January 12, 2024

Recent Developments in International Immigration Policies

The world of immigration is constantly evolving, with new policies and procedures being implemented regularly. Staying up-to-date on these changes is crucial for individuals and businesses seeking to navigate the complexities of global mobility. In this update, we delve into the latest immigration developments from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Italy, New Zealand, and South Africa, highlighting key changes that may impact your immigration plans.

Belgium: Updated Shortage Occupation List in Wallonia

Effective Date: October 1, 2023

Belgium has recently updated its shortage occupation list in Wallonia. This list is instrumental in determining the eligibility of foreign workers seeking employment in specific occupations. The update includes the removal of seven occupations, namely carpenter, cook, chef cook, credit analyst, fountain maker, glass maker, and speech therapist.

Applicants for work permits in occupations on the list will no longer be required to fulfill labor market testing requirements. This streamlining of the process aims to facilitate the entry of skilled workers into Belgium. The updated list will remain in effect until September 30, 2024.

Canada: No Upfront Medical Exam Required for Express Entry

Effective Date: October 1, 2023

In a significant development, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has made a change to the Express Entry application process. As of October 1, 2023, applicants for permanent residence via Express Entry will no longer be obligated to undergo an immigration medical exam (IME) before submitting their application.

Instead, applicants who have not previously completed an IME must upload a blank document in the Express Entry Profile Builder. They should then wait for instructions from IRCC on when and where to undergo the medical examination. For those who have undergone an IME within the last five years and are currently residing in Canada, there may be no need for a new exam. Such applicants should provide relevant documents from their previous IME, and IRCC will determine whether they need to undergo another examination.

The requirement for an IME also extends to the applicant's family members, even if they are not accompanying the applicant to Canada.

Denmark: Updated Positive List for Higher Education

Effective Date: October 1, 2023

The Danish Immigration Authority, known as SIRI, has updated the Positive List for people with higher education. This list serves as a crucial reference for individuals seeking to apply for residence and work permits in Denmark. It comprises professions that are experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals within the country.

The updated job titles on the Positive List are based on assessments by the Regional Labor Market Councils. This list will be in effect until at least September 30, 2025. The addition of job titles is determined by ongoing labor market monitoring, assessments by profession-specific unemployment insurance funds, and regional assessments.

This update does not involve the removal of any job titles from the Positive List for people with Higher Education. Another list, the Positive List for Skilled Work, is updated semi-annually on January 1 and July 1.

Italy: 2023-25 Quota Decree Passes Into Law

Effective Date: October 3, 2023

Italy has introduced a significant change in its immigration policy with the passing of the "Programming of legal entry flows into Italy of foreign workers for the three-year period 2023-2025." This decree sets a three-year immigration plan with a quota of 452,000 non-EU nationals permitted to enter Italy for work between 2023 and 2025.

Unlike the previous annual quota decrees, this new plan extends the quotas for work and includes an expanded range of professional categories and production sectors. The quotas increase each year, with 136,000 entries permitted in 2023, 151,000 in 2024, and 165,000 in 2025.

The 2023 quota allocation is structured to cater to various categories, including seasonal work, non-seasonal work, and more, based on nationalities and specific criteria. This comprehensive approach aims to meet Italy's labor market demands while facilitating immigration.

New Zealand: New Skilled Migrant Category

Effective Date: October 9, 2023

New Zealand is introducing a revamped Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa with a simplified points system. This new system defines a clear skills threshold for residence eligibility, requiring applicants to earn a minimum of six points.

Applicants can accumulate points from various skill indicators, including occupational registration, higher-level qualifications, or holding a skilled job earning at least 1.5 times the median wage in New Zealand. If the initial threshold is not met, additional points can be gained through skilled work experience in New Zealand.

An essential requirement for all applicants is a skilled job offer in New Zealand, and most applicants must work in the country before becoming eligible for residence. The removal of a cap on the number of residents and simplified settings promises faster decision times for eligible applicants.

New Zealand continues to provide pathways for employers to bring skilled workers to the country on various work visas, accommodating different needs.

New Zealand: Pacific Access Category and Samoan Quota

Ballot Date: October 6, 2023

New Zealand maintains special relationships with countries in the Pacific region. To acknowledge these bonds, the Pacific Access Category (PAC) and Samoan Quota (SQ) ballots are held to select individuals who will be invited to apply for residence in New Zealand.

The quotas for these categories are designed to cater to citizens from specific countries, such as Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Kiribati, and Tuvalu. These quotas help to strengthen the connection between New Zealand and these nations. Successful applicants will receive an invitation to apply for a residence visa, and they must do so within eight months of receiving the invitation.

Additionally, New Zealand has adjusted the minimum income threshold for those applying for residence under PAC and SQ with dependent children. This change is aimed at ensuring that parents can adequately support their children in New Zealand.

South Africa: Updates to the Critical Skills List

Effective Date: October 2, 2023

In South Africa, an updated Critical Skills list has been published in the Government Gazette. This list includes two new occupations: Registered Nurse – Veterinarian and Registered Nurse – Veterinary Nurse. Foreign nationals can now apply for a Critical Skills Work Visa in these occupations.

The Critical Skills list plays a vital role in identifying occupations that are in high demand and essential for the country's economic growth and development. It is subject to regular updates to align with the evolving needs of the South African job market.

In summary, the global immigration landscape is continually changing, with nations making strategic adjustments to their immigration policies to address labor market demands, streamline application processes, and strengthen relationships with partner countries. Staying informed about these updates is essential for those planning to relocate or expand their businesses internationally, as these changes can significantly impact their immigration prospects. For the most up-to-date and accurate information, it is advisable to consult with immigration experts and official government sources.

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