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Immigration Digest: 9 January 2024

Immigration updates for South Africa, Vietnam, Germany, Thailand, and China.

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SOUTH AFRICA – Trusted Employer Scheme

Authorities in South Africa have introduced a Trusted Employer Scheme, to allow simplified visa applications, expediated processing times for skilled foreign workers, and support from the dedicated Trusted Employer Unit within the Department of Home Affairs for South African-registered operational companies.

To be eligible, companies need to score a minimum of 80/100 points. Points will be granted depending on sector – with organisations involved in energy renewability and infrastructure scoring higher.

The scheme aims to implement programmes aimed at upskilling and developing the local workforce and also reward companies with a high B-BBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment). Eligible companies will also have:

  • Invested or pledged to invest at least 100 million Rand in capital expenditures in South Africa since 2018.
  • A minimum 100 employees in South Africa, 60% of whom must be citizens or permanent residents of South Africa.

VIETNAM – Foreign recruitment updates

There have been a number of changes to the Decree 70, governing the recruitment of foreign employees in Vietnam.

Decree 70 sees some conditions for the recruitment of foreign workers relaxed, while retaining the overall aim of prioritising domestic labour. More information is available here.

GERMANY – Updates to Skilled Worker Immigration Act

Germany is applying updates to its Skilled Worker Immigration Act, including salary requirement reductions and minimum time periods – aiming to encourage foreign workers.

One key change is that skilled workers with more than two years’ experience will no longer need their qualifications to be recognised in Germany, provided they are already recognised by their country of origin.

Another update relates to qualifications and training. Those who must train to obtain a German qualification matching their original qualification may now remain in Germany for a maximum of three years, and work part-time. Employers have the option to allow skilled workers to commence working for them prior to the completion of their qualification recognition procedure.

Spouses and children of skilled workers may accompany them, provided the worker proves they are in a position to support them. Parents and parents-in-law may also accompany them, commencing March 2024.

June will see the introduction of a points-based ‘opportunity card’ for workers with a foreign qualification, which will permit entry into Germany for one year to seek work in their field. During this time, they may work part-time.

THAILAND - Temporary visa-waivers announced

From 10th November 2023 to 10th May 2024, Indian and Taiwanese citizens may avail of temporary visa waivers when visiting Thailand, allowing them to remain in Thailand for up to 30 days without a visa.

Visa requirements for Chinese tourists will be permanently waived commencing 1st March.

Russian tourists may remain in Thailand for up to 90 days until 30th April 2024.

CHINA - New visa waiver scheme announced

Citizens of Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, and Malaysia may now avail of visa waivers when visiting China for periods of up to 15 days for business, tourism, transit, or family visits.

T his waiver will stay in place for at least a year, starting from 1st December 2023, and allows entry to Mainland China. The policy is part of efforts to rebuild China’s tourism sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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