 2017 budgets.
FRANCE – Procedures under new immigration law clarified; delays expected
France has clarified procedures under an immigration overhaul that took effect Nov. 1.
Employers should prepare for changes to procedures and expect delays during the transition, especially under the new Talent Passport resident permit category and intracompany transfer (ICT) local hires and ICT secondments, which will now be processed by French consulates. Employees on short-term detachés of less than 90 days will be exempt from work permits if bringing expertise in IT, engineering, management or other specified areas.
- Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
- Visas/permits affected: Talent Passport, ICTs, Detaché (short-term and long-term).
- Who is affected: French companies sponsoring foreign employees.
- Impact on processing times: Employers and foreign nationals should anticipate delays for all categories requiring a visa due to the increased workload on French consulates.
- Business impact: Employers should factor in processing delays and may need to rearrange business schedules and start dates for affected foreign employees.
The Law on Foreign Workers passed in May and an implementing decree was published last week. B·A·L has obtained the following additional details:
- ICT (Secondment) applications will be submitted to the French embassy or consulate where the employee resides. Application forms and the list of required documents are expected to change. French consulates will announce these changes in forthcoming guidance; in the meantime, they are not accepting applications while they await guidance from the government.
- EU ICT permits will be issued to individuals holding a work permit in another EEA country and transferring to France on a similar type of work permit. If they already hold a resident permit in another EEA country for more than 90 days, they may work in France short-term (up to 90 days) by submitting notification to the French prefecture before arrival. Individuals holding a resident permit in another EEA country for more than 90 days may transfer to France for longer than 90 days if they are managerial level and meet certain minimum tenure requirements, but they must apply for a Mobile ICT resident permit. (They may begin work upon arrival and for up to 90 days as long as they have the intention to apply for the Mobile ICT permit upon expiration of the 90 days.)
- Passport Talent resident permits are for local hires only and encompass several categories, including EU Blue Cards and ICT local hires. Applications will be submitted directly to the appropriate French consulate, and the resident permit application will then be submitted in-country. EU Blue Card procedures will not change significantly. ICT local hires may work at a client site and procedures will be similar to EU Blue Card procedures.
- Short-Term Detachés (less than 90 days) will be exempt from a work permit if the employee can demonstrate certain expertise (IT, management, engineering etc.). The government has not defined which activities fall under “expertise in IT.” Visa-required foreign nationals applying under the work permit exemption would need a Schengen C Visa; foreign nationals who are visa-exempt would not need to apply for an entry visa. Employers will still be required to submit a secondment declaration. The duration is restricted to 90 days within a 180-day period.
- Long-Term Detachés (Service Provider) application procedures will not change significantly. Applications will continue to be submitted in-country to the DIRECCTE and still require work permit authorization.French consulates are not accepting applications under the Talent Passport category yet, as staff are awaiting guidance and training from the government. Foreign nationals who require a visa to France should plan for delays at French consulates. Additional guidance on consular processes is expected within the next two weeks.