Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Canada's Federal Court dismisses immigration case of would-be immigrants

A Canadian judge has ruled that the country's immigration minister, Jason Kenney, did not break the law when he terminated applications for permanent residence visas from some 280,000 applicants in July 2012. On Thursday 18th April 2013, Justice Donald Rennie said that he understood that those affected would see Mr Kenney's act as 'unfair, arbitrary and unnecessary' but said that it was not illegal and so he had no powers to overturn it.

In 2012, The Canadian government passed the Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act which allowed the government to terminate applications for permanent residence visas made under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Canada's main immigration programme for skilled workers. In June 2012, Mr Kenney announced that he would terminate all applications made to the FSWP before 28th February 2008.

Some people had been waiting for their applications to be processed for up to eight years. They were understandably aggrieved to have their applications terminated. But Mr Kenney said that the termination of the cases was necessary to get rid of an unwieldy backlog of cases which was preventing the system from working properly. Some 280,000 people were affected.

Applicants argued that Kenney's decision was unlawful

Last autumn, a group of 1,400 of the applicants who had had their applications terminated launched a legal challenge to Mr Kenney's decision in the Canadian Federal Court. They argued that Mr Kenney's decision had been unlawful because the Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act was discriminatory and breached Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The case came to court in January 2013. The judge delivered his verdict on 18th April.

In his summing up, Justice Rennie said 'the applicants have waited in the queue for many years only to find the entrance door closed. They see the termination of their hope for a new life in Canada to be an unfair, arbitrary and unnecessary measure'. However, he said that the Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act was 'valid legislation, compliant with the rule of law, the Bill of Rights and the Charter' and he said that the applications had been 'terminated by operation of law' and that, therefore, the court could not overrule the Act or Mr Kenney's decision.

Lawyers for the applicants are considering whether to appeal the judge's decision. They have until 2nd May to do so.

The FSWP is Canada's foremost immigration programme for skilled workers. Around 55-60,000 people annually gain Canadian permanent resident status via the FSWP. By 2012, there was a backlog of 624,516 applications waiting to be processed. Some people had been waiting for eight years. The FSWP waiting list has now been reduced to under 100,000 and Mr Kenney has said he expects there to be no backlog by the end of 2014.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in Canada. Please visit our Canadian page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/canada.html

Monday, April 29, 2013

US Congress announces June vote on immigration reform

The US Congress has announced that it will vote in June on the immigration reform bill prepared by the so-called 'Gang of Eight'.

The Gang of Eight is made up of four Republicans and four Democrats who have been working on the bill since January. The Republicans include the former Presidential candidate John McCain and the youthful darling of the right Marco Rubio who, many believe, will challenge for the presidency in 2016. The Democrats include veteran New York senator Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin of Illinois.

When he was re-elected in November 2012, President Obama promised to make immigration reform one of his biggest priorities during his second term. In February, the President said that he was happy to leave the drafting of a new law which would comprehensively reform the US's immigration system to the eight senators although he would be prepared to step in if they failed to reach agreement.

Security and citizenship

Last week on 16th April 2013 the Gang released The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. If it becomes law, it will:

  • Lead to greatly increased security measures along the US's border with Mexico to try to cut illegal immigration
  • Create a 'pathway to citizenship' for the estimated 11m illegal immigrants currently living in the US
  • Create systems for tracking foreign nationals in the US on temporary visas
  • Increase the number of H-1B graduate-level, temporary work visas that are granted annually from 65,000 to 110,000 immediately with a possibility that the figure could rise to a maximum of 180,000 annually
  • Increase the number of permanent resident visas (or green cards) granted to highly skilled professionals
  • Create a new 'w-visa' which will allow low-skilled workers, such as agricultural labourers, to work in the US
  • Require all US employers to check all their new employees are allowed to work in the US using an improved 'E-Verify system – an electronic register of those with permission to work in the US.

'Common sense measures the majority of Americans support' - Obama

After the draft Act was released, President Obama said that the bill contained 'common sense steps that the majority of Americans support' but right-wing anti-immigration activists are less enthusiastic. Roy Beck of NumbersUSA said 'I never expected the bill to be this bad'.

In order to become law, the bill will need to be passed by both houses of the US Congress; the Senate, currently controlled by President Obama's Democratic Party and The House of Representatives which is currently controlled by the Republicans who are traditionally more opposed to immigration. Washington commentators say that the bill is likely to pass the Senate without difficulty but will have more difficulty in The House.

At the launch of the bill the Republican members of the Gang of Eight were keen to stress the practical advantages of the bill. Senator Rubio, himself the son of Cuban immigrants, said that it was 'in the US national interest to bring undocumented migrants on to a legal footing (according to UK paper The Guardian). Senator Lindsay Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina said 'If we don't have legal immigration to supplement our declining population you are committing economic suicide'.

'An open invitation to enter the country illegally' - Lamar Smith

But Republican opponents of the Act in the House were scathing in their condemnation. Representative Jeff Sessions of Alabama said that the bill would 'economically devastate low-income American citizens'. Representative Lamar Smith of Texas said that the bill was 'an open invitation to enter the country illegally'.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States. Please visit our USA page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/usa.html

Friday, April 26, 2013

2014 H-1B quota reached on April 5th 2013

The demand for H-1B visas this year has been extremely strong. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received 124,000 applications for H-1B visas by 5th April 2013.

Every fiscal year, USCIS issues 65,000 H-1B visas to foreign graduates enabling them to travel to the US to work in a 'specialty occupation'. It also issues a further 20,000 H-1Bs to foreign graduates with advanced degrees such as master's degrees.

The US fiscal year begins on October 1st. (Fiscal Year 2014 will begin on October 1st 2013). USCIS accepts applications for each fiscal year from the preceding April 1st. So USCIS began accepting applications for H-1Bs for 2014 on 1st April 2013.

Study Migrate offers a variety of programmes in United States. Please check our USA page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/usa.html

Thursday, April 25, 2013

UK immigration grants new Tier 4 Sponsorship licence to LMU

The UK's Home Office has issued a new Tier 4 sponsorship licence to London Metropolitan University (LMU). The Home Office made the announcement on 9th April 2013 and said the licence would be effective immediately. LMU's previous Tier 4 sponsorship licence was revoked on 29th August 2012.

A Tier 4 sponsorship licence allows a UK educational institution to sponsor potential students from outside the European Economic Area to apply for a UK Tier 4 student visa. You cannot obtain a Tier 4 visa unless you are sponsored by a licenced UK educational establishment.

On 29th August 2012, the UK Border Agency, which was until 1st April 2013 in charge of UK immigration control, revoked LMU's sponsorship licence. The UKBA claimed that it had done so because LMU had not put systems in place to ensure that international students

  • Spoke university-standard English
  • Attended lectures while at LMU and
  • Had valid Tier 4 visas entitling them to study at LMU.

Over 2,000 students told to leave

The UKBA decision meant that LMU was no longer allowed to teach international students. Over 2,000 international students already studying at LMU were told that they would have to find new courses elsewhere, obtain sponsorship from the new university and apply for a new Tier 4 visa (costing £716) from the UKBA if they wanted to continue their study in the UK, otherwise they would have to leave the country.

The decision caused considerable controversy. The National Union of Students condemned the decision as did Universities UK, the umbrella body for UK universities. It was rumoured that the decision caused a cabinet rift between Home Secretary Theresa May who supported the UKBA on the one side and Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Vince Cable who opposed it on the other.

The vice chancellor of LMU, Malcolm Gillies, said that the UKBA decision was 'outrageous'. He said that LMU had made every effort to comply with the UKBA rules but said that UKBA rules were self-contradictory and almost impossible to comply with.

Judge allowed students to continue their studies

LMU immediately issued a statement saying that it would challenge the UKBA's decision in court. At an initial hearing in September 2012, the judge, Mr Justice Irwin, made an order that those students who were already studying at LMU should be allowed to continue with their studies for the time being, until the case was heard.

He also ordered that 1,000 students who were about to start courses in October should be allowed to do so, providing they had the correct visa. He barred LMU from sponsoring any further international students until the case was heard. The case is expected to come to court soon.

The UKBA was abolished on 1st April 2013 at the order of the Home Secretary, Theresa May. Mrs May announced her decision on 26th March 2013 and said she had decided to abolish it because it was 'not good enough'. Many people agreed with Mrs May. A committee of MPs, The Home Affairs Committee, whose job it was to scrutinise the work of the Home Office and the UKBA, issued many damning reports about the agency.

The chairman of the committee, Keith Vaz, a Labour MP, welcomed Mrs May's decision saying that it would enable the UK to gain control of its immigration system which has been out-of-control for years.

UKBA dismantled after scathing criticism

Last month, the committee released a highly critical report about the running of the UKBA which said that between July and September 2012, the UKBA processed just 14% of postal applications for Tier 4 visas within its target time of four weeks and just 18% of Tier 1 visa applications. Mrs May announced that it would be abolished it the next day.

The Home Office issued a statement on 9th April saying that it was now satisfied that LMU had put right all the flaws in its systems and so could have a new licence.

The statement read 'Home Office inspection teams looked at areas of concern that led to the revocation of the university's licence last year and have worked with university staff to ensure they have appropriate processes for recruiting and monitoring their international students'.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/uk.html

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

US – Pro-immigration rallies held across America

Thousands of people demonstrated in Washington D.C. on Wednesday 10th April 2013, in favour of immigration reform. There were smaller, co-ordinated demonstrations in cities across the US.

400 coaches brought protestors to Washington where they protested near the White House. Reporters say that the mood of the crowd was optimistic because progress has been made on proposed immigration reform and a draft Act of Congress is expected to be revealed shortly laying out the details of the reform which could transform the US immigration system.

The so-called 'Gang of Eight'; a group of eight senators, four Republican and four Democrat, have been working on the draft Act since January and last week two of the senators said they were hopeful that they were close to reaching a deal.

'Conceptually, we have agreement' – Graham

Chuck Schumer, (Democrat, New York) and Lindsay Graham (Republican, North Carolina) both spoke out on 1st April saying that they were hopeful that a deal was in sight. Mr Schumer said that although 'it's not a done deal' there was 'substantive agreement'. Mr Graham said 'There are a few details yet but, conceptually, we have agreement'.

Though the details of the bill have not yet been revealed, commentators expect that the bill to propose
  • Further strengthening the Mexican border
  • Providing a 'pathway to citizenship' for many of the 11m foreign citizens currently living illegally in the US
  • Providing more employment based (EB-1, EB-2, EB-3) permanent resident visas (or green cards) to foreign graduates of US universities. There may also be an increase in the annual quota of H-1B visas.
  • Rolling out the 'e-verify' system nationally. E-verify will enable US employers to check the immigration status of workers before hiring them.

'Our presence is finally being heard'

One demonstrator, Susana Martinez, told The Guardian, a UK newspaper, 'This is the most upbeat mood that I have ever seen in the past 15 years. There has been a lot of pressure from the Latino community even though this is something that affects various immigrant groups. Our presence is finally being heard'.

President Obama pledged to make immigration reform a major priority in his second term. He has left the details of the act to the Gang of Eight and is not involved in the drafting of the Act but the White House has prepared an alternative bill in case the Gang of Eight cannot agree.
While both Republicans and Democrats agree that reform of the system is necessary, they have not managed to cooperate to reform it. This is because
  • Over recent years, there has been less and less cooperation between the parties as the Republican Party has moved ideologically to the right
  • The parties are evenly balanced in Washington with the Republicans holding the House of Representatives and the Democrats holding the Senate. Consent of both houses is needed for a proposed Act to become law.

Many grassroots Republicans oppose reform

Because this bill has the support of some senators from both parties, proponents of reform hope that it will pass. However there is a possibility that it will not be passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives because many grassroots Republicans are implacably opposed to the creation of a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

In a letter to UK newspaper The Financial Times, Mr William W Chip of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington anti-immigration think tank, said that it would increase net immigration to the US from Mexico and reduce wages for low-paid workers. Other Republicans object that allowing illegal aliens to become citizens rewards criminal behaviour.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States. Please visit our USA page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/usa.html

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One billion people crossed international borders in 2012

In 2012, one billion people made an international trip, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. David Scowsill of the WTTC said 'this is an astounding milestone. There is an inexorable growth in the number of people who want to travel around the world'.

Most of these journeys will be for the purpose of leisure and tourism. France and the USA are the most popular tourist destinations though there is also strong growth in tourism around the world. Though the overall numbers are still low, there has been considerable growth in the tourism industry in countries such as Guatemala, Ivory Coast and The Dominican Republic.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the top five travel destinations are
  1. Paris
  2. London
  3. New York
  4. Anatalya, Turkey
  5. Singapore

210,000,000 migrants globally

It is also clear that the numbers of migrants globally have increased enormously in recent years. The World Economic Forum and the United Nations believe that 3% of the world's population; around 210,000,000 people, are migrants.

But many more would like to leave their homeland for a new life. A recent Gallup poll found that 13% of the world's adult population – around 640,000,000 people would like to emigrate.

150,000,000 would like to go to the US alone. There is no one reason why people want to emigrate. The Gallup poll suggested that a great many wanted to emigrate to countries in North America and Europe in order to find economic opportunity.

Often, it would seem that poor conditions at home give people an incentive to emigrate while existing relationships between countries may help potential émigrés to decide where they want to go. This point is illustrated by the case of Liberia.

Liberia has a population of about 4,100,000. It is a desperately poor country with the third lowest per capita income in the world. It has also been riven by civil war since 1989. It is placed 174th out of 186 countries on the Human Development Index, which measures the quality of life around the world. It is therefore not surprising that many Liberians want to emigrate. But, there is a particular reason why 37% of Liberia's population, some 1,500,000 people want to emigrate to the USA. This can be explained by the strong links between the two countries. Liberia was settled by large numbers of freed slaves from the US from 1820 onwards and has been the recipient of a great deal of US aid since the Second World War.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of immigration and study programs in USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Please visit our website for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/programs.html

Friday, April 19, 2013

Immigrants boost US housing market

A new report shows that immigration is helping to boost the US housing market. The report prepared by the Mortgage Bankers Association suggests that between 2010 and 2020 immigrants are expected to account for 35.7% of homebuyers and 26.4% of new home rentals.

The report is called Immigrant Contributions to Housing Demand in the United States: A Comparison of Recent Decades and Projections to 2020 for the States and Nation. It says that 'immigrants are an important and growing source of demand (for housing) that has bolstered housing markets in recent decades'.

The report says that immigrants have been important players in the housing market in traditional 'gateway states' such as New York and California, where immigrants would usually settle on arrival in the US, for years. For example, between 2000 and 2010, immigrants were responsible for 82.2% of the growth in new house sales in California and for 65.1% of the growth in new house sales in New York. Immigrants were responsible for the majority of the increase in new house sales in six other states too; Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Ohio and Michigan.

Immigrants will continue to boost housing growth

The report predicts that demand from immigrants will hold up in those states and will be responsible for the majority of the growth in six states between 2010 and 2020; New York, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Michigan.

But the report writers say that, between 2000 and 2010, immigrants began to buy houses in significant numbers in states that were not previously popular with immigrants. For example, they were responsible for 34.1% of the increase in house sales in Georgia and 24.8% in North Carolina.

The report says it expects this demand to level off but remain significant between 2010 and 2020.

The report also says that demand for housing from immigrants after the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007 prevented the housing crash from getting any worse. It says that, while the main cause of the crisis was the mis-selling of mortgages, a reduction in the number of native Americans who were buying houses also contributed to the collapse in prices. Had immigrants not made up the numbers, the falls in property prices would have been greater.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States. Please visit our USA page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/usa.html

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Murdoch enters Australian 457 temporary work visa debate

Rupert Murdoch, the international media mogul, has criticised the Australian government's public pronouncements on skilled work based immigration saying that they have been 'disgraceful and racist'.

Members of the Australian Labor Party government have claimed that there is widespread abuse of the 457 visa system. In March, Australian immigration minister Brendan O'Connor said that Australian firms were engaged in 'rorting' or abuse of the Temporary Work (Skilled) (Subclass 457) visa by Australian employers. Mr O'Connor said 'Rogue employers are deliberately employing people from overseas without giving a local a chance.'

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard supported the immigration minister. She said she would introduce legislation to stop this abuse and to 'put Aussie workers first'.

Gillard is 'demonising foreigners' - Abbott

The leader of the Australian opposition Coalition, Tony Abbott said that Ms Gillard was 'demonising foreigners'. Mr Abbott is a long-standing supporter of 457 visas. He made a speech in April 2012 in which he said that 457 visa holders are 'the best immigrants'. He said, 'provided they are paid the same wages and provided there aren't Australians who could readily fill these jobs, businesses should be able to bring in the workers they need to keep growing, and create more local jobs. Under a Coalition government, section 457 visas won't be just a component, but a mainstay of our immigration program'.

Commentators say that Ms Gillard is attempting to win support from the opposition by making Mr Abbott defend 457 visas publicly. Paul Kelly, editor-at-large of The Australian newspaper said that Ms Gillard's Labor government runs a successful 457 visa program. 189,784 people went to Australia, including family members, on 457 visas in the year to January 2013.

457 visas are 'a brilliant innovation'

Mr Kelly says that 457 visas 'are a brilliant innovation of immense benefit to Australia' but he says that the Gillard government is 'playing politics as part of a re-election tactic. … It's deliberately exaggerating the rorts, denigrating 457 visas as a John Howard idea and attacking Tony Abbott on the grounds that he will give the scheme free licence and sell out "Aussie jobs".

In order to be eligible to work in Australia with a 457 visa, a foreign worker must first be sponsored by an Australian employer. The employer must nominate the worker to work in an occupation that is on the Australian Consolidated Occupation List (CSOL). This is a list of occupations for which the Australian government accepts there is a shortage of Australian workers who can do the job. It is therefore happy to allow foreign workers into the country to do those jobs. Once nominated for a job on the CSOL, the foreign worker can apply for a 457 visa. The visa can last for up to four years and allows its holder to bring their family to Australia while they are there.

Mr O'Connor alleged in early March that there were Australian firms that were bringing in foreign workers on 457 visas to work as 'administrators', an occupation on the CSOL, but then employing them as security guards, an occupation not on the CSOL. Ms Gillard said she would put 'Aussie workers first' and 'stop foreign workers being put at the front of the queue with Australian workers at the back'.

Australian Union leaders too said that the system is being abused. Dave Oliver of the Australian Council of Trade Unions said that, in 2012, the number of 457 visas granted rose by 40% while the number of jobs available in the Australian construction sector had fallen by 70,000. This showed, he said, that Australian workers were losing out to foreign workers with 457 visas.

Immigration is 'the future' - Murdoch

Speaking on a visit to Australia, Mr Murdoch told his own Sky News Australia TV channel that Ms Gillard's comments were 'pretty disgusting and racist'. He said I'm a big one for encouraging immigration. I think that's the future'.

Mr Murdoch was born an Australian but became an American citizen in 1985. In 2012, he joined New York mayor Michael Bloomberg in calling for foreign-born graduates of US universities to get a US permanent resident visa (green card) on graduation.

David Bradbury, the Australian Minister Assisting for Deregulation and a member of Ms Gillard's Australian Labor Party, responded to Mr Murdoch saying 'there is nothing racist about standing up for jobs and job opportunities for Australians.' The Australian opposition insists that abuse of the 457 system is limited.

457 visa system is 'quite efficient'

Peter McDonald of the National University's Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute told Australian business magazine BRW that the 457 system was 'quite an efficient system'. He said that 457 visas were useful in that they enabled employers to find the workers they needed fairly quickly and efficiently. He said that Australia needed a lot of skilled tradespeople as it did not have enough home-grown people with the right skills. He thought that fraudulent applications might account for about 2 to 3% of the total number of 457s granted.

In the year to June 2012, 48,080 temporary work (457) visas were issued.
If Ms Gillard was hoping to gain public support by promising to crack down on abuse of 457 visas it doesn't seem to have worked. There is an election in Australia in September in which, polls show, Ms Gillard's Australian Labor Party will be heavily defeated.

Mr Murdoch's company News Ltd, which owns seven out of 12 Australian newspapers and controls 70.5% of the market, is supporting the opposition.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in Australia. Please visit our Australian page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/australia.html

Monday, April 15, 2013

US senators say immigration reform bill has 'substantive agreement'

Senator Chuck Schumer, one of the so-called 'Gang of Eight' Republican and Democrat senators who are working on a comprehensive US immigration reform bill has said there is 'substantive agreement' on the principles of the bill. Speaking on 1st April 2013, Senator Schumer added 'It's not a done deal. We have to draft the legislation. We have to have the group of eight sign off on the specific language but we have substantive agreement on all major issues between the eight of us now'.

Senator Schumer, from New York, is one of four Democrats who have been working with four Republican colleagues to create a comprehensive reform bill that will reform the US immigration system which almost everyone in Washington accepts is 'broken'.

One of his Republican counterparts Senator Lindsay Graham from South Carolina echoed Senator Schumer speaking on CNN on 1st April. He said 'I think we've got a deal. We've got to write the legislation but 2013, I hope, will be the year that we pass bipartisan immigration reform. He added the warning 'We haven't signed off. There are a few details yet but conceptually we have agreement'.

Obama pledged to make immigration a priority

After his re-election last November, President Obama pledged to make immigration reform a priority in his second term. The President later told a Spanish language TV station that he was happy to leave the drafting of the comprehensive reform to Congress.

All sides in Washington believe that the reform bill must contain the following elements
  • 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.

One of the sticking points between the Senators recently was believed to be the establishment of the low-skilled migrant guest worker programme but on Friday 29th March 2013, a deal was reached. There will be a new 'W-visa' programme which will see between 20,000 and 200,000 work visas granted each year. Workers will work in agriculture and in construction among other lower-skilled occupations.

Agreement between unions and employers on 'w-visa'

Both unions and employers have agreed to the 'w-visa' scheme. Senator Schumer told ABC news 'The fact that business and labor have come to an agreement overcomes the last major substantive hurdle we've had in our negotiations.'

However supporters of immigration reform should not put the champagne on ice just yet.

The US press is reporting that the Gang of Eight's law act will introduce a waiting time of up to 13 years for illegal immigrants to gain US citizenship. There are also reports that there will be substantial fines to punish them for entering the US illegally in the first place. This, critics fear, could mean that many will be discouraged from 'coming out of the shadows' and applying for a green card putting them on the "path to citizenship".

There is also a dissenting voice in the Gang of Eight. Right wing Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has poured cold water on talk of a deal. He said that there had been 'substantial progress' but said that talk of an agreement were 'premature'.

Rubio calls for public debate

Mr Rubio said that he wanted the American people to have their say. He said that the bill would need to be 'properly submitted for the American people's consideration through the other 92 senators from 43 states that weren't part of this initial drafting process'. He said the process could not be rushed and called for a public debate.

Mr Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants to the US, is seen as a potential Republican presidential challenger in 2016. Commentators say that he is trying to position himself to please all sides. There is a substantial body of Republican voters who are opposed to any deal that would allow illegal immigrants to gain US citizenship and Mr Rubio may be trying to appeal to these voters in preparation for a presidential challenge. If he is, then it is still possible that the reform process will falter.

A White House spokesman said that the President is 'encouraged' by progress on the bill.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States. Please visit our USA page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/usa.html

Friday, April 12, 2013

Canadian immigration's 'Dragons' Den' visa goes live

Canada's new Start-up Visa Program (SUVP) was launched on April 1st 2013. The new visa allows foreign entrepreneurs to pitch their idea to a panel of Canadian investors. If the investors choose to make 'a significant investment', then the entrepreneur concerned will be granted a permanent resident visa by the Canadian immigration authorities. 2,750 visas will be available in the first year.

Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney says that he hopes that the new visa will boost the number of Canadian business start-ups. When he announced the SUVP in January, Mr Kenney said 'Recruiting dynamic entrepreneurs from around the world will help Canada remain competitive in the global economy.'

Applicants under the SUVP will need to pitch their business plan to a panel of potential investors, as in the globally popular TV show, the Dragons' Den. If they attract a minimum of CAN$25,000 in 'angel funding' from an approved Canadian venture capital or investment firm or a minimum of CAN$75,000 in 'venture funding' then, subject to immigration checks, they will get a permanent resident visa. If their business fails, they will retain their permanent resident status.

Kenney 'I will go to Silicon Valley to fly the flag'

Canada is known to be keen to compete with its southern neighbour, the US, as a destination for internet entrepreneurs. The global centre for IT start-ups is in Silicon Valley in San Francisco, north California but Mr Kenney hopes that this new visa will help it lure entrepreneurs from outside North America to set up in Canada instead. In January, Mr Kenney told reporters, 'When this thing (The SUVP) gets launched, I plan to go down to Silicon Valley with some of the industry associations here and fly the Canadian flag'. Mr Kenney is due to travel to San Francisco in May.

There is already a well-established tech industry in Canada with clusters of IT firms in Toronto, Waterloo, Montreal and Vancouver. Atlee Clark of C100, a Canadian not-for-profit organisation which aims to help IT entrepreneurs told American tech magazine VentureBeat, 'the government is betting that these founders will got to Canada, start a business, hire a whole bunch of people and stay for the long haul'.

Canada may be assisted in this goal by the fact that, in recent years it has become harder to get a US permanent resident visa (or green card) because demand outstrips supply. There are waiting lists of over ten years for some employment based green cards for applicants from India and China. Canada hopes that the SUVP will encourage those migrants to choose Canada instead, not least because there will be an offer of an almost instant permanent resident visa and a fast route to citizenship.

US immigration regime driving entrepreneurs to Canada - Wadhwa

Indian born US author Vivek Wadhwa published a book in 2012 with the title The Immigrant Exodus: Why America is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent. In the book he said that it has become harder for immigrants to get green cards in the US and this has damaged the competitiveness of US business. He warned that more welcoming immigration regimes in other countries such as Canada were driving entrepreneurial emigrants elsewhere.

Mr Wadhwa is one of many high profile US citizens to call on US politicians to reform the US immigration system to make it easier for skilled migrants to get visas. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and many other high profile businessmen have called for more green cards and more H-1B temporary work visas to be granted to talented foreign graduates. There is currently a cap of 65,000 on H-1Bs and the number of employment based green cards is also capped.

Skilled US immigration bills in the pipeline

There are currently several bills before Congress which would see the annual number of green cards granted to skilled foreigners before Congress.
Among them are
  • The Immigration Innovation Act which would see up to 300,000 H-1B visas granted annually and would increase the number of green cards granted to foreign graduates of US universities
  • The Startup 3.0 act would grant up to 75,000 green cards to foreign entrepreneurs who can attract $100,000 of start-up capital from US investors and another 50,000 green cards granted to elite graduates of US universities
  • The comprehensive immigration reform planned by a bipartisan group of senators known as The Gang of Eight would also see an increase in the number of green cards granted to graduates as well as a reduction in waiting times for green cards for applicants who want to work in the US.

President Obama has said that he hopes to see immigration reform passed by the senate by the end of summer 2013.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in Canada. Please visit our Canadian page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/canada.html

Thursday, April 11, 2013

UK immigration provides 'unacceptable service'

A committee of MPs has issued a report about the UK Border Agency (UKBA) which states that its already poor performance is getting worse. The report says that senior staff should not receive any performance-related bonuses until 'there is evidence that the backlog [of unresolved cases] is being substantially reduced and new backlogs are not emerging'.

The report, issued by the House of Commons' Home Affairs Committee, was split into two sections. In the first it dealt with the UKBA's disastrous handling of a historic backlog of 450,000 asylum cases. It says that the UKBA's handling of these cases has been appalling. It contains scathing criticism of the former chief executive of the UKBA, Lin Homer.

The second part of the report, The Work of the UK Border Agency (July-September 2012) deals with the UKBA's day-to-day management of the UK's immigration system including issuing of visas, locating and removing foreign-born offenders from the UK and making decisions on fresh asylum claims.

The report finds that the UKBA is failing in almost all areas. It complains 'We report quarterly on UKBA's performance and with each quarter a new backlog is revealed'. It finds that in the processing of applications, in fighting court cases and in finding foreign criminals the UKBA has backlogs and is missing targets.

Small improvements in some areas but still missing targets

The Report found that there have been small improvements in some fields but, overall, it continues to perform poorly. Even where there were improvements, the UKBA continued to miss its performance targets. For example,
  • The UKBA processed a higher proportion of Tier 2 skilled worker visa applications and of Tier 5 temporary worker visa applications within its service standard target times (four weeks) in July to September 2012 than it had managed in the previous quarter. However, although it had improved, processing 79% of Tier 2 applications within 4 weeks, this still fell 11% short of its target of 90%.
The UKBA did not meet its target for processing any of the four active tiers of the UK's five tier immigration system. Its performance was particularly poor with the processing of postal applications for Tier 1 high value migrant visas and Tier 4 student visas. The UKBA service standard says that it aims to process 90% of Tier 1 applications within four weeks.
  • Between July and September 2012, it processed just 18% of postal applications for Tier 1 visas within four weeks.
  • Only 14% of Tier 4 applications made by post were processed within four weeks.

Three quarters of visas processed late

The measure of the UKBA's dismal performance in the processing of visas is perhaps best illustrated by these figures. In total, the UKBA succeeded in meeting its performance target in 10,842 cases between July and September 2012, 27.5% of the total. It failed to do so in 28,558 cases or 72.5% of cases, nearly three quarters. The report says that this must improve.
The UKBA also failed to deliver an adequate service for its premium customers. The UKBA offers a premium service to applicants who pay a hefty fee. It says that it 'aims' to process these applications within 24 hours. However, it failed to do so in many cases. it processed
  • only 73% of Tier 1 applications,
  • 72% of Tier 2 applications,
  • 73% of Tier 4 applications and
  • 75% of Tier 5 applications within the twenty-four hour period.

The report says 'This is an unacceptable performance considering that the Agency is charging main applicants between £661 and £1,800 for premium applications. In Tier 2, where a premium application costs £306 more than the postal route, the Agency processed more postal applications on time than premium applications. This is unacceptable'.

UKBA failed even to attend 10% of its own court cases

Turning to its performance in the courts, the report states that the UKBA had failed to improve its performance to any notable degree during the latest period for which figures are available. This period was April to June 2012. The report states that the UKBA did not even turn up to some court cases.
  • It had representation at only 90% of appeals in which it was involved.
  • It was only able to submit case bundles to court in accordance with the court's timetable in 66% of its cases.
There was little if any change in the number of cases the UKBA won.
  • It won 64% of its appeals between April and June 2012.
  • It won 60% of deportation cases,
  • 52% of family visit visa cases,
  • 38% of entry clearance cases and
  • 46% of managed migration cases.
  • There was no significant change in the number of appeals made against UKBA immigration decisions.

UKBA ignores Home Affairs Committee recommendations on unannounced visits

The UKBA delivered a worse performance for Tier 2 sponsorship visits too. Only 8% of Tier 2 sponsor applicants received a visit pre-registration. There was a decrease in the number of unannounced follow-up visits to Tier 2 sponsors, Tier 4 sponsors and Tier 5 sponsors. The Home Affairs Committee expresses its concern at these falls. The report says 'We reiterate the recommendation made in our previous reports that the majority of post licence visits should be unannounced'. The MPs said that unannounced visits would increase the confidence of the public in the system.

The report says that the UKBA had not managed to provide the MPs with figures about how many non-compliance notifications it had followed up during the quarter. When Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 sponsors receive information about a change of circumstances or a breach of the terms of a visa by an individual they have sponsored, they are obliged to contact the UKBA and inform it of the breach. The UKBA received approximately 25,000 notifications but could not say how many it had followed up. This failure is 'unacceptable' according to the MPs.

The report also states that the Migration Refusals Pool grew during the quarter by 12% to 181,541 cases. The Migration Refusal Pool is an archive of immigration and asylum applications which have been refused by the UKBA. The UKBA has then done nothing about these cases because it doesn't know where the applicant is. The committee expressed its dismay that the Pool was growing after it had said that it had claimed to be trying to reduce it for seven years.

The committee also said that it was concerned that the UKBA has appointed Capita, a private sector company to try to find people whose cases are in the Pool. It is concerned that this may be in breach of data protection legislation. It also says that the Capita contract involves Capita phoning or emailing the targeted individuals and asking them to leave. The MPs say they do not see why the UKBA was not able to do this itself nor why it paid Capita as much as it did for this service.

UKBA even late in responding to requests for information from MPs

The UKBA also missed its target of replying to 95% of emails from MPs within 20 working days. It did so in only 83% of cases. It also failed to meet its target of responding to queries made by MPs via the MP's inquiry line within 10 days. It did so in only 78% of cases. The report says that the UKBA was six days late in responding to its own request for data to be used in the compilation of the report.

The UKBA may take a small crumb of comfort from the fact that the worst of its criticism is reserved for Lin Homer who left the agency in 2010 but this cannot disguise the fact that the MPs report has found fault with virtually every area of the UKBA's activities.

The MPs cautiously welcome the decision of the new chief executive, Rob Whiteman, to establish a Performance and Compliance Unit to try to improve the quality of data that the UKBA produces and provides to parliament and the public. They say, that 'if indeed it will actually ensure that the data provided are robust and reliable and really can be relied on' then it is to be welcomed. They state that they have considerably more confidence in the Performance and Compliance Unit because its activities will be overseen by the Chief Inspector of Immigration, John Vine. The MPs conclude 'we expect this to mark the beginning of a move towards greater transparency on behalf of the Agency; transparency that is evidenced by accurate and clear information provided to Parliament in a timely manner.'

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/uk.html

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Australian immigration cuts number of visitor and business visa types

As of 23rd March, the Australian government has reduced the number of visitor visa subclasses from nine to five. Australian immigration minister Brendan O'Connor said it would simplify the system and eliminate red tape.

The changes have been introduced as part of Australia's Visitor Visa Simplification and Deregulation Project. In a statement on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) website, Mr O'Connor says that this is a simplification only and that there will be 'no change to current visa eligibility for tourism, business visitor activities, sponsored family visits and medical treatment and care has been taken to ensure there is no impact on program integrity settings'.

There is one new visa announced; the Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa (subclass 400) which will allow people to stay in Australia for six weeks for 'short-term, highly specialised, non-ongoing work. It seems that the new visa might be of particular use for performers and other creative people travelling on tour to Australia.

Nine visas axed

The following visas have been abolished. DIAC will not be accepting any further applications after 23rd March.
  • Tourist visa (subclass 676)
  • Sponsored family visitor visa (679)
  • Business (short stay) visa (456)
  • Sponsored business visitor (short stay) visa (459)
  • Medical treatment (short stay) visa (675)
  • Medical treatment (long stay) visa (685)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (visitor) 976)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (business – short validity) (977)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (business – short validity) (956)

These visas have been replaced with the following

Temporary work (short stay activity) visa (subclass 400)

Cost AUS$145
This visa allows you to enter Australia to do
  • 'short-term, highly specialised, non-ongoing work'
  • Participate in an event or events on a non-ongoing bases at the invitation of an Australian organisation'
  • You can only stay in Australia for 6 weeks
  • You must be outside Australia when you apply

Visitor visa (subclass 600)

Cost AUS$115
This visa is broken into four streams
  • The tourist stream

This stream is for 'genuine visitors' who may come for tourism, recreation or to visit family and friends. You can stay for no more than 12 months in an 18 month period and will need to have health insurance and must leave Australia and apply from outside the country when your visa expires.
  • Business visitor stream

This stream is for businesspeople with 'a good reason for travelling to Australia' such as business research, conferences, as long as you are not paid. You do not need a sponsor but must apply from outside Australia.
  • Sponsored family stream

This is for 'genuine visitors' who are intending to visit their family. You must be sponsored
  • Approved Destination Status stream

This is for Chinese citizens travelling in a tour group and can be booked through a reputable tour company.

Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601)

Cost AUS$20
This visa lets businesspeople and visitors enter Australia as many times as they want in 12 months. You
  • Can stay in Australia for three months on each visit.
  • Must apply from outside Australia.
The visa is linked electronically to passports so that it can be seen by immigration staff and airline staff at airports. You can carry out business activities such as research and attending seminars but must not be paid.

Medical Treatment visa (subclass 602)

Cost: in Australia $245 outside $0
This visa allows you to
  • Stay in Australia for medical treatment
  • Study for up to three months (unless you are under 18)
  • Visit Australia as many times as you need for your treatment while your visa is valid

eVisitor (subclass 651)

Cost Nil
You must
  • hold a passport from an eligible country and
  • be outside Australia to apply. eVisitor lets you visit Australia for up to 12 months.

You can stay for three months on each visit. The eVisitor electronic visa links automatically to your passport.
  • All EU countries are eligible countries as are
  • European Economic Area states including Norway, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and Iceland.
  • British Nationals Overseas, British Dependent Territories Citizens and British Subject passport holders are not eligible for an eVisitor.
  • You may be barred if you have active tuberculosis.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in Australia. Please visit our Australian page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/australia.html

Monday, April 8, 2013

Canadian immigration has cut permanent residence backlog by 40% since 2008

The Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney gave a somewhat self-congratulatory presentation at Mississauga, Ontario on March 26th 2013 in which he laid out the actions that his department had taken since 2008 to reduce the backlog of cases waiting for decisions on Canadian permanent residency applications. Mr Kenney's Conservative Party came to power in Canada in 2008.

Mr Kenney also released a statement through the CIC website in which he said 'Backlogs and delays prevent Canada from attracting the best and brightest from around the world and ensuring that our immigration system is contributing to economic growth and long-term prosperity'.

Mr Kenney said that the pressures on the Canadian immigration system were such that drastic action was required. He said that simply increasing the number of applications being processed through the immigration system by Canada would not have been enough to reduce the backlog. The pressure on the system was such that backlogs would still have continued to grow and new applicants would have had to wait for longer and longer periods of time before having their applications dealt with.

CIC figures show that the total number of cases in the backlog today stands at 616,269, down from about 1,000,000 when Mr Kenney launched his 'action plan for faster immigration'. This includes all immigrants both family class and economic class. Mr Kenney said that this reduction is down to the actions that he and CIC have taken. If no actions had been taken to cut the backlog, and processing of Canadian visa applications had continued as before, the backlog would currently stand at over 1,700,000 and would reach nearly 2,250,000 by 2015.

Controversy over termination of FSWP applications

The steps that Mr Kenney has taken to achieve this reduction have not been uncontroversial. Perhaps the most controversial step he took was in June 2012 when he terminated all applications for permanent resident status made under Canada's main skilled work programme, the Federal Skilled Worker Program that had been made before March 2008.

Mr Kenney then suspended the FSWP to new applicants and said that he would reform it before reopening the FSWP in May 2013. He said that this would allow a further reduction of the backlog and allow the remodelling of the FSWP to make it more responsive to the needs of Canadian business. He has succeeded in cutting the FSWP backlog by about 500,000. It was 624,516 before July 2012. It now stands at 91,403. As already mentioned the total backlog for all types of Canadian immigration applications is 616,269.

CIC forecasts predict that the backlog will be only 10,221 by 2015 allowing Canada to remodel the FSWP to make it more like the Australian government's 'expression of interest' system and also enabling Canadian immigration to reduce the waiting time for CIC decisions on applications to six months.

Case awaiting judge's decision

However, Mr Kenney's decision has been challenged in the courts by some of those affected on the grounds that it was unconstitutional so it is possible that this is not the last we will hear of the applicants whose applications were terminated. The case is currently awaiting a decision from the judge.

Whichever side wins the case, it is likely that the losing side will appeal. Mr Kenney says that it was not practical to leave the backlog in place. If he had not taken the action he did, he says, the FSWP backlog would have grown to over 1,500,000 by 2015 which would have meant a 15-year waiting list for new applicants.

Mr Kenney said that similarly drastic steps were necessary in the parents and grandparents backlog. By 2011, there was a waiting list of 167,000 people and a processing time of 8 years. If he had he not acted in 2011, Mr Kenney says that by 2015 typical processing time for these applications would be 15 years and there would have been 250,000 in the backlog. His current plan will see the waiting list reduced to about 50,000 by 2015 with a processing time of about two years.

Business visas also a problem

Business class visas were, if anything, even more of a problem. Based on CIC forecasts, if nothing is done, by 2015, the case backlog would have reached about 250,000 and there would have been a waiting time for new applicants of about 20 years. That is why Mr Kenney said he introduce a moratorium on new applications under the Immigrant Investor Program in 2012. CIC figures predict that the waiting list will be reduced to 75,000 by 2015 with a 6 year waiting time for new applicants.
Mr Kenney is also facing legal challenges from some applicants under the immigrant investor program.

Mr Kenney's statement read 'We still have work to do but by taking clear and decisive action to deal with backlogs, we will attain our goal of having a fast and a flexible immigration system. Newcomers will arrive with skills and talents that are in short supply in Canada and contribute to our economy. The immigration system must work for Canada which is why we will continue to reduce backlogs and speed up the system so that people spend less time waiting and more time participating fully in the Canadian economy'.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in Canada. Please visit our Canadian page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/canada.html

Friday, April 5, 2013

UK immigration gives new guidance for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa applicants

The UK Border Agency has announced that it will be writing to all those who applied for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas before 31st January 2013 and who have yet to have their applications decided.

The UKBA released a statement on Wednesday 20th March in which it said that it was likely that it would request further information from applicants. In particular, it said it might ask applicants for

  • Additional information such as business plans, market research reports and so forth to show that the applicant was a genuine entrepreneur
  • Proof that they still have access to the funds that they used in support of their applications. If the funds have been moved from their accounts into a business account, then the UKBA will want to see the business's accounts or other proof of that transaction.
The UKBA says that applicants will have 28 days to provide the information requested and warns that it may make checks on information provided to prove that it is correct.

The UKBA has also said that it will no longer be able to allow applicants for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas to pay for a premium 'same day' service. This is because the checks that need to be made are so extensive that the UKBA will have no chance of completing them in a same day time frame.

Emergency change to rules

On 30th January 2013, UK immigration minister Mark Harper issued a statement in the House of Commons which stated that the rules for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas would change from 31st January onwards because of fears that the entrepreneur visa was being abused. Mr Harper announced that there would be, from then on, much greater checks on whether applicants had continuing access to the funds required to get the visa and whether they were genuine entrepreneurs with genuine business plans.

Applicants for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas need to have funds of £200,000 to invest in a UK business. They are also allowed to apply if they have £50,000 from

  • a venture capital company recognised by the Financial Services Authority
  • a seed funding company recognised by the UK Trade and Investment website
  • a grant from one or more of the devolved or national governments of the UK

The UKBA says that it will continue to keep applicants informed about changes in the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) rules.

The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa, which is another immigration option for student graduates from outside the European Economic Area who wish to work in the UK, was not mentioned in the guidance. Last week, UK immigration minister Mark Harper confirmed that on 6th April 2013 the annual cap on the number of Graduate Entrepreneur visas will be doubled to 2,000.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/uk.html

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

US immigration announces new I-9 employment eligibility form

On March 8th 2013, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new version of the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form which is used by the USCIS for 'verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States'. The form is filled in by employee and employer when an employee begins work and each declares that the employee has shown the employer his visa allowing him to work in the US. US employers are advised to use the new form immediately though new applications on the old forms will be accepted until May 7th 2013.

The new form is designed to be easier to understand and read. The major changes are
  • The new form has the expiry date 03/31/2016 in the top right hand corner
  • The form now covers two pages rather than one. The first page is to be filled in by the employee. The second is completed by the employer
  • There are now six pages of instructions for those filling in the form
  • There are new fields on page 1 to take the employees phone number, email address and foreign passport number
  • On page 2 there is increased space for the employer to log documentation supplied by the employee to prove his eligibility

I-9 must be completed for every employee in the US

The I-9 form must be completed whenever a US employer employs anyone in the US. The purpose of the form is to verify the identity of the employee and to confirm his (her) right to work in the US. The employer will complete the form with the assistance of the new employee. The employee must sign the form declaring that he is entitled to work and also provide the employer with the relevant documents. The employer must check the documentation and record that it has done so on the form.

Once the form is completed, the employer is required to store it safely. There is no requirement that the form be sent to USCIS or any other US government agency. The form must be kept for three years or for one year after the employment ends, whichever is later.

There are no changes to the requirement that employees should complete their section of the form either before they start work or on their first day. Employers must fill in page 2 within three days of the employee starting work.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States. Please visit our USA page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/usa.html

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cameron announces tough reforms to UK immigration

David Cameron, the UK's Prime Minister, has made a speech on immigration in which he said that he intended to 'roll out the red carpet' for 'the right migrants' but at the same time also make immigrants pay to use the National Health Service and to bar them from claiming social housing or social security benefits until they have worked in the UK for two years.

Mr Cameron gave his speech just days after the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke on immigration. The leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband made a speech on immigration early in March. It seems that all three main parties in the UK now see immigration as a major political issue. While all are keen to stress that the UK has benefited from immigration, they are also competing to seem tough on abuse of the system.

Mr Cameron began by saying that 'our migrant communities are a fundamental part of who we are. And Britain is a far richer and stronger society because of them' He said that many scientists, doctors, artists, sportspeople and musicians came to the UK as migrants. But he said that migration had to be 'properly controlled' and said that it had not been under the last Labour government.

Immigrants must come 'for the right reasons' – Cameron

He said that from now on he wanted to ensure that 'those who come here from the EU – or further afield – do so for the right reasons'. In 2014 Romanians and Bulgarians will be free to come to work in the UK after transitional controls imposed in 2007 expire.

He said that his government had already controlled immigration without damaging the economy. He said that the Coalition he heads had introduced a cap on the number of Tier 2 (General) visas that could be issued each year without harming business and had cracked down on bogus colleges without damaging the prospects of British universities. Non-EEA student numbers at UK universities are up, he said.

Mr Cameron said that 'the right immigration is not just good for Britain – it's essential' and said that the UK would 'roll out the red carpet to those whose hard work and investment will create new British jobs'. But he said that it was also necessary to train UK workers so that there were fewer unemployed Britons languishing on the dole.
Under the last Labour government, he said, immigration had been out-of-control. Labour's points-based immigration system 'sounded great in principle' but in reality anyone who met 'a range of low minimum thresholds' was 'entitled to come almost on a self-selection basis to work and study and in many cases bring dependants'.
  • Tier 1 visas had been intended to 'bring in the best of the best' but in reality 'about a third of those sampled only found low skilled roles, working as shop assistants, in takeaways and as security guards'.
  • Tier 2 was being used to allow immigrants to come to the UK to do 'low-level work' which could have been done by people on welfare.
  • Tier 4 was allowing migrants who could not speak English to come to the UK 'to study at low-level or even bogus colleges'.

Coalition has reformed immigration system

Consequently, the Coalition set about reforming the system when it came to power in 2010, Mr Cameron said. It had

  • Introduced a cap on Tier 2 (General) visas
  • Clamped down on bogus colleges.
  • Introduced tougher tests for migrants including English language tests
  • Increased the number of face-to-face interviews for visa applicants
  • Broken the link between work and settlement so only those who contribute the most economically will be able to stay in the long term
  • Cut the number of occupations on the Shortage Occupation List; it is easier for immigrants offered a job on the list to obtain a Tier 2 visa

Mr Cameron said that his government intends to introduce further controls. He said government departments would cooperate to ensure that 'our immigration policy is factored into our benefits system, our health system and our housing system'.

Further changes will be introduced

He said that the message currently being sent to immigrants by the UK benefits system is 'If you can't find a job or drop out of work early, the British taxpayer owes you a living…no matter how little you have contributed to social security since you arrived'. This would change he said.

  • Immigrants from the EEA would only get Jobseekers Allowance if they were looking for work and had 'a genuine chance' of finding employment'. They would only be able to claim benefits for six months.
  • When immigrants from within the EEA use the National Health Service, the government will take steps to recoup the cost of their care from their government or from the immigrant.
  • Non- EEA immigrants may have to take out health insurance or pay for their treatment.
  • The government would 'radically toughen up the way we deal with illegal migrants working in this country'. Illegal immigrants will now find it harder to get driving licences. Private landlords will be required to check the immigration status of potential tenants before letting them a property.
  • penalties for firms which employ illegal workers will be increased
  • It will make it harder for illegal immigrants to get bank accounts and credit cards
  • It will introduce the biometric residence permit.
  • It will remove legal aid entitlement for immigration appeals and change the rules so that people will appeal after they have been deported.
This, Mr Cameron said, would ensure that those coming to Britain were 'coming for the right reasons' and ensure that those who came to the UK did so because they wanted to work.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/uk.html