Home Immigration Restructuring Immigration Programs: Portugal, Spain, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA

Restructuring Immigration Programs: Portugal, Spain, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA


In today’s fast-paced global landscape, countries are constantly reevaluating their immigration policies to meet evolving economic needs and tackle various challenges. Recent significant changes in immigration programs across Portugal, Spain, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA have been aimed at striking a balance between attracting foreign investment, addressing housing crises, and welcoming skilled workers. This article delves into the recent immigration reforms in these countries and their potential impact on residency, foreign investment, and the skilled labor market.

Portugal’s Golden Visa Program: Fostering a Skilled Workforce and Addressing Housing Crisis

The Golden Visa program in Portugal, launched in 2012, has been a popular pathway for non-EU citizens seeking residency through investments. However, the program has received criticism for contributing to the housing crisis by driving up property prices in desirable tourist destinations. To address these concerns, the Portuguese government has made significant changes to the program.

Diverse Investment Options

One notable reform is the removal of real estate investments as eligible options for the Golden Visa program. Instead, the program now offers diverse investment opportunities such as collective investments, participation in existing companies, and contributions to artistic or scientific domains. This move aims to attract a broader spectrum of investors and reduce reliance on real estate purchases while fostering a skilled workforce and encouraging investments in various sectors.

Addressing Labor Shortages and Economic Growth

The revamped Golden Visa program also seeks to attract skilled workers and entrepreneurs to address labor shortages in critical industries. By attracting talented individuals, Portugal aims to create more jobs and stimulate economic growth. The changes aim to strike a balance between addressing the housing crisis, promoting foreign investment diversification, and nurturing a skilled labor force to enhance Portugal’s overall economic competitiveness.

Spain’s Temporary Residence Permit Rules: Enhancing Flexibility

Spain has also responded to immigration challenges by making adjustments to its temporary residence permit rules. Under the new rules, foreigners holding a temporary residence permit will not face revocation even if they spend more than six months outside the country within a year, providing more flexibility to temporary residents.

Balancing Temporary and Permanent Residency

While Spain is relaxing restrictions on temporary residency, it retains a requirement that temporary residents must not stay outside the country for more than ten months within five years before applying for permanent residence. This provision aims to strike a balance between temporary and permanent residency, ensuring that individuals seeking permanent residence have a substantial connection to Spain through continuous stays.

New Zealand’s Accredited Employer Work Visa: Encouraging Skilled Migrants

In response to the need for skilled labor and a clear pathway to permanent residency, New Zealand has revised its Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) policy. The changes, effective from November 2023, are designed to encourage migrants to gain work experience in New Zealand before applying for permanent residency.

Extended Continuous Stay Period

Under the revised AEWV policy, migrants seeking an AEWV based on a permanent role may be granted a visa valid for up to 5 years. After this period, they must leave New Zealand for at least 12 months, unless they are on a pathway to residence or have a residence application pending. This change offers skilled migrants a longer period to contribute to the New Zealand workforce, making it an attractive option for those seeking long-term opportunities in the country.

The UK’s Shortage Occupation List: Addressing Labor Shortages in Construction

To tackle severe labor shortages, particularly in the construction industry, the United Kingdom has made changes to its immigration rules, making it easier for foreign workers to obtain visas in specific industries.

Inclusion in the Shortage Occupation List

Occupations such as bricklayers, masons, roofers, carpenters, and others in the construction industry have been added to the UK government’s ‘shortage occupation list.’ This addition facilitates the entry of skilled workers from abroad by reducing the visa application hurdles for these professions. Applicants must have a sponsored job offer and meet English language requirements, ensuring that the workers possess the necessary qualifications for the job market.

The USA’s Revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form: Streamlining the Process

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a revised version of Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form) to be published on August 1, 2023. Among the improvements to the form is a checkbox for employers enrolled in E-Verify, indicating they remotely examined identity and employment authorization documents under an alternative procedure authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Remote Examination for Employers

This revision allows certain employers to remotely examine Form I-9 documents, streamlining the verification process while ensuring compliance with immigration regulations. The remote examination option can be particularly beneficial for employers who operate in remote locations or have a distributed workforce.

Countries worldwide are adapting their immigration policies to respond to housing crises, labor shortages, and changing dynamics in global mobility. The recent immigration reforms in Portugal, Spain, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA reflect a growing trend towards skills-based immigration and measures to attract foreign investment. These changes aim to strike a delicate balance between addressing immediate economic needs and fostering sustainable growth. As these policies take effect, continuous monitoring and evaluation will be essential to determine their impact on residency, skilled labor markets, and the overall economic landscape.

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