Thursday, December 27, 2012

Canada announces reforms to Canadian Experience Class

As of 2nd January 2013, Canada will make it easier for skilled foreign workers with experience of working in a skilled role in Canada to obtain Canadian permanent resident status, Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney told journalists on 11th December 2012.

Mr Kenney was speaking at a press conference in Ottawa when he announced changes to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) visa stream. The CEC programme allows skilled workers from overseas to apply for Canadian permanent resident status after they have gained work experience in a skilled position in Canada.

Mr Kenney told journalists that, from 2nd January 2013 onwards, any skilled worker who has 12 months of experience in a skilled Canadian position will be able to apply for permanent residence under the CEC program. Previously, most applicants would have needed 24 months' experience to apply.

Mr Kenney also announced that graduates will now be entitled to stay in Canada for three years, (36 months) during which time they can gain their 12 months experience before applying under the CEC. Previously, the maximum stay had been 24 months.

Mr Kenney has made several significant changes to the CEC in recent months. In the summer, on an official visit to the UK and Ireland, he announced that UK and Irish graduates would be allowed to stay in Canada for two years rather than one under the International Experience Canada working holiday program during which time they could gain their work experience.

Mr Kenney has also gradually increased the number of applications that can be received under the CEC. The scheme was instigated in 2008. In 2009, the scheme permitted 2,545 applications. In 2013, 10,000 applications will be accepted.

'The CEC helps Canada attract the immigrants our economy requires: individuals who have valuable Canadian work experience and the necessary skills to benefit our country's current labour market needs. These skilled workers are set for success and expediting their transition to permanent residence will help Canada to respond to ongoing labour market challenges.'

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Friday, December 21, 2012

UK Immigration warns of scams

On 29th November 2012, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) issued a warning about 'fake UK Border Agency websites and calls'. The warning advises people who want to work in the UK and students who are already studying in the UK to be aware of a number of frauds that are being carried out by criminals pretending to work for the UKBA.

The statement warns firstly of websites offering fake UK jobs online. Foreign nationals who apply for a job will receive a response saying that they have been successful. They are then directed to a link and asked to pay for a UK Tier 1 or Tier 2 visa and work permit. The UKBA warns people not to apply for visas or to make payments on these sites. They are not operated by the UKBA. You cannot get a visa in this way.

The statement also warns about a telephone scam targeted at overseas nationals already studying in the UK. These students may receive a phone call from someone claiming to work for the UK immigration authorities. The caller will give a false name and a contact number. The caller will explain that there is a serious problem with the student's immigration status and request an immediate payment to prevent deportation. The UKBA warns people not to pay.

In another scam, a caller claiming to work for UK immigration authorities may contact a foreign national newly arrived in the UK to work, perhaps with a tier 2 (general) visa. The caller will ask the victim to pay a deposit immediately to prove that he has sufficient funds to support himself until he receives his first salary payment. The UKBA warns students and workers not make payments. The UKBA does not ask for payments over the phone in this way. It has reported the scams it knows about to the police. It adds that there may be other frauds it does not know about.

The UKBA advises anyone who has received suspicious calls or e-mails or has seen a suspicious website to report it to the police's Action Fraud website ( or to call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

It also advises that the genuine UKBA website is to be found at and warns students to be sure to check that they are not directed to other, non-government, email addresses from sites that seem to belong to the UK immigration authorities. It warns students to check any addresses used on letters that they receive, which claim to be from the UKBA, against a list of contact details to be found on the UKBA website.

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Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pro-immigration conservatives lobby Republicans for change of policy

A group of conservative activists travelled to Washington D.C. on Tuesday 4th December 2012 to lobby Republican Party officials on immigration. Surprisingly, the activists, known as The National Immigration Forum, were trying to persuade the Party to rethink its opposition to immigration.

The group, comprising preachers, law enforcement officers and businessmen, hope to persuade the party leadership to see the immigration issue from a new perspective. One delegate, Mark Curran told reporters 'There's a radical loud element out there that just doesn't seem to get it, that will never get it. They shouldn't be given any real deference anymore.'

Mr Curran is a Republican sheriff (a law enforcement officer) from Illinois. He was once fiercely anti-immigration himself but, he came to see a conflict between his support for hard-line immigration policies and his Roman Catholic faith. 'The political realities and my faith started to collide and I couldn't reconcile it anymore,' he said. Mr Curran had been extremely unpopular with pro-immigration campaigners before his conversion and the fact that he had changed his mind caused comment in the press in Illinois.

The group of 250 conservatives hosted a news conference and had meetings with Congressmen and other senior Republicans in Washington. It remains to be seen whether the Washington Republicans will listen.

In Illinois, however, there has been movement amongst Republicans. Under the US federal system, each state has its own legislature consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate. Elections for these chambers were held at the same time as the Presidential election on November 6th 2012.

In Illinois, after a targeted campaign by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), several vociferously anti-immigrant state Senators and Representatives were defeated. The ICIRR helped increase the turnout among Hispanic voters. It persuaded more than 26,000 immigrants to vote.

The political blogger Rich Miller believes that at least three hard-line anti-immigrant Republicans were defeated as a result of the Hispanic vote which increased from 8% of those who voted at the 2008 elections to 12% of those who voted in the 2012 elections. State Senator Carole Pankau, who was in favour or removing the children of illegal immigrants from a children's health insurance programme was defeated. The ICIRR claimed that it encouraged 3,600 immigrants in her ward to vote. She lost by 2,000 votes.

Now, Illinois Republicans, including the state House of Representatives leader Tom Cross, are offering to work with the ICIRR.

Nationally, the Republicans are at a crossroads. The polls suggest that they were beaten because of their support for the policy of 'self-deportation'. Self-deportation involves making life extremely uncomfortable for, mainly Hispanic, illegal aliens until they decide that they will leave of their own free will. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, endorsed this policy and was defeated.

It seems that the very high level of support for President Obama among Hispanic voters gave the President enough votes to turn the election in his favour. President Obama gained 71% support among Hispanic voters. There are over 50m Hispanic voters in the US.

Many Republicans now believe that the party must change. Senator Lindsay Graham from South Carolina is sponsoring a bill to reform the US immigration system with New York Democrat Senator Charles Schumer. Carlos Gutierrez, former Commerce secretary for President George W. Bush, is forming Republicans for Immigration Reform, a pressure group campaigning for a change of direction for the Republicans on immigration.

However, there are extreme voices in the Republican Party who are not ready to change. Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who devised Senate Bill 1070, which introduced 'self-deportation' legislation in Arizona, is continuing to try to erode rights for illegal immigrants in Kansas. In Kansas, extreme right wing Republicans were elected in the November elections and will, in all likelihood, introduce more anti-immigrant legislation in the new year.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States of America. Please visit our USA page for more information:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Biometric permits now mandatory for all staying in UK for 6 months or more

From 1st December 2012, anyone granted permission to stay in the UK for over six months must apply for a biometric residence permit. These new requirements will, the UKBA says, enable 'employers and other bodies to check the immigration status and entitlements of foreign nationals.'

The UKBA says that the new cards will also help it to check applicants' details against various UK databases including its own database and police fingerprint records. The new permits will also make life easier for those holding the new permits because they are 'simpler to understand are more convenient for foreign nationals living in the UK to use.'

The UKBA issued a statement saying, 'We have been rolling out biometric residence permits to different visa categories over the last 4 years. This means that applicants have been enrolling their biometric information (fingerprints and facial images) to apply for a biometric residence permit at the same time as making their application to stay in the UK. Some people will have applied to stay in the UK before there was a requirement to provide biometric information in their category, and will not have provided their biometric information. If these people are granted permission to stay on or after 1 December 2012, either at first consideration or after a successful appeal, they will need to apply for a biometric residence permit.'

If you applied before 1st December 2012 but your application is approved after 2012, you will be required to apply for a biometric permit. The UKBA will write to you to explain how this is done.

The biometric residence permit will give details of your name, your date and place of birth and carry a photograph and fingerprint information. It will also show what your immigration status is.

You will need to show it to your employer or your education provider before you can start your work or study. It will also be acceptable proof of your right to be in the UK and it will help you access public services.

You will need to take it with you if you travel abroad. You will need to show it to UKBA staff on leaving the UK. On your return journey, you will have to show it to immigration officials when you start your journey and you will have to show it to UKBA officials when you arrive in the UK. It does not replace your passport which you will also need to take with you.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information:


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Immigration is changing the face of the US

Immigration is changing the racial makeup of the United States. 17% of American citizens are of Hispanic descent. Most of these are from Mexico and many are either immigrants or the children of immigrants. Hispanics are also the fastest growing minority and, even if there were to be no further immigration, they would still be expected to account for 30% of the US population by 2030.

A further 5% of citizens, about 15,000,000 people, is of Asian descent and this minority too is growing faster than the general population.

There are 12.2m foreign born people living in the US as permanent residents with 'green cards'. There are also 15.1m people living in the US who were born abroad and are naturalised US citizens.
The Pew research, which is based on analysis of the 2011 US census, shows that there are also 11.1m illegal immigrants living in the US. 55% of these are Mexicans. A further 25% are from the rest of Latin America. There are also about 1.1m (10%) illegal immigrants who are from Asia.

Some illegal immigrants are calling for all those who are living in the US illegally to be given citizenship. The Define American campaign is run by Antonio Vargas who is from the Philippines and has been in the US illegally since 1993. He says that his campaign raises 'the question about how we as a nation define who is an American….We can't tread water on this issue anymore.'

Such a move would have enormous reverberations in the US. Not only would it increase the Hispanic share of the population to about 20% immediately it would also affect the balance between Republicans and Democrats during presidential and other elections. At the last presidential election, 71% of Hispanics voted for President Obama's Democratic Party as did 73% of Asian Americans.

Many pollsters believe that the President won the election because of the anti-illegal stance taken by his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. They speculate that Hispanics and Asians were put off Mr Romney by his support for the 'self-deportation' policy which he endorsed during his campaign. This policy involves making life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they would leave the country of their own free will.

If the illegal population was given citizenship this would increase the US population by a further 3%, most of whom would be entitled to vote. Most of those, if the figures are to be believed, would vote Democrat.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States of America. Please visit our USA page for more information:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Canada to revoke citizenship of 'immigration fraudsters'

The Canadian government has told over 500 Canadian citizens that it intends to revoke their citizenship. It has said that it is investigating over 3,000 more people for immigration related offences.

Until this year, the Canadian government had only revoked the citizenship of about 50 people since 1947. They were normally high-profile criminals. Many of them were Nazis who committed war crimes in the Second World War One was Branko Rogan who was responsible for torturing Muslims in a prison camp during the Bosnian conflict. He had his citizenship revoked in 2007 after one of his victims, who had also emigrated to Canada, saw him in a shopping mall in Vancouver.

But by September 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) had sent letters to 530 people informing them that the government intended to revoke their citizenship. Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney announced in September that he was beginning the process of revoking the citizenship of a further 3,100 people suspected of 'immigration fraud'.

Investigations into corrupt immigration agents by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Border Services Agency revealed that there were several immigration agents who were helping immigrants to create false documentation to support their citizenship applications. Before anyone can apply for Canadian citizenship, they must live in Canada for three out of four years prior to making their application. Evidence emerged that the agents were falsifying documentation to show that applicants were living in Canada when, in fact, they were living in their home countries, in most cases in one of the Gulf States.

In September, CIC revealed that it is investigating another 7,500 people who are permanent residents and who have applied for Canadian Citizenship. CIC suspects that these people have also used the services of corrupt immigration agents to create bogus evidence that they have been living in Canada.

Canadian immigration lawyers have told the National Post newspaper that they have been receiving calls from people who are facing the revocation of their citizenship. Rudolph Kischer, a Vancouver lawyer told The Post 'A passport changes your entire opportunities in life and, if someone's going to take it away, I imagine that people are going to respond.'

The Canadian opposition's spokeswoman on immigration, Jinny Sims, said that it was right that those who were abusing the system were being investigated but voiced her concern that some people who had 'made a very honest mistake and didn't understand the rules' should not be prosecuted.

There is some evidence that the investigations may go much wider than it has so far. One Canadian citizen, Mark Bilalov, who was born in Russia and became a Canadian citizen in 2003, has been told that his citizenship is to be revoked because, at his citizenship ceremony on 1st April 2003, he dishonestly signed a declaration that he had not been the subject of criminal proceedings while living in Canada. In fact, he was on probation at the time he signed the statement and had recently served a four month sentence for carrying a concealed weapon, possession of drugs and handling stolen goods.

Mr Bilalov admitted an offence of making a false statement to obtain his citizenship in 2006. It was not until 2011 that he received a letter from CIC informing him that the Canadian government intended to revoke his citizenship.

In order to revoke a person's citizenship, the minister must send a Notice of Intention to Revoke Citizenship to that person explaining the reasons supporting the decision. The person is entitled to challenge the decision in court. If unsuccessful, he has a further right to have the decision reviewed in the Federal Court.

Mr Bilalov's lawyers are arguing that, because he has already been punished for his offence and because it took place so long ago, it is an 'abuse of process' for the government to attempt to revoke his citizenship now.

But a Canadian government spokesman said 'There is no time limit on the revocation process'. This may mean that more investigations are on the way.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

UK Labour Party signals 'tough' new immigration policy

The UK's Labour opposition will fight the next election on a tough, anti-immigration platform, a senior Labour figure has revealed. Until now, Labour has been seen as the pro-immigration party.
Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, told a UK political website,, that Labour needs to change its tune on immigration if it is to recover seats lost at the last election. 'I think people need to know that Labour recognises we didn't get everything right and will have tough controls. That's important,' he said.

Mr Balls, the second most senior member of Labour's shadow cabinet, was speaking while visiting Stevenage, a town it lost to the Conservatives in the 2010 general election. Labour strategists believe that the party has lost a great deal of support because of its support for mass immigration.

A YouGov poll carried out in October 2012 suggested that Labour had lost around 4m UK votes because of its support for mass immigration between 2000 and 2009. The same poll found that, even among those who continued to support the Labour Party, there was majority support for 'zero net migration', that is to say, for immigration only on a 'one in, one out' basis.

During the last Labour administration, which governed between 1997 and 2010, it is estimated that 5.5m people from abroad settled in the UK. In 2009, a former advisor to Mr Blair's Labour government told London newspaper The Evening Standard, that the Labour Party had increased the level of immigration into the UK between the year 2000 and 2009 deliberately in order to make Britain 'truly multicultural'.

Tony Blair, Labour Prime Minister between 1997 and 2008, sought to suggest that people who disapproved of mass immigration were bigots. He said in a 2011 newspaper interview, 'I think the majority of people in Britain today are not prejudiced and can understand the benefits of immigration.'

Mr Blair's successor Gordon Brown, was famously overheard complaining that Labour supporter Gillian Duffy she was a 'bigoted woman' because she complained about the level of eastern European immigration in Rochdale, Yorkshire.

However, it seems that the Labour leadership was out of step with the membership. Research carried out by Oxford University's Migration Observatory in February 2012 suggests that 75% of UK citizens want to see immigration reduced. Now, the new Labour leadership is turning its back on Mr Blair's pro-immigration stance in pursuit of electoral success.

Ed Miliband, himself the son of eastern European immigrants to the UK, became the new leader of the Labour Party in 2010. He gave a speech in June 2012 in which he said that his party had 'got it wrong on immigration' and announced several policies that might help UK workers to gain jobs in the face of competition from foreign-born workers.

Mr Balls told 'People want to be reassured that Labour will be tough, but also make things better for them.'

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Friday, December 14, 2012

US could create 8.8m jobs by boosting immigration

The US could create 8.8m new jobs by issuing 100,000 green cards to graduates says Peter Cohan, a management consultant, author and lecturer.

Mr Cohan was writing in Forbes magazine. He cites research from the Kaufman Foundation which suggests that highly skilled immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial than native born Americans. 25.3% of technology and engineering start-ups between 1995 and 2005 had at least one immigrant as a founder. These companies had sales of US$52bn and employed 450,000 workers in 2005.

Mr Cohan says that most jobs are created in what he calls 'gazelle firms'. These are 'young, fast growing firms' between three and five years old. They 'account for 1% of all companies but create 10% of the new jobs each year.' Mr Cohan says that 'the typical gazelle firm adds 88 jobs a year – 44 times the average firm - and ends up with between 20 and 249 employees'.

Better still, these companies tend to do well even when the general economy is in trouble.

Mr Cohan says that the Kaufman Foundation recommends the passing of the Startup Visa Act to help the US economy to create more jobs. This act was voted down by the US Congress in 2010 but would have allowed immigrants able to raise US$250,000 investment in a startup company to apply for US visas.

If this could not be done, Mr Cohan says that the existing EB-5 visa program could be expanded. Under the EB-5 visa program, foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 and create ten jobs or more in the US can apply for a US permanent resident visa or green card.

Mr Cohan says that Kaufman Foundation statistics suggest that granting 100,000 more visas to highly skilled graduates with degrees in the STEM subjects; science, technology, engineering and mathematics, would create 8.8m jobs if each started a company. (100,000 new companies x 88/jobs/company')

Mr Cohan congratulates Andre Mayorkas, the head of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for setting up the Entrepreneur Pathways website which is designed to help young foreign-born entrepreneurs to find a way to immigrate to the US. But Mr Cohan says 'it would be even better to pass the Startup Visa Act because it would let proven entrepreneurs start their businesses here instead of taking them outside the country where others get the benefit of the training [they] received in the United States'.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States of America. Please visit our USA page for more information:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Leaked Canadian government report recommends more immigration

A leaked report prepared for the Canadian government recommends a rise in immigration levels of 6% annually between 2014 and 2018. This would take the annual immigration target from about 253,000 at present to 337,000 in 2018. The immigration target figure has been held at 253,000 since 2007.

The report, 'Literature review and expert advice to inform Canada's immigration levels planning', was leaked to Postmedia News, a Canadian press agency, which revealed its findings on 28th November 2012. The report makes recommendations for the Canadian immigration system over the next ten years up to 2021. It was circulated to federal, provincial and territorial immigration ministers before a meeting in August and is thought that it will influence Canadian federal government policy.

The report recommends that the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) should be kept at its current level. About 55,000 people are granted permanent residence under the FSWP every year. The FSWP is Canada's main programme for skilled workers to gain Canadian visas. Applicants are measured against a 'points grid' and must score adequate points to be considered. Points are awarded for various factors such as qualifications, experience, ability in English and French and age. If applicants achieve the required number of points, they can apply for a permanent resident visa. The system is currently closed to new offers for people who do not have Canadian job offers already. It is being reformed but is expected to open again in January 2013.

The report is lukewarm in its support for the 'Expression of Interest' system that the Canadian immigration minister, Jason Kenney, is known to favour. Mr Kenney has looked at the Australian system which operates on the Expression of Interest principle. Under the EOI system, those interested in emigrating to Canada would register their details on a government website. Canadian businesses and provincial and territorial governments could then search the database and invite suitable applicants to apply for a visa. Citizenship and Immigration Canada would then carry out the necessary checks and then, if the applicant proved suitable, would grant them a visa. The report says that a 'greater reliance on employment offers' would not necessarily increase the levels of economic success and integration among first generation immigrants.

In recent years, the FSWP had been scaled back and some of its immigration quota has been reallocated to other programs such as the Canadian Experience Class. The report says that the changes to the FSWP have made it 'more responsive both to Canada's medium and long-term economic needs'.

The recommendation to maintain the FSWP will disappoint Canadian provincial and territorial governments which had hoped for an expansion of the provincial nominee programs which allow the ten provinces and three territories that make up Canada to nominate some applicants for permanent resident visas. About 42,000 people annually are granted Canadian permanent residence under the provincial nominee programs but, at a meeting last week in Halifax Nova Scotia, provincial and territorial premiers called for it to be expanded further.

Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty told a press conference on 25th November 2012, 'We want greater flexibility….Nobody understands our needs and our capacity to accommodate and our capacity to develop new Canadians, so that they can contribute to their fullest, than the provinces themselves.'

But the report says 'It is not immediately apparent that a further shift is needed. A guiding principle should be that immigration is essentially a means for addressing long-term human resources rather than short or medium-term needs'. These, longer-term needs are, it seems, better appreciated and managed at the federal level.

The report says that economic migrants, including those who come in under the FSWP, the provincial nominee programs and the Canadian Experience Class, which allows foreign nationals who have had a year's experience in a skilled position in Canada to apply for permanent resident status, should continue to make up about 63% of the total number of immigrant each year.

The report also notes that the number of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) has trebled in the last decade. There are now 300,000 TFWs in Canada. The report says that this may be contributing to the problem that some first generation immigrants have in finding and keeping work. It may therefore be preventing permanent residents from integrating properly. The report recommends that further research is done to assist with the formulation of policy in future.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

UK Premier says fall in immigration figure shows policy is working

On 29th November 2012, the UK's Office of National Statistics announced that net immigration into the UK had fallen by about 25% to 183,000 in the year to March 2012, from 242,000 in the year to March 2011. Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the news He tweeted, 'Effective immigration helps us compete in the global race'. He added, 'It shows we are reducing net immigration.' Grant Shapps, the Chairman of Mr Cameron's Conservative Party said 'This big fall in net migration shows that the tough steps we have taken to reduce the uncontrolled immigration that Labour presided over are working.'

In 2010, before he became prime minister, Mr Cameron promised to reduce net immigration to the UK from the then level of around 250,000 a year to 'tens of thousands' annually. Until the latest figures were released, his government had made no significant progress towards this goal.

Yesterday, the UK immigration minister, Mark Harper, said '"Our tough policies are taking effect and this marks a significant step towards bringing net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament,"

Commentators and pressure groups were quick to comment on the figures. Writing for his blog on the New Statesman website, George Eaton said that the fall in the headline figure was not a cause for celebration.

Mr Eaton said that the cause of much of the reduction was a reduction in the number of foreign students registering to come to the UK to live. Students from outside the European Economic Area who want to come to study in the UK must first obtain a Tier 4 student visa. There was a fall of 19,000 in the number of tier 4 visas issued in the year to March 2012. This, Mr Eaton says, is not good news for the UK. He says 'Estimates suggest that an annual fall of 20,000 in the number of foreign students, who account for more than a tenth of higher education income in England, will cost the economy around £1bn-£1.5bn.'

Mr Eaton said 'There's still little chance of Cameron meeting his target, but at least he'll be able to boast that the numbers are going in the right direction.

Sarah Mulley of The Institute for Public Policy Research told The Daily Telegraph, a London newspaper, that the fall in the number of student visas may not have represented a genuine fall in the number of people coming to the UK. It says that the number of student visitor visas issued has risen by about 8,000 or 12% to 66,569 in the year ending in September 2012.

Student visitor visas are issued to students coming to study in the UK for less than one year. Ms Mulley told the Telegraph that student visitors do not count as migrants for the purposes of net migration figures but are subject to less rigorous checks than those coming through the main (tier 4) student visa route.' They may still be coming, intending to stay.

She warned 'The number of student visitor visas continues to rise, perhaps because tough action on student visas aimed at meeting the target has led to a displacement effect. The government needs to be sure that it has the systems in place to deal with this.'

Analysis of the figures shows that a further 17,000 of the reduction was caused by a rise in the number of British residents leaving the UK to live elsewhere. This is because of the way in which the net immigration figure is calculated.

The net immigration figure is calculated by first estimating the number of people entering the country to live over any given period. Then, in order to calculate the increase in population caused by immigration over that period, it is necessary to subtract the number of UK residents who leave the country over the same period. .

In the year to March 2012, 353,000 UK citizens and residents left the country to live elsewhere, 17,000 more than in the year to March 2011. The fall of the number of people coming to live in the UK from outside the EU fell by only 17,000 in the year to March 2012.

The Director General of the UK's Institute of Directors, Simon Walker, said 'The current approach to migration risked deterring international students, damaging our Higher Education sector and giving the impression that Britain is not open to talent from across the world. We support the Government's desire to crack down on the minority of bogus students, but legitimate students are also being put off."

A poll of Institute of Directors members found that 62% say that reducing the number of international students in the UK could damage their business by reducing an important supply of skills and 80% think that international students will help the UK to build commercial links with their home countries.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information:

Monday, December 10, 2012

US Congress still 'gridlocked' on immigration reform

The House of Representatives, controlled by the Republican Party, has passed the STEM Jobs Act. This act would, if it became law, allow 55,000 more highly skilled graduates to get US 'green cards' or permanent resident visas.

However, it seems unlikely that the Act will ever come into force because the Democratic Party has said that it opposes the bill. President Obama has said that, if the bill is passed by the Senate, he will veto it.

In order for legislation to become law in the US, it must be approved by both houses of the US Congress; the House of Representatives and the Senate, The President must then sign the act, which gives him a veto on all legislation. The Republicans currently control the House of Representatives and the Democrats control the Senate and the Presidency.

The STEM Jobs Act would have allowed the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to give 55,000 green cards to graduates with a doctorate degree or a master's degree from a US university in one of the STEM subjects; science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In order for their petition (application) to succeed, they would also have to undertake to work for at least five years for the US company that sponsors their application.

Democrats have refused to back the legislation because they object to the fact that the act would also close down the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. This program, also known as the Green Card Lottery, distributes the 55,000 green cards to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the US. Democrat Representative Zoe Lofgren explained why she had voted against the bill saying 'I can't support a bill that pits immigrant communities against each other. There's no reason that giving a green card to one person should mean taking one away from someone else.',

Gregory Ferenstein, writing for the Techcrunch website, said that the Republicans only proposed the STEM Jobs Act now in order to make the Democrats appear to be 'anti-innovation'. The Democrats gained a great deal of funding from the high-tech sector in the recent presidential election because the sector believed that President Obama was more likely to reform the immigration system to allow greater skilled immigration.

By introducing the STEM Jobs Act, which they knew the Democrats would have to oppose, the Republicans hoped to make high-tech companies see the Republicans as the more pro-skilled-immigration party. They knew, Mr Ferenstein suggests, that the act had no chance of becoming law.
And so it seems that there will be no reform before President Obama is inaugurated for his second term in January and it is unclear whether the two parties will be able to find any common ground even then.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States of America. Please visit our USA page for more information:

Friday, December 7, 2012

London Mayor says UK must remove students from immigration figures

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has used a speech in India to demand that the UK government changes immigration rules to make them more welcoming to international students. Speaking at Amity University in Delhi, which is planning to open a 15,000 student campus in London, Mr Johnson said he wanted to see 'academic freedom'. He said that 'genuine students' should be allowed to travel freely; 'If people are genuine students and genuinely desire to learn and to contribute to the economy, there should be a system which allows them to travel from one major centre of learning to another, and that's what we're trying to achieve,' he said.

Mr Johnson also wrote letters to the Home Secretary Theresa May, who is the Cabinet minister responsible for immigration and to the Business Secretary Vince Cable, who is responsible for helping UK businesses to prosper, demanding that the immigration rules be changed.

Mr Johnson also gave an interview to London newspaper The Daily Telegraph making the same demands. He said that overseas students currently contribute £2.5bn every year to the economy of London and more should be encouraged to come to help the UK economy.

Instead, Mr Johnson fears, UK government policies are discouraging international students from coming to study in London. He said that changes to the rules governing those holding student visas have made the UK a less attractive destination for international students. Mr Johnson said that the decision of the UK government to stop issuing Tier 1 Post Study Work Visas in April 2011 had been particularly harmful. This visa allowed students to apply for a two year work visa after graduation which in some circumstances could be extended to a longer term visa such as a Tier 2 visa. Ending Tier 1 PSW has put off Indian students and students from other Countries from studying in the UK. Mr Johnson said it was 'crazy that we should be losing India's top talent and the global leaders of the future to Australia and the United States'.

Mr Johnson told The Telegraph 'Indians are being put off…too many people have had difficulty. A lot of people raise it with me…They need to stay and take up employment more speedily.

Mr Johnson said that the UK could also be less obstructive to those applying for student visas. He said 'their applications need to be processed faster and we need to be more sympathetic and not shutting off a major source of investment in our education'.

Mr Johnson used his letter to Mrs May to call for students to be removed from the UK's immigration figures. This is important, many people believe, because the UK government is committed to reducing net immigration annually to 'tens of thousands'. In January 2010, before David Cameron became Prime Minister of the UK, he told the BBC that his government would reduce net immigration to 'tens of thousands' every year from the then level of about 250,000 per year under the Labour government. The net immigration figure is the number of people settling in the UK less the number of people who leave the UK to settle elsewhere.

At present, the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) includes students in its calculations of the UK's net immigration total. The ONS says that about 60% of those settling in the UK every year are overseas students. Critics of this system say that this makes the figures misleading because most students stay in the UK for three years in order to take their degree and then leave. They also say that, because the UK is now committed to reducing immigration to 'tens of thousands' every year, the government is pursuing policies that are damaging to the UK's export education sector. They say that, it will be impossible to reduce the annual figure below 100,000 without significantly reducing the number of international students.

Since May 2010, when David Cameron became Prime Minister as head of a Coalition government, The UKBA has removed the Highly Trusted Sponsor status from over 500 colleges. Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) status entitles them to teach students from outside the European Economic Area. In August 2012, the UKBA revoked HTS status for London Metropolitan University. Critics at the time said that the decision was arbitrary and driven by a desire to reduce the overall net immigration figure. A high proportion of London Metropolitan's students come from outside the EEA. This meant that the UKBA decision was particularly damaging to London Metropolitan.

Universities minister David Willetts organised an advertising campaign in newspapers in several countries in order to reassure potential students that they were still welcome. However, The Independent newspaper reported in October 2012 that applications from Indian students to study at top UK universities were down by 30% for the last academic year.

At the time that London Metropolitan lost its HTS status, it was reported that Mr Willetts wanted to see university students removed from the net immigration figure. The then immigration minister, Damian Green, refused saying that it would be 'a denial of reality' to do so.

Mr Johnson's letter to Mrs May said it was right to 'shift the debate on student visas away from numerical targets and squarely onto policy based on promoting jobs and growth in the UK.' Mr Johnson continued 'That is why I am supporting a growing, cross-party consensus on removing students from the Government's net migration target.'

Mr Johnson's words will inevitably be seen by some as an attack on Mr Cameron and an attempt by Mr Johnson to position himself to become leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. Mr Johnson has always denied that he has any intention of challenging for the Conservative Party crown. However, his words will embarrass the Prime Minister.

On Tuesday 27th November 2012, Chris Bryant, the opposition Labour Party's shadow immigration minister issued a statement attacking the Prime Minister's immigration policy. He said that it was 'nothing short of a complete shambles…even the Tory Mayor of London realises that it is having a dreadful effect on the UK's ability to compete.'

His statement continued, 'Nearly three years into this government, the Home Secretary is failing on all fronts…students are being discouraged from studying here, potentially costing us billions, and the Home Secretary still has over a hundred thousand to cut in order to reach her own net migration target. When will she get a grip of these policies?'

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Obama promises reform of US skilled immigration system

President Obama has said that he hopes to reform the US skilled immigration system. He has not given any details but has said that he hopes to do it soon, taking advantage of the fact that the Republicans seem to be willing to reform the entire immigration regime in the wake of their election defeat.

President Obama told a press conference on November 15th 2012, 'The business community continues to be concerned about getting enough high-skill workers and I am a believer that, if you've got a PhD in physics or computer science who wants to stay here and start a business here, we shouldn't make it harder for him to stay here. We should try to encourage him to contribute to this society.'

In President Obama's first term there have been many calls from industry for reform of the skilled immigration system. In August 2012, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg joined forces with newspaper magnate Rupert Murdoch to call for a greater number of US permanent residence visas, popularly known as 'green cards' to be granted to people who can contribute to the economy.

Mr Bloomberg said that only 7% of green cards were currently granted to people who are likely to contribute to the economy. He said that other countries, such as Australia and Canada encourage economic migration. 'The US cannot retain its global leadership with self-defeating immigration policies,' he said.

Mr Murdoch said it was a 'scandal' that highly skilled foreign-born graduates, with degrees from US universities, will if they are lucky only be eligible for temporary work visas. He said that such graduates should 'have a green card stapled to the diploma'.

Critics of the US skilled immigration system say that it is far too restrictive and that highly skilled workers cannot get work visas, such as H-1B visas and L-1 visas, let alone green cards.
H-1B visas allow US companies to employ graduate level overseas workers in 'specialty occupations'.

Visa holders are allowed to enter the US for an initial period of three years which can be extended to a usual maximum term of six years in total. The number of H-1B visas granted every year is capped at 65,000 though a further 20,000 visas can be issued to those with Masters' Degrees or higher.

L-1A visas allow companies that have offices in the US and elsewhere to transfer management staff to work in the US for up to seven years. L-1B visas allow the same companies to transfer staff with 'specialized knowledge' to the US for up to five years. Firms have reported that it has been increasingly difficult to get these visas for their staff in recent years.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress both introduced legislation to try to reform the system but they refused to cooperate so there has been no change to the law. Now, in the wake of their election defeat, there is some reason to expect that Republicans will cooperate with Mr Obama's Democrats in Congress and the entire US immigration regime may be reformed.

In the US, the immigration debate invariably centres on the issue of illegal immigration from Mexico and Latin America. This is because of the numbers involved. The Pew Hispanic Center, a think tank which 'seeks to improve understanding of the U.S. Hispanic population' has estimated that there are around 11m illegal immigrants living in the US. Around 60%, over 6m, of these came to the US from Mexico. A further 25%, around 3m, are from the rest of Latin America. People from Latin America, including Mexico, are often described in the US as 'Hispanics' These people generally work in low-paid employment .

Hispanics now form a substantial percentage of US citizenry. The Pew Hispanic Center research shows that there are now 50.5m US citizens of Hispanic descent. This is 16.3% of the total population. The Hispanic population is the fastest growing part of the population. It grew 43% between 2000 and 2010 from 35.3m. Many US citizens of Hispanic descent tend to believe that there ought to be an amnesty for illegal immigrants.

All of this has been bad news for the Republicans who were defeated, many believe, because of the position that Republican challenger Mitt Romney took in the US presidential elections on 6th November 2012. Pollsters say that it was because nearly 70% of Hispanic voters voted for President Obama that President Obama was reelected. Mr Romney won under 2% fewer votes than President Obama.

Now, after Mr Romney's defeat, many Republicans believe that, if they do not present a more reasonable face on the issue of immigration, particularly of illegal immigration from Latin America, they will find it increasingly difficult to be elected ever again.

This is the window of opportunity that President Obama hopes to use to get comprehensive reform of immigration through Congress including reform of the system for allowing highly-skilled graduates to live and work in the US. There have been some signs that Republicans will cooperate. However, in recent years, Congress has become increasingly partisan and there was little, if any cooperation during Mr Obama's first term.

Despite all the hopeful words in the last week, it is as well to remember that the President promised reform during his first election campaign too.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States. Please visit our USA page for more information:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Report says NZ should use immigration to treble population by 2060

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) has issued a report which states that New Zealand should attempt to grow its population to reach 15m by 2060. The current population is about 4.5m. To reach the NZIER target, the population would have to grow at an annual rate of 2.5%. The backers of the report have called for a national debate on immigration.

The NZIER report was commissioned by industry pressure group ExportNZ. ExportNZ commissioned NZIER to provide an independent view on options for New Zealand firms, business organisations and government to boost export growth. The report identifies various problems for New Zealand firms. One is that New Zealand is a small and isolated market which finds it hard to grow big firms that can compete on the global stage.

The report says 'If New Zealand's biggest impediment to better economic performance is an absence of scale, there is only one way to overcome this over the long term and that is to grow the population through more migrants'.

The report says that growing the population to 15m by 2060 is 'feasible' and says 'this would bring the size and density of the population to levels closer to more prosperous European countries. Fifteen million – two and a half times current projections – is a good target'

This level of population would then provide New Zealand with 'several large cities, fostering competition within New Zealand'. It would also, the report says, enable New Zealand companies to become big enough and rich enough by catering for domestic markets to be able to fund the substantial investment required for international expansion.

Catherine Beard, executive director of ExportNZ said 'We need a national debate on population policy and how big we should be by 2060. We need to grow the population by immigration and build companies of scale. Once grown, the challenge is keeping these companies in New Zealand so the country benefits. The alternative is selling out to other countries and losing talent overseas for better jobs and better pay'.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in New Zealand. Please visit our New Zealand page for more information:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Immigrants granted Canadian visas after computer error

Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney has confirmed that about 150 people will be granted permanent Canadian resident status after a computer error led to them incorrectly being given immigrant visas.

The error came to light when a Moroccan family arrived at Montreal airport on Friday 16th November 2012 believing that they had been granted Canadian permanent resident visas. At the airport they were told that the visas were invalid. A check has revealed that a computer error led to them being told that they had visas. The Canadian government accepts that they flew to Canada in good faith.

The government says that similar errors have been made in the cases of about 50 applicants under the Federal Skilled Worker Program who are now entitled to bring their immediate family with them. A total of about 150 people are affected. Mr Kenney said 'I think it would be fundamentally unfair to the people who have received visas, who wrapped up their affairs in their home country, acted in good faith, some apparently have come to Canada, to tell them to leave.'

The FSWP applicants all applied before February 27th 2008. In June 2012, Mr Kenney announced that he was going to annul all applications to the FSWP made before that date in an effort to get rid of the backlog of cases in the system.

However, a computer error led to letters being sent to the 50 applicants saying that their applications had been approved. Mr Kenney told journalists that it was right that Canadian immigration should now grant visas to those affected. He also said that it was not surprising that some errors were made from time to time.

Mr Kenney said that his department, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, had installed a new computer system which had some teething problems. 'We make over 2 million decisions a year; about 7,000 a day. We are making a major IT change so I think it's understandable that a small error of this nature would be made' he said. He said that all those who were to be granted permanent resident visas because of the computer error had passed their security screening.

In June 2012, Mr Kenney announced that about 280,000 applicants under the FSWP who had applied before February 28th 2008 would have their application fees returned. He said that their applications would not now be considered and, if they wanted to enter Canada under the FSWP, they would have to apply again. Many of those applicants have launched class action legal proceedings against the Canadian government.

Jenny Sims, who speaks on immigration for the Canadian opposition New Democratic Party, said that she welcomed Mr Kenney's decision to grant permanent resident visas to those affected by the computer error but said 'the real mistake was the deletion of all those files in a very unfair manner.'
The first hearing in the cases in the class action brought by people whose pre-2008 applications were annulled will be held before Christmas this year.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in Canada. Please visit our Canadian page for more details:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tony Blair accused of 'immigration wheeze

The former Prime Minister of the UK, Tony Blair, is to address an audience of British business lobbyists in London on Wednesday 28th November 2012 in which he will argue that the UK would lose power and influence if it leaves the European Union.

The Daily Telegraph, a UK newspaper, reports that Mr Blair will tell an audience gathered by pro-European lobby group Business in New Europe that, in the 21st century, the UK has a choice between 'power and irrelevance'. He will say that, if the UK leaves the EU, then it will lose what remaining influence it has in the world.

However, Telegraph columnist Jeff Randall argues that those Eurosceptics who want the UK to leave the European Union will be delighted that Mr Blair is supporting the other side of the argument. Mr Randall says that Mr Blair is now so toxic in the eyes of British voters that his endorsement will push voters in the other direction. He says that Mr Blair 'opened the door in 2004 to workers from accession states, insisting that the impact on our jobs market and social infrastructure would be minimal' and added 'Those who challenged this orthodoxy were condemned as racists and bigots.'

Mr Randall suggests that Mr Blair allowed mass immigration from within and outside the EU as a 'wheeze' or electoral trick because '80 per cent of first generation immigrants vote Labour'.

Mr Randall says that Britain's membership of the EU is good news for big business but not so for small and medium sized businesses or workers. He says that, for big business, 'there are clear advantages to being part of a borderless EU, not least access to a pool of educated young people whose presence in Britain helps suppress local wage rates.'

Mr Randall says that the Confederation of British Industry, which is supportive of British membership of the EU, is 'dressing up grubby self-reward in the haute couture of national interest.' He says 'It calls on the government to help create a better skilled British workforce yet there is no incentive for UK companies to invest in indigenous staff and train them properly if they have the alternative of hiring foreigners whose schooling has been funded by somebody else.'

In 2009, a former advisor to Mr Blair's Labour government told London newspaper The Evening Standard, that the Labour Party had increased the level of immigration into the UK between the year 2000 and 2009 in order to make Britain 'truly multicultural' and to render the arguments against immigration made by those on the right 'out-of-date'. Some estimates suggest that 5.5m people from elsewhere settled in the UK between 1997 and 2010 when Labour was voted out of office.

A YouGov poll carried out in October 2012 suggested that the Labour Party had lost the support of 'millions' of its core voters because of the party's immigration policy during between 2000 and 2009. The poll showed that 5m people who used to be Labour voters had ceased to support Labour and, of these, 78% wanted the UK to cut net immigration to zero. The poll also showed that even among those that still support Labour, 66% want zero net immigration.

In 2011, Mr Blair defended his record on immigration. He told the Eastern Eye newspaper that immigration had made the country stronger. He said 'It's been a very positive thing and there is no way for a country like Britain to succeed in future unless it is open to people of different colours, faiths and cultures…I think the majority of people in Britain today are not prejudiced and can understand the benefits of migration.'

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Canada will issue 35,000 parents and grandparents visas in 2013

Jason Kenney, the Canadian immigration minister, has announced that Canada intends to grant visas to 35,000 parents and grandparents of immigrants in 2013. This is the same number as were granted visas in 2012 and, Mr Kenney told reporters in Mississauga, Ontario on November 5th 2012, it is the highest number for 20 years. Mr Kenney said that this figure is 60% higher than the number for 2010.

The Canadian government instigated the Action Plan for Faster Family reunification in late 2011. Its intention was to process new applications from parents and grandparents of citizens and residents who wanted to visit Canada faster and to wipe out the backlog of historic applications in a reasonable time period. The backlog at that time stood at 165,000 applications and there was a waiting list of nearly eight years.

To that end, Mr Kenney announced that no new applications from citizens or residents to sponsor their parents or grandparents would be accepted for 24 months at least. CIC staff were then able to concentrate on reducing the backlog. Citizenship and Immigration Canada says that it hopes to have reduced that by more than 30,000 (around 20%) in the 13 months to the end of 2012.

Mr Kenney told reporters at his press conference on Tuesday 5th November that he was also continuing to work on creating a new system so that the system would operate more quickly in future and prevent the backlog from building up again.

CIC launched a national consultation in March 2012 and continued to run online consultations until May 25th 2012. The results of these consultations will be published soon on the CIC website, according to a statement released by CIC.

Mr Kenney told reporters that, on top of the 25,000 visas granted to parents on the PGP applications backlog, CIC also expects to issue around 10,000 Parent and Grandparent Super Visas by the end of the year. These visas were first issued in December 2011 and entitle the parents and grandparents of Canadian residents or citizens to come to visit their relative in Canada providing the relative has an income above a modest amount (the amount of income required varies depending on the number of children the relative has).

The parent or grandparent must also complete a medical examination and purchase health insurance for one year. They must also pay a fee. The advantage for grandparents and parents is that they can stay for up to two years in Canada, rather than and will therefore pay fewer fees. They will also find that the waiting time for a super visa should be eight weeks, rather than the eight years some people still have to wait on the PGP list.

Mr Kenney said that 10,000 super visas should be granted in 2013 as well.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in Canada. Please visit our Canadian page for more information:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Canada to cut Federal Skilled Worker Program Numbers

Canada's immigration minister Jason Kenney announced further changes to Canadian immigration policy on 2nd November 2012. Mr Kenney said that the Canadian immigration system would be transformed by the end of 2013.

His headline announcement was that, by the end of 2013, the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) backlog would be eliminated well ahead of schedule. Mr Kenney had previously announced that the backlog would be cleared by the end of 2017.

Thereafter, Federal Skilled Worker Program applications will be considered as they are received and should be processed in under a year. 55,300 people will be admitted under the FSWP in 2013, a slight reduction on the 2012 figure. At the same time, the Canadian Experience Class will be expanded to include 10,000 people, compared to only 6,000 in 2012. The overall immigration figure will remain unchanged at around 260,000.

The Canadian Experience Class allows skilled workers from overseas who have been working in Canada in a skilled occupation to apply for permanent resident status.

Mr Kenney says that the changes he had announced would help Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), his governmental department, to eliminate the backlog in the Federal Skilled Worker Class completely by the end of 2014 and allow the introduction of an 'Expression of Interest' system similar to that which is operated by the Australian immigration authorities. It is expected to be known as the Federal Skilled Worker Pool. Mr Kenney said 'the government's number one priority remains the economy and job growth. Immigration backlogs are detrimental to our ability to attract the world's top talent.

The Expression of Interest system would allow those considering emigrating to Canada to register their interest at a central database, the Federal Skilled Worker Pool. Details of their skills, qualifications and so forth would be held on the database. The database would be accessible by Canadian regional governments and by businesses who could then cherry pick the applicants whose skills best matched their requirements. Those people who were selected would then be invited to apply for a Canadian visa.

Mr Kenney said last year 'Employers are best positioned to decide who can best fill the open jobs rather than a passive and bureaucratic system. 'it's not about privatising the immigration system. It's more about a more active role of recruitment for people so they have jobs when they show up.'
The Canadian government has struggled with the Federal Skilled Worker Program backlog for many years. In June 2012, Mr Kenney took the dramatic decision to annul all applications made before 2008 and to refund application fees to all applicants. 280,000 people were affected. This was a controversial move. Some applicants had been waiting for seven years for their cases to be considered.

Many of the pre-2008 applicants have refused to accept Mr Kenney's decision to annul their claims. They are hoping to bring a class action against the Canadian government in order to have their claims reinstated. A preliminary hearing in their case will be heard in the Canadian courts later in November. Solicitors for the applicants will ask the Canadian courts for permission to bring the action against the government.

A lawyer representing the applicants, Lorne Waldman, told Postmedia News last year that Mr Kenney's decision had been unconstitutional and should be reversed, 'These applicants applied in good faith, some as long as seven years ago. They paid their fees and were told that their applications would be processed. We are arguing that it (the decision) is inconsistent with our charter and our Bill of Rights,' he said.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in Canada. Please check our Canadian page for more information:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oxford University report warns of problems with immigration target

A report prepared at a leading UK university addresses 'key questions surrounding migration and population growth in the UK'. The Report, Britain's '70 million' debate, has been prepared in the wake of a call to take 'all reasonable steps' to limit the UK's population to 70 million.

The Migration Observatory, which is part of the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, prepared the report to inform policy makers and to encourage a wider debate in the UK about immigration policy.

In September, Migrationwatch UK, a UK think tank opposed to mass migration, sponsored a debate in the House of Commons on a proposal that the government should 'take all reasonable steps to reduce immigration to stabilize the UK's population as close to present levels as possible' and certainly below 70 million. MPs voted in favour of the motion though the government later said that it did not intend to set a target figure for the UK's population.

The report states that the Office for National Statistics has estimated that, if net immigration continues at around 200,000 a year, the UK population will reach 73.2 million by 2035.

Net immigration is calculated by taking the total number of people coming to live in the country every year, which has been about 600,000 every year since 2004, and subtracting the number of UK residents who leave the country to live elsewhere. Net immigration was about 250,000 in 2010.

The government has set a target of reducing net immigration to 'tens of thousands' by 2015. Even if it succeeded in doing this, the report says, the population would be close to 70 million by 2035 and would pass 70 million soon afterwards. Therefore, in order to stabilize the population below 70 million, the government would have to take yet further measures to cut immigration.

All the efforts that the government has made to cut immigration so far such as
• reducing international student numbers by as much as 56,000
• putting a cap on the numbers of skilled workers who can work in the UK and
• reducing the numbers of family members eligible to settle in the UK
have consequences, the report warns.

The report says that it is vital that policy makers should consider, before setting any target, why they are doing so. After they have done this, they can consider how it should be done.
The report says that students constitute the majority, about 60%, of non-EU immigrants into the UK. Therefore, in order to cut the headline immigration figure, the government will have to cut the number of international students studying in the UK.

It says that, while UK public opinion is in favour of cuts in immigration and also of slowing population growth by reducing immigration levels, two thirds of Britons do not object to foreign students coming to the UK. Most Britons object to asylum seekers and extended family members from outside the EU, both of whom are, statistically, a small proportion of total migrants. Only around 19,000 asylum seekers settled in the UK last year. They also object to unskilled migration from within the EU. The government is not actually able to do very much to stop this as they have signed treaties guaranteeing the free movement of workers within the EU.

However, most students leave at the end of their studies. Students are less likely to stay in the UK than other migrants such as those who come to the UK to work and those that come as family members of previous immigrants.
This, the report says, means that it will be very difficult for the government to create a policy that would both address public concerns about immigration and substantially reduce the total immigration figure. Any cut in immigration numbers would be bound to impact the nation in other ways. The report says that the debate should consider 'not only the top-line objective but also the feasibility and desirability of the available 'means' to further reduce net migration…while there is broad support for reducing immigration overall, there is no majority support for reducing the category that contributes most to rising net migration students.'

Thus, the report says, it is important for policy makers 'to explicitly ask what the objectives of any population limit should be and why.' Why, for example, the report asks, would it be any better for the population to be stabilised at 70 million rather than 65 or 75 million. The report says that there is a danger that setting an arbitrary population target 'reduces a complex series of issues that affect almost every area of social and economic policy in the UK to an arbitrary round number'.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Obama makes immigration reform a priority - again

President Obama has said that there is 'a window' of opportunity when the US can achieve comprehensive immigration reform. At his first press conference after the election he said 'My expectation is that we get a bill introduced and we begin the process in Congress very soon after my inauguration.' He said that his administration was considering the best way of going about it and said that he was 'very confident' that he would succeed. The President's inauguration will take place on 21st January 2013. At this ceremony, he will swear an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.

President Obama promised to reform immigration in the 2008 presidential campaign too. He failed to do so. He has since said that this is because the global financial crisis engulfed the US economy and he spent all his time dealing with that. Critics of the President say that he failed to use his strong mandate to reform the system. The President's Democratic Party won control of Congress at the 2008 elections too. They say that the president could have forced reform through Congress but was not prepared to take a lead on the issue. In 2010, after mid-term elections, the President's Democratic Party lost control of Congress and it became much harder for him to pass legislation.

The 2010 elections saw the Democrats' main rivals, the Republicans, take control of one of the two chambers of Congress, the House of Representatives, while the Democrats kept control of the Senate. This meant that some measure of bipartisan support was required for any act to be passed because, for a proposed law to be passed, it must be approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. Sadly, the atmosphere in Congress was bitterly confrontational and there was no cooperation to speak of. Congress was said to be 'gridlocked' because no laws could be passed as the two sides blocked each other's every move.

At the same time as the Presidential election of 2012, many seats in the Senate and all seats in the House of Representatives were up for election. After the election, the Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives and the Democrats kept control of the Senate so Congress is still gridlocked.

The senior Republican in the House of Representatives, John Boehner, said last week that the US immigration system needed to be reformed as it was 'broken'. He hinted at Republican cooperation in reforming the system. One Republican Senator Lyndsay Graham said that he would cooperate with Democrat Charles Schumer to introduce the Schumer Graham Act which would reform the system. But the mood in much of the Republican Party remains angry and obstructive. The Republican Party has moved to the right in recent years since the rise of the Tea Party, an activist pressure group that supports right-wing candidates and lobbies to have centrist candidates deselected. The Tea Party opposes cooperation in Congress so it is possible that it will remain gridlocked.

However, Washington commentators say that there is an opportunity for reform. Many Republican analysts and politicians blame the defeat for the Republican candidate Mitt Romney at the election on November 6th on his failure to connect with Hispanic voters. President Obama won about 66% of the Hispanic vote at the election. Most pollsters say that this heavy voting among the US's 24m Hispanic voters was enough to win the election for Mr Obama. Mr Romney promised that he would reform the country's immigration system but also promised that he would do all he could to ensure that illegal immigrants, most of whom are Hispanic, were expelled from the US.

Demographic experts say that Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the US and that there will be nearly 40m Hispanic voters by 2030. Most mainstream Republicans believe that their party will have to agree to reform if it is to have any chance of taking a greater percentage of the Hispanic vote.
This may force them to support reform.

Comprehensive reform of immigration will have to involve
• strengthening the US/Mexico border to prevent further illegal immigration
• preventing illegal immigrants from working in the US
• Providing a path to citizenship for illegal migrants already in the country

President Obama told his press conference 'This has not historically been a partisan issue, so we need to seize the moment.'

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States of America. Please visit our USA page for more information:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Australia consults on abolishing upper age limit for skilled migrants

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) is currently holding a consultation on whether to recommend raising the maximum age limit for skilled migrants who can apply for visas.

The current age limit for applicants for skilled migrants under the SkillSelect scheme, formerly known as the General Skilled Migrant program, is 50 years. Fears have been raised that the current age restriction may be illegal because it clashes with Australia's Age Discrimination Act.

However, there are also fears that, if Australia were to raise the age threshold, then older migrants would contribute less to Australia. They would be in work for less time before they retire and then become a burden on the Australian state.

The ALRC released an issues paper titled Grey Areas: Age Barriers to Work in Commonwealth Laws on 1st May 2012. It is currently holding its second consultation period. On 24th October 2012, it took evidence from various contributors.

Among them was Professor Simon Biggs, Professor of Gerontology at the University of Melbourne, who told the consultation panel that his research shows that older immigrants tend to be more productive than Australians of the same age because migrants to Australia tend, in general, to be better qualified than native Australians of the same age. 'Older migrants bring skills and often financial resources to their host country from their country of origin so it isn't that they are coming with a blank slate. They often come with skills that have been paid for elsewhere or they are bringing earnings and savings that they have accumulated abroad,' he said.

Professor Biggs told the consultation that a failure to abolish the upper age limit, or at least to raise it to 55, would be an opportunity missed. He pointed out that the US and the EU have no upper age limit for skilled migrants. 'If there is going to be competition for older workers globally, in a globalised market, then we are at a significant disadvantage,' he said.

Susan Ryan, Age Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, said 'with the age 50 cut-off there are a variety of views. Some people would argue that if a person is coming in as a skilled migrant, we want more than 15 years out of them.

Ian Yates, the chief executive of COTA, the Australian Council on the Aging, said all limits on the grounds of age should be abolished; 'We take the view that an arbitrary age barrier is discriminatory and should be removed,' he said.

The state government of South Australia argued that the upper age limit ought to be increased. Its position is that Australians are living longer and retiring later and so older migrants will offer more for longer.

The ALRC's current position is that it need not recommend an abolition of the maximum age on discrimination grounds. Its position is that, while the age limit seems to be, on the face of it, discriminatory, as applicants are not, at the time of their application, members of the Australian workforce, they are not covered by the Age Discrimination Act. It also recognises that there is no upper age limit for applicants for temporary work or '457' visas.

The ALRC continues to take submissions until November 26th 2012. It is due to issue its report in March 2013.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Business chief and mayor criticise UK immigration policy

The Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, John Cridland has spoken out against the UK government's commitment to cut net inward immigration into the UK from outside the EU to 'tens of thousands' per year by 2015. He says that the government should drop the target. London Mayor Boris Johnson also attacked the government for damaging the UK's higher education sector.

When it came to power in 2010, the Coalition government, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, and Nick Clegg, a Liberal Democrat, promised to cut net immigration into the UK to 'tens of thousands' per year. This has always been taken to mean less than 100,000. Under the previous Labour government, led by Gordon Brown, the annual net immigration figure had been around 250,000 per year. Net immigration is calculated by taking the total number of immigrants and subtracting the number of people who have emigrated over the same period. This will give the increase in population caused by immigration over that period.

Mr Cridland, interviewed by The Financial Times, said that the commitment to limit immigration to a set number was problematic for many reasons. He said firstly that the government cannot make such a commitment because it cannot control the net migration figure because it has no control over the number of people emigrating. If no one emigrated in any given year, the net immigration figure would rise.

He said that the focus on a given target figure forces the government to attack all immigration when, the public is not concerned about all immigration and some immigration is beneficial to the country. For example, the public does not object to foreign students coming to the UK. Foreign students contribute a great deal of money to the economy. And yet, in order to reach the 'tens of thousands' target, the government has taken action to cut their numbers. The public does not object to skilled workers and yet the government has introduced a cap on their numbers too. This is damaging to UK business. Many small businesses now say that they cannot afford to bring in skilled workers from outside the European Union because of the bureaucracy involved. The number of student visas granted in the last year is down by 21%.

Mr Cridland said that the higher education market was worth £15bn per annum and was being badly affected by the government's policies. He said 'It's partly a perception issue. There's been so much rhetoric that it's creating its own reality. It's putting people off.'

Boris Johnson, the maverick Mayor of London, also criticised the government for damaging the export education sector. Speaking before an official visit to India, the mayor said that the UK's export education sector was being damaged by government policy to limit student numbers.

The UK Border Agency revoked London Metropolitan's Highly Trusted Sponsor status in August 2012 which meant that it was no longer entitled to admit students from outside the European Economic Area. Mr Johnson said 'We are losing a massive business opportunity here, which is completely crazy for the UK market, which is brilliant at education, to be closing itself off from some of the best and brightest students from around the world'.

However the immigration minister Mark Harper said yesterday that it was 'wrong to suggest that controlling mass immigration did anything but help the economy. We actively encourage the brightest and the best migrants but businesses must wean themselves off their addiction to immigration.'

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Australia announces commitment to attracting Asian immigrants

On 28th October 2012, Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, launched the Australian government white paper Australia in the Asian Century. The white paper lays out a comprehensive plan for Australian development in the next 13 years to see Australia take advantage of its position at the edge of Asia.

The Prime Minister's office released a statement which said 'in this century, the region in which we live will become home to most of the world's middle class and will be the world's largest producer of goods and services and the largest consumer of them'. 'There are significant opportunities and challenges for all Australians', it continues.

Australia's Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, said that Australia intended to attract highly skilled Asian immigrants in order to boost the economy. He said 'we need migrants who bring their specialist skills to Australia.'

Mr Bowen said that seven of the top ten source countries for immigrants to Australia are in Asia. India provided Australia with 23% of its immigrants last year. China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam are also in the top ten.

Mr Bowen said that nearly a quarter of first generation Australians were born in an Asian country and there are 1.5 million Australian citizens who are fluent in an Asian language such as Cantonese, Vietnamese, Hindi, Punjabi, Indonesian, Korean, Tagalog, or Japanese. 'This means that Australia is uniquely placed to strengthen ties with Asian nations,' Mr Bowen said.

Mr Bowen did not announce any increase in targets for immigration from Asian countries but Australia is already engaged in an active immigration programme and the government predicts that 209,000 people will settle in Australia in 2014/15.

Mr Bowen said that the government would also be taking steps to encourage more tourism from Asian countries. It will focus particularly on China.

He said that Australia will also take steps to increase the numbers of international students at Australian universities by streamlining the student visa assessment process and by improving the standards of education at Australian universities.

Mr Bowen said 'The rise of Australia's close neighbours has the potential to greatly benefit our nation over the coming century.'

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Canadian immigration minister announces 2013 immigration target

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has issued a report in which it states its intention to admit between 240,000 and 265,000 permanent residents in 2013, as it has done every year for the last seven years.

Jason Kenney, the Canadian Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister said 'newcomers bring their skills and talents, contribute to our economy and help renew our workforce so that Canada remains competitive on the world stage'.

Today, CIC presented its Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration 2012 in the Canadian parliament. The report has not yet been released. CIC states that the main change from previous years is an expansion of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

The CEC was established in 2008. Its purpose is to offer a pathway from temporary resident status to permanent resident status for highly skilled migrants including students and skilled workers.

The programme has grown steadily since it was established. In 2009, 2,500 people gained permanent residence. This grew to around 6,000 in 2011. CIC hopes to offer permanent status to 10,000 people.

The admissions targets for other immigration programs have not been announced.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Economist calls for complete reform of US immigration system

An economist has advised the United States government to increase immigration quotas in order to revive the economy.

Charles Kenny, a fellow at the Center for Global Development and the New America Foundation, says that the US needs more unskilled migrants to work in agriculture and other sectors. It also needs more skilled immigrants to work in high tech industries. It should also encourage foreign investors to immigrate to the US and encourage students who graduate from US universities to stay in the country.

However, he states that current US policies on immigration are unwelcoming and are hampering economic recovery. Policies designed to counter illegal immigration pursued by several US states have already damaged the agricultural sector by scaring away lowly-paid illegal immigrants who worked in the fields. Limits on the numbers of H-1B visas are adversely affecting industry, particularly the high-tech sector. At the same time, the US is making it difficult for students graduating from US universities to stay in the country.

Writing in Business Week magazine, Mr Kenny says that research performed by Carl Lin of Rutgers University showed that when the number of H-1B visas available was doubled in 1998, this had an immediate positive effect on the share price of high-tech industries. The high-tech sector typically accounts for about 80% of H-1B visas that are granted. There is a cap on the number of H-1B visas that can be granted in any one year. 85,000 H-1B visas are granted each year.. Every year, the processing of H-1B visas begins at the beginning of the financial year on 1st April. This year, the cap was reached after only two months in early June.

Mr Kenny notes that 20% of nurses taking the licensure exam in US hospitals are now foreign born. Nurses from the Philippines earn, on average, 4% more than US-born nurses because, it seems, they are better nurses.

Mr Kenny says that, until the global credit crunch in 2008, the US had a fertility rate of 2.1 births per woman. The rate has now fallen below 2 which means that the US population is now not only ageing but also shrinking. It is therefore economically vital that more immigration occurs, he argues. He states that, by 2030, almost 70% of Hispanic immigrants to the US will own their own home. This is vital, he argues because, if this didn't happen, as the US population falls, there will be reduced demand for housing and the price of property will collapse yet further. At the same time, there would not be enough unskilled labour to cater for the ageing population's health needs.
Meanwhile, Mr Kenny says, countries around the world including the Singapore, Australia and Canada are taking steps to encourage bright young graduates and entrepreneurs to make a life there. Indian and Chinese students are also choosing to return to their native countries after graduation.

Mr Kenny recommends several steps for US leaders to take which would revive the economy and ensure that there are sufficient workers in the US to care for the elderly and to service industry's needs:

• The cap on the number of H-1B visas that can be granted to citizens of any one country should be removed. At present, no more than 7% of the total of H-1B visas can be granted to citizens of one country. This means that only about 10,000 H-1B visas can be granted to Chinese or Indian citizens in any year when many times more than that apply.
• The cap of 85,000 on the number of H-1B visas that can be granted in any year should be greatly raised.
• The EB-5 visa program for entrepreneurs should be reformed. At present, when applying, applicants must pledge that they will create 10 jobs and invest $500,000. However, if the jobs are not created in exactly the way predicted, Mr Kenny states, the EB-5 holder is liable to be deported. The process is too rigid, he states, and this is why only 13,719 people applied between 2000 and 2010 and of these, only 3,127 were granted a US residence permit or green card.
• Pass the Schumer-Lee Bill which would grant residency to anyone who buys a house for $500,000 or more.
• Grant green cards to all foreign graduates of US universities as soon as they graduate.
• Pass the DREAM Act which would provide a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants who came to the US as children, providing that they have not committed any serious crimes and they have graduated from college or served in the military
• Raise the number of green cards distributed in the green card lottery, which allows residents of certain countries to apply for a green card
• Raise the number of H2 unskilled work visas issued each year
• Grant green cards to all 1,000,000 workers who have temporary visas and who are waiting for permanent resident status.

Mr Kenny says that the need for reform is urgent. He says that the US's leaders can no longer afford to delay.

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