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How US federal cannabis legalization would affect US immigration law

During the 115th US Congress, several bills were introduced to legalize marijuana at the federal level. Those receiving the most attention were: (1) the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act (STATES Act); (2) Marijuana Justice Act of 2017/Marijuana Justice Act of 2018 (Marijuana Justice Act); and (3) the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act (Marijuana Freedom Act). While all three died when the Congress ended on January 3, 2019, they are likely to be reintroduced (without change) during the 116th Congress. For our analysis of how they might affect the ability of foreign nationals to enter the United States, click here.

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How US federal cannabis legalization would affect US immigration law

Trade deals and immigration

How will future trade deals impact UK immigration policy?

With Brexit negotiations between the UK and the European Union progressing, the UK is keen to start trade talks with the EU as soon as possible. While a trade deal with the EU is a priority, other countries, including India and Australia, have expressed that, in the fullness of time, they also would like to negotiate their own trade deals with the UK.

The UK’s Brexit Secretary, David Davis, has stated that he is looking for a “Canada Plus Plus Plus” trade deal with the EU, a reference to the recent deal between the EU and Canada. Labor mobility is a key element of that deal, making it easier for certain skilled professionals from Canada to work temporarily in the EU, and vice versa.

We can also learn from other trade deals:

  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal currently being negotiated between 11 Pacific Rim countries (notably not including the US, which withdrew from the pact) is also looking to include an element of labor mobility. For example, it is proposed as part of this deal that it will be easier for Australian employers to recruit people from Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico and Vietnam by exempting them from the usual requirement of advertising the role to Australians as part of the immigration process. In return, Australians will get reciprocal access to the labor markets of these six countries.
  • Likewise, one of the outcomes of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUFTA), which came into effect in 2005, was the US E-3 visa, which is available only to Australians. The E-3 visa is similar to the H1-B visa, however more generous in that it has a separate quota of 10,500, is renewable indefinitely and has the additional benefit of the spouse of the main visa holder being able to work. In contrast, the H1-B visa has a quota of 65,000 (for applicants of all other nationalities), is capped at six years and the spouse of the main visa holder is not able to work. Singapore and Chile enjoy similar preferential immigration routes to the US as a result of their free trade deals.

One of the key arguments for voting to leave the EU was that the UK would be able to negotiate its own trade deals. So what are our likely trading partners saying?

  • Australia has spoken of the need for “greater access” to the UK for Australian business people.
  • India has already stated that the UK will need to relax immigration rules and make it easier for professionals and presumably students from India to come to the UK.
  • The EU is another matter entirely with many competing priorities and parties. The degree of labour mobility post Brexit will depend on whether we see a “soft Brexit” or a “hard Brexit”, which is still very much to be decided.

What is certain is that any trade deal the UK negotiates after Brexit will be about more than goods and services. Labor mobility will be a key element and it is therefore inevitable that any future trade deals the UK agrees will have an impact on immigration policy.

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Trade deals and immigration

Brexit, a global perspective in the immediate aftermath…

Following the UK’s EU referendum, the UK has a clear mandate for exit from the European Union. There is doubt, however, about what the future may look like for the UK and its relationship with Europe or the rest of the world. It is likely that there will now be a prolonged transition period, with the next UK government needing time to plan, prepare and negotiate the UK’s future.

Some key thoughts in the meantime:

  • For UK nationals living elsewhere in the EU, and EU nationals living in the UK, there will be no immediate change. Protection of citizens already established in those states is likely to form part of negotiations between the UK and the EU.
  • Free movement of EU citizens is expected to be negotiated as a condition of any trade deal between the UK and the EU. However, if ultimately the UK decides to no longer share in the EU’s right to free movement of labor, then citizens of other member states will not enjoy an automatic right to work, travel and live in the UK. Similarly, UK citizens will not enjoy EU citizenship rights. Prior to the referendum, the UK had already made it more difficult for EU citizens to gain permanent residence in the UK. However, the UK government will be aware that imposing fundamental limits on the free movement of labor at this time could make the UK a much less attractive destination for international businesses and skilled and educated migrants.
  • Nationals of other countries working in the UK, such as from the US, should see no imminent changes. The UK government is saying that the UK is open for business on a global scale. This is an opportunity to grow and strengthen relationships across the globe. At present the UK is not seeing any large-scale recruitment freezes or job losses.
  • Trade and investment are good for the UK’s employment growth and stability. The UK government will want to keep a level playing field with the UK’s European counterparts, and look for opportunities across the globe, at this crucial time. One key area where it will want to display its good practice is data protection. Realistically, a trade deal between the UK and the EU may also mean the UK continuing to be subject to key EU legislation.
  • The UK has a body of homegrown legislation protecting UK employment law rights. The fundamental right that exists in the UK to claim unfair dismissal will not be affected by its withdrawal from Europe. The UK also had discrimination laws in place before its ascension to the EU; EU aims and legislation are so established in UK good employment practice that they are likely to remain fundamentally the same for now. While moving to a US-style system, where employees receive lower overall protection, is possible, it is unlikely in the short term, given the broader cultural change needed to accept the US norms.
  • Subject to the above, EU rights, or improvements in those rights, in the UK may eventually be diminished or lost. However, it seems likely that grand proposals will eventually be reduced to a few smaller, less significant changes. If the UK is not required to keep EU legislation in these areas as part of a broader deal, the government may review and make changes to the current position in a number of areas, such as: (i) harmonization of terms following a TUPE transfer, (ii) limits on bankers’ bonuses, (iii) working time controls, (iv) collective redundancy consultation, (v) agency workers’ rights and (vi) the absence of a cap on discrimination awards.
  • If the UK is no longer subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, UK case law may develop in a slightly different direction. This may mean a gradual parting of ways between the UK and EU states.

On balance, it is most likely that the next government will want to preserve the status quo, at least in the short term, and wait for the dust to settle before looking for opportunities to make more fundamental and valuable changes. Dentons will keep you posted as the picture evolves.

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Brexit, a global perspective in the immediate aftermath…

Global Employment Lawyer – Volume 2, Issue 1 – November/December 2015

Global Employment Lawyer - Nov. & Dec. 2015

 

Look out, beware—it’s holiday party season!

For many companies, having an annual holiday party is part of the culture and tradition of the organization. Company holiday parties provide employees with an opportunity to socialize and celebrate together, and can certainly help boost morale and engender loyalty. At the same time, however, there are risks lurking. Depending on the type of party and the part of the world you are having it in, there are different types of risks that can come into play—and we have some tips to mitigate them.

What’s not risky? Keeping up to date on the hot topics in employment and labor issues from around the globe which could affect your business goals in those regions.

From all of your friends at Dentons, we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous holiday season!

Read the complete issue

 

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Global Employment Lawyer – Volume 2, Issue 1 – November/December 2015

Global Employment Lawyer – Issue 3

Summer 2015

Global Employment Lawyer

The third edition of the Global Employment Lawyer provides you with practical content to keep you current on developments that effect your business goals around the globe. Our lawyers look at questions of religious accommodation as well as the unpleasant income tax consequences of temporary visas in the US; managing “difficult employees” in Canada; reducing workforce due to redundancies in China; imminent changes to Polish labor law; recruitment of non-resident foreign workers in Angola; employing foreign workers in Israel and whistleblowing in the UK.

Read more

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Global Employment Lawyer – Issue 3

Much ado about nothing

On March 24, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report critical of former Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director and current DHS Assistant Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ handling of the EB5 immigrant investor visa program entitled “Investigation into Employee Complaints about Management of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ EB-5 Program. ”

One would be forgiven for thinking that a great problem with the EB5 program was revealed that needed immediate attention, from some politician press releases and reports from certain news services that seem to have only read these releases and not the 97 page report.

Not true.  Here is what the report concludes:

Mr. Mayorkas’ actions in these matters created a perception within the EB-5 program that certain individuals had special access and would receive special consideration. It also lowered the morale of those involved.

No finding of special access or special consideration, only “created a perception” of this to some USCIS staff who reported that “lowered the morale of those involved.”  I can already predict how John Oliver of Last Week Tonight will lampoon the government for these revelations.

To put this into context, former Director Mayorkas led the USCIS in 2013 when the DHS OIG issued an earlier report recommending that the agency and Congress make a number of changes to the way the EB5 program was handled.  That report is available at the DHS OIG web site.

Mr. Mayorkas led the implementation of those changes, which resulted in the creation of the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) and major changes to the USCIS employees responsible for administering the program, including hiring new staff trained in securities law, fraud detection, and economics, and relocation of the office from California to Washington, which resulted in additional staff changes.  Further, he brought in Nicholas Colucci, then Associate Director at FinCEN – the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is the anti-money laundering regulator for US financial institutions – to serve as IPO Chief instead of promoting from within.

That feathers were ruffled for a small group of 15 miffed USCIS employees comes as no surprise. As the President of the American Immigration Lawyers said in response to the report:

But when have you ever heard of a large organization in which everyone wholeheartedly embraced changes to the way things have “always been done”? Mr. Mayorkas was responsible for leading an agency with some 15,000 employees in 200 offices across the world. The EB-5 program was just one of dozens of programs led by Mayorkas, with many of them troubled by some of the problems that have plagued EB-5. All too often its decisions failed to meet the “fundamental threshold for rational decisionmaking,” in the words of one federal judge overruling a decision denying a visa petition.

The EB5 program creates jobs for American workers, most often in areas targeted for rates of unemployment 150 percent or more above the national average.  For every 10 fulltime-equivalent jobs for American citizens and lawful residents created, an EB5 immigrant makes a minimum $500,000 investment and sometimes more than twice that amount.

USCIS processing of EB-5 cases is slow, very slow.  Slower than any other immigrant visa petition handled by the agency.  While the USCIS processes most petitions within four to five months and even offers a 15-day premium processing service for many, EB-5 petitions on the average languish for three times as long or longer before an officer is assigned and begins work.  And that is just the first step of the multiyear process to obtain permanent resident status, with an immigrant’s invested funds committed to and at risk in the American investment during the entire period, often five years.  It is this slow agency processing that jeopardizes the EB-5 program more than anything else.  Leadership to improve the speed at which USCIS staff work should be encouraged even if it also lowers morale.

Congressional action is needed.  The pilot program portion of the EB-5 program expires September 30, 2015, as it has every three years since enactment.  Every three years, Congress waits until the last minute and then votes to renew the program for another three years, sometimes taking action only after the program expires.  Every three years this creates uncertainty for the American workers whose jobs are created by the EB-5 program, the American businesses that rely on the EB-5 immigrant investors for financing, and the immigrant investors themselves who rely on the EB-5 program to create a new home for their families in the United States.  Congress needs to act quickly to renew the program and not jeopardize this important tool for American job creation.

The full text of the report is available at the DHS OIG web site.

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Much ado about nothing

Focus: Sanctions and Sanctions Clauses

As you know, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Japan, and certain other countries have introduced a wide array of individual, sectoral, and Crimea-related sanctions on Russia due to the situation in Ukraine. Russia holds that these sanctions are illegal and unenforceable.

Because of the conflict, some businesses with a presence in Russia may find themselves exposed to inescapable risk while trying to adjust to both the Western sanctions on the one hand, and new provisions in Russian law on the other.

To address this, Dentons has formed a small team in Russia dedicated to dealing with sanctions-related provisions in contractual documentation with Russia-based parties, as well as various other sanctions-related matters

As of today, we will be able to assist you with the following:

  • Drafting sanctions clauses in contractual documents;
  • Drafting sanctions-related provisions in force-majeure clauses;
  • Identifying sanctioned entities and individuals;
  • Defining the legal meaning of “control” to determine whether sanctions regulations apply.

We hope you find this resource to be useful. We believe it will allow us to be more systematic about sanctions clauses and ensure that we can provide a high level of responsiveness and consistency.

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Focus: Sanctions and Sanctions Clauses

LMIA Exempt Work Permit Applications – New Procedure

Effective February 21, 2015, there will be changes to the work permit application process for categories that are currently exempt from obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and employer specific. The changes follow amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations focused on employer compliance in the employment of foreign workers.

As a result of the regulatory amendments, most work permit applications will now require a 2 step process:

Step 1. Either an LMIA application to Service Canada OR a new procedure involving an application form to be submitted to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for LMIA exempt categories (Form IMM 5802 – Offer of Employment to a Labour Market Impact Assessment Exempt Foreign National) with an additional $230 employer compliance fee.

Step 2. Work permit application.

This new procedure is applicable to all LMIA exempt work permits that are employer specific including work permit extension applications, visa office applications, port of entry applications. The new procedure will apply to most LMIA exempt work permit applications including work permits under NAFTA, intra-company transfers, PNPs, signficant benefit, etc. (Note: step 1 is not required for open work permit applicants, however, open work permits will be subject to an additional $100 privilege fee).

The new IMM 5802 Form and online fee payment (through their current CIC online fee payment site) will be available on Wednesday, February 18, 2015. The new form will require general corporate information about the employer (including contact information), the terms of the offer, information supporting the LMIA exemption and an attestation by the employer on the terms of the offer of employment.

Third party representatives will be able to submit the IMM 5802 Form for employers as long as the employer contact has signed a Use of Rep form (IMM 5476). The process requires that the IMM 5802 be completed by employers and submitted with the $230 payment to CIC.

Once the IMM 5802 Form is submitted to CIC, a confirmation will be generated by CIC. This confirmation along with a copy of the IMM 5802 Form and the $230 fee payment must be provided to the foreign worker to make an application for a work permit (i.e. at the visa office, online or at POE etc.)

There is not an advance “adjudication process” for the IMM 5802 Form before the work permit application is processed. For example, although proof that the IMM 5802 Form was submitted is required for an applicant to apply for a work permit at the POE, it was indicated that this could be done 5 minutes prior to arriving at the port of entry, as long as the applicant had a copy of the submitted IMM 5802 Form and payment confirmation with their work permit application.

There will also be a process for receiving a refund of the $230 employer compliance fee (and $100 privilege fee) if a work permit application is refused

More information will be posted by CIC this week and the link to the CIC site can be found at: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/temp/work/admissibility/specific.asp

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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LMIA Exempt Work Permit Applications – New Procedure

New year, new employment issues

Global_Employment_Lawyer_Winter_2015

The mission of Dentons’ Global Employment Lawyer is to keep you informed of significant trends and developments in the area of global employment and labor law, wherever they take place, so that you are in a better position to make educated business decisions. Thank you for helping to make the first edition of the Global Employment Lawyer a huge success!

In this second edition of the Dentons’ Global Employment Lawyer, our lawyers examine:

  • Options for dealing with employee layoffs in China for foreign investors
  • Canada’s recent decision to require employee accommodation for childcare responsibilities
  • Restrictions under Polish law which can affect employment settlements
  • Romania’s recent decisions effecting union standing and disciplinary actions against employees
  • Specific ambiguities in Egyptian labor law on financial entitlements, employment terminations and collective dispute resolution mechanisms
  • UK’s recent employment decision potentially increasing the amount of holiday pay owed to certain overtime workers
  • Current and pending changes to US employment regulations for 2015, including laws affecting paid sick leave, anti discrimination and bullying, social media, severance and more
  • US IRS regulation Section 457A’s effect on deferred compensation for US taxpayers who work for non-US entities
  • Recap of Dentons’ client seminar on critical employment issues for multinationals

Read the complete issue

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New year, new employment issues

Global Mobility Guide

 

Global Mobility Guide

We are so pleased to bring you the Dentons Global Mobility Guide 2015.

The ability to move skilled workers globally is essential to the success of the world economy and the companies that drive it.

“Global mobility” minimizes the risks for doing business internationally by providing the legal framework to identify and analyze business problems, and develop and implement creative solutions. Getting it right means getting people to the right place at the right time with the right advice.

The laws impacting global mobility are dynamic. Multinational employers need to know the existing laws and the evolving legal trends to compete in an international market where business transcends borders. Dentons professionals can provide that.

Our Global Mobility practice helps multinational employers navigate the local laws of the countries where they do business, with lawyers speaking the local language in more than 75 locations around the world, well-versed in all of the intertwined issues: immigration, employment, compensation, employee benefits, taxation and social insurance.

Dentons’ network of offices and qualified staff around the world provides you with experienced legal resources—wherever and whenever you need us.

Read the complete report

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Global Mobility Guide