Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dyson slams 'sheer madness' of UK's immigration laws

Sir James Dyson, one of the UK's leading entrepreneurs, has again criticised the UK immigration system.

Sir James, who founded and runs Dyson best known for its range of vacuum cleaners, said that it was 'sheer madness' for the UK to train large numbers of engineers at its universities and then not allow them to stay in the UK. This, he said, would mean that other Countries will benefit from an influx of new engineers rather than the UK.

Sir James founded his Dyson manufacturing company in 1993. His company sells mainly vacuum cleaners around the world. He has also developed hand dryers and a ball wheelbarrow. He is said to be worth in excess of £3bn.



Engineers hard to find

In 2013, Sir James announced a plan to expand the Dyson research and development facility in Malmesbury, Wiltshire creating 3,500 jobs. But in February 2014, he warned that the UK's restrictive immigration policy was making it very hard to find the engineers he needed.

At that time, he wrote a piece for The Financial Times in which he wrote 'I have no idea where these engineers are going to come from'. He said that the UK should make use of the talented students who study engineering and design at the UK's universities. He told the government that it should 'Stop kicking out bright foreigners, or put British jobs at risk'.

On 15th May 2014, in an interview with Sky News, a satellite broadcasting channel, he repeated his complaints about the UK's immigration policy. He said 'Nearly 90% of our researchers at British universities in engineering and science come from overseas and we ought to make them more welcome'.




The UK's Prime Minister David Cameron came to power having promised to cut immigration to the UK to below 100,000 per year. Mr Cameron's Conservative Party won more seats than any other party but did not win an overall majority; Mr Cameron therefore became Prime Minister at the head of a Coalition government.

The Coalition has put in place policies which were designed to cut immigration. Industry figures warned that the cuts would be counterproductive. Three changes that have limited the options available to foreign graduates from outside the EU to work in the UK are
  • The closure of the Tier 1 (General) visa stream. This visa allowed skilled professionals to work freely in the UK for any employer without having to be sponsored by an employer. The Coalition said that at least one third of Tier 1 (General) visa holders were working in lower skilled occupations such as taxi driver and security guard
  • The closure of the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa stream. This visa allowed foreign graduates of UK universities to work in the UK for two years after graduation. If during that time, they found a job they could then remain on an UK Tier 2 visa.
  • The imposition of a cap of 20,700 on the number of Tier 2 (General) skilled worker visas. The government says that the cap has never been reached so no visa applications have ever been refused because of the cap. However, immigration specialists report that UK immigration has made it much harder to qualify for a Tier 2 (General ) visa and many applications are refused on seemingly arbitrary grounds



90% of researchers from overseas

Sir James told Sky News that British people were 'very creative' but said that not enough of them studied engineering. He said 'nearly 90% of researchers in engineering and science at UK universities are from overseas and we ought to make them more welcome.

'Indeed, nearly half the undergraduates studying science and engineering are also from outside the EU.

'So, I think if we made them welcome from the very beginning, and said that 'when you've qualified, you can stay in Britain and help Britain create interesting products that we can export' rather than dis-encouraging them [so] they go home and become competitors to us, and this is sheer madness'.

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



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Australian immigration boom may have peaked

Australian immigration may have peaked, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Net inward migration in the year to March 2014 stood at 380,910. This is slightly down from the January 2013 figure of 411,000. But, it still amounts to 1.65% of the Australian population. As such, it is still, as Pete Wargent of the Australian website says, a 'huge' figure.

The Australian government remains committed to attracting around 250,000 immigrants per year in the near to mid-term. The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection says that it expects net overseas migration (NOM) to continue to account for 40% of Australian population growth in the years ahead.



'Populate or perish'

Australia has pursued an extremely active immigration policy since the end of the Second World War in 1945. The then immigration minister, Arthur Calwell, encouraged 'New Australians' to settle in Australia and warned Australians that Australia must 'populate or perish'.

The population of Australia in 1945 was about 7,400,000 and was overwhelmingly descended from British and Irish settlers, many of whom were criminals transported to Australia as punishment by the British during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The post-war government was committed to growing the population by 1% annually through immigration. At first, migrants from the British Isles were given preferential treatment but, since 1972, Australia has followed a completely non-discriminatory immigration policy.



Melting pot

There have been large waves of immigration from European countries such as Italy, Greece, Germany, Croatia, and the Netherlands. More recently, many more immigrants have come from Asian countries.

The population of Australia has grown enormously since 1945 and has also grown in diversity. The population is now above 23m. Census statistics released in 2012 showed that, while over a third of Australians identify themselves as having ancestry in the UK, about 4.5% say they are of Chinese descent and 2% say they are ethnically Indian.

There are now around 300,000 Australian citizens born in India and around 320,000 from China.



Australia committed to immigration programme

Australia's Coalition government, which came to power in September 2012, promised before the election to stamp out what it says is abuse of the asylum law but remains committed to attracting other types of immigrants.

The Coalition has taken steps to prevent migrants from Asia from travelling by boat from Indonesia to Australian waters where they often claim asylum. The government has coordinated a military campaign which has seen some boats containing migrants turned back into Indonesian waters.

Critics of the government say that this campaign is against international law but the government says that the migrants are not genuine asylum seekers but economic migrants seeking a better life.



Continuing immigration

At the same time as it cracks down on this form of migration, Australia will continue to accept large numbers of migrants through various immigration schemes.

A publication by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection says that Australia plans to accept 250,000 migrants every year at least until 2017. A report on Regional Net Overseas Migration forecasts immigration levels as follows

Year ending Immigration number
June 2014 241,700
June 2015 249,900
June 2016 250,300
June 2017 250,200

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Prominent Tea Party activist calls for US immigration reform

Sal Russo, a high-profile Tea Party activist, has called on the US Congress to 'fix' the US's immigration system. Mr Russo wrote an opinion piece for the Washington political newspaper Roll Call in which he called for a complete overhaul of the US's 'broken' system.

The Tea Party is a radical, right-wing, grassroots movement. It is not a homogenous movement and has no leaders or structure. Because it is a loose grouping with no manifesto, it cannot truly even be said to have any policies; Tea Party activists are united by an opposition to 'big government' and taxes.

Polling shows that most people who identify themselves as Tea Party sympathisers are also opposed to immigration, particularly to the granting of permanent resident status to illegal immigrants.



Tea Party Express

Mr Russo is a co-founder of a Tea Party-supporting group called Tea Party Express. He is also its chief strategist. In his Roll Call article he said that the US immigration should be reformed and that 'what is good for America should be the sole criteria for immigration reform'.

In his piece, published on 14th May 2014, Mr Russo called for more employment-based immigration to the US to help US businesses find 'the talent we need to fill the jobs'.

He said 'Our economy has long outgrown the visa programs we have now. In high-skilled industries such as engineering and medicine, we do not have the talent we need to fill the jobs. These industries are the fastest growing in the country and we depend on them for job creation and economic growth.



Shortage of 235,000 jobs in STEM subjects

'But according to the Partnership for a New American Economy, we face a shortage of more than 235,000 jobs in science, technology, engineering and math fields by 2018'.

He added that US farmers are unable to employ migrant labourers because of visa restrictions.

He said 'Doing nothing now means hurting businesses just as we are coming out of the Great Recession'.



Visa for entrepreneurs

Mr Russo called for the creation of a visa for entrepreneurs. He said that 'other countries understand that entrepreneurs are an economic necessity. While we actively turn [them] away'.

(In fact, the US already has some visas suitable for entrepreneurs. Notably the E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor visas though these are only available for citizens of countries with which the US has a reciprocal treaty and the EB-5 investor visa)

Mr Russo went on to say that the US should issue more visas to employment-based applicants. He said that only 6% of foreign nationals issued with US permanent resident visas each year receive their visas in an 'employment based' category and that this percentage should be increased.



Foreign graduates should be allowed to stay

He also said that the US should allow foreign graduates of US universities to stay and work rather than 'serving competing nations with the talented foreign-born graduates who study here and then get sent back home to drive their economies instead of ours'.

Most surprisingly of all, Mr Russo said that 'the 11 million people who are here illegally [should] obey the law, pay taxes and come out of the shadows'. This seems to be a call for the US Congress to pass a law that would enable illegal immigrants to apply for permanent residence in the US.

This is a very surprising thing for a Tea Party sympathiser to say, let alone for a Tea Party 'leader'. It is surprising because US Congressmen and women who claim to sympathise with Tea Party goals are generally vehement opponents of any proposed law which would allow illegal residents to stay legally in the US.



Tea Party members oppose amnesty

On the whole, Tea Party Republicans say that allowing illegal residents to stay would be rewarding criminality and would encourage further illegal immigration. They also say that it would disadvantage potential immigrants who apply legally and are waiting for their applications to be processed. This may increase the processing times for such applicants.

Last year, the US Senate passed The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act 2013 which would have radically reformed the US immigration system.

Among other changes, the bill would
  • 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 permanent resident visas (or 'green cards' as they are known'
  • Increase spending on border security by $4.5bn over the next four years



Pathway to citizenship

But the most controversial change was a clause which would have created 'a pathway to citizenship' for illegal residents.

The Republican speaker of the other House of Congress, the House of Representatives, has not allowed a vote on the bill because he believes that Tea Party-backed Representatives might vote against it because of the 'pathway to citizenship' thereby splitting the party.

Mr Russo's intervention is therefore rather surprising and, potentially, good news for immigration reform.



11.5m illegal residents

There are currently believed to be 11.5m people living in the US illegally. 80% of them are of Hispanic descent and come from Mexico and other countries in Latin America. The issue of what to do about them has become an issue which divides the parties.

During the 2012 Presidential election campaign, President Obama promised to introduce legislation to regularise the status of illegal immigrants if re-elected. His Republican challenger, Mitt Romney said that, if he were to be elected President, he would, instead, introduce 'self-deportation' policies.

'Self-deportation' involves making life so difficult for illegal residents of the US that they choose to leave the country.



Romney 'appeased Tea Party'

At the time, US political commentators said that Mr Romney was forced to espouse 'self-deportation' policies in order to attract the support of Tea Party sympathisers for his presidential candidacy.

Mr Russo's suggestion that illegal residents should be given an opportunity to regularise their immigration status is therefore a surprise.

He was keen to stress that he was not in favour of an 'unbridled amnesty' for illegal residents. He said 'We have to get them right by the law in exchange for legal status, but not unbridled amnesty.



Background checks, learn English

'This should include penalties, background checks to root out criminals, and the requirement that they learn English, understand the Constitution and be committed to our basic freedoms. We must ensure there is no special pathway to citizenship that puts them in front of people who waited in line'.

These provisions are all contained within the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. We will keep you informed of developments.

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

Immigration likely to be a factor in European elections

Pollsters are predicting that the EU elections will prove difficult for ruling parties throughout the European Union. Polls show that immigration is one subject that is driving voters to vote for fringe parties on the right and left.

The European elections will be held throughout the EU on 22nd May. There are 751 seats being contested. Pollsters expect the votes for mainstream political parties to fall dramatically. Polls show that fringe parties, often with anti-immigration policies, are likely to do well.

The main reason for the change, analysts say, is that the public no longer trust mainstream political parties to solve their problems. Polls throughout the EU show that trust in the EU itself has been greatly eroded, even in countries which do very well financially out of EU membership.



Growing mistrust of EU

In May 2007, polling showed that only 18% of Poles tended to distrust the EU. By December 2012, despite the great economic benefit Poland has gained from EU membership. That figure has risen to 42%. In Germany and France, traditionally among the most 'pro-European' EU members, distrust of the EU has risen from 36% and 41% respectively to 59% and 56%.

Traditionally, the UK has been the most 'Eurosceptic' country in the EU but this is not the case anymore. In 2007, 49% of Britons distrusted the EU. This had grown to 69% in 2012. But in Spain, distrust of the EU rocketed from 23% in 2007 to 72% in 2012, making it the new home of euroscepticism.

There are many reasons for this growing dissatisfaction with European institutions.
  • Many say that there is a 'democratic deficit' at the heart of Europe because the European Commission, which has much of Europe's power, is a body of governmental appointees
  • Manly also say that the EU has failed to develop an effective foreign policy. They say that the EU's foreign representative, Baroness Ashton, has been powerless and irrelevant during the Ukrainian crisis. Radek Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister is on record saying that President Putin of Russia has 'only contempt for Europe'
  • Since the last elections in 2009, Europe has been through a financial crisis which has left many people, particularly in southern Europe, unemployed. The crisis left several countries including Ireland and Greece virtually bankrupt. Throughout Europe, standards of living have fallen and the eurozone's currency, the euro, very nearly collapsed.



Voters expected to blame immigrants for economic woes

There were many causes for this crisis, not least the international banking crisis of 2008 and the lack of a common fiscal policy in the Eurozone. However, it seems that, in the wake of this crisis, many EU citizens blame immigrants, not bankers, for their problems.

In Austria, the far-right Freedom Party led by Heinz-Christian Strache is expected to gain votes. In the Netherlands, the Partij voor de Vrijheid (Party for Freedom or PVV) is expected to come second.

In France, the Front Nationale is polling strongly and in the UK, the anti-EU UK Independence Party, which advocates that the UK should leave the EU altogether to limit immigration from the EU, is expected to come first in the UK election.




All these parties oppose the free movement of people within the EU and also are sceptical of the benefits that EU membership confers on their own countries.

According to at least one respected European politician, the rise of these fringe parties has been caused by the complacency of the mainstream political establishment. Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister says 'The problem is not the Eurosceptics. The problem is the mainstream parties… [The eurosceptics are] strong because they are managing the emotions and we are not'.

According to many centrist politicians, far from causing Europe's problems, immigration is, in fact, the answer. Ania Skrzypek, a Polish political scientist, told UK newspaper The Guardian 'In western Europe many think the welfare systems are not sustainable. We just can't afford them. Migration is the answer'.



EU population set to fall

This is because the population of Europe is set to fall substantially over the next generation. This will cause labour shortages and mean that the number of workers will fall while the number of pensioners will rise, leading to an increase in the tax burden.

But traditional, mainstream parties have not communicated this reality to the public. They allow fringe parties to whip up hysteria about immigration and introduce limits on migration themselves in order to try to gain votes. It seems likely that after the election increasing political power will be in the hands of 'fringe parties'.

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

Friday, May 23, 2014

30% of UK population 'will be from ethnic minority by 2050'

A leading London think tank claims that 30% of the UK's population will be made up of people from ethnic minorities by 2050. In England, by far the most populous country in the UK, that figure will rise to 50%.

A new report from the Policy Exchange think tank; A Portrait of Modern Britain, contains analysis and projections by Professor Philip Rees of the University of Leeds from census data.

The analysis suggests that ethnic minorities will move out from the UK's three largest cities and spread across the country; many ethnic minority immigrants to the UK live in London, Birmingham and Manchester. 50% of Britain's minority population lives in these three cities alone.



Similar patterns of migration

Previous waves of immigrants throughout the centuries have followed similar patterns of migration, settling in poor areas of major cities before becoming more affluent and moving out into more affluent areas.

The analysis is based on data gathered from the last three UK national censuses carried out once every ten years since 1991. The survey finds that 14% of the population of the UK, some 8m people, belong to an ethnic minority. The five largest ethnic minorities are


Black African989,628
Black Caribbean594,825



Most population growth among minority populations

The report says that, over the last decade, almost all (80%) of the UK's population growth has been amongst the ethnic minority populations. The white population has stayed about the same size whereas the ethnic population has doubled. The second largest, and fastest growing, ethnic grouping is 'mixed race'.

Ethnic minorities now account for only 5% of the population aged over 60 but 25% of the population aged under 5.

The report is optimistic about the future. It states that '90% of white and minority residents feel that their local area is a place where people from different backgrounds get on well together'.



Minorities more likely to define themselves as British

Further, many ethnic minority Britons identify themselves solely as 'British' rather than as part of a minority. 71% of Bangladeshis identify themselves as 'British only'. Ethnic minorities are 'three times more likely that the white population to feel that 'being British' forms some part of their identity'.

The rise in ethnic minority populations also poses a considerable electoral problem for the Conservative Party led by the UK's Prime Minister David Cameron.

Statistics show that voters from ethnic minorities vote overwhelmingly for the left-wing Labour Party.



Minorities vote Labour

68% of all minorities voted for Labour in the general election of 2010 whereas only 16% voted for the Conservatives. A further 14% voted for the centrist Liberal Democrats.

If the demographic predictions contained in the report are correct, then the Conservatives will find it increasingly hard to win an election in future.

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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

US immigration: Spouses of some H-1B visa holders can work

Two senior officials in the Obama administration have announced proposals to allow the spouses of some H-1B visa holders to work while in the US. Currently, spouses of H-1B visa holders are only allowed to work if they qualify for a work visa, such as an H-1B or L-1 visa, themselves.

The change would not apply to spouses of all H-1B visa holders but only to spouses of those H-1B visa holders who are skilled in one of the STEM subjects; science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Penny Pritzker, the US Commerce Secretary, and Alejandro Mayorkas, deputy secretary of Homeland Security, said that the changes could affect 97,000 people in the first year and another 30,000 people a year in future.



Public consultation

Pritzker and Mayorkas announced the proposal at a Washington press conference on Tuesday 6th May 2014. The change is due to be introduced on 5th July 2014 after a public consultation.

Ms Pritzker, a billionaire heiress to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, told journalists 'These individuals are American families in waiting. Many tire of waiting for green cards and leave the country to work for our competition. The fact is we have to do more to retain and attract world-class talent to the United States and these regulations put us on a path to do that'.

In January, during his State of the Union address, President Obama urged his administration to 'do more to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners who create most new jobs in America'. This proposal is designed to put the President's words into action.



28% of start-ups have one immigrant founder

Ms Pritzker said that about 28% of US business start-ups have at least one immigrant founder. She said that about 40% of America's 500 biggest firms were founded by immigrants. She said Sergey Brin of Google, Andy Gove of Intel and Jerry Yang of Yahoo were all immigrants who would have benefitted from the change.

Pritzker and Mayorkas also proposed a change to the regulations which would allow the employers of H-1B visa holders with STEM skills to classify them as 'outstanding' in their field. This would make it easier for the H-1B holder to qualify for a US permanent residence visa (or green card as they are known).

The H-1B visa is a temporary work visa for skilled foreign workers, usually graduates to work in a 'specialty occupation'. To be able to employ a foreign worker on an H-1B visa, a US employer must apply to US immigration with proof that the worker will be paid the prevailing rate for the job.



Degree equivalence

Only 85,000 H-1B visas are available each year; 65,000 of these are awarded to those with bachelor's degrees or, on rare occasions, those with a mixture of training and experience that amount to 'degree equivalence'. A further 20,000 may be issued to those with higher degrees.

Many businesses in the US are calling for there to be an increase in the number of H-1Bs available each year.

Last year, the Senate passed legislation which would raise the number of H-1Bs available to a maximum of about 200,000 a year. To become law, however, the law would also have to be passed by the House of Representatives. It does not seem likely that this will happen in the near future.



Trying to make system more attractive

Thus, the Obama administration is trying to amend the current system to make it more attractive to foreign applicants.

Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama criticised the proposals. He said 'The administration is acting unilaterally to change immigration law in a way that hurts American workers.  

This will help corporations by further flooding a slack labour market, pulling down wages.'It is good news for citizens in other countries who will be hired. But for struggling Americans, it will only reduce wages, lower job opportunities, and make it harder to scrape by'.



Hyatt Hotels

Ms Pritzker's own family arrived in Chicago from the Ukraine in 1881 and quickly became successful lawyers, property magnates and hoteliers. The family is said to now be worth some $20bn.

Mr Mayorkas was born in Cuba and came to the US with his parents at the age of 1.

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

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Canadian working holiday visa numbers soar

The number of young foreigners visiting Canada as part of the International Experience Canada (IEC) programme has risen sharply according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). CIC says that it expects some 20,000 young people, aged between 18 and 35, to arrive in Canada with IEC visas in 2014.

International Experience Canada allows young people from 32 countries with relevant bilateral treaties with Canada to spend a year living and working in Canada (the minimum age is 18 and the maximum age is 30 for some countries and 35 for others). Applicants from the Republic of Ireland can stay for two years.

The recession which has continued in much of Europe since 2008 means that the scheme is particularly attractive for European applicants. CIC received 3,850 applications for IEC visas from Irish applicants within 11 minutes of beginning to accept applications on the evening of 13th March.

There is similar demand among applicants from other European nations.



Visas made available in tranches

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) releases the visas for different countries in tranches on different days. So, for example, Ireland has a quota of 7,700 IEC visas. 3,850 were on offer on 13th March and a further 3,850 were made available on 1st April.

Canadian citizens are able to take similar working holidays in the 32 eligible countries but Canadian Unions say that three times as many foreign nationals come under the Canadian working holiday scheme than Canadians coming under similar schemes in other Countries.

This has led some in Canada to question the value of the program. Some critics have even suggested that the Canadian government is using the IEC program to allow cheap foreign labour into Canada.



Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) allows Canadian employers to employ foreign workers if they first obtain a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) which shows that there is no Canadian worker available to do the job.

Doug Parton, the Business Manager of the Ironworkers union Local 97 in British Columbia says 'This program (the IEC) circumvents the requirement for employers to prove there is a shortage of Canadian workers before hiring non-Canadians and also removes the requirement for employers to pay the prevailing wage rate for a particular job'.

Mr Parton continued 'It's a complete free for all and it's an attack on wages'.


The 32 countries which participate in International Experience Canada are
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom

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

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New UK figures to show rise in immigration from EU

The next set of official UK immigration statistics are likely to show an increase of more than 25% in the number of Romanians and Bulgarians living in the UK since the same time last year, according to the Migration Observatory at Oxford University.

Dr Carlos Villas-Silva, a senior research at the Migration Observatory, said 'It is almost certain that we are going to see an increase in that number from the first quarter in 2013 to the first quarter in 2014," he said. "We would expect at least 30,000 more… that would be the minimum you would expect.

Indeed, Dr Villas-Silva said that the number of Romanians and Bulgarians in the UK might be as high as 200,000 when the new figures are released later this week. This compares with only 29,000 in 2007 when the two countries joined the European Union and only 112,000 in the first quarter of 2013.



Embarrassment for Prime Minister

If Dr Villas-Silva is right, then this will be a great embarrassment to the UK's Prime Minister David Cameron. It is also likely to result in an increase in electoral support for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) at the European Parliament elections which will be held on 22nd May. UKIP is a right-wing party which campaigns for the UK to leave the European Union.

The UK's population is, by-and-large, opposed to mass immigration. Polls consistently find that about 75% of the population think there has been too much immigration.

UKIP says that the UK should be able to control levels of immigration from any Country. EU citizens can live and work freely in the UK and in other EU Countries. If the UK left the EU, It could then, says UKIP leader Nigel Farage, stop EU immigration into the UK.



Conservatives tend to oppose immigration

Mr Cameron heads the right-wing Conservative Party and is prime minister at the head of a Coalition government which contains Conservatives and members of the centrist Liberal Democrats. The Conservative Party is, traditionally, the main stream party for those who oppose immigration but Mr Cameron does not want the UK to leave the EU. He is therefore in a difficult position.

Mr Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010 after the Conservatives became the biggest single party after the general election in that year. During the election campaign, Mr Cameron promised to reduce net annual immigration to the UK from the level at the time; about 250,000 a year, to 'tens of thousands' a year.

Critics said that this promise was impossible for Mr Cameron to keep because the UK is a member of the EU which guarantees the 'free movement of labour' between member states.



Changes to immigration system

Mr Cameron's government has introduced numerous changes to the system to cut immigration from outside the EU. It has;
  • Abolished the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa. This allowed foreign graduates of UK universities to stay in the UK and work for two years after graduation for any employer (including self-employment)
  • Abolished the Tier 1 (General) visa which allowed 'highly skilled people' (mainly graduates) from around the world to live and work in the UK. They were able to work for any employer (including self-employment). The government said that many Tier 1 (General) holders worked in low-paid occupations.
  • Introduced a cap of 20,700 on the Tier 2 (General) visa for skilled workers. The Home Office has also introduced stringent requirements for applicants making it time-consuming and expensive to apply for these visas. It is for this reason that in reality the cap is never reached
  • Removed the licences from 700 colleges which effectively prevents them from sponsoring foreign students from outside the EU for Tier 4 student visas
  • Prevented UK citizens and permanent residents who earn less than £18,600 a year from bringing foreign born spouses to live in the UK.

Critics of the Coalition's immigration policy say that these policies have been extremely damaging to the UK's economy. They did have the effect of reducing net immigration at first. By September 2013, net immigration was down to 150,000 per year. But, since then, immigration has been climbing up again. This is because of increased immigration from within the EU.



Southern Europeans

Many of the EU migrants have come from southern Europe where many countries are still in recession. Figures show that the numbers of arrivals from Portugal, Italy and Greece have risen. Others have come from eastern Europe where, on the whole, rates of pay are considerably lower than in the UK.

Consequently, the last official figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics showed that net immigration rose in the year to December 2013 to 212,000, up 60,000 on the previous figure.

This is likely to drive even more traditional Conservatives to register a protest vote by voting for UKIP.



UKIP predictions

UKIP warned that many new Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants would arrive in the UK when restrictions were lifted in January 2014. This may very well have turned out to be incorrect. However, the Migration Observatory predicts that the new figures will show that there has been a significant increase in immigration from these two Countries since January 2013.

It seems that the bulk of the immigrants arrived in 2013 before restrictions were lifted. This will be bad news for Mr Cameron.

Although the two countries joined the EU in 2007, the UK, along with most other western EU countries, put 'transitional controls' in place which put restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians living and working in the UK. The transitional controls lasted seven years and expired after 31st December 2013.



Bulgarians' and Romanians' work restrictions

Until then, only the following categories of Bulgarians and Romanians were allowed to work in the UK
  • Self employed
  • Highly skilled migrants with job offers under the work permit scheme (or who scored sufficient points under the High Skilled Migrant Program rules)
  • Agricultural workers

On 1st January, journalists waited at UK airports many expecting large numbers of immigrants to arrive. This did not happen. What appears to have happened is that immigrants from the two Countries actually arrived before then.

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

Monday, May 19, 2014

US IT lobby group calls for action on H-1B visa reform

Compete America, a body which lobbies on behalf of high-tech industries in the US, has called on the US Congress to pass legislation to increase the number of H-1B visas available to US industry.

Scott Corley, the chief executive of Compete America, has written an opinion piece for the Washington political newspaper Roll Call to raise awareness of 'the H-1B visa crisis'. Mr Corley says that the US economy would have been creating an additional new job every 43 seconds if the H-1B system had been reformed.

The H-1B visa allows US employers to employ skilled foreign workers in 'specialty occupations'.

There are currently 85,000 H-1B visas available annually. 65,000 go to workers with bachelor's degrees (or 'degree equivalence' where a worker has a high level of skills gained from a mixture of experience and training). A further 20,000 can be issued to workers with higher degrees.



H-1B visas last three years but can be renewed

Most H-1B visas last for an initial three year period. They can be renewed once to a maximum of six years.

While in the US, H-1B visa holders can, if they meet the requirements, apply for permanent residence visas (or 'green cards', as they are known). Where an H-1B visa holder has applied for a green card, his/her H-1B visa can be renewed while his/her green card application is pending. This can sometimes take many years.

Demand for H-1Bs is extremely high and the number of applications received far outstripping the number of visas available each year. This year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications on 1st April.



170,000 applications within five days

Within five working days, it had received over 170,000 applications and held two lotteries to distribute the available visas among the applicants.

Mr Corley quoted research from Dr Matthew Slaughter, an economist from Dartmouth College, a highly-regarded university in New Hampshire, to support his position. Dr Slaughter's research suggests that 'for every immigrant hired at an American company, another four employees are added as well'.

Mr Corley adds 'High-skilled scientists and engineers create so much innovation and work that additional jobs must be created to complement and support their efforts' and continues 'Other studies have indicated that number of additional jobs created by each high-skilled immigrant could be as high as 7.5'.



Failed H-1B reform bills

There have been several bills before Congress in the last few years to increase the number of H-1B visas available. Unfortunately none of them were passed by both Houses of Congress as is required by the US Constitution and so the number of visas remains the same. Among the bills that failed to pass are
  • The SKILLS Act 2013 which would have increased the H-1B caps to 155,000 for bachelor's degree/degree equivalence visas and 40,000 for those with higher degrees. The SKILLS Act was voted out by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee in June 2013
  • The Immigration Innovation Act 2013 which would have immediately increased the number of H-1B visas to 115,000. In times of high demand the number of visas available annually would rise as high as 300,000. The bill failed to attract sufficient support.
  • The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act 2013 which would have immediately raised the number of H-1Bs available to 150,000. This figure could have risen to 200,000 in times of high demand. This bill was passed by the Democrat-controlled Senate in June 2013 but the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has not yet been allowed to vote on it by the Republican speaker of the House, who decides what bills come before the House.




Split in immigration reform?

Mr Corley's call for urgent reform of the H-1B system has led some immigration activists to fear that the US high-tech industry could be about to split from the campaign for comprehensive reform of the entire system.

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act 2013 (The Border Security Act) was drafted by a bipartisan group of eight senators (four Democrats and four Republicans). It was intended to reform every area of the US immigration system which both parties accept is 'broken'.

If it ever becomes law it will
  • Create a 'pathway to citizenship' for most of the estimated 11.5m 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 in times of high demand.
  • Allow graduates from US universities with higher degrees to apply for green cards on graduation. There would be no cap on applications.
  • Increase spending on border security by $4.5bn over the next four years



Comprehensive reform

Politicians from both parties have called for comprehensive reform. High profile Republican, Jeb Bush said that he opposed the Immigration Innovation Act in 2013 because he believed that the entire system should be comprehensive reformed.

But many Republicans object to the creation of a 'pathway to citizenship' for illegal immigrants which they say will encourage further illegal immigration and will disadvantage legal immigrants who would have to wait longer for their chance to become American residents.

Consequently, some Republican Representatives in the House of Representatives have made it clear that they will never vote for the Border Security Act.



Difficult choice

This leaves business organisations wanting reform of the employment-based immigration system with a difficult choice to make.

Up until now, many business groups, such as, founded by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, have pushed for comprehensive reform, including a pathway to citizenship for illegal residents.

But, they may calculate that it is in their interests to lobby for a piece-by-piece approach which would see the reform of the H-1B system occurring quickly.



Concern among campaigners

This possibility is causing concern among immigration reform campaigners.

Senator Dick Durbin, one of the authors of the Border Security Act, is reported to have said 'I am troubled by recent statements suggesting that some in the technology industry may shift their focus to passage of stand-alone legislation that would only resolve the industry's concerns.

'This 'divide and conquer' approach destroys the delicate political balance achieved in our bipartisan bill'.



We are not abandoning comprehensive reform

Mr Corley has told journalists 'in no one way are we abandoning comprehensive reform'.

Nonetheless, his article has raised concerns among many campaigners for illegal immigrants' rights.

The worry is that high tech businesses may in future concentrate only on reforms that are of benefit to them. If this happens there will be less funding and likely less political support for comprehensive immigration reform.

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

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Demand for H-1B visas up by 40% in 2014, says US immigration

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has revealed that it received 172,000 applications for H-1B visas in the first five working days of April this year, 40% more than over the same period last year. It has since held ballots to allocate the H-1B visa quota. It will now notify all the chosen applicants whose applications can be considered further for an H-1B visa.

Only 85,000 H-1B visas can be issued annually; 65,000 to those with bachelor's degrees or with experience, or a combination of experience and qualifications, which is considered to be 'degree equivalence' and 20,000 to those with higher degrees such as masters degrees and doctorates.

It is specified in US immigration law that USCIS should accept H-1B applications from 1st of April each year for at least five days. Where the quotas have been reached during that five day period, USCIS then holds a ballot, or ballots if both quotas have been exceeded, to distribute the available visas.



Demand up by 40% on last year

This year, the quotas were greatly exceeded and two ballots have been held. Applications of unlucky applicants have been discarded. Demand was up on last year, 2013, by 40%. Last year, USCIS received 124,000 applications over the same period.

Five firms took 33% of H1B visas

Analysis of last year's applications carried out by Professor Ron Hira of the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York shows that five outsourcing firms received about one third of all H-1Bs issued and ten outsourcing companies received over half of all H-1Bs.

The top five firms, Cognizant, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, Infosys and Accenture received about 35,000 of the 85,000 visas available leading to claims that the system is no longer working as it should.

The International Business Times reports Neeraj Gupta of the US tech firm Systems in Motion as saying 'What the visa was intended to do was to allow us to get great engineers from India, the Philippines, the Ukraine, or wherever, for our innovation economy.



Outsourcing firms

Instead these large outsourcing firms are bringing in lower paid testers and programmers are taking up so many of the visas'.

A spokesman for Cognizant said 'We create and support thousands of American jobs, including 7,000 U.S. workers hired locally over the past two years and a commitment to hire at least 10,000 more locally over the next three years'.

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

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Canada's immigration minister gives glimpse of new investor scheme

Chris Alexander, Canada's immigration minister says that Canada will announce details of an 'immigration investor venture capital pilot' scheme in 'a couple more months'. The visa will allow foreign nationals to gain Canadian permanent residence visas if they start up businesses in Canada.

Mr Alexander said that applicants would need to invest 'more than twice the amount' that was required under the previous Immigrant Investor Program (IIP). He also said the investment would need to be made for a longer period than under the IIP.

Mr Alexander made headlines in China in February when he announced that the IIP would be closed with immediate effect. At the time of his announcement, there were some 25,000 applications outstanding.



45,000 people lost visa chance when IIP closed

Because each successful IIP applicant was allowed to apply for permanent residence visas for his/her spouse and dependent children, it is believed that some 65,000 people lost the chance of moving to Canada. Of these, it is believed, some 45,000 were from China.

Mr Alexander was interviewed by Hong Kong paper, the South China Morning Post during a trip to Hong Kong in late March. He was initially asked why the IIP had been scrapped.

Mr Alexander said that there were four main reasons
  • The program 'wasn't meeting its objectives'
  • Many successful applicants who were issued with Canadian permanent residence visas under the IIP failed to move to Canada. This meant that the results of the program 'weren't good compared to our other economic immigration programs'
  • The 'investment' that IIP applicants were required to make 'wasn't really an investment. It was a loan, strictly speaking, to the government of Canada'. He continued 'the amount was small [and] the investment performance was weak'
  • There was a lengthy backlog which meant that applicants had to wait for a minimum of six years to have their applications processed. Some applicants had to wait for as long as a decade.



'Soft loans from absentees'

Mr Alexander summed up the reasons for the IIP's axing by saying that the program was meant to be an immigrant investor program but 'instead we were getting soft loans from absentees'.

He said that those applicants whose applications had been terminated when the IIP was closed would also be able to apply under the new 'immigrant investor venture capital pilot' the details of which would be announced in 'a couple more months'.

He said that the new scheme would require 'a venture capital investment'. He said 'We're essentially going to say to investors, "In return for permanent residence, in return for the opportunity to do business with status from Canada, we're taking your money for a good long time to help create jobs, growth, opportunity in Canada and for global businesses, we hope, through venture capital-focused that will be managed in Canada, and privately managed, not managed by the government'.



New scheme

As Mr Alexander said, the formal announcement will be made later this year. At this point, the full details of the scheme will become clear. However, Mr Alexander did reveal the following details:
  • The minimum investment will be higher than under the IIP. Under the IIP, applicants were required to invest CAN$800,000. Mr Alexander said that, under the new scheme, the amount would be 'more than twice' that amount
  • The sum invested will have to be invested for longer than under the IIP. IIP applicants had to 'invest' their money for a five year period. Mr Alexander said that he was still consulting on the details of the new scheme but said 'I think it will be more than the kind of duration we've seen up until now'
  • The investment will be a genuine investment and not a loan. He said that applicants would have to make a 'larger investment in an at-risk project focused on the start-up side of the venture capital spectrum'
  • Language and residency requirements would 'probably not [be] terribly stringent'. Mr Alexander said that the ability to speak English or French was a useful tool for immigrants in Canada but said 'we respect the fact that not everyone starts from the same point of departure and we give a lot of English second-language support to those who don't have a very high level when they arrive'
  • The initial pilot scheme will require applicants to invest in a venture capital fund which will be managed by Canadian venture capitalists.
  • Investors will not initially have any choice about what schemes their investment is invested in. Mr Alexander said 'Under the pilot, [the money invested] will go into a single fund, so they won't have choice. But in subsequent offerings of the pilot and when we turn it into a programme, we will certainly listen to the advice and the feedback from all of these immigrants.

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


Monday, May 12, 2014

UK parties debate independent Scotland's immigration policy

The debate in the UK about Scottish independence continues ahead of a referendum that will be held on Thursday 18th September 2014. The latest Westminster politician to intervene is Labour's Yvette Cooper who has said that the Scottish National Party (SNP) must 'come clean' on its immigration policy.

All three major political parties at the Westminster parliament; the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, oppose Scottish independence. Only the SNP, which is currently the party in power in Scotland supports independence.

In November 2013, the Scottish National Party (SNP), which, as the name suggests, supports Scottish independence, published a white paper titled Scotland's Future: Your Guide to an Independent Future.

The paper was 670 pages long and was described by the SNP leader Alex Salmond as 'the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published'.



Fewer migrants in Scotland

In it, the SNP said that an independent Scotland would introduce a much higher level of immigration than the rest of the UK. This, Mr Salmond said, was because Scotland has different needs. This is, in part because most immigrants to the UK settle in southern England.

Only a small number make it to Scotland. Therefore, Scotland has not in the past benefitted as much from immigrant skilled labour as other parts of the UK and need more skilled immigrants now. Many Scottish citizens too leave Scotland for England and other Countries so further reducing the number of skilled workers in the Scottish labour market.

The SNP would, it says, introduce 'a points-based immigration system targeted at particular Scottish needs'. It has said that it would increase the level of immigration into Scotland to help deal with a rapidly ageing population and a future pensions gap.



Immigration controls between England and Scotland

This has led ministers in the current UK government to warn that there would have to be immigration controls between Ireland and England and an independent Scotland if its immigration policy was radically different from that of the rest of the UK and Ireland.

This is because the government of England and Wales and Northern Ireland, and many other EU Countries including Ireland, would still be pursuing a restrictive immigration policy after Scottish independence.

Immigrants could gain visas from Scotland and then come and live in what would be left of the UK.

As a result, they warn, the UK would have to introduce border controls along the Scottish border. There will likely be a similar situation in a number of other EU Countries.



SNP 'must come clean' on immigration

Recently, the shadow Home Secretary, Labour's Yvette Cooper, said that the SNP must 'come clean' on immigration. Ms Cooper gave a speech in Inverness, the city of her birth, on Thursday 24th April 2014, in which she said that Scotland would need over 1m new immigrants by 2050 to deal with its pensions gap.

Scotland's current population is only 4m. Polling shows that only 2% of those support the idea of increased immigration to Scotland.

Ms Cooper said 'All the evidence shows that there has to be a significant pensions gap in Scotland and that it has to be funded. If that isn't done as part of the UK, where the risks are shared, then it would have to be done by raising taxes, cutting pensions or raising immigration to meet the bill.



SNP 'not clear' on level of immigration proposed

She continued 'The SNP has said it would mean higher immigration for Scotland but haven't said just what that means. It wouldn't be possible to meet the needs of pensions in the future with just more university students from abroad.

'We all think more students would contribute to our economy but Scotland would need looser immigration controls and more low-skilled immigrants. That has consequences in terms of the pressure on public services and schools and the pressure on them'.

Ms Cooper was asked by journalists if increased immigration in Scotland would lead to border controls being introduced. She said 'Immigration policy has consequences for border controls of course but we simply don't know what the SNP immigration policy would be'.



Scotland 'could not use pound'

Senior politicians in Westminster have been seeking to show that an independent Scotland could not introduce the policies that the SNP has promised. Earlier in 2014, senior politicians from all parties at Westminster warned that an independent Scotland could not use the British pound after independence.

In 2013, the UK's Coalition government passed a bill which allowed a referendum on independence to be held in Scotland. It has recently emerged that the Coalition allowed this to happen because it was confident of a convincing victory.

However, this appears to have been a political blunder by Prime Minister David Cameron. Support for the 'yes' to independence campaign has been growing steadily.



Support for independence growing

The 'Better Together' campaign which supports the status quo is still ahead but the lead has been narrowing. The 'no' vote currently has about 50% support and the yes vote has about 40% with one poll showing it at 43%.

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