Italy’s Annual Quota for Non-EU Migrant Workers Tops 30,000 in 2020

By Matteo Tisato

Each year the Italian government announces how many working visas will be available under its “quota system”. The government releases a Flow Decree establishing a number of available working visas across two main categories.

For 2020 there will be a total of 30,850 non-European workers who will be able to enter Italy regularly.

The 30,850 visa quota is split as follows:

  1. 12,850 visas are available to non-seasonal subordinate jobs, and self-employers, of which 6,150 working permits are available to those who are already in Italy and apply for the conversion of their Permit of Stay (Permesso di Soggiorno);
  2. 18,000 visas are available to seasonal workers in the transportation, constructions, and tourism fields, of which 4.500 are reserved for those coming from Albania, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, South Korea, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Philippines, Gambia, Ghana, Japan, India, Kosovo, Mali, Morocco, Mauritius, Moldova, Montenegro, Niger, Nigeria,  North Macedonia, Senegal, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine. For 2020/2021, three more countries have been included: Bangladesh, Pakistan, and El Salvador. Of this category, a sub quota of 6,000 permits are limited those working in the agricultural field. 100 visas are available for those who resides in Venezuela and have at least one Italian ancestor.

There are many different reasons our clients want to move to the boot-shaped peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea.

  • working
  • establishing residency / desire to live in Italy
  • investment opportunities in the real estate market
  • studying and cultural experiences
  • retirement
  • tax benefits

Of all of these, work is one of the most popular motivations. A good 25% of people who contact us are interested in moving to Italy because of its employment opportunities and fair labour conditions.

We all know Covid-19 has had a catastrophic impact on the employment rate in Europe and worldwide. Even before the pandemic, Italy was still struggling to recover from a deep economic crisis, which hit the youth employment especially badly.

However, over the last 2 years, the government made up a series of reforms to the labour market, also allowing people to retire earlier.

For those foreigners who have an employer available in sponsoring them, the Italian labour market offers excellent rights and public benefits.

Benefits of being employed in the Italian labour market

  • First, each employer is insured under the Italian Social Security legislation;
  • Second, the average working week does not exceed 40 hours and overtime is forbidden when it exceeds 250 hours per year;
  • Third, each employer is entitled to have at least a month (four weeks) of paid annual leave, and 11 public holiday days;
  • Fourth, the parental leave is very well regulated in Italy and both mothers and fathers can take a leave up to six months until the child turns 12;
  • Fifth, in case a contract is terminated, all the employees are entitled to a very well-regulated and extensive severance pay;
  • Sixth, workers are entitled to sick leave with full remuneration (most of the time) and have the right to maintain their job while they are sick.

Contact our Italy Team to discuss in greater detail.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Visa Bulletin Analysis

October Visa Bulletin Analysis

By Maxine Philavong

In the first Visa Bulletin of the fiscal year, October’s Visa Bulletin showed little to no movement in the family visa category, while showing movement in the employment-based category. Although this may be disappointment for affected people looking to obtain a family-based visa, this is good news for those looking to obtain an employment-based visa.

The October Visa Bulletin is perhaps the most important visa bulletin of the year. This is the first visa bulletin of the fiscal year, meaning that the State Department released its calculations for the total number of employment-based visas available for fiscal year 2021. The anticipated number of employment-based visas is 261,500, an all-time high. Current demand for visa numbers is well below the estimated annual limit of 261,500, according to the State Department, due in large part the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just as demand for visas are down due to the current pandemic, this month’s bulletin came much later than expected due to COVID-19. Moreover, the pandemic has caused many issues moving forward in all visa categories. For example, the ongoing visa and travel bans have made interviewing and acceptance much more difficult for family-based visa seekers. Similarly, the pandemic is cause for almost 100k individuals seeking family-based visas unable to reserve interviews due to embassy closures.

However, because family-based visa seekers have been paused, employment-based visas have moved forward exponentially. The following is a quick look at movement seen in the October Visa Bulletin:

FAMILY-BASED VISAS:

There was no movement for family-based visas. However, the bulletin provided some anticipated movement in the upcoming bulletins. Potential movement includes:

F-1: Potential forward movement for up to 3 weeks

F-2A: Current

F-2B: Potential forward movement for up to 3 weeks

EMPLOYMENT-BASED VISAS:

Employment-based visa applicants saw incredible movement due to family-based visas being paused.

EB-1: All countries expect for China and India remained current. China and India advanced three months to June 1, 2018.

EB-2: All countries expect for China and India remained current. China advanced six weeks to March 1, 2016, while India advanced two months to September 1, 2009.

EB-3: All countries except India and China were current in October. Cutoff dates for China advanced four and a half months to July 1, 2017, and for India advanced three and a half months to January 15, 2010.

EB-5: For the Non-Regional Center Program, India remained current, along with all other countries except for China and Vietnam. China’s cutoff date remained on August 15, 2015, and Vietnam’s cutoff date remained at August 1, 2017. The Regional Center program was extended from September 30 to December 11, 2020.

There has never been a better time to apply for an employment-based visa, especially the EB-5 visa. Davies & Associates is one of the longest-established EB-5 law firms in the industry and our team regularly contribute to the global media on the subject. We have helped hundreds of families, business owners and entrepreneurs relocate to America and have never had a case rejected on Source of Funds, which is one of the most challenging aspects of an EB-5 application. Our success comes from blending our highly qualified lawyers with an understanding of the culture, law, business practices and banking regulations in each jurisdiction we operate.

Contact D&A for a free consultation to learn more about the EB-5 Visa Program today.


Tax Incentives for Investing and Renting Residential Properties in Italy

By Matteo Tisato

The lure of Italy is undeniable. Stunning landscapes, historic cities, culture, design, culinary tradition. Before Covid-19 hit Italy so badly in early 2020, Rome was the country’s most popular destination with almost 27 million of visitors every year, or 6.4 percent of the total, followed by Milan and Venice (both 2.8 percent), and Florence (2.4 percent).

However, in the recent years, Italy has become an excellent place attracting not only tourists but international investors as well, who are finding always more opportunities and great deals even on tax regimes.

Today we dig into the international real estate business and want to share something that most potential investors in the real estate market do not know: A 10% flat rate for incomes coming from renting out residential properties. 

A 10% flat rate for incomes coming from renting out residential properties. 

If in most cases a rate of 21% is applied to these incomes, for lease contracts that meet certain requirements it is possible to qualify for a 10% flat fee, which is certainly more convenient for the investors/owners. Here are the main criteria to qualify for this special taxation regime:

  • Firstly, the residential lease must be in the form of 3 plus 2 years, or Interim contracts (up to 18 months) or student contracts (up to 36 months).
  • Secondly, the 10% flat rate applies only to leases for which the maximum amount is not freely established by the parties but is determined in accordance with agreements made by the local authorities and the most representative tenant organizations.
  • Thirdly, the 10% flat rate applies exclusively to homes located in specific areas, including the biggest cities such as Bari, Bologna, Catania, Florence, Genova, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Rome, Turin, and Venice. Buying a property in these cities may also include further reductions on IMU, which is the Italian property tax.

International investors are always more interested in investing in the Italian real estate by taking advantage of the above tax regime. In addition, house expenses are usually paid by the tenant, and these include water-sewer taxes, condominium taxes, gas, electricity, Internet/Wifi, and Tv/cable tax.

In addition to reduced rental taxes, Italy offers a range of tax benefits to attract foreign workers and retirees. This includes a generous time-limited reduction on income tax for workers who move their tax residency to Italy. As well as a 7% flat tax on overseas pensions for retirees who switch their tax residency to Italy. Conditions apply.

Italy also attracts high-net-worth-individuals (HNWIs) through a €100,000 flat tax for up to 15 years. This has proved popular with 784 people taking up this offer over the past three years. The majority of HNWI applicants (10%) are from the United Kingdom, where Brexit uncertainty coupled with Italy’s generous tax provisions, have spurred people to act.

For anyone interested in moving to Italy, there are a range of options available. Including the investor visa – for which the Italian government has just reduced the investment amounts; the elective residency visa – for which you need to prove annual stable income in excess of €32,000; the European Blue Card – for highly-skilled individuals; and naturalization by proving Italian ancestry.

Learn more in our podcast.

Contact Us to discuss your case.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Relaxation on H1-B and L-1 Visa

“Immigration Ban” Relaxed for H-1B and L-1 Visa Holders Returning to Same Job

By Maxine Philavong

After several lawsuits that were backed by large U.S. companies, the Trump administration relaxed part of its so-called “immigration ban” on foreign nationals, permitting those on H-1B and L-1 visas to return to their previous held employment in the U.S..

In April, the administration barred all foreign nationals who did not previously hold a valid visa from working in the U.S. for 60 days due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In June, President Trump signed an executive order extending their ban of all workers with a H-1B and L-1 visa, until the end of the year.

This meant that if a person had been waiting for these visas to be issued, or if you already had either of these visas but were waiting for it to get stamped, said person would have now had to wait until at least the end of the year.

The ban put thousands of foreigners waiting for their visas outside of the U.S. in a tough spot. For new visa holders waiting in their home country and those with a visa who had traveled to their home countries for stamping now found themselves barred from returning to the U.S. until the end of the year. Many feared job loss if they were not permitted to return.

Moreover, dependents of the visa holders were impacted, too. If a spouse of the visa holder had traveled to their home country to get their visa stamped but could not secure an appointment before the ban, they may have found themselves stuck in their home country.

However, after pushback from lawsuits that were back by large companies like Apple and Microsoft, the Trump administration has relaxed part of the ban.

Who Qualifies for the H-1B and L-1 Visa Exception?

After relaxing the ban on H-1B and L-1 Visa applications, the Trump administration favors those who qualify for national interest exception. This applies for those who are aiding in the fight against Covid-19 or those whose positions aid in economic recovery in the U.S. Meaning, there special exception for H-1b applications who are “technical specialists, senior level managers, and other workers whose travel is necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the U.S.”

Additionally, for both visa categories, the administration grants exception to those “seeking to resume ongoing employment in the U.S., in the same position, with the same employer and with the same via classification.”

Those traveling under the H-1B and L-1 visa to the U.S. should be able to prove at least two of the five criteria: “Their employer has a continued need for their work even during the pandemic; they make a significant contribution to a critical infrastructure need; they are paid at least 15% more than the prevailing wage; they have an unusual expertise in the industry; or that their employer would suffer financial hardship if their via was denied.”

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.

Please Contact Us to discuss any of the content in this article.


Benefits of Grenada Citizenship Programme: Visa-Free Access to China

Many of our clients are motivated to apply for the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program because of it provides rapid access to the United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. But that is only part of the picture.

There are many benefits to Grenadian citizenship in its own right. This includes no residency requirements, no tax on worldwide income, as well as citizenship of a politically and economically stable country.

And now, we are seeing clients cite another factor as their motivation for seeking Grenadian citizenship: Grenada is one of the few countries in the world that is granted visa-free access to China.

Geopolitics is largely the reason behind this change. Clients who live or do business in China are concerned that their current citizenship may present obstacles to them in future.

Take the example of one client, an American businessman who spends lots of time in Beijing. He is concerned about that the trade war between the United States and China will impact his ability to live and work in China. As a result he has worked with us to obtain Grenadian citizenship.

Similarly, an Indian client who has strong business links with China is pursuing Grenada citizenship because of heightened tensions between the two countries.

In addition to access to China, Grenada’s strong passport offers visa-free access to a wide range of countries. This includes the UK, the EU Schengen Zone, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Grenada’s citizenship by investment programs is one of the most cost effective in the world. Investment requirements start from $150,000 with real estate investment and public donations available.

Grenada is an E-2 Treaty Country with the United States. The E-2 Treaty allows a person to bring their family to the US for the purposes of investing in and operating a business. Many countries are not eligible for the E-2 Visa so it is necessary to first become a citizen of an E-2 Treaty country like Grenada. Find out if your country has an E-2 Treaty with the USA here.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


UK Government Extends Citizenship offer to Hong Kong Residents

The British government is proposing to offer a pathway to citizenship for around 3 million residents of Hong Kong. The move is a response to China’s introduction of a new national security law in the Special Administrative Region. The UK views this as a breach of the agreement surrounding the handover of the territory in 1997.

“We made clear that if China continued down this path we would introduce a new route for those with British National Overseas Status to enter the UK, granting them limited leave to remain, with the ability to live and work in the UK, and thereafter to apply for citizenship,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom.

Some three million Hong Kong residents are thought to be eligible for British National Overseas Status. Under current regulations, a British Overseas National is able to move to the United Kingdom for six months.

In response to developments in Hong Kong, the British government is planning to extend that period from six months to five years. UK rules mean a person can apply for citizenship if they can prove they have lived in the United Kingdom for five years.

This is not the first time the United Kingdom has taken such a step. In the 1970s, thousands of Ugandans of Indian descent emigrated to London after they were expelled by Idi Amin. Many Kenyan Indians also migrated to the United Kingdom around this time.

With Hong Kong, the scale could be one-hundred-times larger. While it is estimated that around 30,000 Ugandan Asians emigrated to Britain in the 1970s, around 3,000,000 Hong Kong residents could claim the right to take up the British government’s opportunity.

Just how many people would seek to emigrate is uncertain. The younger generation are likely to be more receptive to the move. Hong Kong remains a major global business hub, despite the febrile situation on the streets.

That said, to be eligible for the British National Overseas Status, a person must have been born prior to the handover in 1997. This means that a person under the age of 23 might not be eligible.

So what are the alternatives? Well, Britain is just one of the options open to Hong Kong residents seeking a way out. The United States, for example, has a range of visas that could be attractive to Hong Kong residents. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program offers a Green Card in exchange for a $900,000 investment in the US.

Each country is limited to 700 EB-5 visas per year. Fortunately, Hong Kong is eligible for its own quota, separate to China. The EB-5 program in China has been oversubscribed for years, and Chinese face a long waiting list. Please note, the EB-5 program is determined by country of birth.

Alternatively, countries all around the world offer citizenship by investment programs. The two countries with the fastest and most cost-effective programs are Grenada and Turkey. Grenadian citizenship can be obtained in less than two months starting from just $150,000.

Both Turkey and Grenada offer the additional benefit of providing Hong Kong residents with access to the United States E-2 Visa. This non-immigrant visa allows a person to move invest around $100,000 or more to acquire or start-up a business in the United States.

Davies & Associates can help our Hong Kong clients with all the aforementioned visas, including their interest in the United Kingdom. Please contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.

Written by Duncan Hill, Marketing Director, D&A. This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients.


India’s Bankruptcy Code: FAQs

Amid a global economic crisis, Neha Mehta answers some frequently asked questions about filing bankruptcy in India.

Q1. When is a Corporate Debtor in default?

A. “Default” is the non-payment of a whole, or a part, of a Corporate Debt when due and payable. Erosion of net worth is not a default under the Code.

Q2. Can a financial institution proceed against a Corporate Debtor under the Code although it may have already taken action under the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI)?

A. Section 238 of the Code provides that its provisions shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent in any other law or an instrument under any other law. Further the NCLT, Ahmedabad Bench, in Sarthak Creations Pvt. Ltd. vs Bank of Baroda & Others, held that pendency of proceedings before a Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) or invocation of SARFAESI Act, will not bar the commencement of CIRP, in view of the non-obstante provisions of section 238 of the Code.

Q3. What is a COC?

A. The COC (Committee of Creditors) is constituted of a Corporate Debtor’s financial creditors. It is a decision maker in CIRP.

Q4. Can a claim, or proof of claim, be filed, or submitted after the elapse of 14 days from the date of a demand notice?

A. Regulation 12 (2) of the CIRP Regulations provides that a Creditor, who fails to submit a claim with proof within the time stipulated in a public announcement inviting claims, may submit by the 19th day of the Insolvency Commencement Date. This amendment to the CIRP Regulations was made effective from July 2018.

Q5. Are home buyers deemed to ‘Creditors’ under the Code?

A. Section 5(8)(f) of the Code was brought into effect from 6th June, 2018 to provide that an amount raised from a real estate allottee is deemed to be a ‘borrowing’. The logic behind such amendment is that home buyers/allottees advance monies to buyers/allottees advance monies to developers, thereby financing a real estate project, and thus they will fall within the definition of a ‘Financial Creditor’ under the Code.

Q6. Would a moratorium ordered against a Corporate Debtor under the Code affect pending proceedings under section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act 1881 (NI Act)?

A. Section 138 of the NI Act is a penal provision empowering the competent court to order imprisonment or a fine. A fine is not a money claim or recovery against a Corporate Debtor, and an order of imprisonment against Directors of a Corporate Debtor does not affect CIRP. Therefore, proceedings under 138 of NI Act therefore will not be affected by a moratorium. Further, no criminal proceeding lie under Section 14 of the Code.

Q7. Does the Code provide for punishment against a Corporate Debtor that commits fraud?

A. Under Section 68 of the Code, if any officer of a Corporate Debtor wilfully conceals its property, he or she would be punishable with imprisonment for 3 to 5 years and a fine extending from INR 100,000 upto 10,000,000.

Q8. Can a Creditor and Corporate Debtor arrive at an ‘out of Court’ settlement and withdraw CIRP?

A. Yes, but with a 90% of COC members voting in favour of the settlement.

Q9. Can an RP reduce a claim amount if a Financial Creditor has claimed usurious or extortionate interest?

A. An RP can revise a claim admitted under Regulation 14 of the CIRP Regulations, subject to the RP collating information warranting the revision. While empowered to do so, the RP should, ideally, intimate the NCLT of the revision.

Q10. Can interest, overdue charges and related charges in respect of a credit facility be treated a part of a claim?

A. Yes.

Q11. In a liquidation of a Corporate Debtor, how will proceeds from the sale of assets charged to a secured creditor be treated?

A. If a secured creditor has participated in the liquidation process, it would relinquish its security interest to the liquidation estate, and receive proceeds from the sale of assets per the waterfall mechanism in Section 53 of the Code.

Q12. Can aggrieved employees, operational creditors appeal against not settlement of any outstanding claims?

A. Any person who is a party to, and aggrieved by, a resolution plan may appeal to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) under Section 61(3)(iii) of the Code. The appeal be within the grounds permitted.

Q13. Within what period from the approval of a resolution plan will a resolution applicant have to pay the resolution amount?

A. A payment schedule has to form part of a resolution plan, and on its approval, it binds all stakeholders. Therefore, the resolution plan will stipulate the period within which payment is to be made, and it will bound by it, upon the plan being approved by the COC and the NCLT.

Q14. What is the status of personal guarantors in a CIRP?

A. Notwithstanding the pendency of CIRP, Financial Creditors may invoke personal guarantees for causing payment of the debts of the Corporate Debtor.

Q15. Where would the CIRP process be initiated, if a Corporate Debtor has, for example, a corporate office in Delhi and its registered office in Mumbai?

A. The CIRP will have to be initiated in the jurisdiction of the Corporate Debtor’s registered office.

Q16. What is the application fee payable for initiating CIRP under the Code?

A. It is INR 2000 if the applicant is an Operational Creditor, and INR 25,000 if it is a Financial Creditor.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. For more advice on the topic, please contact the author.