The Cyprus Citizenship by Investment programme is considered among the world's most successful immigrant investor programmes, offering high-net-worth individuals and their families the fastest route to EU citizenship. The government is expected to announce new measures shortly by means of a regulation committee, which will oversee and vet real estate developers and other immigration service providers in order to ensure that all parties concerned adhere to a code of conduct.
The Federal Council recently decided on how to implement a new admission system to exercise immigration control without conflicting with the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between Switzerland and the European Union. The new regulations introduce a job registration requirement for job types in which the unemployment rate throughout Switzerland has reached a specific threshold. The change aims to optimise and exploit the potential of national workers.
In April 2017 President Trump issued the Buy American, Hire American Executive Order. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has carried out and is considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to fulfil the president's executive order, including conducting a thorough review of employment-based visa programmes. Further, there are several bills being considered in the House and Senate pertaining to immigration.
The Federal Council has announced that the total number of work permits submitted to quotas for 2018 will be increased from 9,750 (in 2017) to 11,500 (in 2018). The decision follows political debate and aims to allow Switzerland to hire enough qualified workers and specialists from both the EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) market and the non-EU and non-EFTA market.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allocated $22.8 billion between 2014 and 2016 to enforce and administer immigration laws, one of its strategic missions. In 2014 a DHS Unity of Effort initiative created the Joint Task Forces to coordinate the department's resources. The DHS Office of Inspector General recently audited DHS to evaluate whether it has been achieving its mission in the most efficient way possible.
In April 2017 President Trump signed the "Buy American, Hire American" executive order. Subsequently, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) started working on the necessary rulemaking, policy memoranda and operational changes to implement the executive order. As part of these initiatives, USCIS recently updated agency policy guidance on the burden of proof for extension petitions.
Following the president's "Buy American, Hire American" executive order, companies and immigration practitioners have witnessed increased scrutiny over immigration compliance. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting director recently confirmed plans to increase enforcement in order to prevent fraud and abuse. ICE has indicated, among other things, that it will prosecute employers for knowingly hiring or retaining workers who lack valid US employment authorisation.
The government recently enacted the Labour Code (Work Permit Exemption) Order 2017, which excludes certain categories of people from the need to obtain work permits. In particular, the exemption for directors visiting the British Virgin Islands for board meetings supports the territory's position as the leading corporate domicile in the global economy.
In its recent study of citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes, the Financial Times' Professional Wealth Management ranked Cyprus ahead of other EU countries for its highly attractive travel and residency requirements. The Cyprus CBI programme was first introduced in 2002 at a premium investment of €15 million. The existing scheme became more competitive in 2013 and even more so following the Council of Ministers' September 2016 revisions.
President Trump recently released an executive order in which the secretary of state, the attorney general, the secretary of labour and the secretary of homeland security were prompted to suggest reforms and propose new laws to ensure H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest paid beneficiaries. In line with these developments, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the US Department of Labour have published reports detailing the existing H-1B trends.
It is common knowledge that the Trump administration is attempting to tighten immigration. One component that the administration has talked about is converting the employment-based immigration system utilising the H-1B visa to be more merit based rather than lottery based. Immigration practitioners have already seen a trend in this direction with, among other things, more requests for evidence for lower-level professional categories.
The government and UK businesses want the United Kingdom to have maximum access to the single market following Brexit, but the European Union has stated that single market membership is conditional on allowing free movement of persons. There are a number of possible compromises that could enable the United Kingdom to continue to participate in the single market while retaining at least some control over migration.
Cyprus recently adopted the start-up visa for third-country nationals interested in residing and investing in innovative businesses in Cyprus. The scheme allows talented entrepreneurs from non-European Economic Area countries to reside in Cyprus and establish, operate or develop their own innovative start-up companies with high growth potential, provided that they meet certain criteria.
The US Supreme Court is reviewing US Court of Appeals decisions which found President Trump's Executive Order 13780 (Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the US) to be unconstitutional. The government can now ban people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for a 90-day period, unless they can show that they have a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States
In a recent case, the Board of Alien Labour Certification (BALCA) agreed that the requirement to provide a signed copy of a Programme Electronic Review Management form was reasonable and that failure to provide a complete copy would usually constitute a substantial failure. However, since the failure to submit an original, completed form in this case appeared to be an electronic error, BALCA decided that the omission was not material and ordered approval for the employer.
Two bills to authorise and reauthorise key immigration component agencies at the US Department of Homeland Security were recently sent to the House of Representatives as a whole for consideration, with the goal of ensuring that US immigration laws are enforced and maintaining the integrity of the immigration system. Authorisation bills direct how federal funds should or should not be used and are typically made for single fiscal years, but are often renewed in subsequent law.
President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order entitled "Buy American, Hire American". In the 'Hire American' part of the order, Trump announced that he was directing the Department of Labour, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to review the existing laws governing the H-1B programme and suggest changes to prioritise the most skilled and highest paid positions.
The Federal Council recently invoked the safeguard clause contained in the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between the European Union and Switzerland. This clause allows Switzerland to implement unilaterally a quota system for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals from June 1 2017 to May 31 2018.
The US Department of Labour recently issued two denials of Programme Electronic Review Management certification to Apple, the first US company with a market value of more than $700 billion. Denial in the first case was based on a clear typographical error, while the second was based on a subtle interpretation of the foreign worker's educational qualifications.
In a nation of immigrants, the government struggles to determine which persons should be permitted to remain and which persons should be returned to their home country. Employers that seek labour certification to employ foreign workers must prove that they have not found suitable US workers who are qualified, willing, able and available for employment.