Friday, August 30, 2013

Immigration responsible for much of UK population growth

Newly released figures show that the UK's population rose by 419,900 in the year to June 2012. Of this rise, about 40% (165,000) was caused by immigration and the rest by a baby boom in the UK. But analysis of the figures shows that many of the babies in that baby boom were born to first generation mothers and so immigration is responsible for a considerable proportion of this rise too.

There were 813,200 births over the year. More than 25% of these babies had mothers born outside the UK.

The UK's population rose by more than any other country in Europe over the year to June 2012. Its nearest rival was France where the population rose by 319,000.

Net immigration 'about average'

The Office for National Statistics says that the level of net immigration was 'about average' for the last decade. The net immigration figure is calculated by taking the number of people who came to the UK intending to settle over a given period and subtracting the number of UK residents who leave the country permanently over the same period.

In the year to June 2012, 517,800 immigrants settled in the UK while 351,100 people left the country. Immigration has caused a population bulge among 23-33 year olds.

Most of the population growth has occurred in London and the south east. The population of London grew by over 100,000 over the year despite the fact that 50,000 people left the capital and went to live in satellite towns around the South-East.

London's population rises by 69,000 due to immigration

The figures show that London's population grew by 69,000 due to net immigration over the year in question.

There are other reasons behind the population surge. More men are surviving into their mid and late 70s. 26% more men survived past their 75th birthday than did so in 2002. There are also fewer still births.

Many economists see immigration as necessary for the UK. The UK's independent Office for Budget Responsibility issued a report last month in which it said that the UK needed 7m more immigrants within the next 50 years to replace a disappearing workforce and to provide the tax income to pay for the UK's ageing population.

Marks & Spencer, Cobra Beer, EasyJet, Tesco

Immigration has contributed to significant economic growth in the UK and has meant that much needed workers are available in a wide range of industries including specialist IT staff for the technology sector, doctors, nurses and fruit pickers on farms.

No country that wishes to be prosperous and successful can afford to cut itself off from talented international workers. A considerable part of the UK's success over recent years can be attributed to its relaxed immigration regime.

If it hadn't been for immigration, British icons such as Marks and Spencer, Easyjet, Tesco, Cobra Beer and Selfridges, wouldn't exist. Britain has always been connected to the global economy.

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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

UK Home Secretary criticised for censoring immigration report

Opposition politicians and immigration activists criticised the UK's Home Secretary on 8th August 2013 after she used her powers to redact or censor a report by the country's Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine.

The shadow immigration minister, Chris Bryant, asked 'what possible reason can there be for redacting elements of a report by a highly-respected independent inspector?' and concluded 'this is a cover-up to hide her own failings.

The leader of the anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP, Nigel Farage, said 'It is extremely concerning that a report into the operations of our border security is being censored by the Home Office. We have to ask them, what on earth are they hiding?'

Preventing illegal immigration

The report; Inspection of Juxtaposed Controls, November 2012 – March 2013, deals with the way in which UK immigration officers cooperate with their French and Belgian counterparts. In particular, it concerns the way in which they cooperate to prevent people without permission to enter the UK from entering the country illegally.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, caused 15 redactions to be made to the Chief Inspector's report. She is entitled to make such redactions under the UK Borders Act 2007 Section 50 providing that they are made on the grounds of national security.

Speaking to the BBC on the morning of 8th August, immigration minister Mark Harper said that the Home Secretary was within her rights to have the document redacted because the cuts were made on national security grounds. He denied that the redactions had been made to save the Home Secretary embarrassment.

Inspector has at times been 'very critical' of UK immigration

He said 'If you look at the history of the reports that the chief inspector has produced, I think it would be fair to say that a number of them have previously been very critical for example of the UK Border Agency, in some cases very critical. In those cases, the Home Secretary has not used her powers to redact any of those reports'.

But, writing in UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph, David Barrett and Rosa Silverman point out that the current report may be more personally embarrassing for the Home Secretary than previous reports because some of the Chief Inspector's criticisms concern the operation of the UK Border Force, a body that was created by Mrs May in 2012. It has previously always been possible for Mrs May to blame the failures of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) on the previous Labour administration which created the agency in 2008.

Mrs May abolished the UKBA in April this year. She said that it was 'not good enough' and said that it had developed a secretive culture.

Heavy redaction of the report

The chief Inspector made several recommendations in his report, one of which was completely redacted. Among his other findings, Mr Vine suggests that UK Border Force officers should fingerprint those who are apprehended trying to enter the UK illegally so that they can later be identified if they try again under a different identity. He also made a suggestion about the closure of the 'Lille loophole'. This refers to fears that immigrants can avoid border security and enter the UK illegally by travelling from Lille to the UK. The Home Secretary had this section completely redacted from the report.

Speaking on the BBC, Mr Harper said that the Home Office was reviewing its procedures but said that taking fingerprints is a time consuming procedure. He told The Today Programme 'It consumes a large amount of time for our officers to do that when they could be using that time to carry out other tasks to secure the border and it's a balance and the decision that was taken in 2010 was to work very closely with our French colleagues [and] for them to process people trying to the United Kingdom illegally'.

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Changes to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Canada has introduced changes to the country's Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The changes came into force on 31st July 2013. The main change is the introduction of a $275 processing fee for each application for a 'Labour Market Opinion' (LMO) made by a Canadian employer.

If a Canadian employer wishes to employ a foreign worker, it must first obtain a 'positive LMO' which will show that there are no Canadians available who could do the job and that a foreign worker is therefore required to do it.

The Canadian government announced that it intended to make changes to the TFWP in April 2013 after a TV program containing allegations that the TFWP was being abused was broadcast.

Canadian staff replaced by lower paid Indians

The allegations were made on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC) flagship Go Public investigative journalism programme. The programme alleged that Canada's national bank, the Royal Bank of Canada, and Indian outsourcing company iGate were using the TFWP to replace permanent Canadian workers with temporary workers from India. The programme alleged that over 30 RBC workers had been made redundant and had had to train their replacements; lower paid, unskilled staff from India who had come to Canada with temporary work visas.

iGate and RBC insisted that there had been no abuse of the system.

Ironically, there were later suggestions that the iGate workers in question were not actually in Canada under the TFWP but that they had come under the Intra Company Transfer Program. If so, the changes made will not affect the practice of Canadian companies outsourcing office functions to Indian outsourcing companies and a similar situation could arise at another office despite these changes.

Nonetheless, the then immigration and employment ministers, Jason Kenney and Diane Finley, said that they would announce reforms to the TFWP to ensure that it was not abused in future.

Fee introduced to cover cost of processing LMOs

There was a cabinet reshuffle in mid-July and Mr Kenney was moved from his position as immigration minister. He is now the new employment minister. In his new position, he gave a press conference on Wednesday 7th August explaining the changes which were introduced on 31st July. He said that the new processing fee would ensure that 'taxpayers no longer pay the cost of processing employer applications for temporary foreign workers'.

Reacting to Mr Kenney's press conference, the Canadian opposition New Democratic Party complained that the reforms to the system do little to ensure that employers are prevented from abusing the system. The other major opposition party, the Liberals, complained that the reform was a 'tax grab' which would hit small businesses.

The main changes announced by Mr Kenney are

  • A processing fee of $275 for each temporary foreign worker position an employer requests
  • Employers may not now stipulate the speaking of any language other than Canada's languages, English and French, as a requirement for a worker filling a temporary position. This requirement was put in place after allegations made by a Canadian union that a Chinese mining company required miners at a mine in British Columbia to speak Cantonese.
  • Employers will be required to make 'greater efforts' to hire Canadian workers before applying for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). These will include advertising the job for a minimum of four weeks
  • Employers will be required to continue to seek Canadian employees while the LMO is being processed
  • Additional questions have been placed on the LMO form to require the Canadian employer to state that it is not using TFWP workers to replace Canadian staff.

Further changes planned

Mr Kenney said that the government was continuing to work on other changes proposed in April and was likely to introduce them shortly. Among these are;

  • Making it easier for the government to revoke or suspend TFWP work permits once they have been issued
  • Insisting that employers have plans in place to employ Canadians rather than foreign workers in future

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is an increasingly popular route for foreign workers to gain entry to Canada. In order to qualify a foreign worker must receive an offer of employment from a Canadian employer.

The Canadian employer must first advertise the job in Canada and gain a positive LMO from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Canada's department of employment. This will state that the hiring of a foreign worker for this particular role will be beneficial to the Canadian job market, or at least, will not damage it.

Work permit application follows LMO

The employer will then offer the job to the foreign worker and send him a copy of the positive LMO. Once he has his job offer and LMO, the foreign worker may apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), Canada's immigration department, for a work permit and a visa.

There has been a trend towards the use of temporary workers in Canada in recent years. Government figures showed that there were over 300,000 temporary foreign workers in Canada in 2012. This was three times as many as in 2002.

Temporary Foreign Worker visas generally last for one, two or four years. If a worker is in Canada working in a skilled or management role, he or she may be able to apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class immigration program after working in Canada for one year.

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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Advisor warns UK government against 'spectacle' immigration policy

Dr Martin Ruhs, an advisor to the UK government on immigration, has warned the government against engaging in policies which 'have an element of spectacle'. He warned that these policies are 'not necessarily the most effective'.

Dr Ruhs is an economist based at Oxford University. He sits on the independent Migration Advisory Committee which advises the Home Office on immigration matters.

Speaking to UK Sunday newspaper The Observer, Dr Ruhs said 'In liberal democracies generally we don't want to do the kinds of things that are commonplace in Singapore or maybe the Middle East.

You have to draw the line somewhere. Different people will draw the line in different places over what is acceptable.

Government must act on 'irregular immigration'

'Obviously the government has to do something about irregular immigration... Some policies have an element of a spectacle - you want to send a signal, and those policies aren't necessarily the most effective.'

Dr Ruhs was speaking after two eye-catching and controversial Home Office initiatives had made headlines. On 22nd July 2013, the Home Office launched a pilot advertising campaign in six London boroughs. The campaign was nominally aimed at illegal immigrants and advised them to 'go home or face arrest'.

Critics of the campaign, which ran for a week in the six boroughs, said that it was unlikely to persuade illegal migrants to go home, even if their English was good enough to understand the wording on a billboard being driven by at moderate speed on the back of a lorry.

Many cynics alleged that the campaign was actually a party political ruse designed by the Conservative Party's Machiavellian campaign strategist Lynton Crosby and aimed at persuading wavering supporters of the Conservative Party (which is governing in coalition with the Liberal Democrat Party) that the government was taking action about illegal immigration so they should continue to vote Conservative rather than defect to the UK Independence Party.

No figures on number of illegal immigrants who have responded

The government has failed to release any figures as to how many people have handed themselves in as a result of the campaign though it insists that if one person were to do so it would justify the expense of the campaign.

The advertising campaign ran until 29th July. On 1st August 2013, the Home Office launched a series of operations at London underground stations aimed at apprehending illegal immigrants. An eye-witness at one operation at Kensal Green tube station in North West London said that it seemed that police and immigration officers were 'stopping and questioning every non-white person'.

The immigration minister denied allegations that the operations employed 'racial profiling' and said 'we are not carrying out random checks on people in the street and asking people to show their papers. That's absolutely not what we are doing. We wouldn't have the lawful authority to do that'. The Home Office reported that 139 suspected illegal immigrants had been arrested. It said that it did not have figures as to how many off these were black or Asian.

Operations at tube stations were based on intelligence

He further claimed that 'the operations carried out at two tube stations were based on specific intelligence about concerns that we had about those particular locations'.

However the Labour MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy, told journalists that at the operation at Walthamstow tube station 'I've been told they were only stopping people who looked Asian or African and not anyone who was white. This kind of fishing expedition in public place is entirely unacceptable'

The UK's discrimination watchdog the Equality and Human Rights Commission has since written to the Home Office informing ministers that it intends to investigate both the mobile advertising campaign and the raids at London stations.

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

Monday, August 26, 2013

Inspector says UK immigration is making 'good progress' on visas

The UK's independent chief inspector of immigration, John Vine, has issued a report in which he congratulates the UK's immigration service for having made improvements to the service it offers to applicants for UK visas such as Tier 2 skilled worker visas, Tier 4 student visas and Tier 1 'high value migrant' visas.

Mr Vine's report contains the findings of a series of announced visits he and his team made to Home Office faciliites in Croydon, Manchester and Loughborough in Leicestershire. These 'spot checks' were designed to find out what progress immigration staff had made in implementing recommendations that Mr Vine had made on previous visits to the facilities in 2010 and 2012.

The report deals with Mr Vine's visits to the Public Enquiry Office at Croydon, where visa applications were processed, the 'Command and Control Unit' in Manchester and the East Midlands Reporting Centre in Loughborough. Over all, Mr Vine, whose reports are often extremely critical of UK immigration, was impressed with the progress made at all three offices although he did raise some concerns.

Great improvements at Croydon Public Enquiry Office

Mr Vine and his team found that there had been great improvements at the Croydon Public Enquiry Office (PEO). PEOs deal with premium, 'same day' applications for UK visas and applications for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. They also deal with postal applications which should be dealt with within four weeks. Mr Vine found that there had been 'slow progress' made in implementing his recommendations but that the speed of reform had increased in 2012.

In 2010, Mr Vine found that the UK Border Agency (UKBA), which then ran the UK's immigration service, promised a 'same day' service for applicants on its website but was, instead dealing with applications within 24 hours, which meant that it often provided a 'next day' service. He recommended that it should try to make sure that it offered a genuine same day service.

Mr Vine said that he was 'pleased to note that the statistics for January 2013 showed that 91.5% of customers were now receiving a same day decision'. He said that customer satisfaction surveys show that customer satisfaction levels with the service received are rising.

More could be done to communicate with customers

Mr Vine said that he felt that more could still be done to communicate to customers what the PEO's targets were, whether they were being met and what this was likely to mean for customers. He said that the existing communications were often 'cluttered and confusing'.

He also recommended in 2010 that the UKBA should improve the quality of information available on its website. He found that the progress made in this area had been less impressive.

Mr Vine's report also said that he expected the planned move of the PEO to a new purpose built office within the Home Office building, Lunar House in Croydon, in April 2013 would probably improve the environment for applicants who attend the office and for the staff that work there. Mr Vine's 2010 report found that the PEO was uncomfortable and that IT systems were inadequate for the needs of the immigration staff.

A future report from Mr Vine will no doubt lay out whether the office move has had the desired effect on performance.

Staff at Command and Control Unit now aware of purpose of unit

Mr Vine's report also found improvements in the Command and Control Unit and at the East Midlands Reporting Centre. The report states that staff at the Command and Control Unit 'felt that they were more aware of the purpose of the unit, as well as their own role in delivering that purpose' than they had been in 2010. He says that this is 'extremely positive'

Mr Vine also says that performance at the East Midlands Reporting Office (EMRO) had improved. The EMRO is a centre where asylum seekers waiting for a decision on their application and other immigrants are required to report, often weekly. Mr Vine's report finds that there are improved translation facilities, improved systems for registering complaints and a better system for assessing people's eligibility for travel expenses, as his 2010 report recommended.

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

Friday, August 23, 2013

Legal US immigrants barred from work by E-Verify

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants to the US who have valid work visas could be prevented from taking up employment due to a faulty government database. The E-Verify system is a web-based database which is used by employers to check potential employees' immigration status.

Although they are not meant to, many employers use it as a screening system to weed out employees before offering them a job. This may mean that those who are wrongly listed as being ineligible for work never discover that their data is incorrect.

The E-Verify database was established in 2007. It is an internet based database which contains information about the immigration status of US residents and can tell employers whether an employee is entitled to work. It is currently used by only about 10% of US employers, often on a voluntary basis. The system is designed to be used by employers after they have offered an employee a job.

Numerous errors in the database

However, a report by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has found that there are numerous errors on the database. The American Civil Liberties Union estimates that, if the system were used nationally by all employers, up to 200,000 people annually could be wrongly refused jobs.

There is a possibility that it will become a legal requirement for all employers to use E-Verify. A comprehensive immigration reform bill that was passed by the Senate in June would require all employers to check prospective employees against E-Verify within five years. This requirement has been placed in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and immigration Modernization Act 2013.

The bill would reform the US immigration system. It would allow many illegal immigrants to join a 'pathway to citizenship' and increase the number of H-1B temporary work visas granted annually.

Reform bill would increase use of E-Verify

In order to placate right-wing Republicans the bill also contains measures to increase border security and to prevent illegal working. Requiring all employers to check new employees against E-Verify would prevent those in the country illegally from working, the bill's drafters hope.

At present, however, the speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, a Republican, is refusing to allow a vote on the bill in the House. Unless the bill is passed with 60% support by the House, it will not become law. Lobbyists are seeking to increase pressure on Boehner and House Republicans to vote in favour but there will not now be a vote until October at the earliest because Congress has closed for the summer vacation.

Even if the bill does not become law, however, it is almost certain that E-Verify will be used more and more in the coming years. The Department of Homeland Security says that over 400,000 US employers now use the system and 16 states now require the use of E-Verify for some or all employers.

225,000 people could be wrongly denied work

But USCIS has found that, of the 191,000 people who were refused work after E-Verify checks, as many as 15,000, about 8%, were actually entitled to work. If all employers were to check all employees, then as many as 225,000 people could be wrongly refused permission to work every year.

This problem will be made worse by the fact that many US employers are using the USCIS database incorrectly. According to the rules, employers should offer a job to a prospective employee and then carry out an E-Verify search.

However, USCIS has found that many US employers are using E-Verify to pre-screen potential employees. The employer will check a shortlist of candidates against E-Verify and remove any who are listed as ineligible from that list.

Those listed as ineligible for work may never find out

Chris Calabrese of the ACLU told UK newspaper The Guardian that this will mean that those who are listed as ineligible for work on E-Verify may never even discover that this is the case as they will have no opportunity to protest to their potential employer that they are actually legally entitled to work.

Mr Calabrese adds that the system may result in discrimination because the percentage of people whose information is listed incorrectly is far higher among non-citizens than among citizens. Among those with permanent resident visas (green cards) 4.2% of entries are inaccurate. Over all, only 0.3% of E-Verify entries are wrong.

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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Canada's immigration minister moves to employment

Jason Kenney, for five years Canada's minister for immigration and multiculturalism, has moved on. He is now the minister for employment and social development after Prime Minister Stephen Harper reshuffled his cabinet on 15th July 2013. Mr Kenney will retain control of the multiculturalism brief.

Mr Kenney was a divisive figure. He became a popular figure with first generation Canadians and was dubbed 'the minister for curry in a hurry' by some commentators because he so frequently attended functions among minority ethnic communities.

But he was extremely unpopular with some left-wing commentators who considered him to have changed Canada's immigration system for the worse.

Kenney accused of 'anti-Muslim bigotry'

After news of the reshuffle broke, Heather Mallick of the Toronto Star accused him of 'cutting back madly on immigration'. Haroon Siddiqi, also writing in the Toronto Star, accused him of making 'immigration into a tool of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry' and Bernie Farber of the Globe and Mail wrote that Kenney had turned Canada from being a 'welcoming place for the stateless' into 'a place of refusal'.

But writing in The National Post, columnist Chris Selley wrote that, while Mr Kenney was certainly abrasive and could cause offence, claims that he was anti-Arab, anti-Muslim or against immigration were false. She said;

  • Mr Kenney did not cut immigration levels. She points out that, in 2012, Canada issued 257,515 new permanent resident visas. This equates to about 738 per 100,000 of the existing population; the same rate as for the last 25 years
  • Mr Kenney did not discriminate against Arabs or Muslims. Selley points out that 7.4% of new permanent residents in 2005, when the previous Liberal government was last in power, were Arabic speaking. In 2011, when Mr Kenney was minister, 9.2% of new permanent residents were Arabic speakers. More Arabic speakers have come to Canada under Mr Harper's Conservatives than came under the previous Liberal government
  • Mr Kenney has not cut Canada's humanitarian immigration program although he has made it slightly harder for people who claim asylum having lived in an intermediate, safe country to gain Canadian permanent residence.

Federal Skilled Worker Program

From our perspective, Mr Kenney's most notable actions were connected to the reform of Canada's skilled immigration programs.

Perhaps the most controversial change was his decision in 2012, to terminate some 400,000 applications made under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). This program was and remains Canada's main skilled immigration program but it had become overloaded with applications. By 2012, over 600,000 people were waiting for their applications to be processed and many applicants had been waiting for eight years.

Mr Kenney took the decision to terminate all applications made before March 2008 and to return the application fees. This led to a legal challenge in the Canadian Federal Court. Mr Kenney won the initial case though the possibility of an appeal remains.

Many people had waited patiently in line for years, dreaming of a new life in Canada only to have their hopes dashed by a stroke of Mr Kenney's pen.

FSWP backlog to be cleared by 2014

Having said that, there can be no doubt that, since the action was taken, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has since made great progress in dealing with the remaining backlog and Mr Kenney has said that he expects it to be cleared completely by 2014.

Mr Kenney also introduced the Canadian Experience Class which allows people with one year's work experience in a skilled position in Canada to apply for a Canadian permanent resident visa. About 10,000 CEC visas are issued each year.

Mr Kenney is replaced at CIC by Chris Alexander, a former Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan.

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Infosys sued in US court over 'abuse' of H-1B and B-1 visas

US IT workers are suing Indian software giant Infosys over alleged abuse of two US visas; the H-1B 'specialty occupation' visa and the B-1 business visa. It is also accused of discrimination against workers who are not from South Asia.

Brenda Koehler, a software engineer from Wisconsin has lodged a lawsuit in the US District Court in Eastern Wisconsin on behalf of herself and other US IT workers after she was refused a job working for Infosys.

Ms Koehler has a BA and an MA in computer science and says she is 'an experienced network specialist'. She applied for a job with the company and was asked to attend an interview. She alleges that the interview was, in effect, a sham. She says it was rescheduled at short notice. She still attended but was not awarded the advertised position.

Infosys gave false reason for interview failure

Ms Koehler claims that the reason given for the refusal was that she was not familiar with programmes such as Microsoft Active Directory. She says that, in fact, she has considerable experience with that and other programmes. She says that the position was given to a worker from Bangladesh.

Ms Koehler says that up to 90% of Infosys staff in the US are from South Asia and that this is because the company is not properly advertising jobs to US workers or giving them a chance to take available jobs. She says that this is an abuse of the US visa system.

She alleges that 'Infosys has reached this grossly disproportionate workforce by directly discriminating against individuals who are not of South Asian descent…by abusing the H-1B visa process to bring workers of South Asian descent into the country rather than hiring qualified individuals already in the United States, and by abusing the B-1 visa system to bring workers of South Asian descent into the United States to perform work not allowed by their visa status'.

Infosys 'discriminates' by failure to employ Americans

It is not actually a requirement of the H-1B visa system that a position should be offered to US workers before being filled by an H-1B worker but Ms Koehler claims that, because all positions are filled by workers from South Asia, American workers face discrimination, which would be against US law.

Ms Koehler is asking the court to grant an injunction preventing Infosys from hiring any more staff with H-1B visas until the case is heard.

H-1B visas allow US companies, or international companies operating in the US, to hire foreign workers who are either graduates or who have an equivalent level of skill and experience, for an initial period of three years. The visas can be renewed once.

H-1B visas used to employ cheaper foreign workers

There is currently considerable controversy about H-1B visas in the US. Critics complain that the visas are being abused. They say that they were designed to allow US firms, such as Microsoft or Apple, to bring in international talent to fill skills shortages but are, instead, being used by international outsourcing companies such as Infosys to import workers from India who will work for considerably less than an equivalent US-born worker.

While H-1B visas are controversial, it is legal to employ H-1B visa holders but Ms Koehler claims that Infosys is also breaking US immigration law by employing programmers and engineers who have entered the country on B1 business/visitor visas.

Those entering the US on B-1 visas are allowed to

  • Consult with business associates
  • Attend conferences
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Participate in training
  • Interview and hire staff and
  • Conduct research

But they are not allowed to

  • Run a business
  • Engage in gainful employment or
  • Be paid by an organisation operating within the US

One exception to the rule

There is an exception to this rule. The 'B-1 visa in lieu of H-1B visa' allows foreign workers to work in the US for overseas employers but this is only permissible for short-term projects.

Infosys denies Ms Koehler's allegations. A spokeswoman said 'Infosys is an equal opportunities employer, and we categorically deny Ms. Koehler's claims'.

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Australia: 457 visa holders to be charged for children's schooling

The Western Australian territorial government has announced that it is to charge 457 visa holders a fee of AUS$4,000 per year for every child educated in government-funded schools. The government hopes to raise $120m over four years by introducing the charge.

The Western Australian state government treasurer, Troy Buswell, said that the fee was necessary because the numbers of such children has risen sharply. Mr Buswell said that there were 290 children of 457 visa workers in publicly funded schools in 2005. By 2013, this figure had risen to 8,600; a 29-fold increase.

He said 'the simple growth in numbers has put massive pressure on the education system and by extension, massive pressure on the balance of the taxpayers of Western Australia'.

NSW and Capital already require school fees from 457 visa holders

New South Wales and the Australian Capital introduced fees for the children of 457 visa holders in 2011. In New South Wales the fees range between $4,000 and $6,000 per child per year and in the Capital Territories fees range between $9,000 and $14,000 per child per year.

457 visas are temporary work visas which last for up to four years. You must be sponsored by an approved Australian business who will nominate you for a position. If successful, you are able to live anywhere in Australia, though this would generally have to be close to your place of work. You can enter and leave Australia as often as you wish and you are allowed to bring your partner and children with you.

The 457 visa is Australia's main temporary skilled work visa. There are currently over 100,000 people in Australia with 457 visas. In February 2013, the Australian immigration minister Brendan O'Connor claimed that about 10% of these, over 10,000 people had obtained their visas by 'rorting', that is to say, fraudulently. In March, the then prime minister, Julia Gillard, promised to cut down on abuse and to 'put Aussie workers first'.

Increased fees from 1st July 2013

Since then, there have been a series of changes to the 457 visa system. In May, the Australian finance minister Wayne Swan announced that the fee for a 457 visa would double from July 1st. He said that the fee for 457 visas would rise from $455 to $900. It has since been announced that 457 visa applicants must also pay a fee of $900 if their spouse intends to accompany them to Australia and a fee of $255 for each dependent child.

Angela Chan of the Migration Institute of Australia said that these fees were an unfair tax on migrants.

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

Monday, August 19, 2013

US Representatives face summer of immigration pressure

Congressmen and women have gone home for the summer recess while Congress is closed in August. President Obama had hoped that Congress would, by now, have passed an immigration reform bill but there is still no new law.

The President promised to make immigration reform a priority in his second term. The White House has since thrown its weight behind a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would

  • Further re-enforce the border with Mexico
  • Greatly increase the number of H-1B temporary work visas on offer from the current level of 85,000 per year to about 150,000 immediately with the possibility of rising to about 200,000 per year in times of high demand
  • Allow all post graduate and doctoral graduates of US universities to apply for US employment based green cards. There will be no annual cap; The current limit on the number of visas that can be issued can mean delays of years in processing visa applications. They will still have to meet other selection criteria to be successful
  • Create a new 'w-visa' for low-skilled migrants.

The Senate passed this bill; The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act 2013 (The Act) in June. However, The Act must be passed by both houses of Congress, the Senate and The House of Representatives, to become law.

Boehner is blocking reform

This has not happened because the speaker of the House, John Boehner, a Republican, has said that he will not allow a vote unless a majority of Republicans support it. Even if there were a vote, because the House has a small Republican majority, the success of the bill would not be guaranteed.

Many Republicans are opposed to the bill largely because of the 'pathway to citizenship' provision which they believe would reward illegal immigrants for entering or remaining in the country illegally. They also fear that most of those who gained citizenship via the pathway would vote Democrat.

The President has not given up on reform yet. Celia Munoz, the White House director of the Domestic Policy Council told journalists that the president has 'no back-up plan' in the event that the House blocks reform.

Congressmen face pressure from lobbyists

The President continues to speak out in favour of reform as do many pro-reform campaigners. Ms Munoz told Fox News that she expected members of the House to face a lot of lobbying over the summer recess.

'It's not just the advocacy groups in Washington…You're going to see members of Congress hearing from pastors…local growers [and]…business leaders in their districts'. She said 'the consensus around immigration reform is incredibly strong. It's bipartisan. It has depth in communities all around the country and I think lawmakers are going to see this.

The National Journal reports that pro-immigration reform groups are preparing to lobby Representatives all over the country. Hispanic pressure group Mi Familia Vota is lobbying in Florida.

The National Immigration Forum is seeking to influence wavering Republicans through the conservative pressure group Bibles, Badges and Business and The National Council of La Raza has helped organise over 350 rallies around the country.

Durbin speaks out

Senator Dick Durbin, one of the Gang of Eight who drafted The Act, is also touring the US urging Representatives to back reform.

Pressure is building in Washington too. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is piling on the pressure through his pressure group.

But anti-reform groups will also be busy. In Wisconsin, the home state of Paul Ryan, anti-reformers have launched a $200,000 TV and radio advertising campaign.

Ryan supports pathway to citizenship

Mr Ryan was the running mate of Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. Mr Romney advocated a tough, anti-immigration line during his campaign but, since Mr Romney's heavy defeat, Mr Ryan has changed his tune.

Mr Ryan now supports the 'pathway to citizenship'. Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration reform (which confusingly opposes the President's reforms) said 'Congressman Ryan needs to explain to thousands of Wisconsin workers why he wants to increase immigration [when]…Wisconsin has 210,000 unemployed workers'.

The right-wing Tea Party is also sponsoring anti-immigration events over the summer and the American Federation of Government Employees has written to members of the House urging them not to support the bill which they describe as 'dangerous'.

Majority of Americans support reform

The debate is dividing the country. Opinion polls suggest that a majority of Americans support reform and the creation of the 'pathway' but a large minority is passionately against it. Republican representatives fear that, if they support reform, their right-wing constituents will not support them at the next election.

Conversely, they must also fear that, if they vote against reform when the majority supports it, they will lose support from moderate voters. It is impossible to tell quite how the matter will be resolved.
The only thing that is certain is that the issue of immigration will be back in the headlines in September.

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

Friday, August 16, 2013

Royal footman fails UK immigration test

Badar Azim, a footman at Buckingham Palace who helped with the announcement of the birth of the new-born Prince George has left the UK and returned to his native India because he did not qualify for a Tier 2 (General) skilled worker visa.

On 22nd July 2013, Badar was seen on television, placing an announcement of the birth of the UK's new prince on a golden easel outside Buckingham Palace. Prince George is the first son of Prince William and his wife Katherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. George is now third in line to the British throne.

Badar came to the UK in 2008 to study for a degree in hospitality at Napier University, Edinburgh. He graduated in 2011 and was granted a Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa. These visas last for two years.

Buckingham Palace

After receiving his visa, Badar applied for and got a job at Buckingham Palace, the London residence of Queen Elizabeth II. He met many members of the Royal Family including the Queen herself. He worked as a footman, carrying out duties such as making tea and carrying messages.

He was seen on televisions around the world on 22nd July, helping the Queen's press secretary to place a framed document carrying the announcement of the royal birth on a golden easel in front of Buckingham Palace. This was to be one of his final duties as a Royal servant. He left the Palace on 27th July and has since returned to India.

Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visas have now been abolished but they used to allow their holders to work in the UK for two years. Holders of these visas can apply to the Home Office for a Tier 2 (General) skilled worker visa if they meet certain criteria.

Tier 2 (General) visa for skilled workers

To get a Tier 2 visa, applicants must be sponsored by their employer. The job must be one that cannot be filled by a UK-settled worker. Applicants must also earn above £20,000 a year.

Unfortunately for Badar, his salary at the palace was only £14,000 a year and the role of footman could not be considered to be a highly skilled position and so he did not qualify. The Daily Mail, a UK newspaper, reports that Badar realised that he would not be successful if he applied for a Tier 2 visa and so did not apply, choosing instead to resign from his post and return to India.

Life in a Royal palace was a long way from the slums of Kolkata where he was born. Badar was able to come and study in the UK after he was sponsored by a Roman Catholic orphanage.

Paid £14,000 a year

After doing well at his studies, he was awarded his prestigious post. He was paid £14,000 a year but also received free board and lodging as part of his remuneration package.

A spokesman from Buckingham Palace told The Daily Mirror, another UK newspaper 'Badar is disappointed and devastated that he hasn't been able to extend his time in the UK. Moving over here has changed his life. He had settled in and made lots of friends so he's heartbroken to have to let it all go'.

But Badar and his family believe that his experience of study and work in the UK have transformed his life chances.

Child from Kolkata's slums finds it hard to get a good job in India

A child born in the slums of Kolkata would find it hard to get a good job in hospitality in India but, after his experiences in England, Badar hopes that he will be able to find a job. Speaking in 2010, he said that, if he had not had his education courtesy of the orphanage, 'I would be working on the streets of Kolkata. It would have been very difficult to get a job in India because, unless you have a good degree, you will not get a good job and a good salary'.

He now hopes to get a good job working at a top hotel in India.

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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

US Republican censured for racist anti-immigrant remarks

The speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner, has criticised a Republican Representative for making racist remarks about Mexican illegal immigrants. The remarks were made by Representative Steve King of Iowa.

In an interview for a right-wing website Newsmax, Mr King said that many children brought to the US from Mexico illegally as children were drug smugglers. He said 'for every one who is a valedictorian (star pupil), there's another hundred out there that weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert'. He said that these people were 'undermining our culture and civilization'.

Mr Boehner, himself a Republican, said that 'there is no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials'. He continued 'what he [King] said does not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican Party and we all need to work in a constructive open and respectful way'.

Ryan and Cantor criticise King for 'inexcusable' comments

Former vice presidential nominee Representative Paul Ryan also attacked Mr King's comments. The House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor also called the remarks inexcusable. Representative Pete Olson of Texas called on Mr King to apologise for his 'hurtful' comments.

But Mr King has refused to apologise for his remarks and has, in fact, repeated them and even made jokes about them. Despite the fact that many senior Republicans have distanced themselves from the remarks, Mr King says that, in private, they support his stance. He told a US news channel that he got the weight of the supposed drug runners wrong by about ten pounds.

Mr King is a vocal opponent of immigration reform in the US. He is one of the Representatives who are 100% certain not to support the immigration reform bill currently before Congress. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act 2013 was voted on in the Senate in June 2013 and was passed by 68 votes to 32.

Boehner says he will not allow vote unless has support of most Republicans

To become law, the bill now requires at least 60% support in the House of Representatives. However, the speaker of the House, Mr Boehner, has said that he will not even allow the bill to go forward for a vote in the House unless he believes that at least half of Republican representatives are in favour.

Pro-immigration campaigners are now lobbying the House in an attempt to persuade Mr Boehner to allow a vote. Last week a Democrat representative Luis Gutierrez said that there are sufficient Republicans who support the bill for the bill to pass with the required majority.

The bill would reform all areas of US immigration system. It would contain the following provisions

  • It would provide a pathway to citizenship for many of the estimated 11.5m illegal immigrants currently living in the US
  • It would increase the number of H-1B 'specialty occupation' visas for graduate level workers from the current level of 85,000 (65,000 for graduates and 20,000 for PhD and doctoral graduates). The cap on PhD and doctoral H-1Bs would be removed altogether and the cap for graduate H-1Bs would rise immediately to 130,000 and could rise to 180,000 in times of high demand.
  • Doctoral and PhD graduates of US universities would be able to apply for US permanent resident visas after graduation. There would be no cap on numbers.
  • Border security would be greatly increased with the use of electronic surveillance, drones and a doubling of the number of border guards on the Mexican border.
  • A new low-skilled w-visa for agricultural and construction workers would be created.
  • US employers would be required to check the immigration status of all new employees against the E-Verify database to ensure that they were entitled to work.

Pathway to citizenship would reward illegal behaviour

Many Republicans oppose the bill because of the 'pathway to citizenship' clause. They say it would reward illegal conduct by granting citizenship to those who entered the country illegally or overstayed their temporary visas. But there is also a fear among many Republicans that illegal immigrants, who are overwhelmingly of Latin American ethnicity, would be likely to vote Democrat once they became citizens, as do most US citizens of Latino descent.

Pro-reform campaigners have suspected that there is also a racist, anti-Mexican, element to Republicans' opposition to granting citizenship to the illegal immigrants. Mr Smith denies that his remarks are racist and says that the facts support his claims. In fact he said, that his claim was 'probably understated'.

Writing in the Washington Post, Glen Kessler analyses Mr King's claims and finds that they are totally unsupported by any evidence. He says 'King's claim about valedictorians and smugglers is a nonsense fact, designed to suggest an aura of authenticity to an otherwise objectionable statement. It appears King heard something, from someone he has not named, and had blown it into "facts" for which he feels little need to provide evidence'.

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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Business leader slams UK immigration policy

Baroness Valentine, the chief executive of London business association London First, has criticised the UK government's 'ill-considered' immigration policy.

Baroness Valentine wrote a piece for the free London newspaper City AM on 1st August 2013, in which she severely criticised the Coalition government after it announced a plan to introduce security bonds for some international visitors.

As of November, people applying for visitor visas from six 'high risk' countries may be asked to pay a bond of up to £3,000 before they receive a UK visa. The bond will be paid back once the visitor leaves the UK. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, says that this will prevent people from overstaying their UK visas. The countries are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana and Nigeria.

'Perhaps the most ill-considered development in immigration policy yet'

Baroness Valentine says that this proposal is 'perhaps the most ill-considered development in immigration policy yet'. She goes on to name other policies which she says are damaging London's economy.

  • The announcement that there will be a 'healthcare levy' of £200 per year charged to those who come to the UK as students and workers
  • A recent advertising campaign in six London boroughs urging illegal immigrants to 'go home or face arrest'.

The baroness says that these policies risk damaging London's economy. She writes that the UK must have an immigration policy which strikes 'a balance between being robust with those we don't want in the UK and attracting those we do – talented workers, entrepreneurs, students or high spending tourists'. She adds that the healthcare levy, the security bond and the 'go home' adverts send out 'mixed messages' which are 'bad for business'.

She adds that the problem is exacerbated by the fact that the UK's immigration figures are 'little better than a best guess'. This criticism was made by the UK parliament's Public Administration Committee on Sunday 28th July 2013.

UK immigration stats based on inadequate data

The committee chairman, Bernard Jenkin, noted that the UK's immigration figures were based on inadequate data and might be inaccurate by as much as 30,000 in either direction. He said that it was therefore impossible for the government to use the figures to formulate public policy.

In her article, Baroness Valentine wrote that London needs

  • Entrepreneurs – who can come to the UK with Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas
  • Skilled workers - who can come to the UK with Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) visas
  • International students– who can come to the UK with Tier 4 student visas. She says that these students contributed £15bn to the UK economy in 2012 but notes that the number of international students fell from 246,000 in 2011 to 190,000 in 2012 after the government introduced 'an increasingly rigorous application system and to cut the number of 'post study working opportunities' The government has abolished the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa.
  • Tourists to shop in London's shops, particularly from emerging economies such as China and India – these will come with visitor visas. Baroness Valentine complains that the new security bond will deter Indian tourists. She also notes that Paris attracts five times more Chinese visitors than London. She says that this is because the UK's visa requirements create 'extra hassle' for Chinese visitors. She claims that this costs London £1bn annually

UK must develop 'evidence-based immigration policy'

The Baroness says that the UK must do more to attract visitors, must allow businesses to bring in the workers they need and must welcome entrepreneurs to the country. She says that the government must do more to get its e-borders system up-and-running so that it can develop an 'evidence-based [immigration] policy'.

However, she says that this project, which is designed to allow the government to know how many people are in the country and why they are here by collating data on who enters and leaves the country, is not likely to be functional until 2016 at the earliest.

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

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fat chef faces deportation from New Zealand

Albert Buitenhuis, a South African chef, faces deportation from New Zealand because he is too fat. Mr Buitenhuis, 50, is five feet eight inches tall (173cm) and weighs 286 pounds (20 stone 6 pounds, 130kg) and has lived in New Zealand for six years.

Mr Buitenhuis had worked in New Zealand for six years with an Essential Skills work visa. He then applied to Immigration New Zealand for a resident visa but was refused in May 2013 because his weight means that there is a significant risk that he would become a heavy burden on the New Zealand health system.

A manager at the New Zealand immigration service, Michael Carley, told New Zealand's 3 News, 'It is important that all migrants have an acceptable standard of health to minimize the costs and demands on New Zealand's health services.

Couple were never informed that weight would be a problem

Mr Buitenhuis's wife, Marthie, told Australian broadcaster ABC that the couple have been in New Zealand for six years. She said that no one had ever told her husband that his weight might cause the failure of a visa application, even though he used to weigh significantly more. He has, in fact, lost 66 pounds (four stone ten pounds, twenty kilograms) since 2007.

Immigration New Zealand said that the reason that Mr Buitenhuis was not informed of the possibility that his weight might cause the failure of his application was that his recent application was for a residence visa. The health requirements for a resident visa are different from those for a work visa.

Michael Carley added that it was not just Mr Buitenhuis's weight that led to the failure of his application. He said that medical tests show that Mr Buitenhuis's weight puts him at risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer and joint failure. He added that the South African also has an enlarged, fatty liver and a bad knee and all these issues would have been considered by officers deciding the application.

Unfair that he was never informed

Mr Buitenhuis says that he understands the rationale for the policy but agrees with his wife that it is unfair that he was never informed that his weight might have an impact on his resident visa application.

He says that he and his wife have now sold all their property in South Africa and have nothing to return to in that country. His sister lives in New Zealand. In addition, since his visa application was refused, he has been barred from working and so is now penniless and cannot afford to return to his native country. The couple have appealed against the decision.

Immigration New Zealand has agreed not to deport Mr Buitenhuis until his appeal has been heard.

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

Monday, August 12, 2013

UK immigration accused of illegal racial profiling

The Home Office, the government department responsible for policing immigration in the UK, has been accused of racism after immigration officers at several train and underground stations in London were seen 'stopping and questioning every non-white person' about their right to remain in the country.

The operations occurred on Thursday 1st August 2013 at Kensal Green and Cricklewood tube stations in north-west London and at Walthamstow and Stratford tube stations in east London.

The Labour Party's shadow immigration minister, Chris Bryant warned that, if the officers had been stopping people purely because of their skin colour, then this would be illegal.

Racial profiling is forbidden

Mr Bryant said that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, must 'establish straight away whether the rules preventing racial profiling are being enforced. Intelligence-led operations to tackle illegal immigration are right. Racial profiling is not'.

According to witnesses, it did seem that the officers were stopping people of colour but ignoring white passengers. One white passenger at Kensal Green, Phil O'Shea, observed officers 'stopping and questioning every non-white person'. He claims that he asked the officers what they were doing and was threatened with arrest.

Muhammed Butt, the leader of the local council in Brent, a borough in north-west London, said that the raids left 'a nasty taste in the mouth' and said that they were 'intimidating' as well as 'racist and divisive'. 'What about white Australians and New Zealanders who may have overstayed their visas?' he asked.

Raids were 'politically motivated'

Writing in the Independent, commentator Alex Wheatle, a black Briton, says that the raids are politically motivated and are designed to win support among right wing Conservatives who might otherwise desert the Conservative Party, of which Mrs May is a member, and vote for the more extreme UK Independence Party.

He says that the raids are 'a blatant infringement on the human rights [of those stopped]' and calls on Mrs May to explain 'why only black or Asian people were targeted'.

He adds that he thinks it likely that Mrs May is seeking to appeal to certain anti-immigration sections of the Conservative Party including some right wing Conservative MPs before challenging the Prime Minister, David Cameron, for the leadership of the party.

Home Office may be guilty of contempt of court

The Home Office also faces a criticism that it has prejudged the guilt of people arrested after immigration raids around the country and may be guilty of contempt of court.

The Home Office Twitter feed has been used pixelated photos of raids in London, Wales, the north of England and Somerset. The text accompanying these photographs has referred to those arrested as 'immigration offenders'.

Legal commentators believe that this may be a contempt of court because those arrested are entitled to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Calling them offenders presupposes their guilt.

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

Friday, August 9, 2013

Immigration strike may delay Canada student visas

The Dean of Students at Canada's prestigious McGill University says that the strike by Canadian immigration officers posted overseas may prevent some students from successfully enrolling before the start of the academic year in September.

The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) has been holding a series of days of industrial action since June 6th. They say that they are paid less than their colleagues based in Canada and are demanding compensating pay rises. PAFSO says that its members, who include government economists, diplomats and lawyers as well as immigration staff, are paid between CAN$3,000 and CAN$14,000 less than their equivalents in Canada.

There has been strike action at offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Delhi, Chandigarh, Mexico City and Manila in the Philippines.



Canadian government refusing to negotiate

The Canadian government is currently refusing to compromise. It says that PAFSO staff get perks such as car allowances and dry cleaning allowances which make up for the lower pay.

McGill's Dean of Students Andre Costopoulos has told Canadian broadcaster CBC that many international students may have to join their courses a term late. In the case of engineering students they may have to defer their courses until the next academic year of 2014/15.

McGill is concerned that this may cause a hole in its finances if hundreds or even thousands' of students are unable to begin their courses.

International students important for Canadian economy

Jonathan Champagne of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations said that international students were 'really important to the economy and to Canada's international landscape as a whole'. Mr Champagne said that international students contribute CAN$8bn per year to Canada's economy.

'Now students from around the world are potentially having to go look at other places to study such as the UK or Australia' Mr Champagne said.

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

Thursday, August 8, 2013

UK immigration: 40% of NHS nurses born overseas

The UK's Prime Minister David Cameron has been criticised for comments he made about immigration on an official visit to a car factory on 22nd July 2013.

Mr Cameron was asked why the government allowed immigrants who were 'a constant drain' on the nation to come to the UK. Mr Cameron replied 'I basically agree with you'. He said 'In the last decade, we have had an immigration policy that is completely lax. The pressure it puts on our public services and communities is too great'.

Mr Cameron said that he wanted 'to see net immigration coming down faster. On housing, health, education and legal aid, we are showing we are not a soft touch. By the end of this government, we will be able to look back and say 'we may not have sorted out the whole problem, but we have got a much tougher approach to immigration and that's fair''.

Coalition acting to cut immigration

Mr Cameron's government promised to reduce the level of net immigration to the UK to below 100,000 a year by 2015. To that end, it has introduced various measures. It has

  • Introduced a cap of 20,700 per year on the number of Tier 2 (General) skilled worker visas that can be issued annually
  • Abolished the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa which allowed foreign graduates of UK universities to work for two years after graduation and the Tier 1 (General) visa which allowed foreign graduates to come to the UK to work)
  • Introduced a minimum income threshold of £18,700 per annum for any UK citizen who wants to bring his or her spouse to the UK.
  • Cracked down on colleges which sold 'immigration not education' to foreign students. The government feared that many people coming to the UK on Tier 4 student visas were doing so in order to work, not to study. More than 500 colleges have lost the right to sponsor foreign students for Tier 4 visas.

The level of net annual immigration has fallen from about 260,000 in 2010 to about 150,000 in 2013. Immigration minister Mark Harper has said that he expects the government to meet the 100,000 target by 2015.

However, critics have pointed out that Mr Cameron's pronouncements on immigration are at best misguided and ignore evidence which shows that foreign nationals do not impose a disproportionate drain on the UK's public services. In fact, the evidence suggests that they do quite the reverse; most migrants use services less than the host population and many work in vital services. Without them, in fact, the UK's public services could not function as they do.

Office for Budget Responsibility says UK needs immigrants

The day before Mr Cameron's visit to the Bentley car factory in Crewe, the government's own Office for Budget Responsibility issued a report that said that immigrants tend not to take up benefits to the same extent as the native population. The report also said that increasing the UK's level of immigration would help the country to pay off its national debt.

Last month, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development issued a report which found that immigrants make a net contribution to the UK's economy. The report estimated that immigrants make a net contribution to the UK economy of some £16.3bn per annum. They use fewer services because they are younger and healthier than the native population.

George Eaton, writing for The New Statesman, said that research by the UK's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) shows that only 6.4% of those claiming benefit in the UK are foreign nationals. The last UK census conducted in 2011 suggests that some 13% of the UK's population is foreign-born. They are therefore half as likely to be claiming benefit as native Britons.

40% of NHS nurses born overseas

Dr Clare Gerada of the Royal College of General Practitioners has pointed out that 30% of doctors and 40% of nursing staff in the National Health Service were born abroad; a much higher percentage than the percentage of patients using the NHS who were born abroad.

Columnist Mehdi Hasan, writing on the Huffington Post website, points out that, in addition, 20% of care workers caring for the UK's elderly (and 60% in London) were born abroad. He adds that 95% of the staff who clean London Underground trains and platforms are foreign-born as are many who work in agriculture.

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Australian immigration concerned about Indian visa fraud

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) issued a secret report in 2011 which highlighted the ease with which Indian applicants for Australian visas were able to commit identity fraud. The report said that, until Indian systems for issuing passports are improved, there is little that DIAC can do to wipe out visa fraud by Indian applicants.

The secret report, issued by DIAC's New Delhi office in August 2011, came to light after a Freedom of Information Act request was made by Australian broadcaster ABC. DIAC took over two years to respond to the request, far longer than the Act requires. DIAC eventually released other information which showed that, in 2008/09, DIAC believed that 46.9% of applications under the General Skilled Migration Category (subclass 189, 190 visas) made by Indian nationals were fraudulent in some way. There were 23,767 of which approximately 11,150 were fraudulent.

During the same year, DIAC estimates that 37% of Indian student visa applications were fraudulent. This would mean that about 15,400 of 41,636 applications were obtained by fraud in 2008/09.

DIAC now certain that 99.9% Indian applicants are who they say they are

A DIAC spokesman said that the department is satisfied that, now, in 2013, '99.9% [of Indian visa applicants] are who they say they are and are doing what they said they would do when they were granted that visa'.

However, in the internal DIAC report, DIAC staff admit that there is little that they can do to ensure that Indian citizens are who they say they are. The report says 'robust biometric processes embedded in Indian identity documents and in DIAC systems will be the only effective combatant' to the problem of identity fraud.

The Indian government has announced plans to introduce biometric passports and has invited bids from international IT firms to manage aspects of the programme but, in June 2013, India's chief passport officer Muktesh K Pardesi said that no time frame for the programme can be provided.

Indian biometric database will be astonishingly complex task

It will be a task of astonishing complexity to introduce such a system in India, the second most populous nation on earth with a population of 1,210,569,573, according to the 2011 census. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that 50m Indians had passports in 2012. It added that it expected this figure to rise to 100m within ten years. If the proposed passport system is to be trustworthy, it will need to incorporate a biometric information database for the entire population.
The DIAC report stated that, while Indians can easily gain false identity documents, it will be impossible for DIAC to be certain that Indian applicants are who they say they are.

ABC highlights the case of one Indian citizen who had lived in Australia for some years. He had run up a debt with the Australian government before being detained and deported. The man then obtained an Indian passport with a different birth date. He was then able to re-enter Australia unrecognised. This deception was uncovered when his wife gave evidence that he had previously lived in Australia. He was sent back to India.

DIAC fears agent helped others get fraudulent documents

However, DIAC papers said that the department was concerned that the agent who had helped this man obtain false documentation continued to live in Australia, also under a false identity. The report says that he seems to have helped many others to get fake documents to use in visa applications.

Maureen Horder of the Migration Institute of Australia told ABC that, since 2008, the Australian government has improved matters greatly by rooting out bogus agents. She called for all immigration agents, whether living in Australia or overseas, to be registered with DIAC to enable DIAC to bar them from advising applicants if they are found to have acted fraudulently in the past.

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

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

US Senator says immigration reform bill can win support of House

A Democratic Congressman, Luis Gutierrez, has said that the comprehensive immigration reform bill currently before Congress has enough support to become law and has called on the Republican leader in the House of Representatives to allow it to go to a vote.

Mr Gutierrez is a member of the House of Representatives (known as 'The House' for short) for the state of Illinois and one of seven Representatives attempting to win sufficient support for the bill in the House.

The proposed law is called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act 2013. It was drafted by a bipartisan group of senators known as 'The Gang of Eight' early this year with the support of President Obama who promised to make immigration reform a priority for his second term. If it becomes law it will

  • Increase the number of H-1B 'specialty occupation visas' from the current level of 85,000 annually to over 150,000 annually immediately. This figure could rise above 200,000 in times of high demand
  • Allow doctoral and PhD graduates of US universities to apply for US permanent resident visas ('green cards')
  • Vastly increase spending on border security
  • Create a 'pathway to citizenship' for the estimated 11.5m immigrants living illegally in the US. This would require them to pay a $500 fine, learn English and pay back taxes.

President Obama promised to make immigration reform a priority

After winning the election in November 2012, Mr Obama made several speeches promising that he would make immigration reform a priority in 2013. The President then left the drafting of the reform bill to the Gang of Eight, which comprises four Democrats and four Republicans, in the hope that this would persuade more Congressmen and women, particularly Republicans, to vote for it.

In order to become law, the bill must gain the support of at least 60% of Congressmen and women in both houses of Congress. It has already gained 68% of votes in a vote in the upper house of Congress, the Senate. This was expected because, on the whole, Democrats are more likely to support the bill than Republicans and the Democrats control the Senate.

But the Republicans control the House. There are 435 seats in the House of which 234 are held by Republicans and 201 by Democrats. To pass with 60% support, the bill needs 261 votes. This means that, if all 201 Democrats voted for the bill, 60 Republicans would need to vote in favour for the bill to become law.

'We found the 50 Republicans we need'

Mr Gutierrez told a crowd at a rally organised by pro-reform group The National Council of La Raza, 'we found the 50 [or so] Republicans we need to pass immigration reform. Now we need to get it done'. Mr Gutierrez called on the speaker of the House, Republican Representative John Boehner, to allow a vote so that the pro-reform Democrats and Republicans can achieve the majority they require.

As the speaker of the House, Mr Boehner must give his consent for the bill to go forward for a vote. However, it seems unlikely that he will give this consent because he has already said that he will not allow a vote unless a majority of Republicans support the bill before the House.

But now that Mr Gutierrez has claimed that there is already sufficient support for the bill to become law, the pressure will grow on Mr Boehner to allow a vote. Pro-immigration reformers will be bound to claim that Mr Boehner is standing in the way of the public's desire for reform for party political reasons and setting an artificially high hurdle for the bill to pass in order to frustrate the President's reform programme. If half of Republicans and all Democrats voted for reform, that would give the bill 317 votes; many more than legally required.

'An open invitation to enter the country illegally'

The sticking point for many Republicans is the creation of a 'pathway to citizenship' for many of the estimated 11.5m illegal immigrants living in the US. Many Republicans consider that, to create such a pathway would reward illegal behaviour and encourage further illegal immigration. Representative Lamar Smith of Texas described the bill as 'an open invitation to enter the country illegally'.

Republicans are also concerned that the immigrants would, in all probability, vote Democrat once they became citizens. Some 80% of illegal immigrants are of Latino descent (they come from Mexico and Central and South America). Some 70% of Latinos currently eligible to vote voted Democrat in 2012, according to exit polls.

But the Republicans are caught in a double-bind because, the more they oppose reform, the more they alienate Hispanic voters. Support among Hispanic voters for Republicans has fallen from about 44% in 2000 when George W Bush first won the presidency, to 27% in 2012 when Mitt Romney lost to President Obama.

Hispanics fastest growing segment of electorate

To make matters worse for the Republicans, Hispanic voters are now the fastest growing segment of the US electorate. In 1988, there were only 7.7m Hispanic voters. By 2012, there were 24m. By 2030, there are expected to be 40m, even without the creation of a pathway to citizenship.

As Republican Senator Lindsay Graham put it in 2012, 'We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term'.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

UK Prime Minister criticised for immigration comments

The Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, has been criticised by a range of business leaders after agreeing that immigration was 'a constant drain' on the UK's economy.

The Prime Minister was answering questions at the Bentley car plant in Crewe, North West England, when he was asked why he did nothing to stop immigration which was a 'constant drain' on the economy. He replied 'I basically agree with you…in the last decade, we have had an immigration policy that's completely lax. The pressure it puts on our public services and communities is too great'.

The Prime Minister sought to persuade his audience that his government was improving the situation after years of mismanagement by the Labour Party when it was in power.

Coalition promised to cut immigration

The Coalition government has cut net annual immigration from around 260,000 a year in 2010 when it came to power to about 150,000 annually now. It has pledged to reduce net immigration to less than 100,000 a year by 2015.

To that end, the government has introduced many changes. Two of the most controversial were the introduction of a cap on the number of Tier 2 (General) visas for skilled migrants and abolished the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) and Tier 1 (General) visas which allowed 'high value migrants' to stay in the UK.

It has also closed down over 500 colleges that were thought to be enabling international applicants to come to the UK on Tier 4 student visas when they were, in fact, intending to stay and work, not to study.

Business groups object

These policies have not been popular with UK business and yesterday business groups were quick to voice their opposition after news of the Prime Minister's words broke.

Dr Steve Davis of the right-wing think tank The Institute for Economic Affairs spoke to The Huffington Post, an online news site, and said 'Why is it that immigrants are a drain and a cost when they consume services provided by the government but an opportunity when they consume services provided by the private sector? The economics are so simple; immigrants are in general younger and less likely to be unemployed. Therefore, they are overwhelmingly net contributors to the public purse through the taxes they pay'.

A spokesman for London First, a lobbying group for London businesses, said 'The UK needs migrants. They are needed to supplement our own workforce. We need those that have skills not found among the UK work force and we need those that come to the UK to start businesses and create jobs and growth'.

British Chambers of Commerce speak out

Perhaps the most damning criticism for Mr Cameron, who is the leader of the Conservative Party, traditionally the party of business, came from the British Chambers of Commerce.

John Wastnage, the BCC's head of labour market policy told the Huffington Post, 'The whole of the government's immigration policy is very damaging to the economy. Immigrants are more likely to work, use fewer services and claim less benefits…We should welcome those with skills and talent…as any A Level economist will tell you, immigrants don't reduce the availability of jobs for the local population'.

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Tier 4 sponsors spend £67m extra in 2012-13 to meet new UK immigration rules

A UK education body has called on the UK's Home Office to stop changing in the rules for Tier 4 sponsors. The Higher Education Better Regulation Group (HEBRG) says that the UK's Home Office has created uncertainty among colleges and universities and says that this lack of clarity has cost them about £67m in administration costs in 2012-13 alone.

The HEBRG says that universities are, and always have been, willing to comply with Home Office rules designed to ensure that only genuine students study at UK educational institutions but Andrew Boggs, an HEBRG policy advisor said 'higher education institutions are prepared to meet Home Office expectations on student visa compliance but confusion over requirements and constant rule changes have led to waste and overspending in an effort to comply'.

Since 2009, UK educational institutions have had to be Home Office licenced Tier 4 sponsors in order to teach students from outside the European Economic Area. Higher educational institutions have complained that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) constantly changed their guidance and made it almost impossible to comply with the rules.

The London Metropolitan University saga

On August 29th 2012, inspectors from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) revoked the Tier 4 licence of London Metropolitan University after alleging that it did not keep proper records to show that all its international students spoke English to the required standard and attended lectures.

LMU went to court to have the UKBA decision reversed. The vice chancellor, Malcolm Gillies said that the university had taken every possible step to comply with UKBA guidelines and said that the ban would cost his university over £10m in fees.

LMU took the UKBA to court and succeeded in getting the ban on teaching foreign students suspended. The UKBA eventually restored LMU's licence in April 2013 but academics said that, by then, a great deal of damage had been done to the reputation of the UK's higher education industry in the eyes of international students.

Universities spending a third of a million pounds annually on compliance

Mr Boggs said that HEBRG research showed that UK higher education institutions 'are investing £312,00 to £358,000 per year to meet visa oversight requirements'. There were also great variations between the highest and lowest spending institutions. The highest spending institution spent over 50 times more than the lowest.

'This variability cannot be explained by economies of scale or intensity of international student enrolment. The data points to irregular and varied interpretations of Tier 4 visa compliance requirements across institutions' he said.
The HEBRG is calling on the Home Office to change its systems to grant UK Tier 4 sponsors greater certainty. It calls for
  1. 'A sliding penalty structure' for those found to be in breach of Home Office guidelines rather than an 'all or nothing' revocation of an institution's licence for administrative failures.
  2. Regular training events for sponsors
  3. Regular feedback when a sponsored student's application is refused
  4. The establishment of a 'Higher Education Assurance Team to 'help institutions to do their job more effectively while reducing the cost to institutions and, by extension, students and the public'.

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