3 January 2023
This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from the European Union, Ireland, Lithuania and New Zealand.
European Union: Croatia becomes latest Schengen country
The European Council has decided to extend the Schengen Area to Croatia, but not yet to Bulgaria or Romania.
From 1 January 2023, checks on persons at internal land and sea borders between Croatia and the other countries in the Schengen area will be lifted. Checks at internal air borders will be lifted from 26 March 2023, given the need for this to coincide with the dates of IATA summer/winter time schedule. From 1 January 2023, Croatia will also start to issue Schengen visas and will be able to make full use of the Schengen Information System.
Since its accession to the EU, Croatia has applied parts of the Schengen acquis, including those related to the external border controls, police cooperation and the use of the Schengen Information System.
Ireland: Single application procedure for employment permits and immigration permissions
The Irish government has agreed in principle to develop a single application procedure for employment permits and immigration permissions. An interdepartmental working group will be established to develop an implementation plan and associate timeframes.
Currently to work in Ireland, a person from outside the European Economic Area has to first make an application to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment for a work permit, and then make a second application to the Department of Justice for an immigration permission.
Eight weeks is the average processing time cited by the Department of Justice for employment and study visas. The processing time can vary across the visa office and embassy network depending on local circumstances.
All Employment Permit applications are currently being processed in between 3 and 5 business days by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
Lithuania: Temporary residence permits to be issued in 34 countries from 2023
From 2 January 2023, foreign nationals can apply for temporary residence permits in 34 different countries via VFS Global offices. Previously, applications for a temporary residence permit could only be submitted by booking an appointment at the Migration Department after the applicant had legally arrived in Lithuania.
Citizens of all foreign countries can apply to VFS Global offices, regardless of whether they reside in the country where such services are provided.
Countries where VFS Global will have offices include Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Georgia, India, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Moldova, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Republic of South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Venezuela.
VFS Global is authorized to provide customers with information on the procedure for issuing temporary residence permits, accept applications and mandatory documents, collect personal and biometric data, and transfer them to the Migration Department. In all cases, decisions on the issuance or non-issuance of a temporary residence permit will be made by the Migration Department in 1 to 3 months.
VFS Global will also be obliged to collect Lithuanian state fees for the services. Acceptance, examination, decision-making and document issuance of an application for a temporary residence permit are generally charged at 120 euros.
After the Migration Department makes a decision to issue a temporary residence permit in Lithuania, the produced card will be sent to the applicant, who will be able to enter Lithuania with a valid residence permit and will not need to obtain an additional visa. If a foreign national has a visa that entitles them to enter Lithuania, or uses the visa-free regime, they will be able to pick up an already-issued temporary residence permit card in Lithuania.
In addition, from 2 January 2023, amendments to the Law “On the Legal Status of Foreigners” enter into force, according to which the deadlines for examining applications for temporary residence permits are shortened by 1 month.
New Zealand: Range of visa updates announced
Several changes to New Zealand’s immigration rules were announced in December 2022.
Straight to Residence Green List pathway
From 15 December 2022, registered nurses and midwives will move from the Work to Residence to the Straight to Residence Green List pathway. All medical doctors will also be included on the Straight to Residence pathway. From March 2023, auditors will also be added to the Straight to Residence Green List pathway.
Work to Residence Green List pathway
It was also announced that the following professions will be added to the Work to Residence Green List pathway from March 2023:
- Civil construction supervisors
- Skilled crane operators
- Skilled civil machine operators
- Halal slaughterers
- Skilled motor mechanics
- Skilled telecommunications technicians
- All secondary school teachers (in addition to the specialisations already on the Green List)
- Primary school teachers
The Green List will next be reviewed in mid-2023
Open Work Visa for people unable to use Post Study Visas in 2020–2021
People who held a Post Study Work Visa but were unable to use it due to the border closing in March 2020 will be eligible for a 12-month Open Work Visa if they’re not already in New Zealand on another visa.
Pathway for Critical Purpose Visitor Visa holders staying in same role
The government is introducing a streamlined Specific Purpose Work Visa that long-term critical workers can apply for to allow them to continue to work in their current role for up to three years.
The process will be streamlined, so the only employment-related information an applicant needs to provide is a letter from their employer confirming that they remain employed in the same role and on the same (or better) conditions as those that were approved in the Critical Purpose Visitor Visa application.
Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) employer accreditation extension
Employer accreditations under the Accredited Employer Work Visa will automatically be extended by 12 months if their first accreditation is applied for by 4 July 2023.
This one-off extension will provide employers with certainty as we head into 2023 that they will continue to have access to skilled labour without the additional cost and administrative burden of reapplying for accreditation.
Expansion of the accreditation system to cover all migrants, including those with open work rights will be deferred until 2024. The delay will allow Government to progress other priorities like the review of the Skilled Migrant Category and family and partnership immigration settings.
Sector Agreement for bus and truck drivers
Bus and truck drivers will have a time limited residence pathway through a sector agreement. Officials will consult with transport sector representatives in the development of the agreement.
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