Danielle Lifrieri, who is not an attorney, is the Manager of Global Visa and International Services at Mintz Levin, and works in the firm’s Boston office. Danielle helps companies and individuals obtain the correct visas when visiting or working in countries other than the United States, and assists clients with consular processing at US embassies and consulates around the world.

The US Consulate in Toronto has introduced “streamlined” registration for companies applying for E-1 Treaty Trader or E-2 Investor registrations. In addition, E-1 and E-2 visa processing for employees of companies with valid registrations has been expanded to the US Embassy in Ottawa and US Consulates General in Vancouver, Calgary, and Montreal.  Applicants may also continue to apply in Toronto.  Continue Reading US Consulates in Canada Expand E-1/E-2 Visa Processing

In our increasingly globalized economy, employers strategically place employees in assignments across international locations, and utilize cross-border business trips to facilitate demanding international business needs.

However, many employers fail to thoroughly consider the risks or implications of sending their employees abroad.  Should employers have a travel policy in place?  What details should be outlined in an employment agreement with travel obligations?  Are there protections for employees visiting or living in high-threat countries with concerns of crime, terrorism, or political instability? Is there a risk if an employee travels on the wrong visa?

These are big questions, reflecting some of the practical concerns in our international marketplace.  Employers must sufficiently address such matters with counsel before hurriedly sending employees on international assignments or routine business visits. After all, if left unaddressed, employers could face damaging and costly outcomes legally and to the business. The questions raised in this series are riddled with critical implications for the international success of a company, and the sustainability of a best-in-class international workforce.

During this series, we will hear from the well-intentioned Global HR Director, Ned Help, who will raise hot topics and difficulties his company faces when sending their employees abroad.  We will then explore the common pitfalls and offer practical solutions to the difficulties Ned Help faces.

Follow Innocents Abroad—this is one series you can’t afford to miss!

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the “Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015” into law. On January 21, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State (DOS) began implementing changes to the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”). There are two main changes to the program: individuals who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria since March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions) and/or are dual nationals of one of those countries and a VWP country are, with limited exceptions, no longer eligible for the VWP. However, these individuals may apply for a nonimmigrant visitor’s visa at a US consular post abroad, where they will be subject to the normal vetting process for US visas. Continue Reading CBP releases FAQ on Visa Waiver Program: Rule Changes

Canada has mandated registration in a new electronic travel authorization program (“eTA”) for many individuals who do not require visas to travel to Canada. Introduced in August 2015, the program becomes mandatory for many visa-exempt individuals traveling to Canada by air on or after March 15, 2016. Individuals traveling to Canada by land or sea are exempt from registering. Citizens of the United States are exempt from the eTA system regardless of whether they travel to Canada by air, land, or sea.  Continue Reading Canada Mandates New Electronic Travel Authorization Program

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske announced an expansion of the Global Entry program to include UK citizens at the World Travel Market in London.  UK citizens can register beginning December 3.

The opening of Global Entry to all qualified UK citizens follows a pilot program from May 2011 that saw over 1,400 UK citizens enrolled. According to the CBP, almost five million UK citizens visit the US each year and more than 125,000 of these traveled to the US four or more times per year.

Continue Reading CBP Announces the Expansion of Global Entry to UK Citizens

According to Law360, operations will be closed at U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world on Friday, October 9th, for a systems upgrade.

“Although the closure was not publicly announced by the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, a DOS official confirmed to Law360 that consular operations across the globe will be off-limits to the public next Friday, thanks to a “consular systems upgrade.

“This is a vital step toward fully retiring our old Consular Consolidated Database infrastructure and moving to a larger, faster and more modern infrastructure,” the official said. “This upgrade will bring greater stability to our operations and will allow us to replace outdated hardware and software.”

Individuals with appointments scheduled for Friday are advised to reschedule.

Color us skeptical, after this summer’s debacle, but here’s hoping that this upgrade will go smoothly.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Public Safety Canada, and the Secretariat of Governance of Mexico announced the planned expansion of the existing trusted traveler programs. This expansion is the first step toward the creation of a North American Trusted Traveler network and will be rolled out at the beginning of 2016.

The agreement signed by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts stipulates:

  • Mexican nationals who are members of Mexico’s Viajero Confiable program will be able to apply for the US – Canada NEXUS trusted traveler program
  • Canadian citizens who are members of NEXUS will be able to apply for Viajero Confiable

US citizens are already eligible to apply for the NEXUS and Viajero Confiable trusted traveler programs through existing partnerships between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Public Safety Canada and Mexico’s National Institute of Migration.

The expansion of these programs should create increased mobility and efficiency for current members. It will also provide an attractive option for NAFTA-based employees, given the growth of business throughout North America.  This new network will provide a collaborative-based traveler model system for other regionally clustered countries, particularly given the heightened international cross-border exchanges for business and cultural transactions.

For additional information on US Trusted Traveler programs, click here.

Many US employers are exploring opportunities to expand globally. Due to the English-speaking special relationship between the US and the UK, employers may first look to the UK to for international expansion. However, companies should keep in mind the current difficulty for employers to secure valid work visas.

In both June and July, the cap on Tier 2 visas in the United Kingdom was reached and over 1,300 visa application by companies were rejected. The cap was reached for the first time since it’s 2011 introduction in June.

Tier 2 Visas are available to skilled workers with an offer of employment from a government certified employer. This category includes workers falling under the UK’s skills “shortage occupation list” as well as intracompany transfers. Shortage occupations to date include engineers and scientists. The UK Migration Committee has opened a comment period for recommendations as to which additional occupations should be added to the skills shortage or which occupations require highly specialized experts.

To use a favo(u)rite British phrase being repeated about the situation, the arbitrary cap is “not fit for purpose.” We expect employers will find it increasingly difficult to bring the skilled workers they need to the United Kingdom from outside the European Economic Area.