Thursday, February 28, 2013

US Republicans turn to Rubio to signal change on immigration policy

Barack Obama, the President of the US delivered his annual State of the Union Address on Tuesday 12th February 2013 and called, among other things for immigration reform including the establishment of a pathway to citizenship for the 11m undocumented immigrants who are believed to be living in the US illegally.

It is traditional for an opposition Congressman to reply to the President's address. On Tuesday, the Republicans gave this honour to Marco Rubio, 41, a Senator from Florida and the son of Cuban immigrants. The choice of Mr Rubio is a significant one because it signals that the Republicans are attempting to win back some of the Hispanic vote that they lost so disastrously in the presidential election in November 2012.

'Pathway to citizenship'

Mr Rubio has in the past been a vocal opponent of immigration reform that will allow more illegal immigrants to stay in the US but he has recently changed his tune and is now one of the 'gang of eight' senators who are drafting legislation that will allow many illegal immigrants to join a 'pathway to citizenship' provided that they have a clean criminal record, learn English and pay their back-taxes. However, Mr Rubio says that the Mexican border should be made secure before reform occurs.
The President has indicated that it was the Hispanic vote that won the election for him and the maths seem to confirm this. About 120m people voted in the US presidential election. President Obama received about 61m votes and Republican challenger Mitt Romney received about 58m, a difference of 3m votes. At the election, about 11% of voters or 13m people identified themselves as Hispanics. Among Hispanics, President Obama got over 70% of the vote or over 9m votes compared to Mr Romney's 4m, a difference of 5m votes. Pollsters found that one of the main issues that drove Hispanic voters to vote for Mr Obama was the attitude that the Republican Party took on illegal immigration.


Mr Romney campaigned on a policy of 'self-deportation' for illegal immigrants, most of whom are of Hispanic descent. This went down very badly with Hispanic voters. Analysis of the vote shows that, if the Republicans had received 40% of the Hispanic vote, (as George W Bush did in 2000 and 2004), Romney would have won the popular vote (though, because of the workings of the US system, he would not necessarily have won the Presidency).

To make matters worse for the Republicans, those of Hispanic descent are the fastest growing grouping in the US. It is estimated that there will be 50m Hispanic voters by 2050 which, most Republican analysts believe, that the Republicans will not regain the presidency unless they can improve their showing among Hispanic voters.

In his reply, Mr Rubio said that he opposed Mr Obama's plans to stimulate the economy and to eliminate tax loopholes. He said that Mr Obama's policies showed that he was scapegoating the wealthy for the failures of government. He said that he opposed the President's economic reforms because they would hurt the middle-class, immigrant families in the area where he grew up. On immigration, Mr Rubio said that existing laws should be implemented fully before any further immigration reform was passed.

Secure the border

Mr Rubio has already drawn criticism for his anti-immigration stance from Hispanic immigrant organisations. Mr Rubio has said that the border with Mexico should be secured before any further reform is enacted. Cesar Vargas of the Dream Action Coalition said that the Coalition would be targeting Mr Rubio as they continued to put pressure on politicians to pass immigration reform.

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Immigration New Zealand warn of fake job offers

A job offer is required for many categories of New Zealand visa but Immigration New Zealand (INZ) have received reports of scammers selling manufactured job offers on official letter headed paper for up to NZ$4,000 (£2,125).

The job offers reportedly promise nonexistent positions in a range of industries in demand in New Zealand including IT, healthcare and retail; INZ is keen to ensure all potential migrants around the world are aware of the scam.

"We have ensured that information on this scam is available to all our decision makers globally," said INZ General Manager Nicola Hogg.

Ms Hogg said scammers were taking advantage of many people's eagerness to move to New Zealand to make easy money and, given the global nature of the scam, it is almost impossible to retrieve any lost monies. In order to combat the scammers, Ms Hogg urged all visa applicants to ensure any job offer is genuine.

"While people are free to find out for themselves about the requirements for work in New Zealand, work opportunities and to arrange jobs, anyone who needs immigration advice should only use a licensed immigration adviser."

INZ said many of the 'job offers' had been printed on letter headed paper from well-known recruitment agency Kelly Services. However, Victoria Robertson, Kelly Services' general manager, said there are several inaccuracies on the papers that proved they are forgeries including the layout and brand while the name often quoted as the consultant had never worked at Kelly Services.

Ms Robertson said Kelly Services did not charge when sourcing employment and would be cooperating with INZ to minimise the damages of the scam.

"We have followed up this matter with the relevant authorities and have made our global team aware of the false use of our brand in this regard."

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

Monday, February 25, 2013

Proposed US law would grant 125,000 more business green cards a year

A group of four senators has proposed a new law that would see the US government grant 125,000 more employment-based green cards each year. The Startup Act 3.0 would grant 75,000 green cards (properly known as lawful permanent residence) annually to immigrants who start up companies and a further 50,000 to graduates from US universities with advanced science and engineering degrees. The act has been introduced in the Senate by Republicans Jerry Moran of Kansas and Roy Blunt of Montana and Democrats Mark Warner of Virginia and Chris Coons of Delaware. It is one of several bills being introduced in congress by Congressmen and women of both main political parties, often in cooperation with each other.

'A coup for the economy'

Vivek Wadhwa is a US academic and entrepreneur who was born in India. He is a well-known advocate of reform of the US skilled immigration system. He is enthusiastic about the Startup Act 3.0. 'I love it basically,' he said, according to The San Jose Mercury News, a Silicon Valley newspaper (Silicon Valley is the hi-tech centre for internet innovation near San Francisco, California). 'If we get this through, it will be quite a coup for the economy' he said.
If it becomes law, every year the Startup Act 3.0 will allow 75,000 entrepreneurs who attract $100,000 of start-up capital investment and use it to create a business that employs at least 5 people for three years to apply for a US green card. It will also allow 50,000 immigrant graduates with higher degrees in subjects such as sciences, technology, engineering and maths to apply for green cards each year.

Harder for 'innovators' to stay in US

Mr Wadhwa says that the bill must be passed quickly. He said that Silicon Valley needs highly skilled entrepreneurs and software engineers from around the world and he adds that the current system prevents these highly skilled people from getting a green card. 'We're making it harder for innovators to come and stay', he said. Steve Case, the founder of AOL is also backing the bill. Mr Wadhwa says that immigrants were responsible or partly responsible for 52% of internet startups in the US between 1995 and 2005. The fact that the US immigration system is now preventing many foreign workers who came to the US from getting green cards means that this proportion has now fallen to 42%.
Mr Wadhwa is concerned about what might happen if the Startup Act 3.0 did not become law. There may also be delays because reform of the skilled immigration system may only happen in conjunction with broader immigration reform.
Since his re-election in November, President Obama has called for comprehensive immigration reform by the end of 2013. A group of eight senators (four Republican and four Democrat) known as the gang of eight have worked out a framework for an act that would reform the immigration system as a whole. In the US, when people talk about immigration, the major issue is that of illegal immigration largely from Mexico. The Pew Hispanic Center has estimated that there are some 11m immigrants living illegally in the US today. Comprehensive reform would therefore have to provide for a strengthening of border security and address the issue of 'a pathway to citizenship' for the 11m people living illegally in the US.

Silicon Valley being held hostage

Mr Wadhwa says that Silicon Valley should not be held 'hostage' while Congress decides on reform of the entire system and the rights of illegal immigrants. 'We have people fighting for the undocumented, unskilled workers who are holding Silicon Valley hostage. I agree with the cause, but I don't agree that we should keep Silicon Valley hostage', he said.

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

Friday, February 22, 2013

Latest figures show UK most popular EU immigration destination

New figures from the European Union show that the UK was the most popular destination for migrants in Europe in 2010.

The 2010 figures have just been released by the EU's statistics agency Eurostat. They show that 591,000 immigrants came to the UK. The top four destinations were

1. UK 591,000
2. Spain 465,200
3. Italy 458,900
4. Germany 404,100

These countries took about 60% of the total of immigrants coming to the 27 nation EU.

The Eurostat figures show that there were some 810,000 immigrants who were granted citizenship in the EU in 2010. Of these, 24% (or 194,800) were granted citizenship in the UK. The UK granted citizenship to more foreign nationals than any other EU country that year. France was second granting citizenship to 143,300 people or about 17.5% of the total.

These figures cover the last year of the UK's former Labour government which was voted out of power in 2010. Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of anti-immigration group Migrationwatch UK said that the figures showed that the UK's then Labour government had lost control of migration.

Coalition changes direction

In 2010, the Labour government was voted out and replaced by a Coalition government formed by the UK's right of centre Conservative Party and the centrist Liberal Democrats. It is headed by the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. Since coming to power, the Coalition has attempted to cut back on immigration into the UK. It has introduced various measures including
• Introducing an annual cap of 20,700 on the number of Tier 2 (General) visas for skilled workers
• Abolishing the Tier 1 (General) visa for highly skilled workers
• Cracking down on educational establishments that were suspected of issuing Tier 4 student visas to people who come to the UK to work rather than to study
• Increasing the amount of money that a UK citizen earns before being able to bring his or her spouse to live in the UK

However, despite the fact that the UK has introduced these changes, the UK's immigration minister Mark Harper said last November 'The UK is open for business to the brightest and best migrants'.

UK top for emigrants

The UK also recorded the highest number of emigrants in the EU. Some 340,000 people emigrated from the UK in 2010.

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

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Obama says US immigration reform should be complete in six months

Speaking in a TV interview on Wednesday 30th January 2013, President Obama said that he expects comprehensive immigration reform legislation to be passed by the US Congress within the next six months. The President told Spanish language TV station Telemundo that he expected the legislation to be passed by the end of 2013 but said he would make every effort to ensure that it passed quicker. 'I can guarantee that I will put everything behind it' he said.

He later told rival Spanish television station Univision that he was not prepared to see immigration reform delayed. The President said that he intended to allow Congress to legislate to reform the system but warned that, if Congress failed to do so, he would introduce his own legislation and make Congress vote on reform again.

In the US, when politicians speak of 'immigration reform' they are almost always referring to the issue of illegal immigration, largely from Mexico. There are, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, some 11m illegal immigrants in the US, well over half of these being from Mexico and around 80% overall coming from Latin America. Other immigration issues pale into insignificance because of the sheer numbers, and costs, involved; Last year, the US spent some $18bn on policing the border with Mexico to prevent illegal immigration; more than the amount spent on all other law enforcement combined.

America 'founded by immigrants'

The President promised immigration reform during his re-election campaign last year. He also promised it during his first election campaign in 2008. This time, however, the President says that he will deliver on his promise. The President pointed out in a speech on Tuesday 29th January that most Americans are of immigrant stock. The Country was founded by immigrants.

The President has said that he owes his election victory in November 2012 to Hispanic voters. Hispanic voters are the fastest growing section of the US electorate. They currently number some 50m and this number is expected to grow to 110m by 2050. Over 70% of Hispanic voters voted for the President in the November election, largely, analysts believe, because Republican challenger Mitt Romney took such a hard line on illegal immigration. Mr Romney said that he favoured a policy of 'self-deportation' which involves making life so unpleasant and difficult for those in the country illegally that they choose to leave.

This demographic projection is the reason, Washington insiders say, that immigration reform has become so important in Washington. Some Republican analysts believe that the party must change its tune on immigration or risk becoming perpetual losers in US Presidential elections.

House Republicans oppose reform

However, there is a considerable number of Republican Congressmen and women who are opposed to any immigration reforms that result in illegal immigrants being allowed to say in the US; they will do their best to stop it happening.

Under the US system, for a new law to be passed both chambers of Congress; the Senate and the House of Representatives must vote in favour of it. Then the President has to sign it into law, giving him a veto on legislation.

In the case of immigration reform, the Democrats control the Senate and could vote a reform bill through without Republican support. This may not actually be necessary as a bipartisan agreement on reform has been reached and some Republicans are helping to formulate the proposed law.
Senior Republicans in the Senate including former presidential candidate John McCain of Arizona, Lindsay Graham of North Carolina and Marcio Rubio of Florida have worked with senior Democrats including Charles Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois to create a framework for legislation.

Comprehensive reform programme

The basic elements of the framework are
• The establishment of a 'path to citizenship' for the 11m illegal immigrants currently living in the US.
• Strengthening security along the Mexican border
• More resources to be put into tracking foreign nationals in the US on visas.
• Overhauling the US visa system to reduce backlogs.
• Awarding green cards to foreign technology graduates from US universities
• Rolling out a national 'e-verify' system to prevent illegal aliens from working in the US
• Establishment of a low-skilled migrant worker visa which would allow US employers to employ foreign workers in sectors such as agriculture where it is impossible to recruit US citizens.

As yet, few details of the legislation have emerged. US business will be waiting to see the details of the reforms to be made to the employment-based migration system. Industry voices from companies such as Microsoft and TechAmerica have complained for some time that the restrictions on the numbers of foreign skilled workers allowed to move to the US to work is harmful to the economy.

Last year, the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, joined forces with media tycoon Rupert Murdoch to call for all graduates in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) to have a green card (or permanent resident permit) 'stapled to their diplomas'). Various bills have been introduced to increase the numbers of green cards granted but there has, as yet, been no change to the law.

US business will also be looking for reforms in the numbers of H-1B visas and L1 visas that are awarded each year. Business claims that restrictions in the numbers of economic migrants are damaging the US economy.

More H-1B and L1 visas

At present, there is a cap of 65,000 on the number of H-1B visas that can be granted in any one year. The visas are granted to foreign workers who are skilled in a 'specialty occupation'. So great is the demand for H-1B visas that the cap is usually reached within two months of the start of the new financial year every April. They are 'dual intent' visas which means that they can also have the intent to apply for permanent residence visas. However, employment based immigration is difficult. It can take years for an employment based immigration petition to be approved.

International businesses will no doubt lobby Congress for a reform of the L1 visa system. L1 visas allow employees of international companies to transfer to the US to work. L1-A visas are for managers and L-1B visas are for skilled workers with 'specialized knowledge'. International businesses have complained that it has become harder for their staff to get L1 visas. In 2012, international software company Oracle complained 38% of its L1-B applications were refused in 2011, including one made on behalf of an Indian employees who was refused an L1-B visa on the grounds that he did not have 'specialized knowledge' of a particular piece of software despite the fact that he had written the user manual for this software package.

House of Representatives opposed

All of these issues will need to be resolved and, there will be, no doubt, much horse-trading behind the scenes. Nonetheless, the President can be more or less certain that the Senate will pass reform. He is likely to have more difficulties, however, with the House of Representatives which is controlled by the Republicans. While Republican leader in the House, John Boehner has said that he will cooperate on reform, many right-wing Republicans, particularly those who have been elected thanks to the efforts of the right-wing anti-Washington, anti-government, anti-tax, anti-immigration Tea Party movement, are opposed to any change in the law that could be seen as an amnesty for illegal immigrants and could block reform legislation. Representative Lamar Smith of Texas said on Monday that any amnesty for illegal immigrants would cost American jobs and lead to further illegal immigration.

The President, it seems, is not prepared to allow the House to thwart him. His thinking appears to be that, by forcing a vote on reform in the House, he will show the electorate that it is Republicans in the House that are holding up reform thereby making them even less popular with the electorate who are frustrated with the perpetual lack of cooperation in Washington. The President hopes it seems, to force House Republicans to vote for reform of some sort. The Democrats have also offered an olive branch to the Republicans by including a commitment to strengthening the US's borders to prevent further illegal immigration in the proposed legislation.

Right wingers warn Republicans against cooperation

However, there are voices on the right that are warning the Republicans not to compromise. Steven Camarota of the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies has warned that 'Hispanics have the most negative view of capitalism – 55% had a negative view. You cannot add millions of liberal citizens to your country and not expect public policy to change.'

Mr Camarota has also warned that the 1.1m legal immigrants who become US citizens every year are also moving the country to the left and risk making the Republicans unelectable. He has called for a reduction of immigration to the level of about 300,000 a year. If this occurred, he said 'then I think conservatives might have a fighting chance.'

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


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New rules for Tier 2 visas in UK

We would like to draw your attention to several recent changes to the rules governing the grant of Tier 2 visas by the UK government. The rules were introduced on December 13th 2012.

Perhaps the change that will affect the most people is a new rule allowing skilled workers who hold Tier 2 visas to travel abroad, whether for work or pleasure, for up to 180 days per year without compromising their right to apply to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) for indefinite leave to remain at a later date.

Exclusion period

There will also be a change to the rules for those applying for a Tier 2 visa after already having worked in the UK with a similar visa in the past.

Under the old rules, someone who had worked in the UK on a Tier 2 visa would be obliged to leave the country and would not be entitled to apply for a second Tier 2 visa until one year after the original visa had expired.

The UKBA has now changed the rules so that the one year exclusion period runs not from the point at which the previous visa expires but from the date on which the worker actually left the UK.

The change has been made to help people who left the country before their first visa expired. A Tier 2 visa lasts for a maximum of three years and one month. If someone was granted a Tier 2 visa and then came to work in the UK but then left the country after two years, (after, say, being made redundant) they would, under the old rules, have had to wait for two years and one month before applying for a second visa. (The remaining one year and one month of the original visa and one year exclusion). Under the new rules, they will be entitled to return one year after they left the country.

Longer lasting visa for high paid workers

There is also a change to the length of time for which a worker who comes to the UK on a Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) visa and earns more than £150,000 a year can remain in the country. Until the rules were changed, these workers were only allowed to stay for five years. Workers applying after 22nd November 2012 are able to stay for nine years.

The UK government said that it was responding to the requests of international businesses when introducing these minor changes. The UK immigration minister, Mark Harper, said that the changes would 'ensure that Britain remain[s] an attractive destination for global talent' but he also said that the government remains committed to cutting annual net immigration to below 100,000 per year.

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

US think tank calls for more visas for medical professionals

A recent report from the National Foundation for American Policy, a pro-immigration think tank based in Arlington, Virginia, has found that the US immigration system is putting obstacles in the way of foreign medical professionals who want to work in the US. This, the report says, is unwise because the US population is ageing and has an increasing need for medical services. The report recommends reforms to the system that would make it easier for foreign health professionals to work in the US.

The report, US Government, Heal Thyself: Immigration Restrictions and America's Growing Health Care Needs, comes up with four major recommendations.
• Increase the number of green cards for medical professionals.
• Create a dedicated temporary visa for nurses
• Expand the 'Conrad 30 waiver system' so that more doctors qualify and
• To simplify the procedures for licensing medical staff in individual states to make it easier and quicker for foreign medical staff to become registered and accredited.

Currently, 140,000 employment-based green cards are granted annually in the US. The NACP suggests that a number of these visas should be reserved for medical professionals, allowing a greater number to enter the US each year.

The Conrad 30 waiver system allows foreign doctors who have trained in the US under a J1 student visa to apply for an H-1B visa which would allow them to work at a designated medical facility for three years. They can only work in an area designated by the US Department of Health and Human Services as a Health Professionals Shortage Area (HPSA) or a Medically Underserved Area (MUA) or in a facility that serves a Medically Underserved Population (MUP). At present each state has a limit on the number of Conrad 30 waivers it will grant. For example, California grants only 30 per year. The NFAP says that this number should be increased greatly.

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

Monday, February 18, 2013

UK venture capital calls for more UK Tier 1 visas

A leading UK investment organisation has issued a report which recommends that the UK immigration authorities introduce changes to its Tier 1 (high value migrants) visa regime in order to help kick-start the UK economy. UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported on 11th February 2013 that The British Venture Capital Association (BVCA) has issued a list of five 'quick-fix proposals' to help the UK economy recover without having to spend too much money on stimulating the economy.

According to the BVCA chairman Robert Easton, 'The UK's fiscal situation remains precarious so there is a limit to what stimulus can be delivered without adding to an already large debt burden'. Mr Easton said that, that being the case, it is the job of UK business to 'foster an investment-led recovery'.

The five BVCA proposals are
• The introduction of measures to tackle youth unemployment
• The creation of greater flexibility in the immigration system
• The adoption of a 'smarter' industrial policy
• Using the new 'Business Bank' to help business gain access to investment capital. (Business secretary Vince Cable announced that the government would set up the 'Business Bank' in December 2012. It will have £1bn of government money and £10bn of loan guarantees and will lend money to UK business)
• The abandonment of plans to impose additional capital requirements on UK banks

As far as immigration goes, the BVCA makes the following recommendations.

Removing the annual cap on the number of Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas
At present, there are only 1,000 Exceptional Talent visas available each year and in 2011 only about 650 were actually issued. In order to qualify, it is necessary for an applicant to prove that he/she is actually or potentially a world-leading talent in the arts or sciences. In order to prove his/her eligibility, the applicant must acquire a letter of endorsement from one of four Designated Competent Bodies; The Royal Society, the British Academy, Arts Council England or the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The Exceptional Talent visa is so difficult to get that raising the cap would make little difference because so few people meet the criteria for being granted one. It seems that the BVCA is, in fact, proposing the resurrection of the Highly Skilled Migrant Program or the similar Tier 1 (General) visa which replaced it. Both these visas allowed highly skilled migrants with valuable work experience to work in the UK. The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme was closed in March 2008 and replaced by the Tier 1 (General) visa. The Tier 1 (General) visa was itself closed to new applicants in April 2011.

Increasing the quota for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa
At present, only 1,000 Graduate Entrepreneur visas can be granted each year. Graduate Entrepreneur visas are awarded to graduates of UK universities from outside the European Economic Area who have demonstrated that they have a viable and worthwhile business plan and want to set up a business in the UK.

Granting automatic one-year visas for high achieving non-EEA students
This proposal appears to be a call for the UK government to reinstate a modified version of the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa tier which was closed in April 2012. Under this scheme, non-EEA graduates of UK universities were able to stay and work in the UK for two years after graduation.

Given the fact that, in the last two years, the UK Border Agency has abolished Tier 1 visa categories similar to those that the BVCA wants to see introduced, it is unlikely that these proposals will find favour with the UK government. However, there is some cause for optimism in the fact that UK business secretary wrote an article for the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph on 11th February 2013 in which he called for more visas to be granted to wealthy and educated applicants.

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

Thursday, February 14, 2013

UK immigration minister announces changes to Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa

The UK immigration minister, Mark Harper, has announced that there is to be a new system of checks made on those applying for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas.

Mr Harper delivered a written statement to the House of Commons on 30th January 2013 in which he announces that there are to be 'changes in the immigration rules that will bring about urgent changes to tackle abuse in the Entrepreneur migration route while protecting genuine entrepreneurs'. The statement says that the new rules will be introduced on Thursday 31st January 2013.

The statement says 'There is strong evidence to suggest that funds to prove eligibility are being re-cycled amongst different applicants and that artificial businesses are being created.' Therefore, the statement continued, 'We need to tighten the current rules to allow for a meaningful assessment of the credibility of an applicant for this route'.

Mr Harper says, in his statement, 'I am introducing a 'genuine entrepreneur' test which will give UK Border Agency caseworkers the ability to test the credibility of suspicious applicants'.

There will also be a requirement from Thursday 31st January 2013 onwards that the necessary minimum funds should be invested 'on an ongoing basis rather than solely at the time of the application'. The statement makes it clear that this will apply to those already in the UK as well as to those who apply to come here under the entrepreneur route from now on.

Mr Harper said that the UK would continue to welcome genuine entrepreneurs but would, at the same time, continue to crack down on those abusing the system.

The new rules require UKBA staff to check the following before granting a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa:

• 'The viability and credibility of the source of the money' which the applicant has claimed to have.
• The viability and credibility of the applicant's business plans.
• The applicant's previous business experience and education
• The applicant's immigration history and
• Any other relevant information.

The UKBA is authorised to ask for further information where it thinks this is necessary and the points for funds will not be awarded unless the UKBA is satisfied that the funds are genuine.

The UKBA will also make further checks once the applicant is in the UK to check that
• the funds continue to be available to the investment company,
• that the applicant is genuinely a director of the business concerned and
• that the business and the funds are still available to the company invested in.

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

Friday, February 8, 2013

UK watchdog finds new backlog of immigration applications

The UK's chief inspector of immigration, John Vine, has found yet another backlog at the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Mr Vine published his new report into the UKBA's systems for dealing with marriage applications on 24th January 2013. Asked whether he thought the UKBA's performance had been satisfactory, Mr Vine said that he would have preferred not to have found so many backlogs. He said that the UKBA should 'do its homework' and added that customers of the UKBA, especially taking into account the high fees that they are charged to have their cases assessed, deserved a better service than they were receiving from UKBA.

The newly found backlog contains applications made by UK citizens to bring foreign born spouses into the UK. It included a collection of 2,000 cases dating back as much as ten years (to 2003) which seemed to have been forgotten about and abandoned at the UKBA's Croydon office. The UKBA had never reached any decision on the cases. They were only discovered when the files were sent to Sheffield. The other 14,000 cases in the backlog were cases in which the applicant, having had their initial application refused, had asked for a review. They had been told by UKBA staff that a review would be done but no review had been carried out. Mr Vine said that the UKBA ought to have procedures in place to deal with cases like these because people paid considerable fees and deserved a better service. Mr Vine included these cases in his backlog.

However, Mark Harper, the UK's immigration minister, denied that many of the cases which Mr Vine had called a backlog could accurately be so described. Mr Harper accepted that the 2,000 cases from Croydon could have been described as 'a backlog' though he added that the UKBA had now reached a decision in all of these cases.

But Mr Harper said that the other 14,000 cases that Mr Vine counted as forming a backlog could not be properly described as 'a backlog'. Mr Harper said that the UKBA had already reached a decision in all 14,000 cases. The problem with the cases, he said, was that the applicants did not agree with the UKBA's decisions; All of the applications had been refused.

Mr Harper said that UKBA staff had been wrong to agree to look at the cases again because the correct path for people who did not like a UKBA decision to take was to launch a formal appeal rather than to ask the UKBA to reconsider. He said that for the UKBA to look into cases that it had already decided would not be a proper use of resources.

Mr Harper denied that the UKBA was 'a shambles' but he accepted that it was far from perfect and said that he was 'not satisfied' with its performance. He said that the UKBA has a new chief executive in place (Rob Whiteman) who is getting the Agency under control. Mr Harper said 'I'm not satisfied with the performance as it is today, neither is the Chief Executive. But we're dealing with it. Actually, a lot of the front line staff are doing a good job. I've met a lot of them when I went out and visited the agency. We need to give them the tools to do the job and deliver excellent customer service.
In his report, the chief inspector of immigration, Mr Vine also highlighted other concerns with the UKBA's systems for dealing with marriage applications. He warned that there is another backlog developing at the rate of 700 cases a month because of a lack of cooperation between the UKBA and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

It is a requirement that those who bring a spouse or civil partner to live with them in the UK must be able to support themselves and their partner before the spouse can be granted leave to remain in the UK. Consequently, it is necessary for checks to be made on the evidence provided in support of applications to ensure that it is genuine. The UKBA has no capability to make these checks itself and has to rely on HMRC to do the checks for it. However, HMRC, run by the former head of the UKBA, Lin Homer, has said that it will only carry out 250 checks a month. Mr Vine said 'The limit on these checks to 250 a month for an organisation processing several hundred thousand applicants a year is insufficient.'

The refusal of HMRC to assist the UKBA was resulting in thousands of people being granted leave to live in the UK without any checks being carried out into whether they met income requirements, Mr Vine's report found. Mr Vine said that his inspectorate reviewed 49 cases and found that there had been no check in any of them. He said that he had found that in 10% of his sample, immigration officials had allowed the applications unreasonably and with a lack of supporting evidence.

Mr Vine and his inspectors have discovered several other backlogs that had been concealed, accidentally or deliberately, within the UKBA within the last two years amounting to well over 200,000 cases.

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

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Canada launches new Start-up Visa for entrepreneurs

On Thursday January 24th 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced that it is to launch a new visa for entrepreneurs. It will open for applications on April 1st 2013 and will be known as the Start-Up Visa.

Jason Kenney, the Canadian immigration minister and head of CIC said 'Our new Start-Up visa will help make Canada the destination of choice for the world's best and brightest to launch their companies. Recruiting dynamic entrepreneurs from around the world will help Canada remain competitive in the global economy.'

The scheme will, according to the CIC press release 'link immigrant entrepreneurs with private sector organisations in Canada that have experience working with start-ups and who can provide essential resources.'

The plan is to bring the non-Canadian entrepreneur together with Canadian venture capitalists, who may be able to provide funding, before the visa is granted. To that end, CIC has arranged to collaborate initially with two venture capital associations; Canada's Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) and the National Angel Capital Organisation (NACO). CIC says that it is also working with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation so that they too can become involved soon.

CIC trumpets the Start-Up visa as 'the first of its kind in the world' and says it will be 'a powerful incentive to attract individuals with potential who will have a real impact on the Canadian economy.'
Details of the scheme are sketchy at this point but CIC says 'By providing sought-after immigrant entrepreneurs with permanent residency and immediate access to a wide range of business partners, Canada will position itself as a destination of choice for start-ups.'

CIC has not yet announced how many visas or funding will be available. Nor has it explained how the entrepreneur's suitability will be assessed. It is also not clear now much capital entrepreneurs will need to commit in order to qualify.

'Clearly, the establishment of a new visa sounds like great news for entrepreneurs but we need to know the details. Once we have those, we can prepare to help our clients with applications as soon as the visa stream is open for applications.'

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

Friday, February 1, 2013

UKBA announces new rules on 'good character' and naturalisation

On December 13th 2012, The UK Border Agency (UKBA) announced a change to the rules affecting the eligibility of those with criminal convictions and those who owe money to HMRC to become UK citizens. The UKBA now has tougher rules for assessing who meets the 'good character' requirement for naturalisation. There is no actual definition of 'good character' in law but the new rules say that anyone who has served a lengthy prison sentence will now be considered not to be of good character for the rest of their life.

In detail the main rules are:

• It is now mandatory for UKBA assessors to refuse a naturalisation application from anyone who has been sentenced to 4 years or more in prison anywhere in the world. There is no rehabilitation period and convictions never become 'spent'. If you have been sentenced to four years in prison, you can now never become a UK citizen.

• If you have been sentenced to a prison sentence of between twelve months and four years in length anywhere in the world, then your naturalisation application will be refused unless it is made at least 15 years after the end of your sentence.

• If you have been sentenced to a prison sentence up to one year in length anywhere in the world, then your naturalisation application will be refused unless it is made over seven years after the end of your sentence.

• If you have been convicted of any other criminal offence for which you received a non-custodial punishment, including fines, anywhere in the world, then your application will be refused if it is made within three years of the date of your conviction. Please note that, for the purposes of UKBA assessments, a police caution will be treated as if it is a criminal conviction so any application for naturalisation made within three years of receiving a police caution will be refused.

Please note that an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) will not be treated as a criminal conviction. An ASBO is a court order made by courts in the UK requiring people who create a nuisance to others, say by making too much noise in their flat, to stop doing so.. An ASBO is not a criminal offence. However, if you are made the subject of an ASBO and then breach it, you may be taken to court and tried for breaching your ASBO. If found guilty, that is a criminal conviction and, depending on your sentence, you will fall into one of the categories above.

In order to decide whether any applicant is of good character generally, the UKBA will also bear in mind other factors. For example, if you had a great many parking tickets, this too might prove fatal to your application though one or two probably would not.

The UKBA will also ask Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, the UK tax authority, to check to ensure that your tax payments are up-to-date. If you are behind with payments, this too might prove fatal to your application as might council tax arrears.

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