Monday, December 23, 2013

Scotland's immigrant population doubles in a decade

Research from Oxford University's Migration Observatory has revealed that Scotland's immigrant population rose by 93% in the decade from 2001 to 2011 from about 191,500 to 369,284. The Scottish government has welcomed the research.

Much of the rise was caused by immigration from eastern Europe after 2004. In that year, eight countries including Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined the EU. Citizens of these countries were then allowed to travel to the UK to live and work.

It is estimated that there are now more than 1m Poles living in the UK. The Oxford Research suggests that, of these, 55,231 live in Scotland; up from only 2,505 in 2001. Poles are now the largest minority in Scotland.



Indian population doubles

There were also sharp rises in the number of Indians. The total doubled between 2001 and 2011 to 23,489. There were also significant increases in the populations of the Irish, Pakistani, German, American and Chinese communities.

The Scotsman newspaper reports that lead researcher Dr Carlos Vargas-Silver said 'While Scotland still has a much smaller foreign born population than England, it has almost doubled in a decade'.

Dr Vargas-Silver continued 'As Scotland started with a much smaller migrant population than England, both numerically and in terms of its share of the overall population, smaller numerical growth can be considerably bigger growth in percentage terms. Nevertheless, there has been a large increase in the migrant population of Scotland, especially in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The Scottish capital Edinburgh is home to the highest number of immigrants. 15% of the population, 75,696 people, are immigrants. The northern oil city of Aberdeen has the fastest rising immigrant populations. 15.9% of the Aberdonian population is foreign-born. 12% of residents, in Scotland's biggest city Glasgow, 72.607 people, were also born overseas.



Scotland's Future

On 26th November 2013, the Scottish first minister Alex Salmond published a white paper entitled Scotland's Future, Your Guide to an Independent Future, which laid out his Scottish National Party's policies for an independent Scotland in the event that the country votes for full separation from England at a referendum in 2014.

Mr Salmond argues that Scotland would be a richer, more prosperous nation if it leaves the United Kingdom. He believes that policies devised by the British government in Westminster are often damaging to Scottish interests.

In particular, Mr Salmond believes that the UK government's decision to tighten immigration controls damages Scottish interests.



'Restrictive immigration policies are damaging Scotland's economy'

The Scottish external affairs minister Humza Yousaf spoke on the issue in May 2013 when he said that 'there's no doubt that the UK government's restrictive immigration policies are damaging Scotland's economy'.

Mr Salmond has said that, in the event that Scotland votes for independence, he will introduce an immigration system which fast-tracks international workers with skills needed in Scotland for visas and encourages more international students to stay on in Scotland after graduation.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

UK must match pro-immigration rhetoric with action on visas

Mark Boleat, the policy chairman of the City of London Corporation, has called on the UK's Prime Minister David Cameron to match his 'open for business rhetoric with action on visas'. Mr Boleat was writing in The London newspaper The Evening Standard.

He said that Mr Cameron had claimed, while on a visit to China, that 'an open Britain is the ideal partner for an opening China'. Mr Boleat questioned whether Britain is really as 'open' as Mr Cameron claimed.

Mr Boleat said that a recent poll showed that only 14% of respondents in a recent poll believed that immigration from the EU was good for the UK while over 60% believed that it was harmful.



'We must prove the UK is open'

He said 'We must prove the UK is open by consistently emphasising the benefits managed immigration brings to the country as a whole'. He said that 'the government should make it clear that the UK continues to welcome talented people from across the globe – regardless of nationality'.

Mr Boleat said that much of London's success can be attributed to immigration. He said 'Malaysian microbiologists in Bloomsbury, Indian IT experts in Shoreditch and Croatian composers at the Barbican are all integral parts of London life'.

But he said that 'anti-immigration mood music' had the potential to damage the UK's competitiveness. He said that a perception that the UK no longer welcomed Indian students had resulted in a 'sharp drop' in the number of Indian students applying to study in the UK.



Perception often trumps reality

He said that this showed how 'perception often trumps reality'.

He said 'matching the open for business rhetoric with action on visas will help London and the UK keep pace in a fast-changing world'.

Skilled workers from around the world benefit the UK economy

'Skilled workers from around the world have been of great benefit to the UK's economy. I agree with Mr Boleat that we need to take "action on visas" to help the British economy.

The Tier 1 General visa was a great success. This visa allowed immigrants to come to the UK to work for any employer. It should be brought back perhaps in modified form. Steps should also be taken to make it easier to come under the Tier 2 work visa and Tier 4 student visa schemes."

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

Senior businessmen ask for more immigration to UK

Two high-profile UK businessmen have called on the government to relax immigration controls in the UK.

On Sunday 8th December 2013, Sir Stuart Rose, formerly the chairman of the iconic British retailer Marks & Spencer and now the chairman of retail delivery firm Ocado, told Sky News that the UK should welcome workers from Romania and Bulgaria.

On Monday 9th December, the chief executive of Domino's Pizza Lance Batchelor said that workers should be allowed to come to work in the UK from beyond the European Economic Area because Domino's cannot recruit enough chefs and delivery drivers to expand its UK business as fast as it would like.



Harder to hire staff since rules were 'tightened'

Mr Batchelor told journalists 'since the immigration laws were tightened up two or three years ago, we are finding it harder and harder to hire staff, especially in London and the south-east…We could fill 1,000 jobs across the UK tomorrow if we could get the candidates to apply for them'.

At present, citizens of most countries in the European Union are free to live and work in the EU. In January 2014, seven years after their countries joined the EU, citizens of Bulgaria and Romania will be free to live and work in the UK after 'transitional controls' introduced when the countries joined the EU in 2007 expire.

The UK government has promised to limit net immigration into the UK to less than 100,000 annually. It has cut the number of people arriving from outside the EU but the latest figures show that the number of people arriving in the UK from within the EU is rising and so net immigration rose by 15,000 to 182,000 in the year to June 2013.

The UK government is currently lobbying other EU countries to try to limit the number of workers allowed to live and work in the UK.



Domino's could pay staff more

Speaking to the Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons on Tuesday 10th December, immigration minister Mark Harper said that if Mr Batchelor was really suggesting that he could not recruit any suitable workers for Domino's either in the UK or from the entire European Union, he might be well advised to consider paying his workers a little more.

Writing in the City AM free newspaper, Guy Bentley suggested that anyone who thought that immigration from outside the EU would depress wages was mistaken.

He wrote 'There is little evidence to support this claim. It is true that more immigrants increases the supply of labour, but immigrants also demand goods and services leading to more jobs creation and a virtuous circle of economic growth'.

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

UK minister calls for cap on EU immigration

The UK's Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, has suggested that individual EU states should be allowed to limit the number of migrants who immigrate from within the EU.

Writing for the PoliticsHome website, Mrs May wrote 'Why should individual member states not be allowed to impose a cap on numbers if European immigration reaches certain thresholds'.

Mrs May's article was published on 28th November 2013, the same day that the latest immigration figures were published by the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS).



Net immigration rose by 15,000

The figures show that net immigration into the UK rose by 15,000 on the previous year to 182,000. The UK's Coalition government made a commitment to cut net immigration to below 100,000 a year by 2015 from the 2010 level of 250,000 a year.

Mrs May stressed that migration had been good for the UK but said that there was a difference between controlled migration, which was of benefit to Britain and 'mass migration' which caused problems in society. It put pressure on services and housing, took jobs from UK workers and threatened social cohesion, she said.

She said that this was why the Coalition government had decided to cut immigration to below 100,000 a year. She said it had made good progress in controlling migration in the area in which it has the power to do so.



100,000 fewer people from outside EU

This, she said, was limited to controlling immigration from outside the European Union. She said 'Last year, there were nearly 100,000 fewer people immigrating to the UK [from outside the EU] than in 2010'.

She said that the government had done this by
  • Restricting economic immigration to the UK from outside the EU: the Coalition has put a cap of 20,700 on the number of Tier 2 (General) skilled worker visas. It has also closed down the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa stream which allowed international students to work in the UK for two years after graduation
  • Tightening the rules for family migration: UK citizens cannot now bring their spouses to the UK unless they earn above a certain amount every year
  • Ending the 'industrial-scale abuse of the student visa system: The government has closed down 'hundreds of bogus colleges', Mrs May said. She said that this had been necessary to prevent abuse of the Tier 4 student visa. Because of this, the number of students studying in the UK had fallen, she said.

However, Mrs May said, net immigration had still risen because the level of immigration from within the EU had risen. She said 'European immigration is up by almost a half in the last year from 72,000 to 106,000'. She said that there were higher numbers of migrants coming not just from eastern Europe but also from western European countries, particularly Spain. 'This suggests that the economic problems faced by Eurozone countries are behind this new trend' she said.



Britons need jobs

Mrs May said that it was vital to limit immigration so that British people would stand a better chance of getting a job.

She said that the government was acting to limit the 'pull factors' that might attract EU migrants to the UK. She said 'we are changing benefits rules so they are as tough as they can be' but she said 'in all honesty, whatever the government does in terms of reducing the pull factors,…as long as there is such an enormous disparity between EU member states in terms of income per head, there will be an overwhelming incentive for people to move from poorer member states to richer member states'.

She added 'that not only puts pressure on communities in countries like Britain, it robs poorer EU member states of their most talented people'. Mrs May concludes 'in future, we must put in place new arrangements to slow full access to each other's labour markets until we can be sure it will not lead to mass migration'.



EU reform is vital

Mrs May said that the UK government must 'seize the opportunity presented to us by the Prime Minister's (David Cameron) plan to reform the EU – and address the problems caused by free movement'. 'Why individual member states should not be allowed to impose a cap on numbers' she asked.

The UK's Prime Minister David Cameron travelled to Lithuania for a European leaders' summit on 27th November. While there, he attempted to persuade other EU leaders of the need to reform the EU's rules on free movement to prevent so many people from moving from poorer countries, mainly from the former Eastern Bloc Countries to the richer countries in the west.

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

Friday, December 6, 2013

UK Prime Minister says Asian chefs will be able to come to UK

David Cameron, the UK prime minister, was guest of honour at the British Curry Awards on 26th November 2013. The event was held at the Battersea Evolution centre. 12 prizes were awarded; nine regional bests along with 'Best Newcomer and Best Takeaway' and a Special Recognition Award.

Speaking at the event, Mr Cameron admitted that the visa regime was causing problems for the sector and indicated that he was prepared to be flexible. He said 'let me promise you this – we will work through this together. We will continue to get you the skilled Asian chefs that you need and we will also work with you to train up the next generation of home-grown chefs'.

That the Prime Minister should attend the awards is a sign that curry is big business in the UK. The Big Hospitality website reports that the sector is worth £3.6bn a year and provides employment for more than 80,000 people.

Curry came to UK with Indian migrants

Britain's love affair with curry began in the mid-20th century when many immigrants came to the UK from the Indian subcontinent. Curry restaurants quickly became a feature in every town and city. They were often the only restaurants in which most lower-income people could afford to eat.

That is no longer always the case. The Benares restaurant, owned and run by Atul Kochhar, which won the award for best London curry restaurant, is in the exclusive Mayfair district has a prestigious Michelin star and offers a Bruno Menard Pauillac wine at £649 per bottle.

As the first generation of Indian chefs retired, their children, born in the UK, chose not to follow them into the industry, perhaps dissuaded by long hours and low pay, so leading to a UK shortage of curry chefs.



Immigration crackdown has caused curry chef shortage

But restaurant owners in the sector have complained in recent years that a UK immigration crackdown has prevented them from bringing trained chefs to work in the UK from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India or Sri Lanka.

In February 2012, the chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, Keith Vaz MP, warned that changes to the Tier 2 (General) skilled worker visa were likely to make it impossible for Indian chefs to come to work in the UK.

Mr Vaz said 'Under the rules for Tier 2 skilled migrants, chefs from non-European Union countries who will be allowed to work in the UK have to earn a minimum amount of £30,000 annually. This is far too high and the restriction has badly hit Indian restaurants in the UK'.



'Four year chef visa'

Mr Vaz suggested that a four year 'chef visa' might allow UK Indian restaurants to bring proper Indian chefs to the UK on a temporary basis but so far, there has been no progress with this suggestion.

Mr Cameron told the Awards audience that the industry's problems would not be solved overnight and would require 'long term commitment on all sides'.

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

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Poll shows UK public in favour of economic immigration

The YouGov polling organisation has carried out polling in the UK recently which shows that the UK's population has complex views on immigration. On the whole, people in the UK approve of economic immigration but disapprove of family-based immigration.

UK people are overwhelmingly in favour of encouraging wealthy investors to settle in the UK. They also approve of allowing international students to come to study in UK universities. There is also a sizeable majority in favour of allowing highly skilled workers to come and work in the UK.

Peter Kellner, a co-founder of YouGov, wrote an article for UK newspaper The Guardian on 25th November 2013 in which he set out the figures gathered from two recent YouGov polls.



Britons welcome high value migrants

He said that
  • 71% of Britons think either the same number or more wealthy investors should be admitted to the UK. Only 19% thought that fewer people should be admitted.
  • 68% of Britons thought more or the same number of students should be allowed to study in the UK. Only 25% thought the number should be cut.
  • 63% of Britons thought that as many or more highly skilled workers should be allowed into the UK to work. 29% thought that this number should be cut.
  • 50% of people thought as many or more people should be allowed to come to the UK to work in the NHS. 39% thought that the current level should be decreased.
  • 48% thought that as many or more people 'fleeing war or persecution' should be admitted. 38% thought the number should be cut.
  • Only 33% of those surveyed thought that the number of people coming to the UK to join relatives already here should be maintained or raised. 57% though that the number should be cut.

The findings also show that the UK population distrust their government on immigration, as they do on almost every other issue. Only 7% of the population believes that immigration has fallen in recent years even though the government says that immigration has fallen by nearly 100,000 a year since 2010.



Two thirds of Britons favour limiting EU immigration to UK

The survey also showed that about two thirds of those surveyed were in favour of limiting immigration from within the EU. Mr Kellner said 'By 52% to 29%, voters want David Cameron to seek to end these rights [the right of Europeans to work in the UK] as part of his proposed renegotiation of the United Kingdom's relationship with the EU'.

Mr Kellner predicts 'immigration then, is not going to go away as one of the hottest political potatoes in the run-up to next year's elections to the European parliament and the following year's general election'.

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

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Australian unions speak out about 457 visa 'abuse'

An Australian trade union alleges that two multinational companies deliberately abused the 457 visa scheme to employ Hungarian construction workers in a Sydney suburb on pay which was about 40% of the going rate. The Australian Fair Work Ombudsman is investigating the claims.

On 14th November 2013, the ABC television network broadcast allegations that 20 Hungarian workers who travelled to Australia with 457 visas sponsored by the German based international construction company the Assmont Group had been underpaid. The men were employed to construct a computerised warehouse for the Australian supermarket group IGA in the Sydney suburb of Eastern Creek.

The contract for the construction was won by German firm Schafer. Schafer had sub-contracted work to Assmont which had secured the Temporary Work (Skilled) (Subclass 457) visas for the men (better known as the '457 visa'. The men had been in Australia for four and a half months since August 2013.



457 temporary work visas

The 457 visa is a temporary work visa that allows international workers to work in Australia for up to four years. To qualify, the applicant must be sponsored by an Australian employer and must be skilled in an occupation that is found on the Australian Skilled Occupation Lists (SOL). The SOL is a list of occupations where there is a shortage of workers qualified and willing to do the job in Australia.

Employers of workers in Australia with 457 visas should be able to 'show that they are providing you equal pay and conditions of employment to Australian workers performing equivalent work in the same location'. Australian unions insist on the enforcement of this rule because they fear that, if foreign workers are employed on inferior pay and conditions, they will replace Australian workers.

But one of the workers, Istvan Erdai, told ABC that the wages that the men had been promised in Hungary were much lower than the wages that they have actually received.


Workers paid less than half going rate

The CFMEU assistant secretary for New South Wales, Rebel Hanlon, told ABC that the men had not been issued with pay slips. ABC reporter Matt Peacock reported that the men were being paid about AUS$12 per hour for the work. The going rate is $30 per hour.

The Union also claims that it has suspicions that the men's trade certificates, which prove that they are skilled in shortage occupations, are of dubious merit. Mr Hanlon said that, because the men do not speak English to the required level, they would be unable to communicate with non-Hungarian workers on the site, which would create a safety hazard. He said that, therefore they should not have been granted certificates.



No need for intervention

One of the men had a metal shard in his eye and had lost 20% of his vision. He alleges that he was told not to worry about it as there was 'no need for [medical] intervention'. He was also told to pay for treatment out of his own travel insurance.

The two companies involved, Schafer and Assmont issued statements. Schafer said it was unaware of the issue. Assmont said it had 'every intention to comply with all Australian industrial rules and regulations'. It said that it 'will do everything necessary to ensure the claims will be satisfactorily addressed as speedily as possible'.

Union official Brian Parker said that this was 'just the tip of the iceberg' alleging that 457 visas were being abused all over Australia to bring in cheaper foreign labour and replace Australian workers.



Australians 'do not want to take apprenticeships'

But Michael Walker of the Migration Institute of Australia said 'We simply don't have young Australians that are wanting to come through and do apprenticeships, where they start off on fairly low wages themselves, and many of them seek to advance themselves academically through universities but not TAFE colleges….it's simply a fact of life now that we have a major skills gap in the trades area.'

He added that firms that employed foreign workers with 457 visas were often able to grow their businesses and employ Australians.

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

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

More EU countries launch 'golden visas'

If you have money to spare and want to live in the European Union, there are now quite a few options open to you. The UK has had its Tier 1 (Investor) visa since 2008. Latvia launched its Immigrant Investor Visa in 2008. Portugal launched the so-called 'Golden Visa' in 2012. Now, Cyprus, Spain and Greece have joined them. All these countries issue temporary resident visas to people who invest in property or other investments within their country.

The rules vary from country to country, as do the amounts that you have to pay and the length of the visa you will receive but the basic principle is the same. If you can afford to make a significant investment in a European country, then you will be eligible for a temporary resident visa.

What is more, if you qualify for a visa in a Schengen country, you will be able to travel fairly freely throughout the Schengen Area for 90 days in every 6 month period. The Schengen Area comprises 26 countries, most of which are in continental Europe and part of the European Union. The 26 countries no longer check for passports at their common borders thereby creating a free-travel area. The UK and Ireland are not part of the Schengen Area.

The investor visa schemes currently in operation are as follows



The UK

The UK's Tier 1 (Investor visa) allows foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area to apply for a temporary residence visa which lasts for three years initially. It can be renewed and visa holders will, in time qualify for permanent residence then citizenship. The minimum investment is £1m. Investment can be made in any government approved UK investment.




Latvia's Immigrant Investor Visa currently allows those who make a minimum qualifying investment of 20,000 Latvian Lats to apply for a temporary residence visa lasting for five years. This scheme is probably the best value for money. The scheme opened in 2010 and thousands of visas have been issued but, in October 2013, The Latvian parliament approved changes to the scheme. If these are approved by the president, as of January 2014, the minimum investment will be €150,000. The visa application fee will also rise from about 70 Lats to some €50,000.




Portugal's 'Golden Visa' scheme which opened in 2012, allows those who make a minimum investment of €500,000 to apply for a temporary resident visa. The initial visa lasts for one year and can be renewed twice for two year periods. At the end of that period, visa holders should be able to apply for permanent residency provided that they have fulfilled the minimum residence periods each year. Visa holders must spend at least seven days in Portugal in the first year and 14 days in the remaining four years. Thereafter, visa holders should be able to apply for citizenship. People who invest €1m in Portugal or set up a business which creates 10 jobs can also apply.



The Cyprus F Visa

The Cyprus F visa was opened in 2012. The minimum qualifying investment is €300,000. Successful applicants will receive a three-year, renewable, temporary residence visa. Cyprus also offers a 'fast track citizenship' option for those who are able and willing to invest €10,000,000 in a qualifying investment.




Greece opened its version of the Golden Visa in July 2013. An investment of €250,000 in Greek property should secure a five year resident visa. Greece also issues visas to those who make 'strategic investments' and/or create or buy a business that employs at least ten people. Successful applicants will qualify for a 5-year temporary resident visa.




Spain's temporary resident visa scheme is similar to Portugal's. It was opened for applications in October 2013. As in Portugal, the Spanish visa is also known as the 'golden visa' and also has a minimum qualifying investment of €500,000 in property. Applicants can also invest €2,000,000 in Spanish government bonds. As in Portugal, successful applicants will, initially, receive a one-year, temporary residence visa which can be renewed twice for two year extensions.

Applicants in all countries can apply to bring their spouses and dependent children with them.
These visas are clearly not for everyone. The minimum qualifying investment is, in every case, a substantial sum of money. But government representatives in all countries report that interest is high. Most interest comes from China with significant further interest coming from the Russian Federation, India and various other countries in Africa, South America and Asia.



Portugal will issue 400 Golden Visas each year

The Portuguese have so far issued 318 Golden Visas and say that they will issue about 400 each year. It remains to be seen what the effect of increased 'competition' from other EU states will be.

One thing that appears to be certain is that, as the European economy continues to struggle, it is likely that more countries will join the rush and issue visas to people from outside the European Economic Area who are prepared to invest in property, bonds or businesses.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of immigration and study programs. Please visit our website for more information:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Australian immigration minister exempts highly skilled workers from LMT

Australia's Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Michaelia Cash, has announced that employers recruiting for 'highly skilled occupations' will be exempted from the Labour Market Testing requirement and so will not need to advertise jobs in Australia before offering them to temporary foreign workers. This appears to be a policy U-turn on a commitment to scrap the Labour Market Testing (LMT) requirement altogether.

In June 2013, Australia's previous Labor government passed legislation which required Australian employers to advertise jobs in Australia under LMT before employing foreign workers under the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457). The new law requiring LMT is due to come into force on 23rd November 2013.

In June, when the Australian parliament debated the legislation, the opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, opposed the introduction of LMT saying that it would be costly and unnecessary. Mr Morrison is now the Immigration minister for the new Coalition government. He has faced repeated calls from Australian business organisations to repeal the LMT legislation.



Warning for employers not to abuse the system

Mr Morrison gave his first speech on the subject since the election in October. In it, he told employers that he would not tolerate any abuse of the system. In a speech he said 'If you abuse [the system] then you can expect me in my first responsibility for law enforcement in immigration to be as tough on that as people-smugglers find that I will be tough on our borders'. In an interview with ABC Television he refused to say that he would repeal the provision requiring Labour Market Testing.

Employers organisations such as AMMA, the Australian Mines and Minerals Association and Master Builders Australia have called for the Labour Market Testing requirement to be scrapped.

But research by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union shows that applications for 457 visas have dropped by 13% since the news that LMT was to be introduced was announced. Between May and August 2013, there were 23,450 requests for 457 visas, down 3,500 on the same period in 2012.



Government intends to 'appease big business backers'

The Union's national construction division secretary Dave Noonan said that this showed that unwarranted applications had been made before the LMT requirement had been introduced. He accused the Coalition of intending to 'appease its big business backers' by removing the LT tests.

Now Ms Cash's statement suggests that the LMT requirement will stay for most 457 visas. Ms Cash issued a statement on 15th November 2013 confirming the exemption. It said that the government was adopting 'a sensible approach by exempting highly skilled occupations from the requirement.

Ms Cash said 'the government fully supports the principle that Australian workers have priority, but to bind employers up in needless red tape will only stymie Australian business and cost Australian jobs over the long run. That is why in implementing Labor's labour market testing policy the government has adopted a sensible approach by exempting highly skilled occupations from the requirement.'



457 visa lasts for up to four years

The 457 visa allows skilled workers to work in Australia for up to four years. In order to qualify, an applicant must be sponsored by an Australian employer which has been approved by the government. The employer must then nominate the candidate for the position. The candidate then applies to Australian immigration for a 457 visa.

Applicants can bring their partners and dependent children with them while in Australia and can enter and leave the country as often as they wish.

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

UK Immigration Minister says graduates can stay in UK

Mark Harper, the UK's immigration minister, has told a Committee of the House of Lords that the UK has failed to communicate the 'very good arrangements' allowing international students to stay and work in the UK after completing their studies at UK universities.

International students can stay and work in the UK providing they can find a skilled job which pays at least £20,000 a year.

Mr Harper was speaking to the House of Lords Soft Power and the UK's Influence Committee which was taking questions from figures involved in the UK's 'export education sector'. The Committee was assembled to 'examine the use of soft power in furthering the United Kingdom's global influence and interests'.



Bureaucracy dissuading Tier 4 visa applicants

Professor Colin Riordan, who is the vice president of Universities UK, told the committee that students were dissuaded from studying in the UK by several factors, including fees, the bureaucracy involved in getting a UK Tier 4 student visa and the cost of those visas.

However, Professor Riordan told the committee that the main factor deterring international students from studying in the UK was the fact that the government had abolished the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa which allowed all graduates of UK universities to work in the UK for two years after graduation. They would then be able to transfer to another visa, such as a Tier 2 (General) skilled worker visa if they were working at the end of the two year period.

John Dickie, the strategy and policy director of London First, a body which lobbies on behalf of London businesses, including the capital's universities such as Imperial College and University College London, said that the closure of the Post Study Work visa stream had put the UK at a disadvantage with countries such as Australia which allows international graduates to work after graduation.



Accountancy firm disrupted by Post Study Work closure

Mr Dickie said that one major accountancy firm had been in the habit of recruiting Indian graduates who had graduated from UK universities and training them in the UK for a couple of years before sending them back to India to work there. This was now impossible, he said, because of the closure of the Post Study Work stream.

He said that there was a conflict between the government's claims to be 'open for business' and keen to attract the brightest and the best while it is also intending to cut immigration to below 100,000 a year. He said that 'the mood music is, at best, confused'.

Mr Harper said that the UK had to try to communicate its messages effectively. He said that there was a 'gap between perceptions and reality' about what various audiences believed about studying and working in the UK.



Howell – UK businesses believe they have been harmed by visa changes

Lord Howell, the chairman of the committee, asked Mr Harper why it was that so many people believed very strongly that the government's changes to the UK visa regime were seriously damaging British competitiveness.

Mr Harper said that there were two parts of the UK's visa regime. The first dealt with visitor visas for business visitors and tourists. He said that the UK now offered a very good service in these areas with about 90% of applicants having their visas issued within eight days. He said that this was increasingly being recognised internationally.

A member of the Committee asked him why it was that so many people who had given evidence to the committee were saying that the UK's visa regime seemed unable to provide a good service and was discouraging people from coming to the UK.



Harper – criticisms are not supported by facts

Mr Harper said that 'lots of people say lots of unhelpful things' but then do not have the facts to support those assertions. He said that there had been an increase in the number of students coming to UK universities, with a great deal of growth from China in particular.

He said that the total number of student visas had fallen because UK immigration had closed down 700 further education colleges 'because there had been significant abuse' of the student visa. Mr Harper said that the UK government had done a very good job of communicating the fact that it had closed down the Post Study Work visa but had done less well in explaining the 'very good' arrangements for graduates that replaced the Post Study Work visa.

Mr Harper said 'If you are a graduate, it's actually very straightforward to stay here. If you have a graduate level job paying just over £20,000 a year, then you can stay in the United Kingdom. I don't think we necessarily landed that argument well enough'.



Message getting through to Indian graduates

He added 'I think that was a particular problem in India' Mr Harper said that, after the closure of the Post Study Work stream, the number of Indian students studying at UK universities fell. But he said that there had recently been a 12% rise in the number of Indian students studying in the UK; He says that this is because the message that graduates can work in the UK has finally got through.

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MPs criticise plan to make landlords police UK immigration

An influential committee of the UK's House of Commons has criticised a proposal in the government's immigration bill which would require landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants.

The Home Affairs Committee says that this is likely to make it more difficult for all foreign nationals to find accommodation in the UK as landlords may prefer not to rent to foreign nationals rather than face a fine for renting to an illegal resident.

In a report, the Committee says 'There are more than 400 legitimate European identity documents alone on which landlords will have to base their decision. There is a possibility that landlords will discriminate against all immigrants regardless of their status rather than take the risk of housing a person without right to remain'.



Migrants could be driven into illegal accommodation

This might, in turn, have the effect of driving more and more people into illegal accommodation in sub-standard and overcrowded flats and houses.

The report points out that in 2009, the then Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, was prosecuted for employing a cleaner who was in the country illegally. The court accepted that the Baroness had not realised that her employee was in the country illegally but had, nonetheless, fined her £5,000.

'If one of the government's law officers can make such a mistake,' the report says 'it would be very easy for the average citizen to do so,'; Landlords are unlikely to be experts in UK immigration and so will have difficulty in judging whether a prospective client's paperwork is genuine.



MPs criticise plan for health charges for refugees

The MPs also criticise proposals in the bill to introduce charges for refugees to use the UK's National Health Service which is free to use for UK residents. The report states that the committee is not necessarily opposed to the introduction of fees for those that come to the UK voluntarily, whether as students or workers. However, it states that it would be 'wholly wrong' for vulnerable people who had come to the UK against their own will or to seek asylum to be charged for treatment.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz MP told journalists that, if the government really wanted to 'get tough' on illegal immigration as it claims, it should ensure that tip-offs from members of the public about suspected illegal immigrants should be followed up.

Mr Vaz said this in response to news that UK immigration had failed to follow up reports about suspected illegal immigrants made by members of the public.



Only 6% of hotline calls investigated

The UK government established a hotline for members of the public to report suspected illegal immigrants but recently released figures show that UK immigration investigated only 6% of those complaints and only 1.5% resulted in anyone being deported.

The committee said that it had been a 'chaotic summer' for UK immigration policy, mentioning in particular the controversial advertising campaign advising illegal immigrants to 'go home or face arrest' which has now been abandoned and the government's decision to abandon plans to introduce 'security bonds' of up to £3,000 for visa applicants from six 'high risk countries'.

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

Monday, November 25, 2013

US Republicans want 'economic-based immigration' system

Former Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan has told a conference that the Republicans want to remodel the US immigration system from 'family based immigration to an economic-based immigration'. Mr Ryan told the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council conference that this would require a 'step-by-step approach' and possibly as many as 'seven or eight different pieces of legislation.

President Obama told the same conference that he would support such an approach, so long as it led to the right result, by which he meant comprehensive immigration reform which dealt with the issue of the 11.5m illegal residents thought to be living in the US as well as with ensuring that there are more work visas for US businesses.

The President promised to make comprehensive immigration reform a major priority during his second term in office. However, he has had difficulty in achieving this because Congress is bitterly split along party lines; there is little support for any of his policies from Republicans, particularly from right-wing Republican members of the House of Representatives who were elected with the backing of the radical Tea Party faction.



Gang of Eight

In March 2013, a bipartisan group of Senators, known as the Gang of Eight, revealed a massive comprehensive reform bill over 1,300 pages long. Its main provisions were
  • An increase of $4.5bn in spending on border security
  • The establishment of a 'pathway to citizenship' for most illegal immigrants. It would take over thirteen years to complete the pathway and applicants would be required to pay back taxes and learn English before they could become citizens
  • Make it much easier for foreign students who receive doctorates and PhDs from US universities to apply for US permanent residence visas (green cards)
  • An increase in the number of H-1B 'specialty occupation' temporary work visas granted each year from 85,000 annually to a maximum of about 200,000 annually
  • The creation of a new 'w-visa' stream for low-skilled workers in agriculture and construction
  • A new requirement for US employers to check the employment status of all prospective employees on the E-Verify system before employing them

The Democrat-controlled Senate passed the bill in June 2013. To become law, it then had to be passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, of which Mr Ryan is a member.

Unfortunately for the President, while many Republicans agreed that the US immigration system is 'broken' they disagreed vehemently with many of the proposals in the comprehensive immigration reform bill.



Pathway equals amnesty

Many Republicans see the 'pathway' as the granting of an 'amnesty' for people who have broken the law by travelling to and residing in the US illegally. They say it would reward criminal behaviour and encourage more people to do the same. They say that there can be no question of the creation of a 'pathway' until the border with Mexico is secure. Many would oppose it even then.

Mr Ryan is one of few Republican members of the House who has spoken out in favour of immigration reform but even he opposes the controversial 'pathway to citizenship'.

He told the Wall Street Journal CEO Council conference 'We want to make sure we create a system that does not grant amnesty, that does not create a moral hazard and that helps respect the rule of law while dealing in an intelligent way with the people who are undocumented. We think there's a way to do that in this step-by-step approach'.



'As long as it gets done, I don't care what it looks like' – Obama

President Obama, speaking at the same conference, told the audience that he had no objection to the House passing many separate bills providing the final result was comprehensive immigration reform.

He said 'If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don't care what it looks like.'

He added 'What we don't want to do is simply carve out one piece of it…but leave behind some of the tougher stuff that still needs to get done.'

US political analysts say that President Obama may owe his re-election to his support for comprehensive immigration reform. His policy was popular among Hispanic voters, the fastest-growing demographic group in the US. 80% of illegal residents in the US are thought to be of Hispanic ethnicity and many Hispanic citizens have illegal resident friends.




Mr Romney, on the other hand, promised to make life in the US extremely uncomfortable for illegal residents. He backed a policy of 'self-deportation' which means making it so difficult for illegal residents to live and work in the US that they would rather leave the country.

Polling suggested that it may have been this policy that lost Mr Romney the election. Mr Romney polled more votes among white voters than Mr Obama but among Hispanic and Asian voters, who favour a liberal immigration policy, he did extremely badly. Mr Obama scored over 70% of Hispanic
and Asian votes.

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Australian immigration to fast track 'special investor' visas

The new Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison has said that he wants to fast-track 400 wealthy visa applicants for permanent residence. The 400 have applied for subclass 888 Significant investor visas and Mr Morrison believes that, between them, they have about AUS$2bn to invest in the Australian economy. He also says that he wants to 'reboot' the Significant Investor Visa so that it creates more Australian jobs.

The Significant Investor Visa was established in November 2012 by the previous Australian Labor government to try to attract international investment into Australia. So far, 28 Significant Investor visas have been granted. To qualify, applicants must have at least AUS$5m to invest in Australia. The investments must be made in investments approved by the Australian government.

There are another 400 people who have applied but have not yet had their applications approved. There is currently a nine-month waiting period before an applicant can receive an 888 visa but Mr Morrison says that he wants to cut this for fear that wealthy Chinese citizens will take their money elsewhere.



Morrison 'like a recruiter for a sports team'

Speaking at the Migration Institute of Australia in Sydney on Monday 21st October, Mr Morrison told his audience that he was poaching international talent 'like a recruiter for your local sports team'. He said that people who got 888 visas would 'transfer their wealth to Australia over a generation' and that their businesses would become Australian, creating jobs for Australians.

He said 'We think people who create business, people who risk capital, people who go out there every day and create jobs off their own enterprise is what we need to see more of in this country and certainly within our immigration programme'.

Mr Morrison also said that the 888 visa will be 'rebooted' so that it encourages immigrants to create Australian businesses. Writing in AM6 Technology website, Australian tech journalist James Riley said that 'there is an opportunity for Australian companies to build global products with Chinese money and an Asian footprint'.



$5m minimum investment

Under the current rules, investors must invest at least AUS$5m in an approved investment fund. They will then, after they are approved, be eligible for a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (Subclass 188) visa. This will last for four years.

Providing that the investors spend at least 160 days in Australia over that four year period and maintain their investment in the approved fund, they will be able to apply for a Significant Investor permanent resident visa (subclass 888).

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Immigration to grow UK population by 6m in next 25 years

The UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) says that the population of the UK is set to grow by nearly 10m over the next 25 years and calculates that 5.8m of that rise will be caused directly or indirectly by immigration.

The ONS says that its projections indicate that the UK's population should reach 68m in 2022, 70m in 2027 and 73.3m in 2037. Part of this rise will be caused by the fact that people are generally living longer. By 2037, one in 12 of the population will be over 80. There will be 111,000 people aged over 100, compared to only 13,000 today.

But the majority of the population growth is likely to be caused by immigration, the ONS believes.



Population projections used in formulating policy

The ONS carries out calculations of this sort every two years to assist policy makers in the formulation of policy. Richard Pereira, the ONS's head of population statistics, told journalists 'These population projections are used across government in terms of setting policy.

They are used by the Office of Budget Responsibility as a key input for their long-term fiscal projections. They are used by the Department for Work and Pensions for policy on benefits and pensions and they are used by people like the Department of Education'.

The ONS has based its calculations on the assumption that every year, the UK will experience net immigration of 165,000 people. Net annual immigration is calculated by subtracting the number of people who settle in the country in any given year and subtracting the number of people who leave the country permanently over the same period.



Immigration accounts directly for 43% of growth

The ONS calculations show that, over the next 25 years, net immigration is likely to increase the UK population by 4.2m. This accounts for 43% of the projected rise. However, the ONS also says that immigration will be indirectly responsible for a further 17% of the population growth over the next 25 years.

This is because the birth rate among immigrants generally tends to be higher so immigrants in the UK are likely to be responsible for an increase in the number of births. The ONS predicts that immigration, and the related increase in birth rate, will actually cause the UK population to grow by 5.8m by 2037; 60% of the total.

Almost all of the growth is predicted to take place in England rather than Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The vast majority of immigrants to the UK settle in the south east of England.



Net immigration has fallen by 85,000 since 2010

In 2010, the UK's net annual immigration figure was 250,000 but the UK's current Coalition government has been trying to cut immigration and has so far cut it around 165,000 a year.
It has said that it intends to cut it to 100,000 per annum but a recent report published by statisticians at University College London suggests that it may prove difficult for the government to cut immigration any further without damaging the UK economy.

Before the last general election in 2010, the leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, said that, if he became Prime Minister, he would act to reduce net immigration below 100,000 by 2015. This remains a government target.



ONS figures subject to revision

If the government persists with its policy of reducing immigration and has any success in doing so, then the ONS will revise its estimates downwards on the next occasion that it calculates the UK's likely population growth.

So far, the government has
  • Closed the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa stream. This allowed foreign graduates to work in the UK for two years after graduation.
  • Closed the Tier 1 (General) visa stream. This allowed 'highly skilled people' (mostly graduates) to settle in the UK
  • Introduced a cap of 20,700 on the number of Tier 2 (General) visa for skilled workers. Although the cap is never reached, employers report that it has become harder to obtain a Tier 2 (General) visa
  • Removed the right of over 600 English colleges to sponsor foreign students for Tier 4 student visas
  • Prevented UK citizens who earn less than £18,600 a year from bringing their foreign born spouses to live in the UK



Population rise 'could be disastrous'

The UK Independence Party candidate Amjad Bashir told The Independent newspaper 'ten million more people added to the UK population in just 25 years is staggering and it could well be disastrous'.

Anti-immigration group Migrationwatch UK called for the introduction of a 'net migration target' to help control the population growth.

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Republicans say US immigration reform bill is dead

Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Party's whip in the House of Representatives ('the House') has said that there will be no vote on a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the House this year.

Representative McCarthy, from California told immigration reform activists at a meeting in Bakersfield, California, that there were not enough days left in the legislative calendar for the House to vote on the immigration reform bill that has already been passed by the Senate. Mr McCarthy said that he was 'committed' to immigration reform in 2014.

Mr McCarthy said that the House would have to vote on immigration reform by February or March at the latest or it would be 'clearly dead' because 2014 is an election year when many seats in the House will be up for re-election.



Gang of Eight

In June 2013, the Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act 2013 which was drafted by a group of senators known as 'the Gang of Eight'. The Gang of Eight comprised four Republicans and four Democrats. Among other reforms, the bill provided that;
  • Border security with Mexico should be greatly increased
  • Most people living illegally in the US should be eligible to join a 'pathway to citizenship'. Illegal residents with clean criminal records would be allowed to apply to join this pathway providing they paid a fine of $500 for being in the country illegally, learn English to a required standard and paid tax on any income earned in the US while they were in the US illegally. The 'pathway' should take at least thirteen years to complete.
  • Employers would have to check all prospective employees against the 'e-Verify' database. E-Verify lists the immigration status of all known residents of the US. If someone is not listed on e-Verify or was listed as ineligible to work, then they would not be allowed to take a job
  • The number of H-1B visas, temporary work visas which last three years, would be increased from the current maximum of 85,000 per year. There would be a cap of 130,000 on H-1Bs for people with bachelor's degrees (or degree equivalence) and the cap on the number of H-1Bs for graduates with higher degrees such as Master's degrees and doctorates would be removed altogether. At times of high demand, the cap for normal H-1Bs would rise to 180,000 annually.
  • Graduates from US universities with higher degrees would be able to apply for US permanent resident visas (known as 'green cards'). There would be no annual cap on the number of graduates who could apply.

Under the US Constitution, a bill must be passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives to become law. The Senate is controlled by the Democrats, President Obama's party and, because the President supports immigration reform, the Senate passed the bill with little fuss.



Amnesty would reward illegal behaviour

The House of Representatives is controlled by the opposing Republican Party. Many Republicans oppose immigration reform for a variety of reasons. They say that this is because to create 'a pathway to citizenship' for illegal residents in the US would be to grant an amnesty and reward people for their criminal behaviour in residing in the US illegally.

However, there may also be an electoral reason for Republicans to oppose the 'pathway'; most illegal residents in the US are of Hispanic descent, mostly from Mexico and from the rest of Latin America. Statistics show that Hispanic voters vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats.

However, to further complicate calculations for Republican members of the House of Representatives, polling in the US shows that 71% of US voters, including a majority of Republican voters, are in favour of the creation of the 'pathway'.



US public blames the Republicans

At the same time, Republican members of Congress have extremely high disapproval rating of 70%. To be fair, Democrats are also extremely unpopular with disapproval rating of 63%. The President too is unpopular with a disapproval rating of 58%.

The overall picture though, seems to be that most American voters, even Republican voters, blame Republicans for the recent federal government shutdown which saw many US government employees sent home from work unpaid for two weeks in October.

On top of this, polling in congressional districts (or constituencies) with small Republican majorities shows that swing voters are likely to favour immigration reform. Advocates of immigration reform suggest that Republican congressmen are likely to face an electoral massacre in 2014 unless they pass a reform bill.



It's Obama's fault – Senator Cruz

As ever in Washington, views on the matter are polarised. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas says that, if the House fails to pass immigration reform in 2013 it will be President Obama's fault. A spokesman for Senator Cruz said that it was the President's insistence that illegal residents should be able to join the 'pathway to citizenship' that is the problem.

But Kathy Bird of the Florida Immigration Coalition said 'We know that if the [republican] House leadership wants to get something done then they can. They can expand the session, work at weekends. The reality is that they don't want to. They are going pay for this next year'.

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

UK announces £6m plan to help immigrants learn English

The UK's Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced a controversial new scheme aimed at helping immigrants with little or no English to improve their language skills.

Research has shown that traditional English language classes are not reaching those who speak poor English and so the Department for Communities and Local Government has established a programme of informal classes, often run by volunteers, to be held in temples, mosques and churches and even in supermarkets.

Pilot schemes will be held in fifteen London boroughs and in several regional towns and cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester, Sheffield, Bristol, Luton and Slough.



'Speaking English is crucial'

Community Secretary Eric Pickles said 'speaking English is crucial to allow us to come together and be part of British Society. People are unable to do this and the condemned to a limited life if they can' speak our language.

'To be a proper, functioning citizen you must be able to speak English. Those who can't are missing out on much of British society, such as participating in civic life, talking to neighbours, or popping to the shops'.

Mr Pickles said that he hoped that, by improving the language skills of new arrivals in the UK, he would also be able to reduce the bill for translation of all documents into many different languages.



Money is 'wasted' on translation services

He said 'far too much money has been wasted by councils on translation services, reducing the motivation to learn English and leaving too many people isolated at home and unable to get on.

We want to give more people the opportunities to participate fully in their communities without being held back because they can't speak the language'.

One peculiar innovation will be the recruiting of supermarket staff in Manchester and Yorkshire as 'sympathetic listeners' who will be required to listen to anyone with poor English in order to try to help them learn the language.



English and shopping

They will be identified with badges and will be expected to chat with those with poor English and also help them to do their shopping.

More than one million people in the UK have little or no English.

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

New opposition leader says Australia should increase immigration

Bill Shorten, the new leader of the Australian Labor Party has told an Australian television audience that Australia should increase the number of immigrants it admits each year.

Mr Shorten became leader after winning a ballot of Labor Party members on 10th October. The previous Labor leader, Kevin Rudd, resigned after leading Labor to a defeat in the Australian general election on September 7th.

Speaking before he became Labor leader, Mr Shorten said that, apart from Aboriginal peoples, all Australians are of immigrant stock. He said that immigration had been 'a plus' for Australia and said 'we should certainly, as a party, be seen to be pro-immigration and pro increasing it; making sure people go to wherever it is sustainable for infrastructure and support, but we are an immigrant country and we shouldn't ever hide from our destiny'.



Immigrants 'good for Australian economy'

Mr Shorten was speaking during a debate with his opponent in the leadership race, Anthony Albanese. He said that immigrants were good for the Australian economy and that Australia should take more. He predicted that he would probably receive hate mail for saying so.

Talking about the controversial issue of Australia's refugee policy, Mr Shorten said that Australia should take steps to ensure that immigrants do not drown while trying to reach the country but said that, at the same time, it should not turn all those seeking asylum away because 'there are a lot of refugees who might not only be the next Albert Einstein or a good taxpayer'.

Thousands of people make the dangerous journey to Australia from Indonesia each year intending to claim asylum as soon as they reach Australian territory. Many drown when unseaworthy boats supplied by people smugglers sink.



Labor acted to deport asylum seekers

The last Labor government of Australia introduced legislation in July to enable the government to send anyone who arrives in Australian territory by sea and claims asylum to Papua New Guinea where their asylum applications will be decided. If they are successful, they will be granted PNG visas.

Mr Shorten has taken over the Labor Party after a heavy defeat in the September election at the hands of the right-wing Coalition. Since the election, the Coalition has formed a government headed by new Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The next election should take place in three years' time.

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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Canada's 2014 immigration plan to 'drive economic growth'

On 28th October 2013, immigration minister Chris Alexander announced Canada's immigration plan for 2014. Mr Alexander announced that he intended to keep total immigration at between 240 and 265,000. Of these, 63% or 164,500 will be economic migrants. 68,000 will be admitted under the family stream and 28,400 will be admitted under the humanitarian stream.

Mr Alexander announced that two visa programmes will be significantly expanded; the Canadian Experience Class and the Provincial Nominee Program.

The Canadian Experience class (CEC) enables people who have been working in a skilled or managerial position in Canada for over 12 months to apply for a Canadian permanent resident visa. They will be able to bring dependent family members with them. 15,000 CEC visas should be granted in 2014. Applicants must also meet Canada's admissibility criteria which are
  • A clean criminal record
  • Good health
  • Ability to speak English or French to the required standard.



Provincial Nominee Program

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allows Canadian provinces and territories to nominate applicants of their own choice to Canadian immigration for permanent residence. Mr Alexander announced that 44,000 to 47,000 permanent resident visas will be issued under the PNP in 2014, up from 41,000 in 2012.

The PNP was designed to encourage immigrants to settle outside Canada's main population centres in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

All of Canada's provinces and territories have signed up to the PNP apart from Quebec, which has its own immigration programs and Nunavut, the newest of Canada's territories which was created as a homeland for indigenous Inuit people of northern Canada in 1999.



Provinces nominate applicants for residence

Under the PNP, provinces can nominate non-Canadians for permanent resident visas. An applicant will get the process under way by applying to his chosen territory or province under the PNP.

Most applicants for permanent residence under the PNP will have to have an offer of work. That territory or province then decides if the applicant meets its requirements. If he does, the territory or province will nominate the applicant for permanent residence.

The application is then sent to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the federal immigration department headed by Mr Alexander, where, providing that the applicant meets Canada's admissibility criteria, it should be accepted.



Each territory, province has its own criteria

Each province and territory has its own list of criteria that it requires in applicants. Many are seeking graduates, particularly those with higher degrees. Work experience in the territory or province of your choice is also extremely helpful. British Columbia requires almost all applicants to be working in British Columbia at the time of registering an expression of interest. Other territories and provinces do not.

Skilled workers and tradespeople with valid Canadian trades certificates are also much in demand.

The PNP has had considerable success in distributing people arriving in Canada more evenly around Canada. In 2000, 80% of new Canadian permanent residents settled in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. By 2012, this had fallen to 58%.



Expression of Interest

Mr Alexander also announced that Canada is intending to move to an 'expression of interest' (EOI) system for selecting applicants for Canadian permanent residence. Australia has used an EOI system since 2012.

Former Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney announced that he was keen to follow Australia's lead. Mr Alexander has said that he hopes to introduce an EOI system in Canada in 2015.

Under the EOI system, an applicant would register an initial EOI with CIC. Taking the application at face value, CIC would then assess the application. CIC would keep in touch with Canadian employers to monitor the demand for workers with particular skills.



Priority cases

The following applicants will be treated as priority cases
  • Applicants with skills that are particularly in demand,
  • Particularly strong candidates,
  • Candidates with offers of permanent work in Canada.

Selected candidates will be invited to apply for a permanent resident visa. They would then provide evidence of employment, work experience, qualifications and so forth. Applicants who are not invited to apply will be removed from the pool after a while.

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

House Republicans back US immigration reform bill

Two Republican members of the House of Representatives have endorsed a comprehensive immigration reform act that would radically overhaul the US immigration system. The Act is broadly speaking the same as a bill of the same name already passed by the Senate. The Senate's version of The Act was drafted by a bipartisan group of eight senators known as the Gang of Eight.

Representative Jeff Denham of California announced his support for this Act, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act 2013 ('the Act') on 26th October 2013. On Tuesday, 29th October, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, from Florida also announced her support for the bill.

Ms Ros-Lehtinen issued a statement which read 'It's important to keep the conversation going in trying to fix the broken immigration system. I favor any approach that will help us move the negotiations forward. Other Members may soon produce a bipartisan product that may also deserve support and I'm cautiously optimistic that we can pass meaningful immigration reform'.



Two down 229 to go

These two Republicans are the only Republican members of the House of Representatives (or 'the House' as it is known) who have openly backed the Act. There are 435 seats in the House, of which 231 are held by Republicans. 200 are held by Democrats.

The Democrats hold the balance of power in the Senate with 53 seats to the Republicans' 45 but the Act required 60% support to pass so it required Republican support.

The Act was passed by the Senate by 68 votes to 32 on 27th June 2013.



Tea Party Republicans oppose reform

However, it must be passed by both houses of Congress; the Senate and the House, to become law. The balance of power in the House is held by the Republicans and many of them have been elected with the support of the radical right-wing Tea Party faction. The Tea Party has no manifesto but its members are largely anti-big government, anti-immigration and, above almost everything else, anti-President Obama.

The fact that the President has made immigration reform a priority for his second term is enough for many right-wing Republicans like Representative Ted Cruz from Texas to oppose the Act.
However, they also oppose the bill on the grounds that it would create a 'pathway to citizenship for many of the 11.5m people currently living illegally in the US.



Republicans oppose comprehensive reform

Republicans oppose this for many reasons. Their main stated objections are
  • To grant citizenship to those in the country illegally would reward their illegal behaviour (living in the US illegally)
  • To grant an effective amnesty to illegal immigrants would encourage other people to enter the US illegally. There should be no amnesty, therefore, until the border is completely secure, they say.
  Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican, has invoked 'The Hastert Rule' which would mean that he will not even allow the House to vote on the Act unless a majority of Republicans support it.

Democrats say that there must be reform because the US is missing out on global talent. The Act, if it became law, would
  • Create a 'pathway to citizenship' for illegal residents immigrants. They would have to pay a $500 fine, learn English and pay back taxes
  • Increase the annual number of H-1B temporary skilled work visas' from 85,000 to over 150,000. This figure could rise above 200,000 if demand was high
  • Allow graduates from US universities with higher degrees to apply for green cards
  • Increase spending on border security by $4.5bn over the next four years
  • Abolish country quotas for US employment based green cards.



Democrats believe some Republicans scared to support bill

Washington Democrats believe that there are enough Republicans who support reform for the bill to be passed by the House but, if they do, they have not said so publicly, so Mr Boehner can stil rely on the Hastert Rule.

Pro-reform campaigners are seeking to put pressure on Mr Boehner and on House Republicans., a campaign group set up by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and other high profile figures from the US IT industry saying that the US IT industry needs to be able to recruit the best talent from around the world to succeed.

Hispanic groups have been lobbying in Washington all year and, on 29th October 2013, a group of right wing religious conservatives, farmers and businessmen also visited Washington to lobby Republicans to support reform.



Manufacturers press Republicans to pass reform

Todd Bingham, president of the Utah Manufacturers Association said that he wanted to 'tell [Republican] leadership in the House that we're not interested in waiting two years. We need to address this now'.

Even President Obama urged House Republicans to think again. Aware that many Tea Party Republicans would vote against the Act just to spite him, the President appealed to their self-interest. A recent GALLUP poll shows that over two thirds of Americans support the main proposals in the Act.

However, Tea Party Republicans do not seem to be in the mood to listen to the President's warnings or to the polls.



Republicans punishing Obama for 'failure to compromise'

They are angry that the President refused to back down and water down his Affordable Health Care Bill (known as 'Obamacare') when House Republicans refused to authorize the US federal budget earlier in October. This led to a shutdown of the federal government for two weeks.

Representative Raul Labrador said 'for us to go to the negotiating table with President Obama after what he has done over the last two and a half weeks, I think would be probably a very big mistake'.
However, a recent poll shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans seem to disagree with Mr Labrador. A CNN poll found that 75% of Americans believe that it was the Republicans who were to blame for the recent gridlock in Washington, not the President.



US public blames Republicans

The poll found that most Americans believe that obstructive Republicans should not be re-elected at the next election in 2014.

It may be that the US will have to wait for that to happen before the immigration system can be reformed.

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

London mayor is 'only UK politician who is openly pro-immigration'

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has told an audience at City Hall, the home of London's government, that he is 'probably about the only politician I know of who is actually willing to stand up and say that he's pro-immigration'.

He continued 'I believe that when talented people have something to offer a society and a community, they should be given the benefit of the doubt'. He added that he was 'the descendant of immigrants'.

Mr Johnson is indeed out of step with other UK politicians in the tone and content of his pronouncements on immigration. He has frequently said that London businesses need to be able to employ talented people from overseas.



Free Labour Mobility Zone for UK and Australia

He has also called for the UK to enter into treaties with Australia and New Zealand to create a Free Labour Mobility Zone which would allow the citizens of these countries to work freely throughout the zone.

He has also given his support to the parliamentary pro-immigration pressure group Migration Matters saying that the UK needs 'a well-managed migration system that secures our borders and allows the brightest and the best to come here, contribute and thrive.'

He accompanied the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne on a recent trip to China and supported the Chancellor's announcement of a new, simpler visa application system for Chinese tourists and businessmen.



Labour turned 'complete bind eye' to immigration

However, Mr Johnson has also said that the UK must crack down on illegal immigration. He blamed the decision of the former Labour government of the UK 'to turn a complete blind eye [to illegal immigration] that undermined immigration in the eyes of many people in this country [the UK].

He said it was necessary to be 'very tough' with illegal immigrants because 'they are undermining the credentials and hard work of everybody else'.

In July 2013, appearing on a phone-in on London commercial radio station LBC, Mr Johnson called for an amnesty for illegal immigrants who have been in the UK for twelve years or more. However, he added that the UK should be 'much tougher in [its] approach to borders'.



Johnson's great grandfather was Turkish minister

Mr Johnson is the great grandson of a Turkish journalist and politician Ali Kemal. Ali Kemal married an Anglo-Swiss woman, Winifred Brun in 1909. Ali Kemal returned to Turkey alone in 1912 and remarried.

During the First World War, the children lived in England with their mother. Because Turkey fought on the side of Germany in that war, the two children of Ali Kemal and Winifred took on their grandmother's maiden name of Johnson to avoid discrimination. They did not change the name back after the war.



Ali Kemal lynched

Ali Kemal was lynched by a mob in Turkey in 1922 during the Turkish War of Independence, perhaps because of his vocal opposition to the persecution of Armenians or perhaps because he was a vocal opponent of Kemal Ataturk, who eventually became Turkey's first President.

Mr Johnson is considered to be possible future leader of the UK's right wing Conservative Party.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Boehner 'hopeful' that US immigration reform will happen this year

The speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner, has said that he is 'hopeful' that 'the House' will pass immigration reform this year. He told journalists on October 23rd 2013, 'I think immigration is an important subject that needs to be addressed and I'm hopeful [that it will be]'.

However, Mr Boehner refused to answer journalists' questions as to when he might introduce a bill. Democrats may be sceptical about Mr Boehner's claim to be 'hopeful'; as speaker, Mr Boehner is responsible for putting bills before the House for a vote. He has so far refused to put a bill already passed by the Senate before the House because a majority of Republicans oppose it.

Under the US system, for a bill to become law, it must be passed by both houses of Congress; the upper house, the Senate and the lower house, the House of Representatives. In July, the Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act 2013 (The Border Security Act'). This bill would, if it became law, introduce comprehensive immigration reform. Mr Boehner has so far refused to put that bill before the House for a vote, thereby preventing it from becoming law.



Hastert Rule

Mr Boehner says that 'the Hastert Rule' prevents him from doing so. The Hastert Rule is an informal principle which has no basis in the Constitution. It is named after the former Republican speaker Dennis Hastert who was speaker from 1999-2007. The rule means that a speaker of the House will only put legislation before the House if 'a majority of the majority' that is to say, over half of all members of the larger party in the House support it.

The 'rule' is not really a rule at all and even Speaker Hastert said in 2013, 'The Hastert Rule never really existed. It's kind of a nonentity as far as I'm concerned'. Nonetheless, many speakers of the House use their position to prevent the House from voting on bills brought by the opposing party. Democrats are urging Speaker Boehner to waive the Hastert Rule and allow a vote on the Border Security Act.

But, so far at least, Mr Boehner has refused. The House has 435 seats. There are currently 231 Republicans, so for Boehner to allow a vote without breaking the Hastert Rule, at least 116 Republicans will have to express support for the bill. At present, there are nowhere near that many.



Boehner 'standing in the way of democracy'

Democrats claim that Boehner is thwarting the will of the people. They cite polls which show that about 60% of Americans support reform. House Democrats believe that there are enough Republicans in the House who support the Act for it to become law if Mr Boehner will allow a vote.

Mr Boehner has broken the Hastert Rule five times already in 2013. Democrats are hopeful that he will do it again. But Mr Boehner is under great pressure from right-wing Republicans elected since 2009 with the support of the right-wing Tea Party movement.

These Representatives are against 'big government' and have done everything that they can to thwart President Obama since they reached Congress. Their opposition to the President has led them to vote against almost any legislation that the Democrats have proposed.



Tea Party Republicans particularly angry at the moment

They are currently particularly angry after they attempted, and failed, to make the President reform his 'Obamacare' health insurance programme in return for authorising the federal budget. The Tea Party contingent is said by Washington commentators to be particularly keen to prevent the President from scoring any 'victories' in the remainder of the political year.

The President has promised to make immigration reform a priority of his second term. This will make the Tea Party Republicans particularly keen to thwart him.

The Tea Party Republicans are also largely against the Border Security Act. This is mostly because the bill, which aims to comprehensively reform the US immigration, will establish a 'pathway to citizenship' for most of the 11.5m people living in the US illegally. Republicans, and particularly Tea Party Republicans, say that to do so would be to reward people for breaking US law (by entering or remaining in the US illegally).



Proposed changes to immigration system

The Border Security Act would
  • Increase spending on border security
  • Establish a 'pathway to citizenship' for the most illegal immigrants. It would take over thirteen years for those who apply to become citizens
  • Award permanent resident visas (or 'green cards') for foreign students who receive doctorates and PhDs from US universities
  • Increase the number of H-1B 'specialty occupation' temporary work visas granted each year from 85,000 annually to a maximum of about 200,000 annually
  • Create a 'w-visa' for low-skilled workers in agriculture and construction
  • Require US employers to check the employment status of all workers against the E-Verify system before employing them

There are only five weeks left before Christmas when the House could vote on the Border Security Act. A Democrat Representative, Linda Sanchez of California, asked 'Speaker Boehner, what are you waiting for?' at a Washington news conference.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Australian immigration minister: I'll be tough on 457 fraud

The new Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison has said that he will be 'tough' on those abusing the 457 temporary work visa. Speaking at an immigration conference in Canberra on Monday 28th October 2013, said 'you will not hear from this government that migrants take Australian's jobs'.

Mr Morrison became immigration minister in September 2013 after the right-wing Coalition won the national election on 7th September. In opposition, as immigration spokesman, he opposed changes introduced to the 457 system by the Labor government to prevent abuse of the system.

Mr Morrison and the then leader of the opposition (now Prime Minister) Tony Abbott, argued that there was no compelling evidence of widespread abuse of the 457 system so it was not necessary to introduce measures to prevent abuse.



Unions complained of abuse of 457 visa

Earlier this year, in the run up to the general election, Australian unions had complained that some employers were nominating foreign workers for unskilled positions, were paying them less than Australian workers and were thereby disadvantaging Australian workers.

The 457 visa became an electoral issue. The Labor immigration minister Brendan O'Connor told journalists in March 2013 that he believed that about 10,000 457 visas, about 10% of the total, were obtained by 'rorting' or abuse of the system.

Australian industry groups said that this was not the case. The Coalition, then in opposition, condemned Mr O'Connor's claims as electoral politics.



No evidence of 'rorting'

In June, Tony Abbott, then leader of the opposition, said that Mr O'Connor had 'claimed that there were some 10,000 examples of rorts and wasn't able to produce any evidence at all'.

He said that there were actually probably closer to 200 rorts a year, and added that 'no system is perfect'. He said that Labor was using the issue to look tough on immigration to win votes.

Labor rushed through reforms of the 457 visa regime in June. The main provision of this act was the introduction of a requirement for employers to carry out Labour Market Testing before employing a foreign worker with a 457 visa.



Labour Market Testing should be introduced in November

The LMT regime is due to be introduced in November 2013 but Mr Morrison has said that he is keen to scrap the requirement which he says would be expensive for businesses to carry out and unnecessary.

But, Mr Morrison says, he will still crack down on abuse. He told Australian journalists 'If the 457 program is abused, it will be undermined and its critical values to Australia will be diminished. I'm asking industry and employers to help the government protect this vital asset for the Australian economy by making sure it is used properly, in the right circumstances and is not abused'.

The Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) allows foreign workers to work in Australia providing that they are sponsored by an Australian employer which is approved by the Australian immigration department.



Australian employer should try to find settled worker before nominating

They must be nominated to fill a skilled role and the Australian employer should have tried and failed to find a settled Australian worker to fill the role.

A 457 visa entitles its holder to live in Australia for up to four years. Holders can enter and leave the country as often as they wish, can live anywhere in the country, providing they continue to work in the nominated position, and bring their dependent families with them.

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