EMS Blog

Global Immigration Updates and Mobility Summary

The EU Strengthens Border Controls

Owing to the latest terrorist attacks this past November in France the EU strengthens border controls along with other countries around the world, the ministers from the Interior and Justice departments of the European Union have met to evaluate changes in the Schengen Area to strengthen external borders. Greater internal control is also expected, as well as improved anti-terrorist and intelligence coordination, registration of airlines passengers and stronger weapons controls in the 22 EU countries and its four associates. European citizens will also be systematically monitored when they enter or depart the Schengen Area and borders within the area will also be strengthened, with access to data bases for police that will allow them to see information on suspects, people with search and arrest warrants, and those wanted for other crimes. Control of internal borders is a subject that is still to be reviewed, but could put into question the integration and reasoning behind the Schengen agreement. Previous monitoring of all passengers on every flight within and outside of the EU to evaluate risks is also being evaluated. Control of the flow of refugees is also being assessed, so that every person arriving to Europe through Turkey, mainly, will be registered via fingerprints and identification documents with strict security checks. To do this, the EU is considering sending European agents to countries that may encounter difficulties with the high flow of refugees and who do not have sufficient resources to carry out systematic controls. Finally, the EU is considering putting political pressure on the Balkan countries so that they reinforce the fight against arms...

Italy Issues Biometric Residence Permits

As of November 10, 2015, Italy issues biometric residence permits that contain a chip to store all the person´s biometric data. These new cards meet the regulations of European Council (EC) 380/2008. In an official communication from the Immigration Police department in Florence, explains in detail the changes in the application process for these permits, which they will begin to apply throughout Italy. Among the main changes in the process are: Applicants will receive an individual electronic card, regardless of age. Minors will be connected to their legal representative´s permit through their own card. Fingerprints will be required of all minors as of the age of six. Minors will be required to be present on the day of the application, as well as at the appointment to pick up the card. It should be noted that all applications for residence permits filed before November 10 will continue to be processed in the regular way, without the electronic format. After this date, applicants will receive their biometric residence permits. Already existing permits will continue to be valid and will only change format when they are renewed. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE in Spanish) is also promoting the Biometric Registry in Italy. The registry has a closing date of November 30, and will be completed by all those who have or reach the age of majority by February 21, 2016. The only requirement will be to present their identity card or passport....

Check-list before leaving your home country

Deciding to live in another country is a real challenge. The personal and professional implications are very important to have in mind when facing this decision. To help in this process we have prepared a checklist of things you have to consider before leaving your country. Click over the image to...

Indonesia: New Immigration Policies to Attract more Tourists

The Indonesian Government will expand the visa exemption list at the end of this year, instead of in 2016 as had been previously announced, to include citizens from 45 countries. This exemption, signed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, will be valid for all foreigners coming from 90 countries who arrive in Indonesia as tourists, on official missions or for reasons related to study, business or socio-cultural activities. It will also apply to those who are in transit to other countries. According to the Tourism Minister of the Southeast Asian state, Arief Yahya, his country made this decision after releasing the economic stimulus package last week, where they propose increasing the number of tourists arriving to their many destinations. Additionally, they expect to reach the objectives outlined in the plan to attract 10 million foreign vacationers in 2015, and to double this number by 2019. In recent years, Indonesia has increased the number of foreign visitors by 25%, a number which they hope to double to 20 million in 2019. Last June, the Asian nation added 30 states to the list of those who benefit from the regulation, raising the total number to 45 nations, which contributed to raising the number of foreign visitors by 2.69% in the first...

Philippines – Immigration Changes

The Philippine Government requires foreign nationals who wish to work in the country to have an Alien Employment Permit (AEP). This permit is necessary to get a work visa, and applies to all foreigners who are currently in the Philippines or who wish to enter the country. To obtain this permit, it is necessary to have a work offer from a company based in the Philippines. However, as of September 28, 2015, order 146-15 was issued which establishes that some professionals are exempt from this requirement as it pertains to the processing of their work visas. Professionals who are now exempt from the documentation requirements and AEP process are: Officials of the company, specifically the president, secretary and treasurer of a Philippine company, as long as they do not perform management or operational roles in the company. Foreigners elected as members of a governing body who only have voting rights and do not hold other positions. Managers, specialists and executives who are transferred to the Philippines in conformity with commercial agreements between the Philippines and the workers´ country of origin. Consultants without a Philippine employer. Employees of contracted service providers.   In addition, results of the order will affect processing time for the AEP, which will be increased to a minimum of 33 days, and requirements to apply for it will also increase. More information can be found on the website...

Morocco – New Requirements for Residency Renewal

A new requirement has been issued for all foreigners presenting a renewal application for a residence permit. This requires that the applicant have a rental agreement valid for a minimum of six (6) months. This new requirement forms part of a series of procedures that are being revised on the part of law enforcement authorities, who have increased their control over documents presented for immigration renewals. Previously, specifications did not exist on the validity of rental agreements. The renewal application must be requested two months in advance of the expiration date, which means it is necessary to take into account whether the rental agreement meets the minimum validity of six months, beginning from the delivery date of the documentation, or if modification of the current contract to extend its validity period must be requested. Renewal of the residence permits granted have one year of validity, although after three years of residence it is possible to obtain a residence permit valid for five...

Stamped Visa required for Cubans entering Panama

On September 10, 2015 in a visit to Havana, Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez, the President of Panama, told the Cuban President Raúl Castro that he was currently working on reforming the visa system in order to make immigration formalities easier and more agile for Cubans. The Panamanian Government finally published Executive Decree 509 in the Official Gazette on September 14, 2015, in which Cuban citizens are included on the list of foreign citizens who only need a visa stamped by the Consulate to enter the Central American country as a tourist. This marks a clear improvement for all Cubans, who previously had restrictions on these types of visas. The Decree establishes that the stamped visa is good for multiple entries and exits for a period of up to three years, according to the verification criteria from the officials in the Immigration Services and the Security Council. Costs for the Stamped Visa cannot exceed 50 dollars, as established in Number 6, Article 17 of Executive Decree No.  320 of August 8, 2008, modified by Executive Decree No.  26 of March 2, 2009. To see details published in the Official Gazette click...


On October 5, 2015, the United States signed an agreement with 11 Pacific nations who, all together, represent 40% of the world economy.  The purpose of the agreement is to establish a new economic block that will promote development and innovation in the Asia-Pacific region, and to deal with China´s influence. The agreement, which will swing open the doors to a large part of the Pacific, was unanimously celebrated by the participating nations that form part of the new TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership):  Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, United States, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The variety of economic fundamentals in the 12 countries, which are vastly different, has been the key obstacle in the negotiations, which began five years ago. Agricultural quotas, access to markets for dairy products and the automotive sector, the creation of biomedicines, intellectual property laws and time limits on pharmaceutical patents  are some of the areas that have been the most difficult to specify in the agreement. The United States, promoters of the project, will benefit enormously from this economic association by eliminating nearly 18,000 taxes on U.S. products, and will be strengthened against China´s economic influence. ¨With more than 95% of our potential clients living outside of our borders, we cannot let China write the rules for the world economy,¨ commented President Barack Obama. Some analysts claim that the TPP will mean a huge change in the rules of world commerce, which will impel the World Trade Organization to adopt them.  It will also positively affect the EU if trade talks improve the free trade and investment agreements that it has with the United States...

Spain: New Measures to reduce the IRPF Tax Burden on Taxpayers

On July 10, 2015, the Royal Decree-Law 9/2015 was approved, featuring urgent measures to reduce the tax burden weighing on taxpayers from the Personal Income Tax (IRPF) and other economic measures. Following a tax reform designed for gradual implementation in two phases during 2015 and 2016, which came into force last January, this Royal Decree-Law permits the measures scheduled to be introduced in the second phase to be moved forward by six months. Among other measures, it establishes reductions in tax rates for savings income and work income, allows self-employed workers to reduce their withholdings, and also establishes new exemptions for social aid as well as new measures for the energy sector. Some of these measures are: Self-employed workers: new withholding scale, with the minimum rate being 19.5% and the maximum 46% (until July 12 the scale will be the same as since January 1, that is, minimum rate 20%, maximum rate 47%). Hired workers: the withholding percentage drops for self-employed workers to 15% (instead of 19% as it has been since January 1). Furthermore, the applicable withholding rate or payment on account drops to 7% during the first three years of starting a professional activity. Savings income: with the new withholding scale, the minimum rate drops to 19.5% and the maximum to 23.5% (before 20% – 24%, respectively). EMS offers you its vast experience to help with whatever doubts may arise in respect to this new tax modification. By Sandra Parada – Tax Specialist of...

Costa Rica: New Requirement to Request Appointment in Department of Immigration

As of May 11, 2015, Costa Rica´s Department of Immigration has made it a requirement to request an appointment before filing immigration-related applications in their offices. Appointment requests must be presented by email on Fridays between the hours of 8:00am and 3:00pm, with the appointments expected to be scheduled during the following three or four weeks. Previously, it was necessary to appear in person at the Department of Immigration and take a number in order to take care of individual paperwork. A maximum of only ten numbers were given out each day, and in general an applicant had to arrive a minimum of two hours before the office opened to be assured of getting a number. If it was impossible to get a number that day, it was necessary to return the following day and once again try to get a number. Once a number was secured, the corresponding paperwork could be taken care of within the following 24 to 48 hours. This new requirement will affect foreigners who need to obtain or renew their work or residence visa, companies that wish to register with the Department of Immigration as a recognized company or renew their registration, and any person or company that needs to take care of whatever type of formality with the Department of Immigration. The authorities expect to be able to respond to requests within one working day, with a confirmation of the appointment coming within the following three to four weeks, depending on the workload of the Department of Immigration. This process will simplify getting appointments and the response time in the Department of Immigration...

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