Thursday, November 28, 2013

UK Immigration Minister says graduates can stay in UK

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

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

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



Bureaucracy dissuading Tier 4 visa applicants

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

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

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



Accountancy firm disrupted by Post Study Work closure

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



Harper – criticisms are not supported by facts

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

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

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



Message getting through to Indian graduates

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

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MPs criticise plan to make landlords police UK immigration

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

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

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



Migrants could be driven into illegal accommodation

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

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

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



MPs criticise plan for health charges for refugees

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

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

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



Only 6% of hotline calls investigated

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

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

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

Monday, November 25, 2013

US Republicans want 'economic-based immigration' system

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

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

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



Gang of Eight

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

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

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



Pathway equals amnesty

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Australian immigration to fast track 'special investor' visas

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

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

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



Morrison 'like a recruiter for a sports team'

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

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

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



$5m minimum investment

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

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

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

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

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

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

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



Population projections used in formulating policy

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

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

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



Immigration accounts directly for 43% of growth

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

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

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



Net immigration has fallen by 85,000 since 2010

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

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



ONS figures subject to revision

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

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



Population rise 'could be disastrous'

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Republicans say US immigration reform bill is dead

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

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

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



Gang of Eight

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

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



Amnesty would reward illegal behaviour

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

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

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



US public blames the Republicans

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

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

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



It's Obama's fault – Senator Cruz

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

UK announces £6m plan to help immigrants learn English

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

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

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



'Speaking English is crucial'

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

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

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



Money is 'wasted' on translation services

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

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

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



English and shopping

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

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

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

New opposition leader says Australia should increase immigration

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

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

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



Immigrants 'good for Australian economy'

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

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

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



Labor acted to deport asylum seekers

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

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

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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

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

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

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

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



Provincial Nominee Program

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

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

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



Provinces nominate applicants for residence

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

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

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



Each territory, province has its own criteria

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

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

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



Expression of Interest

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

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

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



Priority cases

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

House Republicans back US immigration reform bill

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

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

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



Two down 229 to go

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

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

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



Tea Party Republicans oppose reform

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

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



Republicans oppose comprehensive reform

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

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



Democrats believe some Republicans scared to support bill

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

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

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



Manufacturers press Republicans to pass reform

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

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

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



Republicans punishing Obama for 'failure to compromise'

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

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



US public blames Republicans

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

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

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

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

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



Free Labour Mobility Zone for UK and Australia

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

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

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



Labour turned 'complete bind eye' to immigration

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

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

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



Johnson's great grandfather was Turkish minister

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

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



Ali Kemal lynched

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

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

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

Monday, November 11, 2013

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

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

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

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



Hastert Rule

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

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

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



Boehner 'standing in the way of democracy'

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

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

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



Tea Party Republicans particularly angry at the moment

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

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

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



Proposed changes to immigration system

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

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

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

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

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



Unions complained of abuse of 457 visa

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

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

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



No evidence of 'rorting'

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

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

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



Labour Market Testing should be introduced in November

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

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

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



Australian employer should try to find settled worker before nominating

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Half workers in some factories are immigrants, says UK PM

David Cameron, the UK's Prime Minister, has said that young Britons are being outcompeted for jobs by foreign workers because of their 'can do attitude'. Mr Cameron said that there was a danger that young UK nationals might lose out when looking for work. He said that they should be given 'experience of work, of timekeeping and all the things it means to have a job'.

Mr Cameron was speaking at the Mini car plant in Oxford. He said that the UK's education system had failed young Britons. There was also a disincentive to work because of the UK's welfare system.

He said 'immigration, welfare and education are totally linked'.

Mr Cameron said the UK should
  • improve its education system so that school-leavers were able to compete with foreign workers for jobs
  • Reform the welfare system to make work pay and
  • 'have sensible controls on immigration'



Half the workforce in some factories from eastern Europe – Cameron

Mr Cameron said that it was possible to 'go to factories in our country where half the people come from Poland, Lithuania or Latvia'. Mr Cameron said that 'you can't blame them. They want to work. They see the jobs. They come over and they do them'.

The Daily Mail newspaper reports that there are 29m people working in the UK. Of these, records show that 4.4m come from countries other than the UK. In 2003, the Mail reports, only 9% of the UK workforce was from overseas. That figure has risen to 15% in 2013.

There are, according to official statistics, a total of 683,000 people from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, from the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, from Poland, Hungary and Slovenia currently working in the UK. There are a further 141,000 from Bulgaria and Romania.



UK must get education system right

Mr Cameron said that the UK must 'get our education system right so we are producing young people out of our schools and colleges who are fully capable of doing these jobs'. He also said that the benefits system should be reformed so that 'it does not pay to be out of work'.

Mr Cameron said that 'the danger for a country like Britain is, yes, you see the economy recover, yes you see jobs coming , but you leave behind people who have not got the right qualifications from school'.

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

Monday, November 4, 2013

Murdoch says Australia needs more immigration

The Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch has used a speech in Sydney to call for Australia to become 'the world's most diverse nation' because of the 'incredible political advantage' this would bring.

Mr Murdoch was speaking at Sydney Town Hall as a guest of the Lowy Institute, a right-wing policy institute. It was established by Frank Lowy, the founder of the Westfield Shopping Centre group. Mr Murdoch gave the 10th annual Lowy Lecture. He travelled to Sydney from his home in the United States.

He told his audience that 'The 21st century is Australia's for the taking'. He said that Australia could become a major economic power if;
  • It maintained its entrepreneurial 'have a go' culture
  • It Increased immigration and
  • It positioned itself to profit from 'disruption' caused to the global economy by innovation



Murdoch emigrated from Australia

Mr Murdoch is an international migrant himself. He was born in Australia, made much of his fortune in the UK and now lives in the US, having adopted US citizenship in 1985 to enable him to own US television stations.

He told his audience that immigration would help Australia thrive. He said that the story of Frank Lowy was now 'the story of Australia'. Mr Lowy travelled to Australia from Slovakia, via Israel before setting up a deli delivery business.



Lowy immigrated to Australia

Lowy was born to a Jewish family in what is now Slovakia in 1930 and left at the age of 15 for Israel where he fought for Israeli independence from the British. He then left for Australia at the age of 22.
Mr Murdoch said 'The nations that lead this century will be the ones most successful at attracting and keeping talent'.

He said that Australia was already outstripping the US as a nation of immigrants. He said 'We think of the United States as an immigrant nation - and rightly so. But the percentage of foreign-born in the United States - a country currently wracked by a self-defeating debate over immigration policy - is just about 12 per cent. In Australia, it is double that'.



'An incredible competitive advantage' - Murdoch

Mr Murdoch said that this was ''an incredible competitive advantage'. He explained 'A nation as small as ours will increasingly depend on trade. The more people we have with ties to other parts of the world, the greater our advantage when we seek trade relationships with these nations'.

Mr Murdoch also praised migrants for their drive and acumen. He said 'What immigrant would leave family and history far behind for a life of indolence? People come here because they seek a better life for themselves and their children, and they believe in opportunity'.

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