28 February 2023
This week, the Global immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following recent updates from Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Japan, Malaysia and Russia.
Finland: Changes to residence permits on the basis of work
Effective 23 February 2023, amendments to chapter 5 of the Aliens Act entered into force. These changes affect applications for residence permits on the basis of work.
- Online applications are encouraged, with the aim of reducing processing times to one month on average. Paper applications are still available.
- The validity period of the applicant’s passport at the time the application decision is taken no longer affects the duration of the permit.
- Once the applicant has completed an online application in the Enter Finland service, the employer must provide additional information about the terms of employment via Enter Finland for Employers before processing can begin.
- The employer will also be able to apply for a certification for their business. The certification includes an assessment of the employer’s ability to act as an employer, which means that this will no longer be checked when lodging a residence permit application for an employed person. The first certification is issued for two years. A certified employer will not need to report the information of their business separately in each employee’s application. The price of certification is EUR 140 for online applications and EUR 195 for paper applications.
- A person who has completed a qualification or research in Finland can now apply for a new kind of residence permit that takes a broad view of the required means of support.
- Specialists will also receive a separate residence permit, which requires an income equal to the average wage-earner’s gross earnings in Finland.
- The minimum salary for a specialist residence permit is now EUR 3472 per month.
- The minimum salary for an EU Blue Card is now EUR 5209 per month. Potential employee benefits and daily allowances do not count as salary.
Ireland & Portugal: Golden visa schemes closed
Effective 15 February 2023, Ireland closed its Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) scheme.
- Applications submitted before that date will still be processed.
- Projects with applications that have not been formally submitted but which have been significantly developed following contact with the IIP Unit of the Department of Justice are given a period of three months for finalisation and submission.
On 17 February 2023, Portugal announced that it too would close its “golden visa” scheme this year.
Japan: New visa pathways to attract high earners
The Japanese government has approved a new pathway to residence for highly paid and highly qualified graduates.
The new immigration pathways, expected to be available in April, are called the Japan System for Special Highly Skilled Professionals (J-Skip) and the Japan System for Future Creation Individual Visa (J-Find).
J-Skip applies to researchers, engineers and high-level managers who will be able to skip the current points-based system if they meet certain income and work experience criteria.
Under current policy, an applicant can be considered for highly skilled professional status when they achieve 70 points or more, with points awarded for academic background, research achievements and Japanese proficiency. Highly skilled professional Level 1 status is granted for five years, and holders can move to highly skilled professional Level 2 status after three years, with an indefinite duration of stay.
Under J-Skip, researchers or engineers will need a master’s degree or above and an annual income of ¥20 million, or at least 10 years of work experience and an annual income of ¥20 million or more. Managers must have five years of experience or more and an annual income of at least ¥40 million. They will be able to move to Level 2 after only one year of residence in Japan.
J-Find will grant graduates from top foreign universities a two-year stay for job seeking purposes. They may be accompanied by their family members.
Malaysia: Endorsement on arrival eligibility extended
Effective 20 February 2023, endorsement on arrival at the Expatriate Services Department (ESD) Satellite Centre (ESC) at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA1) has been extended to all new applications of Employment Pass (EP) Category lll and Professional Visit Pass (PVP).
For approved new pass applications for EP Category I, II and lll, Dependant Pass (DP), Long-Term Social Visit Pass (LT-SVP) or PVP, the company must upload a copy of the applicant’s passport ID page, visa sticker (if applicable) and flight ticket to the Endorsement module of the ESD portal. Once verified (within three working days), the company will receive a notification to proceed with the payment of the Immigration fee, and an Approval Letter. This must be downloaded and presented by the applicant with their original passport at ESC KLIA1 on arrival for endorsement of the immigration pass into the passport.
Previously, these passes were delivered to the company representatives who were required to paste the pass into the applicant’s passport.
Russia: Visa-free entry introduced for up to 11 countries
Russia has announced that it plans to introduce visa-free entry for nationals of up to eleven countries and ease entry requirements for nationals of around six others. The lists of applicable countries have not been announced.
Russia’s foreign ministry also said that it intends to reopen its e-visa scheme for certain friendly countries. This scheme was launched in 2020 for and almost immediately suspended due to COVID-19.
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