Saturday, April 23, 2011

UK Deputy Prime Minister criticises UK Prime Minister on immigration

Nick Clegg the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister has attacked the Conservative Party Prime Minister's immigration plans. He says that reducing the number of immigrants to tens of thousands a year was not government policy. Immigration policy has been an ongoing source of friction between the Liberal Democrat members of the Government and the more anti immigration Conservative Party members of the Government.

It should be noted that under EU law the UK has to allow free movement of EU citizens and their families into the UK. In addition the limit on the number of tier 2 visas issued will only have a relatively small affect on overall levels of immigration. While at the same time making things more difficult for businesses. In practice it is likely to prove difficult reducing immigration to tens of thousands a year.

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told BBC 1's The Politics Show:

"It's not in the Coalition agreement and I don't think anyone suggests that what we should be doing is pursuing fixed numerical targets in immigration policy.

"Lots of people come in and out of this country, not least through the European Union, who you can't just numerically control, so I don't think it's a numbers game."

Mr Clegg commented further on Mr Cameron's tougher stance on immigration, saying:

"I wouldn't have used those words, I wouldn't have used that language."

Nick Clegg Deputy Prime Minister in a more conciliatory note said:

"In terms of the policy, the policy is actually one which we've all congregated around."

The British Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May have told the House of Commons that the Government's policies will reduce the number of immigrants from a previous high of 200,000 to tens of thousands a year.

But Mr Clegg's remarks contradict the Government's stated aim to impose a cap on migrants.

The UK Government in a policy paper has stated the following:

"There should be an annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK to live and work.

"This is one of the ways we will reduce net migration back to the levels of the 1990s – tens of thousands not hundreds of thousands."

Yvette Cooper, the opposition Labour Party Home Secretary, said the following:

"The Tory-led Government's immigration policy is now in utter chaos. Ministers need to explain urgently what on earth their immigration policy now is and whether cabinet ministers are actually prepared to deliver it or not."

She went onto say:

"We still don't know whether David Cameron's promise to cut net immigration to the tens of thousands is Government policy or not – with the Prime Minister claiming it is, and the Deputy Prime Minister claiming it isn't."

Immigration has become more difficult in recent years. However, there it is still possible to emigrate to the UK, perhaps under the Tier 2 visa, if you have say a professional level job offer. You will find further details of the tier 2 visas on our website.

Singapore Immigration - Prime Minister insists foreign workers essential

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that whilst high levels of immigration have caused some problems in Singapore, that overall, immigration is good for Singapore.

Speaking recently to reporters after recording a Chinese language forum at MediaCorp the Prime Minister had the following to say:

"First, we'll continue to do what we think is the right thing for Singapore. We have to adjust it, we have to soften it where we can, we have to take measures to take care of the consequences," said Mr Lee.

"So you want the foreign workers but at the same time you don't want too many and an uncontrolled flow, which can cause problems," he added. "Politics is about choices, government is about making decisions, and accepting these trade-offs."

The Singapore Peoples Action Party PAP which has dominated Singapore politics since 1963 has pursued a liberal pro-immigration policy. Fourty percent of Singapore's population were born overseas. This compares with the situation in 1990 when about fourteen percent of Singapore's population was foreign born.

Australian Visitor Visa and other visas may become easier to obtain

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Nick Sherry Minister for Small Business have announced a discussion paper asking for views on the simplification of Australian visitor visas.

The Government is trying to reduce the different types of visas and visa subclasses by fifty percent by 2015. Mr Bowen went on to say:

"The government's proposal to simplify visitor visas follows on from our recent commitment to streamline temporary work visas."

"We are undertaking broad public consultation on the visa simplification process, to ensure we consider the impact of any changes on the community," he added.

The proposals are that all short-stay (non-business visitor) work activities be moved out of the visitor program and into the new unsponsored short-stay visa. This will form part of the proposed new temporary work visa. It is also proposed that the types of visitor visas are reduced from nine to four.

Senator Sherry went onto say:

"This streamlining will be achieved by relocating certain short-stay work entitlements and by consolidating common regulatory requirements.

"The government is planning to achieve further simplification in this area by standardising similar regulations and removing duplicate regulation."

If you wish to comment on these proposals you have until 13 May 2011 to do so. It is hoped that there will be simplified visit visa requirements in the future and that this will result in more people visiting Australia.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Study says Canada should increase immigration

A recent study by Canadian professor Tony Fang recommends that Canada should increase its immigration levels to bolster investment in housing and boost the nation's gross domestic product.

Canada already has the highest immigration rate per capita out of all major countries. The country already has a number of skilled immigration programs to help deal with skills shortages in the labour force.

Fang says that Canada needs an additional one million immigrants; This would be an extra 100,000 immigrants a year during the period 2012 to 2021. This would also help the Canadian economy which is yet to recover fully from the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.

"To study the impacts of large-scale immigration on the Canadian economy, the researchers took into account many factors including: immigrants' participation in the labour force; associated spending on government services and infrastructure; funds brought by immigrants; and labour market differences between migrants (in order to capture the effect of large-scale immigration on Canadian-born workers)," a press release on the study said.

Fang, a professor at the University of York in Vancouver, said that adding 100,000 more immigrants a year to Canada's population would increase the GDP by 2.3 percent. Moreover, the increase in population would create demands for goods and services, particularly housing.

Fang also said that increased immigration would add $14 billion in tax revenue for the government.

German immigration on the rise

For the first time in a decade, Germany has seen an increase in immigration into the country, according to numbers published by the national statistics office.

At the end of 2010, approximately 6.75 million foreign nationals were registered in Germany, bringing the immigrant population of Germany to just over 8 percent. This was a rise of 58,000 over the previous year.

More than a third of foreign nationals residing in Germany are from other European Union member states.

The largest group consisted of 21,600 Romanians, followed by large numbers of Polish and Bulgarian nationals.

In recent years Germany has had quite tough immigration controls. However, this may have to change in future; Due to an aging population there are fewer people in the workforce.

Germany may need to open its doors to skilled migrants to deal with skills gaps in the workforce.

Australia lowers barrier for entry for foreign students

Australia will lower the barriers for entry for many people who with to obtain student visas.
The student visa assessment level for 38 countries will be lowered across one or more visa subclasses as of 2 April 2011. The changes come after an internal review of Australia's student immigration system by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).

The review was most likely prompted by calls from Australia's education sector to make it easier for overseas students to gain entry; In recent years, Australia has seen a sharp decline in the number of international students applicants after stricter rules were put into place.

Applicants from 38 countries will benefit by not having to provide so much documentation in support of their student visa applications; It is likely that less documentation will need to be provided to show English language proficiency, financial capacity and academic qualifications.

"Prospective students and their families, agents and education providers should be aware that these changes will lower the minimum evidentiary requirements needed for the grant of a student visa for the selected countries and education sectors," a DIAC spokesman said today.

DIAC was quick to point out that the changes only affect the requirements for initial entry as a foreign student -- not the requirements to stay on in Australia as a permanent resident after studies are completed.

"While many international students apply for permanent residence when they complete their studies, this is an entirely separate process and there is no guarantee that, on the basis of having held a student visa, a person will meet the requirements to be granted permanent residence," DIAC said.

DIAC warned potential applicants not to choose Australia solely based on their chances of obtaining a permanent skilled immigration visa in future.

"Students should not make educational choices solely on the basis of expecting to achieve a particular migration outcome, because the skilled migration program will continue to change and adapt to Australia's economic needs," the spokesman said.

270,499 student visas were granted during the 2009-10 Fiscal Year, with 382,710 student visa holders actually in the country as at 30 June 2010; 80,450 of these students were from India, 80,010 were from China and 21,720 were from South Korea.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tier 2 Visa - Major changes from 6 April 2011

Tier 2 Visa changes include the following:
All immigrants wishing entry to the UK must be filling a graduate level position. You do not necessarily need to have an academic position. However, you will need to show that you have the right level of skills for the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC). Following recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee 71 occupations can no longer come under the Tier 2 visa scheme. UK immigration considers that these occupations are below "graduate level". This will be relevant both for Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT) applications.

The UKBA also published a revised List of Shortage Occupations, 8 occupations were removed from the list where it was decided there is no longer a shortage of skills.

Tier 2 General Visa Changes:
Over a period of a year from 6 April 2011 to 5 April 2011 there will be an annual limit of 20,700 visas. This will apply to restricted Certificates of Sponsorship. Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship will apply in the following cases:
  • If you were previously sponsored under Tier 2 (General) or as a Work Permit holder on or before 5 April 2011 and wish to extend your visa;
  • If you wish to move to a different employer;
  • If you have an annual salary of GBP150,000 or more;
  • If you wish to switch immigration category from Tier 1 PSW or Tier 1 General categories to Tier 2 Visa.
In April 2011 4,200 certificates of sponsorship will be available. After the first month 1,500 certificates of sponsorship will be available per month until 5 April 2012.
You will as a Sponsor be able to request 'restricted' CoS up to three months before the start date. The certificates of sponsorship will be allocated on the 11th of each month.

Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer changes
From 6 April 2011 there will two new sub-categories of Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT). Below are further details of the two Tier 2 (ICT) subcategories:

For stays of up to Four years:
  • Tier 2 (ICT) is available for graduate level employees for a period exceeding 12 months, up to a maximum 60 months in total.
  • The job the migrant will do must be at a graduate level or above with a minimum salary of £40,000 per annum.
  • You will granted a Tier 2 Visa for a period of 3 years and 4 months. This visa category will not lead to settlement (permanent residence) in the UK.
For stays of up to twelve months:
The Tier 2 (ICT) Visa in this situation is available again only for graduate level positions with a minimum salary of £24,000.
  • You will granted a Tier 2 Visa for a period of up to twelve months. This visa category will not lead to settlement (permanent residence) in the UK.
  • If you will be earning £40,000 per annum you may be able to apply for a longer term Tier 2 (ICT) visa.
English Language Requirements Tier 2 (General) Visa
The English language requirements from 6 April 2011 for Tier 2 General applicants have been increased from basic to intermediate level. This is level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The English language requirements for Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer are unchanged.

Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Visa: Tougher Requirements

Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Visa Program will see stricter requirements. Immigration Minister Kenney claims that the changes will be an improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and had the following to say:

"We saw a need for clear regulations to better protect workers from poor treatment and to ensure that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program continued to address short-term labour and skills shortages," said Minister Kenney. "These regulations respond to that need and with the information being made available today, employers and workers will clearly know what is expected of them."

The changes to the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program represent the greatest changes to the program in many years. The three major changes are as follows:
  • More detailed checks on whether the job offer is genuine;
  • Employers who have not adhered to the wages, working conditions and occupation criteria for the scheme will not be allowed to hire temporary foreign workers for a period of two years.
  • Some temporary foreign workers will be limited to a maximum period of four years on their Canadian work visa.
"We know that the vast majority of employers treat foreign workers with respect and we recognize the importance of temporary foreign workers to employers in certain industries," said Rick Dykstra, Parliamentary Secretary to the Immigration Minister. "That's why we have also identified some workers who will be exempt from the four-year limit, such as workers who come to Canada through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and play such a critical role in the harvest across the country."

Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada job administer the program together. The intention of the program is to enable Canadian employers to recruit and employ people from abroad in shortage skills occupations.

UK immigration announces changes to Tier 4 student visas

UK immigration has announced a number of changes to the Tier 4 student visa category. There will be new accreditation criteria for sponsors and tougher English language requirements. An outline of the changes is included below:

21 April 2011 Changes:

New sponsors will need to meet new educational accreditation criteria in order to be issued a Tier 4 licence.

There will be interim limit on the number of students that can be sponsored unless the sponsor meets the following requirements:
  • hold Highly Trusted Sponsor status; and
  • meet the new accreditation criteria.
B rated sponsors will only be able to assign CAS to complete a course.

There will be tougher English language requirements for Tier 4 (General) students:
  • a B1 Secure English Language Test (SELT) requirement for all courses at NQF 3-5/QCF 3-5 / SCQF 6-8 (ending the current SELT exemptions on pre-sessionals pathway /foundation degree courses);
  • a B2 SELT requirement for courses at NQF 6 /QCF 6 / SQCF 9 and above
Higher educational institutions will be allowed to make their own assessment.

Normally a CAS may only be issued in respect of a single course, except in a situation where you are attending a pre-sessional course of not more than three months' duration and you have an unconditional offer of a place at a higher education institution or at an independent school starting not more than one month after the end of the pre-sessional course.

July 2011 Changes:
  • If you are a Sponsor you will have to vouch for academic progression for students changing course, where the new course is not a step up the NQF/ QCF / SCQF scale.
  • If you are a student applying for a visa you will need to declare at the visa application stage that you hold and will continue to hold the required maintenance funds to support yourself and pay the course fees.
  • If you are a Student from a designated low-risk nationalities attending courses at Highly Trusted Sponsors you will you will not necessarily have to show documents normally asked for other students relating to maintenance and educational qualifications.
  • You will only be allowed to work during your studies if you are at an higher education institutions or publicly funded further education colleges.
  • You will only be allowed to sponsor dependents if you are a new student studying at a higher education institution on a course on NQF 7 / QCF 7 / SQCF 11 or above lasting 12 months or more.
Your dependants will be able to work.

April 2012 Changes:
  • All sponsors must have reached Highly Trusted Sponsor Status.
  • The interim limit will be extended if you are an existing sponsor and have acquired HTS status but not met the new educational accreditation requirements.
  • Courses offering work placements will have to have a study:work ratio of 66:33 except at higher education institutions.
  • You will normally only be allowed a maximum time of five years in Tier 4 studying at degree level and above; There will be exceptions for some courses and for PhD students.
  • The Tier 1 Post Study Work visa will end.
  • There will be new provisions for Student entrepreneurs.
End of 2012 Changes:

If you are a sponsors you will need to meet the new educational accreditation criteria to be able to sponsor new students.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Canadian immigration proposes stricter marriage requirements

The Canadian government has proposed a new rule which would require a person coming to stay in Canada with their partner to stay in the relationship for two years before being granted permanent residence.

The stricter requirement is an attempt by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to crack down on fraudulent marriages.

Under the new proposal, a spouse or partner from overseas who has been in a relationship with their Canadian partner for less than two years would only be granted conditional permanent residence.

If the overseas partner failed to stay in the relationship, or it can be shown that it is not a genuine relationship, conditional permanent residence could be revoked.

The United States, Britain and Australia already have similar laws in place.

The Canadian government has also proposed to introduce a "sponsorship bar". This would prevent those who gained entry to Canada themselves as sponsored partners and spouses from sponsoring a new partner for five years.

US to accept H-1B applications from 1 April 2011

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting H-1B petitions for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 on 1 April 2011. However, the earliest you can start work on an H-1B visa is October 2011. US firms use H-1B visas to recruit overseas workers in specialty occupations in fields in the sciences, engineering, and information technology.

The H-1B visa scheme is subject to an annual cap set by the United States Congress each year. For FY 2012, the cap is again set at 65,000 visas. There are 20,000 additional visas for those with US Masters degrees or higher.

"The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals with U.S. master's degrees or higher are exempt," USCIS said in a statement.

There are certain other H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap as well. These include job posts at:
  • Institutions of higher education or related or affiliatednonprofit entities
  • Nonprofit research organizations
  • Governmental research organizations
H-1B visa extensions filed for workers who are currently in the US under an H-1B visa also do not count towards the cap.

In April 2007 the cap was reached in one day. The US has still not fully recovered from the economic downturn of 2008; Over the last few years there has been less demand for H-1B visas. The increased availability of H-1B visas means that it is now easier for US companies to import skilled labor from abroad under the H-1B program.

Western Australia continues call for more immigrants

Western Australia is continuing its efforts to recruit workers from abroad in an effort to head off labour shortages.

The Australian state expects to create 240,000 new jobs as AUD $225 million in resources and infrastructure projects get underway; It is estimated that Western Australia will see a shortfall of 150,000 workers.

"This growth will present significant challenges for government, industry and the community as the demand for skilled labour to service the state's growing industries places pressure on many sectors of the economy," Training and Workforce Development Minister Peter Collier said.

To meet the demand for skilled labour, the state will be bringing in immigrants under the Western Australian Skilled Migration Strategy. This includes a wide range of initiatives to help meet the state's work force requirements with labour from abroad.

The minister was quick to add that their first priority was to train the local Australian workforce.

"However, we know this will not be enough and that targeted migration will be essential to boost our skilled labour needs," Collier said.

"We need to explore all options for not just increasing the participation of our local population, but also adding to the labour pool by attracting skilled workers from overseas and other parts of Australia," he added.
State-sponsored skilled migration is an important component in Australia's overall skilled migration efforts.

By meeting certain criteria, an applicant who wishes to live and work in Australia can gain permanent residence in Australia.