Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Liz Kendall calls for 'Australian style' points UK immigration system

Britain should emulate Australia's "strict points-based" immigration system, according to UK Labour leadership candidate Liz Kendall. It should be mentioned that the UK has had a points based immigration system since 2008. Since 2008 it has become increasingly difficult to meet the requirements of the tier based UK points based system. The Tier 1 General Visa for skilled migrants has been closed. The requirements for entry under the Tier 2 visa and Tier 4 visa have become more difficult. Ms Kendall's remarks are misleading and yet another cynical attempt by a politician to gain support.



Anti-immigration rhetoric

Kendall made various anti-immigration comments on June 17th, while speaking at BBC Newsnight hustings of Labour leadership candidates; she said that immigrants were "trying to get into this country illegally" and "scrambling on to lorries in Calais."

Kendall spoke of immigrants who come to the UK to "claim benefits", saying: "If you come here legally from Europe, you should come to work and not claim benefits. You should respect the community you live in and our culture, and for people outside Europe we need a strict points-based system like they have in Australia."



Welfare tourism a myth

However, studies have shown that migrant 'welfare tourism' is a myth. Quoting a University College of London study from November last year, European Parliament president martin Schulz said recently that "over the last decade EU citizens working in the UK have paid 20 billion pounds more into the UK budget than they have received."

"The truth is that no-one can travel to another Member State without a job and immediately claim social benefits", he added.

An audience member at the hustings pointed out the similarities between Kendall's statements and those made by members of hardline anti-immigration party UKIP.



Australian immigration policy condemned by UN

A report by the UN Human Rights Council released in March 2015 heavily criticised Australia's treatment of migrants. The report found "that the Government of Australia, by failing to provide adequate detention conditions; end the practice of detention of children; and put a stop to the escalating violence and tension at the Regional Processing Centre" has "violated the rights" of immigrants "including children".

The report went on to state that Australia has left asylum seekers at risk of "torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."



Australian immigration reforms violate torture laws

Two reforms to Australian immigration policy enacted last year were subject to particular criticism. The report addressed the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment Bill 2014, and the Migration Amendment Bill 2014, saying that "both bills put Australia at risk of violating the Convention Against Torture (CAT)"

According to the report, The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment violates the CAT because it gives Australian authorities powers to detain immigrants at sea, without access to lawyers, while their refugee status is assessed. While The Migration Amendment bill is in violation because it "tightens control on the issuance of visas on the basis of character and risk assessments."

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

David Cameron outlines crackdown on UK Tier 2 immigration

British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced new plans to 'significantly reduce' immigration to the UK from outside of the European Union. Plans include raising the salary threshold for the Tier 2 (General) visa.



Migration Advisory Committee to consult on anti-immigration measures

Speaking during Prime Minister's questions on June 10th, the prime minister announced that home secretary Theresa May will ask the Migration Advisory Committee – a semi-independent body set up to advise on immigration policy – to consider several new proposals in order to reduce net migration to under 100,000 annually; mentioned in the last two Conservative election manifestos, and repeated recently by the Prime Minister's team.



Visa restrictions announced

EU rules on freedom of movement within the EU means that there is not much that the Government can do to reduce immigration from EU Countries. Therefore in an attempt to reduce immigration the Migration Advisory Committee will focus on immigration from outside of the European Economic Area. Proposals the committee will consider include:
  • Restricting the availability of work visas, such as the Tier 2 for skilled migrants, to only those who come under 'skill shortages and specialists'.
  • Limiting the time 'a sector can claim to have a skills shortage' on the Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List
  • Introducing a 'skills levy on businesses who recruit foreign workers'
  • Increasing the Tier 2 (General) visa salary threshold



Tier 2 visas targeted

The proposals announced focus on the Tier 2 general visa, which enables UK employers holding a Tier 2 sponsorship licence to employ skilled migrants from outside of the European Economic Area.

Current rules say that applicants for Tier 2 visas must normally have been offered a UK job which pays a minimum of £20,800 per year. It is proposed that this figure is increased. By how much we currently do not know. In any event this is only the minimum salary for the Tier 2 visa scheme. It is already the case that for most occupations on the Tier 2 occupation list the minimum salary requirement is much higher than this.

To come under the Tier 2 visa scheme you need to gain 70 points or more under the points test; You gain points for having a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK employer, having sufficient savings, and for meeting the Tier 2 English language requirements.



Proposals condemned by experts

Speaking to BBC News, Migration Advisory Committee chairman David Metcalf predicted 'unexpected side effects' for the UK economy if the new proposals are implemented.

Katja Hall, director general of the Confederation of British Industry responded to the announcement, saying: "Limiting highly skilled workers from coming to the UK is not the answer.

"They bring their skills and ideas to this country, pay their taxes here and boost growth. We need to keep up-skilling our population, but at the same time as attracting the best and brightest global talent."

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

2015 Immigration Bill Targets Migrant Workers

The state opening of parliament in the UK last Wednesday saw the Queen deliver a speech prepared by prime minister David Cameron's team, in which she outlined the new Conservative government's agenda for their next five years in office. Among the announcements made in the Queen's Speech was a new immigration bill, which promises tougher measures to 'control immigration' and 'support working people'.

The bill includes several new proposals.



Illegal Working by immigrants

Currently the Immigration Act 1971 means that migrants that have leave to remain but who breach their conditions of leave by working illegally can receive up to 6 months in prison and/or an unlimited fine. However, the law does not presently apply to migrants who entered the country illegally, or visa overstayers.

This year's bill includes plans to create a new criminal offence: 'Illegal Working'. The new law would give the police powers to prosecute all migrants working illegally, as well as their employers, and allows undocumented migrants' earnings to be seized as 'proceeds of crime'.

The law is troubling. Undocumented migrants are already subject to arrest and deportation, so it's unclear what can be gained from impoverishing them further. Secondly, criminalising migrants is likely to make it even harder to tackle bad bosses.

Undocumented workers, and those waiting for asylum claims and visa appeals, are among the most often exploited groups; partly due to their hesitance about bringing attention to themselves by reporting their employers. The threat of loss of earnings and incarceration is likely to make them even more unwilling to come forward.

In effect, the new law means greater security for exploitative bosses, leaving migrants feeling powerless to report on them for fear of repercussions.

As the law will also extend to those who overstay their visas, it's likely that we will see the arrests of charity staff on expired Tier 5 visas for temporary workers, and potentially thousands of pounds seized from skilled professionals whose Tier 2 (General) visas have run out.

Imprisonment is a heavy handed tactic for dealing with overstayers. Given the vital work that these migrants provide for charities, the NHS, and the private sector it seems unwise to threaten them with criminalisation.



New Enforcement Agency

The bill announced plans to create a new enforcement agency to combat employers who are 'luring (migrants) here with the promise of a better life, but delivering the exact opposite'.

On the surface this is a noble project; the Trades Union Congress reports that a significant number of employers 'exploit migrant workers, paying under the minimum wage and housing them in inhuman conditions, in order to get cheap labour'. However, agencies such as HMRC and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) already exist to enforce the minimum wage and prevent the exploitation of workers.

Under the coalition government the GLA's powers to regulate industries, such as cleaning, where migrants commonly work were significantly curtailed. Coupled with the creation of the new 'Illegal Working' offence, this invites speculation about the true purpose of the new enforcement agency.

The agency's stated aim is to crack down on 'the worst cases of exploitation'; the bulk of these involve employers of undocumented migrants and visa overstayers. It seems likely then that the new agency will spend much of its time investigating and prosecuting migrants who entered the UK illegally, and those whose Tier 2 and Tier 5 visas have expired. It's unlikely that these victims of exploitation will be lining up to thank them.

A more effective approach to tackling exploitation would be to support migrants' rights organisations and trade unions; the latter of which also came under heavy fire during the Queen's Speech – with a proposal to outlaw strike actions without the support of at least 40% of union members; The Conservative government was elected on less than 25% of the vote.



Immigration Levy on Employers

Worryingly for employers, the bill also proposed to introduce a financial penalty on companies who recruit migrant workers. It's currently unclear whether the levy will be imposed on employers who recruit from within the European Economic Area, or just those who sponsor non-EU workers on Tier 2 visas for skilled migrants and Tier 5 for certain other types of migrant workers.

Apparently the levy will be used to fund an apprenticeship scheme for British workers. However, employers of migrants already contribute in that area directly by running their own apprenticeship programs, as well as indirectly by bolstering the economy; largely through their employment of skilled migrants on Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visas.

A study released in November last year by the UCL Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration reports that migrants contributed more than £20 billion to the UK economy between 2000 and 2011, and provided the UK with skilled workers that would otherwise have cost the UK £6.8 billion in spending on education.



Other Anti-Immigration Measures

Additional proposals include restricting access to services, such as the NHS, for illegal migrants; electronically tagging all foreign criminals; and extending the 'deport first, appeal later' principle from just criminal offenders to all undocumented migrants, even those at risk of human rights abuses in their home country.

Given the huge boost to the economy due to migrant workers, it's difficult to see these anti-immigration measures as anything more than dishonest political manoeuvring. The Conservatives' track record in immigration is bad; from senseless and counter-productive restrictions on Tier 2 visas for skilled migrants, to the short lived 'racist van' which patrolled London in 2013 encouraging immigrants to 'go home'.

In the face of criticism from both the left and right for presiding over the slowest economic recovery since at least the 1920s, the Conservatives seem keen to shift the focus onto immigration. Pressure from the explicitly anti-immigration United Kingdom Independence Party may also have played a part; four million people voted for UKIP at the recent general election.

It's unfortunate – if unsurprising, given their track record - that a supposedly pro-business party would choose to encourage anti-immigration sentiment, especially in the face of hard evidence showing migration to be a source of economic growth for the UK. Now is the time for employers and migrant groups to lobby against these changes, lest the hard work that migrants have done for this country be undermined.

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

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

UK Visa applicants incorrectly advised by the Home Office

Criticism has been aimed at the Home Office after they advised two Indian Entrepreneurs, hoping to stay in Scotland, to contact candidates for the UK parliamentary elections rather than their local Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP).

The Scottish National Party (SNP) labelled the advice 'negligent' and 'ridiculous' because unelected parliamentary candidates have no special status when it comes to intervening in UK immigration matters.

The UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) service made the statement after Maneesh Varshney and Vivek Kumar had sought assistance from Nicola Sturgeon and Gordon MacDonald, an SNP MSP.



Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

Varshney, who holds a postgraduate degree from Edinburgh Napier University in aquatic ecosystems management obtained in 2010, and Kumar, who gained a postgraduate degree in finance from Dundee University in the same year, each lodged an application for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa in 2013 so that they could set up a new business.

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa is a visa category that frequently leads to permanent residence in the UK requires applicants who are Tier 4 students in the UK and those in certain other visa categories to have £50,000 in investment funds. Varshney and Kumar are working on a business that transforms food waste into fish food. Others wishing to apply under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category need to invest £200,000.



Tier 1 Visas rejected

Their applications were rejected and they have exhausted the appeals process, at which point they turned to Gordon MacDonald, the MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands, plus the First Minister for Scotland for help.

They obtained letters of endorsement from Scottish Enterprise for a new visa application; however, UKVI refused to deal with Mr MacDonald because he is in the Scottish Parliamant rather than the UK Parliament.



Pointless asking unelected Candidates

Mr Varshney said: "What's the point in going to an unelected candidate? Even if they give us their support, what guarantee is there the Home Office will listen to them?"

Macdonald said: "This is a ridiculous position for the Home Office to take - advising people to seek advice on immigration from unelected candidates.

It speaks volumes about the total lack of respect that the Westminster system has for the Scottish Parliament that they would rather pass on issues of this nature to unelected people with no jurisdiction over anything, rather than MSPs who have been democratically elected."

The Home Office offered no comment.

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Suspected H-1B visa fraud leads to arrest of two Indian-Americans

Two Indian-Americans were arrested on 13 May, 2015 on suspicion of H-1B visa fraud. The arrests took place in New Jersey following a federal complaint claiming that they had been hiring foreign workers, mainly from India, without the skills and qualifications usually required for H-1B workers.

32-year-old, Hiral Patel, and 31-year-old, Shikha Mohta, employees of SCM Data Incorporated and MMC Systems Incorporated, face charges of conspiracy to bring in and "harbour aliens" and to pervert the course of justice.



Five years in prison for immigration fraud

The charges brought against the two men, who are both residents of Jersey City, carries a maximum five year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine. The federal complaint lodged against the pair claims that they, along with their co-conspirators, hired foreign workers from India without the required IT experience for the positions to work in the US.

The pair then sponsored the H-1B visas of overseas workers with the intention of having them work for the clients of SCM Data and MMC Systems across the United States. They claimed that the workers would be working full-time in the US for the prevailing wage as required for an H-1B visa.

Having hired workers on H-1B visas for IT jobs, the pair falsified documents sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), stating that the foreign workers had full-time jobs with full-time salaries. However, apparently the employees were not paid the required full-time salary. Under the H-1B visa program it is especially important to pay the salary as stated in the original H-1B visa application.



Federal complaint

However, the information submitted was a deliberate misrepresentation of the true situation and was in violation of the requirements of the H-1B visa programme, according to the federal complaint. It's alleged that Mohta and Patel only paid the overseas workers when they were assigned to a third-party client who was contracted to SCM Data or MMC Systems. This was less than the prevailing wage as required under the H-1B visa program.

The federal complaint also alleges that, in some cases, Mohta, Patel and numerous co-conspirators had falsified payroll records to show that the foreign workers they were hiring received the prevailing wage.

An excerpt from the complaint said: "On numerous occasions the conspirators required workers to pay SCM Data or MMC Systems their gross wages in cash. In exchange, SCM Data and MMC Systems would subtract taxes and fees and issue payroll checks to the foreign workers in a smaller amount."



Initial court appearances

Following their arrests, Patel and Mohta made an initial court appearance where prosecutors said: "Your scheme provided you, and others, with a labour pool of inexpensive, skilled foreign workers who could be used on an 'as needed' basis.

It was profitable because it required minimal overheads and SCM Data and MMC Systems could charge significant hourly rates for the foreign workers' services."

The case against the two men continues.

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

H-1B visa employees are crowding out other workers says new study

According to a new study published by researchers from the University of California, Notre Dame University and the US Department of Treasury, H-1B employees are crowding out other workers and new H-1B hires did not lead to an increase in patent applications.

The study, titled 'The Effects of High-Skilled Immigration on Firms: Evidence from H-1B Visa Lotteries,' says that companies gaining additional H-1B visas 'has an insignificant effect on patenting' and 'H-1B employees crowd out the employment of other workers quite substantially.'



Government data used for H-1B Visa Study

The three economists who wrote the paper, Alexander Gelber [University of California], Kirk Doran [Notre Dame University] and Adam Isen [Office of Tax Analysis at the US Department of Treasury], took a new approach to government data in order to reach their conclusions.

Each year at the beginning of April 85,000 H-1B visas become available. When the combined H-1B visa cap of 85,000 is reached, the US immigration service assigns visas using a computer-generated lottery system.

To get an understanding of what happens at firms hiring H-1B personnel, the authors of the paper analysed data from the H-1B lottery, plus data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which shows overall employment at a particular company.

According to the study, those companies obtaining visas in the lottery don't have a higher employment rate than those firms losing out on the lottery. At most, there are minimal job gains which, according to Alexander Gelber, means firms are employing H-1B workers as opposed to employing somebody else.

Kirk Doran, an economist at Notre Dame University, said: "The study is a solid conclusion that H-1B workers are crowding out other workers."



Way that Data was used for study criticized

However, Giovanni Peri - also of the University of California – was critical of Gelber's, Doran's and Isen's use of the lottery data as a source. In particular, Peri said that the three of them had only viewed data for H-1B holders employed 'late in the season'.

Peri mentioned that for each company winning the lottery, they only received around two H-1B workers from the process. Peri says that this makes it difficult to judge the impact they have on a company.

Kevin Shih, co-author of a paper written with Peri, offered a view on why Gelber, Doran and Isen did not discover a positive impact from H-1B on patenting. Shih suggested that this was because pioneering organisations tended to lodge their H-1B applications 'earlier in the season.'

However, Gelber, Doran and Isen were able to counteract Shih's suggestion, saying that their study had discovered that late applicants were actually 'more prone to patenting.'

In an exchange between Peri, Gelber, Doran and Isen, Peri said: "Your paper consists of nothing but 0s [i.e. findings that the effect size is 0, e.g. 0 gain in employment]! That can't be true!"

Gelber, Doran and Isen said: "We did find some non-zero results! We found a triple-star effect [i.e. very highly significant in statistical language] of reduced payroll! [An indication that the H-1Bs may be hired as cheap labour]."

Responding to this statement, Peri said: "Yes, but only in some cases."



Other workers "crowded out" unknown

Although the study identifies that other workers are being crowded out, the research is unable to identify exactly who the 'other' workers are. It's unknown whether they're permanent residents, US citizens or another category of worker.

The study also examined the wages of H-1B employees. Although researchers did not know the specific wages of H-1B workers, they were able to establish that employing H-1B personnel did increase the average profit, while lowering the overall wage bill at companies hiring H-1B workers.

Put simply, the study indicates that H-1B workers are paid less than other workers, an indication backed up by Kirk Doran who said: "It's more likely than not that H-1B workers receive less pay."



Some praised the study

Commenting on the study, computer science professor at the University of California, Norm Matloff wrote on his blog that: "This study is one of the most careful, insightful works I've seen on either side of the H-1B field."

Professor of planning and policy at Rutgers University said: "The researchers 'have better data than anyone to date', best I can tell."


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

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hillary Clinton calls for path to citizenship for illegal immigrants

Former first lady and prospective Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, has called for a 'full and equal' path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US.

During a visit to Rancho high school in Las Vegas, Nevada, Clinton not only promised to support President Barack Obama's executive actions to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, but she vowed to expand on this so enabling more immigrants to stay in the US legally and apply for work visas.


Hillary promises to protect parents of DREAMers

In particular, Clinton wants to extend executive actions to the parents of DREAMers who currently have benefitted from deferred action for childhood arrivals [relief from deportation]. DREAMers are young, undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children or young teenagers.

To qualify DREAMers need to have high school degrees or be currently attending a high school. They are allowed to apply for deferred action and a work permit. Since 2001 none of the various versions of the DREAM Act have been passed. In June 2012 Obama introduced the "Deferred action for Childhood Arrivals" (DACA) which provided two year renewable work permits for "DREAMers".

Obama's wished to take things further and under executive actions, proposed in 2014 and on hold because of a lawsuit over whether it is constitutional, would permit those who had arrived in the US as children, regardless of current age, to apply for relief from deportation, provided that applicants had a high school degree, or were attending a high school.

Clinton's proposed immigration reforms under executive action would also extend to parents of US citizens and permanent residents who have been in the US for five years. However, Obama's administration stopped short of expanding executive actions to parents of DREAMers, whereas Clinton has promised to help them as well.

During a discussion with six, young Latino residents of Nevada at Rancho high school Clinton said: "There are more people like many parents of DREAMers and others with deep ties and contributions to our communities who deserve to stay, and I will fight for them."

With approximately 27 percent of the Nevada population being Hispanic, Clinton is hoping that her visit and pro immigration stance will encourage Latinos to vote for her. The comments made during the discussion group were certainly well received by the six young Latinos present.

Some of the discussion participants at Rancho high school were also unauthorized immigrants, or had parents who are undocumented.



Why does it matter to Clinton to have the Latinos onside?

According to US political commentators, previous election campaigns show that it's much easier for a Democratic candidate to encourage a high Latino vote when promising to push the issue of immigration reform. Commentators say that Clinton will need the Latino vote to win the 2016 US election.



Democrat Hilary Clinton compared to Republicans

Hillary Clinton's stance she says is different to those in the Republican Party; 'we can't wait forever for a path to full and equal citizenship', she said.

Commenting on the Republicans, Clinton said: "Be in no doubt, not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential is clearly and consistently backing a path to citizenship. Whenever Republicans refer to 'legal status', it's code for second-class status."



Long-time advocate of immigrants

In closing the discussion, Clinton was adamant that she had long been a supporter of immigration, but did admit to failing in building a path to citizenship when serving in the US Senate. She ended by saying: "Despite my failings in the US Senate, there's no doubt where I stand on the issue of immigration reform."

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

Monday, May 18, 2015

UK Immigration not too high, says former minister

Britain's 'huge green spaces' are proof that UK immigration is not too high insists ex-Labour minister, David Lammy. In an interview with BBC breakfast before the General Election, Lammy said: "If you look at our population, it can manage, there are huge green spaces in the country where there aren't immigrants. It's not too high, it's not."

Lammy criticised the Conservatives for pledging to reduce immigration numbers below 100,000 per year and for cutting English language classes which help foreigners integrate into British society.



Managing the immigration system

Lammy said: "There's a need to manage the system when people arrive in the UK. I agree that there should be no immediate access to the welfare state. However, how can you make it a requirement to speak English and then cut English language classes if you want foreigners to integrate?"



Conservative Immigration Policy blown off course

The UK Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire said the Conservative Party's commitment to reducing net immigration figures had been 'blown off course' by EU immigration. Brokenshire stated that many EU immigrants are coming to Britain to take advantage of the welfare system, but his party has plans to curb this practice by restricting access.

Brokenshire said: "We still think net migration does need to come down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. We have been blown off course in this Parliament as a consequence of EU migration which has doubled.

That's why David Cameron has been very clear on cracking down on things like the welfare side of things so that you only come here to work. Actually, it's Labour that have not got the policies on this. They haven't got controls."



Lammy's Warning

In 2014, Lammy warned the Labour Party that they should not try to counter the political threat posed by the UK Independence Party by adopting a hard line stance on UK immigration themselves.

Lammy said: "I don't think that posturing and positioning each time there's a new immigration poll is right for the Labour Party. We are a pro-immigration party, a pro-European party."

David Lammy is seeking to become the next Mayor of London.

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

Thursday, May 14, 2015

New US L-1B Visa Guidance may reduce visa refusal rate

Barack Obama has announced plans to make doing business in the United States as 'simple and as attractive' as possible by easing the application process for L-1B work visas. The L-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa category which allows international companies to transfer workers with specialised knowledge into the US for up to 5 years, provided they have been employed continuously by the company outside the US for 1 year in the last 3 years. The overseas company will have to show common ownership and control with the US company. There is also the L-1A for executives and managers which has similar requirements and allows entry to the US for up to seven years.

On March 23rd the President told the SelectUSA Investment Summit that 'My administration is going to reform the L-1B visa category, which allows corporations to temporarily move workers from a foreign office to a U.S. office in a faster, simpler way. And this could benefit hundreds of thousands of non-immigrant workers and their employers. That, in turn, will benefit our entire economy and spur additional investment.'



Report shows huge number of L-1B visa denials

Obama's announcement comes on the heels of a damning report by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP). Published in March, the study reveals a trend of rising denials for L-1B applicants. Denial rates have rocketed in the past decade; from 6% in 2006, to an unprecedented 35% in 2014. Some groups have been particularly affected, with more than half of Indian applicants - who account for 58% of all applications - being refused a visa. The rise represents a 500% increase, despite there having been no change in regulations.

The report states that 'the current high rate of denials is difficult to understand, particularly since the rate was as low as 7 percent as recent(ly) as...2007'. Strangely, those already working in the US are having their applications turned down most often: 41% of the time, compared with 32% for initial applicants.



Draft L-1 guidance may reduce denial rate

A day after the president's speech, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a draft memorandum with new guidance for adjudicators of the L-1B application process.

The aim of the guidance is to streamline adjudications by clarifying how adjudicators assess whether an applicant has suitable specialised knowledge.



L-1B Memorandum criticised by experts

However, the document has attracted criticism from lawyers, consultants and industry experts, with many saying that the guidelines do not go far enough. Sanwar Ali of said it is 'perhaps too early to say' whether the memo will make much difference.

The document also promises greater scrutiny will be directed at employers who already have many 'specialised knowledge' employees working in the US. This makes it unclear whether the new guidelines, which come into effect at the end of August 2015 following a public consultation period, will in reality lead to a reduction in the soaring visa refusal rates.

This is not the first time that the US has pledged to combat L-1B denials. The White House promised in 2012, and again in 2014, to ease the application process, though in those cases no new guidelines were introduced. USCIS's new guidance gives some hope, but only time will tell of its effectiveness.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States. Please visit the USA page on our website:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Australian Immigration Department in World Leaders' Security Breach

The personal details of world leaders including Cameron, Merkel, Modi, Obama and Putin, were accidentally sent to Asian Cup football tournament organisers. Despite the security breach, the Australian Immigration Department did not deem it necessary to inform world leaders of the incident.

In an exclusive report published by the Guardian newspaper, it was revealed that an employee of Australia's immigration agency sent passport numbers, visa details and other personal information of all the world leaders attending the G20 summit in Brisbane on November 7, 2014, to Asian Cup organisers.


Attendees affected were World Leaders

The details of attendees of the G20 summit including United States President, Barack Obama, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, and the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, were among those whose details were revealed in error.



Breach revealed to Australia Privacy Commissioner

The director of the visa services division of Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection contacted the Australian Privacy Commissioner to seek "urgent advice" of the breach.

Correspondence sent to the privacy commissioner's office via email was acquired under Australia's freedom of information laws. The email reveals that the breach was the fault of an employee who mistakenly emailed a member of the local organising committee of the Asian Cup, which took place in January 2015.



Email contained personal information

The email from the immigration officer who provided details of the breach stated the following:

"The personal information which has been breached is the name, date of birth, title, position nationality, passport number, visa grant number and visa subclass held relating to 31 international leaders (i.e. prime ministers, presidents and their equivalents) attending the G20 leaders summit.

The cause of the breach was human error. [Redacted] failed to check that the autofill function in Microsoft Outlook had entered the correct person's details into the email 'To' field. This led to the email being sent to the wrong person.

The matter was brought to my attention directly by [redacted] immediately after receiving an email from [the recipient] informing them that they had sent the email to the wrong person.

The risk remains only to the extent of human error, but there was nothing systemic or institutional about the breach."

The officer who wrote the email also explained that the personal details are 'unlikely to be in the public domain' and stated that the absence of other personal identifiers 'significantly limited' the risk of the breach. The unintended recipient of the email had promptly deleted it and emptied their deleted items folder.



World leaders unaware of security breach

The immigration officer in the email went onto to advise Australian authorities not to reveal to World leaders about the breach in security relating to their personal information. The officer wrote: "Given that the risks of the breach are considered very low and the actions that have been taken to limit the further distribution of the email, I do not consider it necessary to notify the clients of the breach."

The recommendation not to disclose the breach to world leaders may be in breach of privacy laws in some of the countries whose leaders were affected by the breach. Britain, Germany and France all require those affected by data breaches to be notified. However, as this happened in Australia this may not be relevant.



Unclear if Australian immigration notified World leaders of breach

It is unclear if the Australian Immigration Department did subsequently notify the world leaders involved of the breach.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the office of the Australian Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, was reluctant to answer questions.

Tanya Plibersek, Australia's deputy opposition leader, was quick to capitalise on the blunder. She immediately called for Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, to give an explanation as to why world leaders were not notified of the situation.

She said: "The prime minister and the immigration minister must explain this serious incident and the decision not to inform those affected."



Embarrassment to Australia Immigration

More embarrassing for the Australian government is that revelations of this gaffe come just one week after controversial, mandatory data retention laws were passed.

Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young said: "Only last week the government was calling on the Australian people to trust them with their online data, and now we find out they have disclosed the details of our world leaders. This is another serious gaffe by an incompetent government."



Previous Australia Immigration Data Breach

The latest revelation regarding massive data breach in Australia is actually nothing new. It's immigration department is also the culprit for the country's biggest ever data breach by a government agency; the personal details of nearly 10,000 people in detention – most of whom were asylum seekers – became available in a publicly accessible file on the agency's website.

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

Monday, May 11, 2015

UK Immigration after Conservatives win 2015 General Election

Going against all the opinion polls and surveys conducted in the run up to the UK 2015 General Election, the Conservatives have surpassed even their own expectations and have won enough seats to secure a majority government.

In a turn of events that few expected, the Conservatives have won 331 seats, leaving Labour trailing behind with 232 and absolutely decimating the Liberal Democrats who have only managed to secure 8. It looks as if current immigration policy will continue which in our experience will cause numerous problems for the immigrant population.



A Bad Day For Labour, The Liberal Democrats and UKIP

Labour have lost a large number of seats to the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scotland, which has become close to being a one-party state. Labour have also failed to secure enough seats in England to make a Labour-SNP coalition a possibility, which many anticipated would be the outcome of the election. The Liberal Democrats suffered an incredible blow at the polls, losing 45 seats.

The Labour leader Ed Miliband has resigned, and so has both the Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg and the UKIP leader Nigel Farage.



How will the Election Result effect UK Immigration Policies

The Conservatives have stated in their manifesto that they aim to keep net migration down to the tens of thousands and make it more difficult for EU immigrants to claim social or housing benefits.

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

Friday, May 8, 2015

General Election 2015 Update on UK Immigration

The question of immigration is a burning issue, especially in the run-up to the general election. Twenty years of rising immigration has meant that 6.5 million adults of working age now live in the UK, who were born abroad. Britain has been referred to as being an "Island of immigrants".

Immigration needed in the UK

Migration plays a hugely positive role in the UK workforce. A study published in November 2014 from University College London concluded that 'European immigrants who arrived in the UK since 2000 have contributed more than £20bn to UK public finances between 2001 and 2011. They have endowed the country with productive human capital that would have cost the UK £6.8bn in spending on education'. But in the fog of political rhetoric, there is often a disconnect between public perception and reality.

The Labour Government's introduction of the points-based immigration system in 2008 comprises of a five Tier points-based system for assessing immigration applications. This is of relevance to non EU/EEA workers. People from within the EU can live and work freely in the UK without having to come under the UK points based system. Migrant workers and students must gain points to qualify under a specific tier visa to enter or remain in, the UK. Tier 2 visas are for 'skilled workers' from outside the EEA with a job offer in the UK. The jobs are highly-skilled, usually at graduate level and must have a minimum salary £20,800 per year. Many occupations under Tier 2 will require much higher salary rates.



UK Tier 2 Visa Scheme for Skilled Workers

There is an annual cap on the number of Tier 2 (General) visas that can be granted. The cap currently stands at 20,700. People earning over £150,000 per year are excluded from the cap. However, the cap has never been reached. Probably because it has become so difficult applying for a Tier 2 visa that many employers do not bother. Employers applying for a Tier 2 visa need both a Tier 2 sponsorship licence and a 'certificate of sponsorship' for each employee they wish to sponsor.

Statistics show that only 1.7% of applications of this type were rejected in 2008. We are certain that the refusal rate is much higher now. Immigration and Security Minister, James Brokenshire says:

"The fact that fewer than two per cent of Tier-2 sponsor licence applications were refused under the old government is ample illustration of the open-door immigration policy and the incompetence of the UK Border Agency in administering it.'

Recently, the media reported of immigration officials cracking down on Tier-2 visa applications after it was discovered that a few employers were offering visas for jobs that either did not exist or were jobs that in reality were not at a high enough level for the Tier 2 visa scheme. The Government said it had tightened up the rules on giving Tier-2 visas by looking at not just the jobs being advertised but the size and background of the business looking to fill the vacancy.



UK Government and Cameron's failure to reach tens of thousands target

The total number of people arriving in the UK in the year to September 2014 was 624,000 - the highest on record. Some 320,000 left the country, giving the net immigration of 298,000, which is the highest since the record level of 320,000 in 2005. As part of his pre-2010 election promises, David Cameron outlined plans to reduce net migration to the UK to less than 100,000 (he actually said tens of thousands). Cameron's pledge has failed spectacularly, with immigration figures almost three times as high as the Tories promised.

Immigration statistics include immigration from the EU and immigration of dependents. For non EU/EEA workers there has been an increase in ten percent in the number of work visas granted.

There has also been a significant decrease in work-related visa extensions and applications for indefinite leave to remain (also known as "permanent residence"):

Year ending June 2014, compared to previous 12 months
10% more work-related visas grantedup 14,799 to 159,302
37% fewer extensionsdown to 92,075
20% fewer permissions to stay permanentlydown to 48,492

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

Monday, May 4, 2015

UK Tier 2 Visa Status Precarious Says Top University Research Fellow

It is becoming increasingly uncertain whether highly skilled professionals on Tier 2 visas including international experts hired by Universities will be able to stay in the UK on a permanent basis after five years in the UK. The Times Educational Supplement (TES) a top educational resource had the following to say.

An excerpt from a TES report reads: "As far as the Home Office is concerned the immigration status of those on the Tier 2 migrant visa is as precarious as it is temporary. When they come to this country, the government agency says that any private life they have established here should be given little weight, given their precarious immigration status."



Miwa Hirono Scholar on China issues

This is the damning verdict of Miwa Hirono a Japanese national and expert on China who was previously at the University of Nottingham. Due to UK immigration policy, she has been forced to quit her permanent role at the University after giving over six years of her life in service to the university. Despite being an adviser to the British Government she and her family have had to leave the Country.



Dr Hirono's work for University and UK Government results in UK visa refusal

Dr Hirono accepted the prestigious Research Councils UK research fellowship in September 2008 in order to study Chinese peacekeeping operations and humanitarian assistance. The intention was that her fellowship would conclude with the offer of permanent employment with an agreement signed by the university and Dr Hirono to that effect.

Her studies took her overseas to do fieldwork in China and across developing territories in which China has influence including Africa and Southeast Asia. With the university's full backing, plus RCUK [UK government] funding, Hirono spent 270 days outside Britain for research purposes between March 2009 and March 2010 and a further 202 days between March 2010 and March 2011.

Her work as a result of these field trips was published in numerous prestigious journals and scholarly books.



UK Refusal of Indefinite Leave to remain Letter

In July 2014, the scholar was issued with a letter informing her that her application for indefinite leave to remain had been rejected. The letter cited that the refusal was based on her absences from the UK for a period exceeding 180 days on each of the two occasions that she had exited the country.

An excerpt from the letter reads: "You have provided a letter from your employer (the University of Nottingham) dated 11/3/2014 which states that you are required to travel around the world for meetings and conferences as part of your duties as an RCUK fellow.

"The letter also states that the dates you were outside the United Kingdom were all with University approval. However, it is not believed that any of the periods of absence can be considered to have been in any way compelling or compassionate, which would need to be established to enable discretion to be applied."



Home Office wins second Immigration Appeal

Asked to leave the country, Hirono had to drop her research in order to prepare an appeals case.

In a massive show of support, concerned colleagues and professionals – including those from the United Nations, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, thinktanks, the vice-chancellor and other senior colleagues of Hirono's university, top academics in various fields including China studies, and local MP Anna Soubry – sent supporting letters to the tribunal and to the Home Office.

The judge presiding in the first appeal case said: "Dr Hirono is making an immense contribution to the fabric of this country. I consider that her continuing residence in the United Kingdom ultimately benefits the economic wellbeing of the country."

Dr Hirono won the initial appeal on December 11 2014. However the Home Office appealed this ruling and was successful. UK immigration had the following comments to make.

…"the appellant has been fully aware…that their stay is precarious"…

Miwa Hirono and her family have now had to leave the Country. She has accepted a position at Kyoto University in Japan. Dr Hirono had the following comments to make:

"I have my life here, everything is here but I have to give up everything.

"It is idiocy. The Government funded my research and now they are penalising me for hard work and contributing to their policies."

She also had the following to say: "I have one published paper which is uploaded on the UK embassy in Beijing's website.

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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

UK Immigration high on agenda during Televised General Election Debate

Alongside healthcare and the economy, immigration was a hotly contested topic during the televised election debate screened live on ITV on April 2. UK immigration is one of the most divisive issues in the election campaign and this was clearly evident during the two hour debate.

The seven party leaders who took part in the debate were Prime Minister, David Cameron, Labour Leader, Ed Miliband, Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg, Plaid Cymru Leader, Leanne Wood, Scottish National Party Leader, Nicola Sturgeon, Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett, and UKIP leader Nigel Farage.



UKIP influence on Immigration Debate

Immigration has risen near to the top of the political agenda at least partly because of UKIP's stance on the issue. The party is a strong advocate of Britain leaving the European Union and ending the free movement of EU immigrant workers into the UK.

UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, constantly brought up the issue during the debate, urging the studio audience and TV viewers to support his party and allow them to 'take back control of Britain's borders.'



Farage obsessed with immigration

Farage put his stance on immigration across quite forcefully and was criticised for his views by the other six party leaders who were in agreement that Farage is 'obsessed with immigration' and did not hold back in criticising him, and his party's stance on the issue.

Plaid Cymru Leader, Leanne Wood, was particularly scathing of Farage and received massive applause when she pressed Farage for an answer as to why he'd said that HIV-positive foreigners were a financial drain on the NHS.

She said: "This kind of scaremongering rhetoric is dangerous; I think you should be ashamed of yourself."

Nicola Sturgeon also asked Farage: "Is there anything that you would not blame on immigration?"
Farage's response to Sturgeon was nonchalant, simply laughing off the question.



Housing, health and the economy

As the immigration debate died down, the focus turned to housing, health and the economy, with Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett and Lib Dem Leader, Nick Clegg finding their voice to cover these issues.



No party leader stood out

Despite opportunities to do so during an intense debate surrounding immigration, health care and the economy the majority of the media reported that no leader stood out during the televised event. There were no glaring gaffes and all the leaders can certainly claim to have put the majority of their points across.

Cameron tended to avoid getting drawn into bickering. However, the Prime Minister was heckled by a member of the studio audience. Victoria Prosser, 33, who was asked to leave.

Outside the ITV Centre in Salford, she said: "My cause is speaking the truth and making sure as many people as possible start questioning people at the top, the 1 percent, who are not working in our best interests."

She added: "I can't vote for anyone who I know is lying or omitting facts. That means I couldn't vote for any of the people that I saw tonight. Even though some of them had good ideas, I know that they are all out for the same cause."

Ed Miliband, often criticised as cerebral and awkward, appeared to fare better and delivered his points eloquently, without an audience hijacking. As expected, Farage was easily the most abrasive and loud participant, making sure his anti-EU views were heard clearly.

Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP and Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru (the Party of Wales) — who are both potential kingmakers if the election result is close which seems likely —aimed their points towards their respective home constituencies.

Natalie Bennett of the Green Party, perhaps surprisingly, outlined a set of alternative-sounding policies on issues other than the environment.

While media outlets did not seem to have much of a view as to who stood out in the debate, a YouGov poll was pretty clear that Nicola Sturgeon leader of the SNP was judged best-performing leader on the night. In a poll of 1,117 viewers, she received 28 percent of the backing.

She was followed by Nigel Farage on 20 percent, David Cameron 18 percent, Ed Miliband 15 per cent, Nick Clegg 10 per cent, Natalie Bennett 5 per cent and Leanne Wood 4 per cent. The general election will take place on May 7, 2015.

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Canadian Immigration's new Express Entry system a slow starter

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) says that less than 50 percent of immigrants coming into the country this year will be selected through its much-anticipated Express Entry system. The new system, introduced by Canada's Conservative government, promised to match skilled economic migrants with the needs of employers.

Since the launch of the Express Entry on January 1, 2015, just over 6,850 prospective or approximately 2,300 immigrants per month, have been invited to lodge an application for permanent residency. It won't be until 2017 that a majority of immigrants are processed through the new system.

Immigration levels plan

As part of its 2015 immigration levels plan, CIC had committed to accepting between 260,000 and 285,000 new permanent residents, around two-thirds of which would be economic migrants.

In order for the government to get anywhere near this target they would need to be admitting close to 22,500 immigrants per month. The majority of new immigrant arrivals this year will have to be chosen through the old system, which has faced criticism because of slow processing times.

CIC spokeswoman, Johanne Nadeau said: "CIC is in a period of transition with recent implementation of Express Entry that will span approximately two years. A majority of economic immigrants arriving in 2015 will be drawn from the pool of people who applied to enter Canada in the years before Express Entry was introduced."

It is expected that the number of permanent residents coming through the system will rise in 2016 to around 50% of admissions. By 2017, CIC expects that the majority, if not all economic immigrant based entry will be via the Express Entry system.



Express Entry immigration requirements

Under the new system, candidates in the economic streams are pooled with other applicants for initial assessment. Each candidate is graded on factors such as age, education and work skills and then given a score out of 1,200 according to Canada's Ranking System formula. The ranking formula scores single candidates and candidates with spouses in the following ways:

Single Candidates
  1. Skills & experience (Maximum 500 points).
  2. Skill transferability (Maximum 100 points).
  3. Additional points (Maximum 600 points).

Maximum points 1,200

Spouses or Common-Law Partners of Candidates
  1. Skills & experience (Maximum 460 points)
  2. Spouse of common-law partner factors (Maximum 40 points)
  3. Skill transferability (Maximum 100 points)
  4. Additional points (Maximum 600 points)

Maximum points 1,200

Every three weeks, a cut-off score is chosen by the CIC and those who are above that score are invited to become permanent residents in Canada.

CIC anticipates that there will be between 15 and 25 of these rounds this year. Candidates with a Canadian employment offer, or those nominated by a provincial government, have a distinct advantage due to the way the criteria is weighted.

The number of points needed for admission has dropped by almost half from 900 in early January to 453 by late March. As the number of points required has decreased the number of invitations issued has increased.

Until recently, all of the applicants chosen for Express Entry had job offers or were nominated by a provincial government. However, the last two rounds have seen candidates selected with neither a job offer nor nomination, which has made it easier for applicants.

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

UK Immigration changes including Tier 2 Visa changes 6 April 2015

The UK Home office announced changes affecting Tier 2 visas and other UK Visas from 6 April 2015. While most of the changes are not significant, a new healthcare surcharge will mean much higher costs for Tier 2 visa applicants and for many other migrants.

Immigration Healthcare Surcharge

Home Office fees increased across the board from 5 April 2015. A new 'health surcharge' will be levied as part of the immigration application for many applicants who intend to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months. The cost imposed on most UK visa applicants will be £200 per year. It will be £150 per year for students. Dependents will also be charged the same amount as applicants.

The healthcare surcharge has to be paid in full to submit an immigration application. So for instance a Tier 2 applicant making a three year visa application has to pay £600 upfront while applying; The spouse and dependents will be charged the same as the principle applicant. This charge will be levied regardless of whether the applicant has private healthcare. Some visa applicants will be exempt from the surcharge such as Tier 2 ICT visa applicants, EU citizens and their dependents and those on visas valid for up to six months.



Tier 2 Visa Minimum Salary Thresholds Increases

The new rules include the following minor changes:

For Minimum Salary thresholds the following amendments have been implemented:
  • The minimum salary threshold for all Tier 2 General employees has been increased from £20,500 to £20,800
  • To seem exemption from the Jobcenter plus advertising requirement the minimum salary has increased from £71,600 to £72,500
  • High earner threshold changed from £153,500 to £155,300. No resident labour market test is required in this situation.
  • For Tier 2 ICT employees whose jobs qualify for Short Term Staff, Skills Transfer or Graduate Training category the minimum salary threshold increased from £24,500 to £24,800
  • For Tier 2 ICT employees under Long Term Staff qualification, the minimum salary threshold increased from £41,000 to £41,500

These changes apply to applications made after 6 April 2015. Additionally, all skilled workers who apply for settlement under Tier 2(General or Sportsperson) after April 6, 2020 will be subject to an increased minimum annual salary requirement of £36,200 when they apply. Currently many Tier 2 visa holders need to show that their salary over the past year has been at £35,000 or higher.



Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List amended slightly

Some minor changes to the Shortage Occupations List were also implemented:
  • Changes to graduate occupations in the health sector for UK and Scotland, including the addition of paramedics to the UK list
  • Other additions in the medical field include consultants in radiology, training roles in emergency medicine, non-consultant non training roles in paediatrics, non-consultant, non training roles in old age psychiatry and core trainees in psychiatry
  • New roles added to the list focusing on digital technology including product manager, data scientist, senior developer and cyber security analyst.



No Cooling off period requirement for short term Tier 2 Visas

This change will benefit companies who wish to transfer employees to the UK for a period of three months or less; Previously, in this situation a migrant working in the UK under a Tier 2 visa had to wait for a 'cooling off 'period of 12 months before they were eligible to apply for a new Tier 2 visa.

This new rule provides companies with more flexibility when employing someone for a short-term assignment in the UK.

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

Monday, April 27, 2015

Passport exit immigration checks now in force at UK borders and ports

A new scheme is being phased in at UK border crossings, so that UK immigration can collect data on all passengers leaving the country. The information is obtained by staff working for airlines, ferry companies, etc who record details of every traveller leaving on a commercial flight, or by sea or by rail. The data collected is then passed on to the Home Office.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The government wants the checks to identify individuals who are in the UK illegally. This means that passport and travel details will be transmitted to the Home Office.

The information will then be collated and added to Home Office data, where it can be accessed if the government needs it. All data will be processed in line with the Data Protection Act 1998, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the common law duty of confidentiality."



Exit checks part of increased UK Immigration enforcement

The government says it has launched the scheme under the 2014 Immigration Act, mainly to monitor immigration and gather data. It's also in place they say to boost national security; ministers say that it enables police and spies to track the activity of known criminals and terrorists across the world.

Security and UK Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire said: "It is important that we have an immigration system that is fair, tackles illegal immigration and cracks down on those who attempt to cheat the system by remaining in the country when they have no right to do so. Exit checks will give us crucial information that confirms a person's exit from the UK."

In an interview with BBC breakfast, former Independent Chief Inspector of UK Borders and Immigration, John Vine, said: "It will allow the government, for the first time in a long time, to obtain information about who is left in Britain."

Up until recently it's not been possible for the government to know who's overstayed their visa and who's remained in the country, and they've not known who's here and who's left."

Mr Vine when Chief Inspector for Immigration was responsible for producing reports which caused a considerable amount of embarrassment to the Home Office and the Government. Many have suggested that he resigned from his position because of disagreements with the Government.



Ferry and Channel Tunnel passengers affected the most

Those travelling by ferry or the Channel Tunnel from Dover will be affected most by the new checks as they have to wait to have their passports scanned before continuing on their journey. Airports will be least affected because airlines will provide information from travel documents in advance, so that hopefully passengers will not notice any increased delay due to the new system of checks.

School coach parties made up of British or European children below the age of 16 will be exempt from the checks. For people travelling between Britain and Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man an alternative system will be put in place.

Alternative arrangements will also be put in place for travellers journeying on small non-scheduled flights or using non-commercial pleasure boats.



Phased introduction of new UK Immigration Exit Check System

For the first month, to minimise disruption, only 25% of passport holders will have their details fully verified in order to ensure they are genuine. After one month, verification checks will rise to 50% and by mid-June it is intended that 100% of those travelling out of the UK will be checked.

Eurotunnel, which is responsible for operating and maintaining the Channel Tunnel, said 100% of travellers would come under the new verification checks system immediately; they feel they are ready to do this having already spent £2.5 million on new systems, and on employing 50 new staff.



UK borders will come to a standstill

John Keefe, Eurotunnel's Public Affairs Directors, warned that UK borders will grind to a halt in the near future because traveller numbers will grow.

He said: "We'll see a 20-25% rise in the number of travellers using the Eurotunnel over the next five years, and a 30% rise in truck traffic. However, the Government's approach to managing the borders will bring them to a standstill - we need smarter technology."

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

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Appeal Date Set for Challenges to Obama's Immigration Reforms

A US appeals court in Washington DC has set a date of May 4 to hear arguments concerning a challenge against President Barack Obama's immigration executive actions.


Lawsuit against Obama Executive Action

In December 2014, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Joe Arpaio, an Arizona sheriff, who described Obama's sweeping changes as 'unconstitutional'. Apario lodged an appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The lawsuit filed by Apario said the changes were effectively an amnesty and would encourage more people to enter the US illegally.

However, US District Judge Beryl Howell said: "The sheriff failed to conclusively prove that he would be directly affected due to the unilateral measures. The role of the Judiciary is to resolve cases and controversies properly brought by parties with a concrete and particularized injury — not to engage in policymaking better left to the political branches."

Howell, an Obama-appointee stated: "The plaintiff's case raises important questions regarding the impact of illegal immigration on this nation, but the questions amount to generalized grievances which are not proper for the Judiciary to address."



Ongoing battle

The Obama administration has been battling against actions attempting to stall immigration reforms designed to grant relief from deportation to 4.7 million people currently in the US illegally. Those opposed to the President's plans, including Joe Arpaio, say that the proposed immigration reforms are unconstitutional.

Recently, the US Department of Justice was denied an emergency stay to put on hold a Texas judge's decision that temporarily blocked Obama's executive actions. The Texas Judge had blocked executive actions after 26 states had pursued a lawsuit with the intention of preventing Obama's immigration reforms.




In Congress, the executive orders have also caused tensions, with House Republicans unsuccessfully threatening to withhold funding from the Department of Homeland Security, to try and prevent Obama's immigration reforms.



Coalition of states against Executive Action

The 26 states attempting to prevent Obama's executive action from progressing further asked a federal judge on March 3 not to lift a temporary hold on the immigration reforms. The coalition of 26 states, fronted by Texas, wrote in a 22 page court filing presented to US District Judge Andrew Hanen, in Brownsville Texas, that 'there's no emergency requirement to implement a sweeping new program.'

The document also said: "It is not in the public interest to allow (the U.S. government) to effect a breathtaking expansion of executive power, all before the courts have had a full opportunity to consider its legality."



Obama's orders

The first of Obama's orders – which involved expanding a program to protect young immigrants from deportation if they had arrived in the US illegally as children - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – was set to go ahead on February 18.

Secondly, Obama's orders would extend deportation amnesty to parents of US citizens and permanent residents who have resided in the US for a number of years - DAPA, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. However, this order was not due to take effect until May 19.

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

"Financially literate" likely to be positive on UK immigration

Research regarding immigration has been conducted by the British Election Study (BES); an academic group that has analysed Britain's electoral behaviour since 1964. In the survey, the BES found that the more "financially literate" a person is, the more positive their views on immigration are likely to be.

The survey was taken by up to 30,000 people. BES discovered that the more people correctly understood inflation, interest rates and risk diversification the more likely they were to have a positive stance on immigration and its cultural and economic benefits.

Dr George Panos and Prof Robert E. Wright undertook the survey to challenge the persistent negative attitude towards immigrants. This followed a recent 2014 study by economists at University College London, which found that immigrants put in more into the economhy through taxes than they take out in benefits and welfare support.

Panos and Wright reasoned that to fully understand the role immigrants play in the modern UK economy, a considerable knowledge of economics, finance, and immigrants' role in the labour market would be necessary. They concluded that the more "financially literate" a person is, the more likely their attitudes towards immigration would be "positive".

Some of the questions asked included, "Do you think that immigration undermines or enriches Britain's cultural life?' and "Do you think immigration is bad or good for the economy?"

Even after factoring in user control variables such as gender, age, political orientation (left-right), income, and education, "financial literacy" was still shown to have the most substantial effect on participants' attitude to immigration.

The survey concluded that not only is financial literacy important, it should also be more widely known that skilled migrants contribute more to the economy than they take out coming up to the 2015 election.

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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Labour promises to ban indefinite detention of immigrants

The Labour Party has vowed to bring in time limits and ban the indefinite detention of asylum seekers and immigrants in detention centres, if they come into power after the 7 May 2015 General Election. The move will bring the UK into line with other Western nations.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, described the detention system as inefficient and "deeply scarring" for detainees. There have been increasing delays in visa applications being considered leading to more people in detention centres; in 2010 1,757 were detained for three to six months, that number rose to 2,385 last year.

Under current law, an asylum seeker or immigrant waiting to have a visa application considered can be held indefinitely in a detention centre. Recently the home office select committee discovered that two people had been held for more than four years.

Many believe that the current system isn't working. There are increasing delays in dealing with immigration applications. It is also expensive to keep so many people in detention. An all-party parliamentary inquiry has suggested 28 days become the new maximum. Labour have promised to recruit 1,000 additional immigration and border enforcement staff to meet the new time limits, enforce removals where necessary, and speed up the decision making process for considering visa applications.

Cooper said the following in Birmingham on Thursday "Indefinite detention of people who have committed no crime – and without even any independent review – is wrong… And it is extremely expensive for taxpayers. No other western nation does it. We don't need to either."

Detention centre Yarl's Wood came under scrutiny last year when allegations by female detainees of sexual assault came to light. Many of those detained in detention centres are asylum seekers, some of whom are victims of violent and sexual assault in their home countries. Labour have already pledged to ban the detention of pregnant women and victims of sexual assault.

Cooper calls the move to introduce time limits for detention "humane", and has the support of Citizens UK campaign leader Zrinka Bralo. Speaking to the Guardian, Bralo said, "Indefinite detention is a stain on the character of Britain. Detaining people indefinitely in prison-like conditions without judicial oversight is unfair, unjust, ineffective and inhumane."

Labour have stressed that those that have been deported for criminal convictions, or those awaiting trial for criminal offences, will not come under the same time limits as others.

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Controversy over bill to increase number of US H-1B Visas

Speaking at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 17, Chairman Chuck Grassley said that a bill, sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch to increase the number of H-1B visas - "does not close the program's loopholes or stop abuse. It does not ensure that American workers are put ahead of foreign workers. It only serves to increase cheap foreign labour."

Speaking at the same hearing, Senator Orrin Hatch, representing Utah, said he would raise the H-1B visa cap from 65,000 to a shifting cap of 115,000 – 300,000.

In addition the proposals would enable corporations to employ an unlimited number of skilled migrants who hold advanced degrees obtained from US institutions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Under the current H-1B visa system, 20,000 visas are reserved for those with an advanced degree.



Some Claim H-1B visa manipulated to a "huge degree"

Senator Jeff Sessions, representing Alabama, said that the H-1B programme is being manipulated to a "huge degree." He referred to the recent Southern California Edison case, which outsourced to overseas companies and employed H-1B visa holders to replace scores of Americans who were laid off. It is claimed that some of those laid off were threatened with the loss of their pension if they didn't agree to train the workers replacing them.

It's this case that Grassley, Sessions and numerous other critics, have cited in order to demonstrate the abuse of the H-1B visa program. However, supporters of the program say that critics are simply picking out a few businesses who manipulate the program in order to tarnish it as a whole.



Supporters of H-1B Visa Program fight back

The technology industry, however, has voiced its support of the H-1B visa program. The President of, a group created by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to lobby for more foreign guest workers, said: "It's a false choice that we can't protect American workers and create a better system that allows American companies to get access to the best talent in the world."

On 25 March the executive chairman at Google, Edward Schmidt, urged Congress to increase the number of H-1B visas made available. Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, he said: "In the long list of stupid policies of the US government, I think our attitude toward immigration has got to be near the top."

"We take very, very smart people, bring them into the country, give them a diploma and kick them out where they go on to create companies that compete with us, brilliant strategy."




Hatch's bill is being sponsored by nine senators and while not a co-sponsor, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, representing Texas, said he had been enthused by Hatch's proposal, stating: "Sending foreign students home immediately after graduation strikes me as foolish. I thought we were in agreement that legal immigration is a good thing." He did also mention though that he was keen to see a crackdown on abuse.



Grassely pursuing own visa scheme

Senator Grassley on the other hand is pushing his own agenda. In particular he wants legislation that would require US businesses to try and recruit American workers prior to resorting to the visa program.



Debate continues about benefits of H-1B Visa Scheme

Most of the hearing was about whether there is a shortage of high-skilled workers in the US and whether H-1B visa holders are receiving less pay than their American counterparts. Arguments on immigration reform continue. However, there has been little change to the US visa system for many years. This is not a healthy state of affairs.

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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Foreign students on F-1 student visas add billions to US economy

A new report from the Institute of International Education (IIE) confirms that record numbers of overseas students now study in America at US universities. The total number of US student visa holders for the year 2013-2014 was 886,052.

Foreign Students Contribute $26.8 billion to the US economy

The record numbers of foreign students studying in the US have contributed $26.8 billion to the US economy, and have created or supported 340,000 jobs, according to data from the National Association of International Educators (NAFSA). Students spend money mainly on accommodation, student fees and living expenses.

The $26.8 billion spent by student visa holders in the US represents a 12 percent increase on last year. The data also shows an 8.5% increase in job support and creation. This means that for every seven international students enrolled in US universities, there are three US jobs created. The jobs created are in higher education, and also in the accommodation, retail, transport, dining and telecommunications sectors.

NAFSA CEO Marlene M. Johnson said that foreign students studying in the US contribute far more than just money. She said "We cannot underestimate their immeasurable academic and cultural contributions to America's colleges, universities and local communities"

She added that international students also "bring global perspectives into U.S. classrooms and research labs, and support U.S. innovation through science and engineering coursework."



US has highest percentage share of foreign students in the World

The figures from NAFSA and IIE also show that the US still has the highest percentage share of foreign students. This is despite the US seeing a decrease in its share from 28% of international students in 2001 to about 19% in 2011. Because Worldwide there has been significant growth in students studying abroad even with a smaller percentage share of the market the US has still seen growth in student numbers.

Johnson argues that the US may see a further reduction in its market share of international students and overall student numbers if immigration reforms are not introduced.



Without Immigration Reform there may be a decline in foreign student numbers

She said "If Congress doesn't take action and pass commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform, we will lose talented international students. The billions of dollars they contribute to this nation, along with the invaluable academic and cultural contributions they bring, will be at risk."

Fortunately, Obama's immigration reforms via executive action may help the situation. With expansion of the optional practical training scheme for overseas graduates in the US many more students will be able to stay in the US.

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

UK Visit Visa System to undergo reforms announces Theresa May

Theresa May has revealed plans to overhaul the visa system for visitors to the UK. Mrs May wants to make it easier for business people and performing artists and certain others to access Britain.

She has outlined sweeping changes, set to be introduced in April, which will see the current 15 visa categories scrapped and in its place a new system from which visitors can choose from four visa types.



Simplifying the application process

Officials say that the reforms will 'streamline' the application process and reduce the level of bureaucracy that visitors face when applying for a visa.

Additional changes will permit individuals to use the same visit visa to holiday in the UK and enter on business to attend meetings, etc. Prior to the reforms, two visas would have been required – a tourist visa and a business visitor visa.



Complaints from London Business Leaders

Plans to reform stem from complaints put forward by business leaders in London who say that the current process is both 'cumbersome' and a 'hindrance' to their attempts to grow the economy.

Mrs May confirmed her intentions to change the system at a private meeting with leaders of the Confederation of British Industry, insisting that the reforms would yield significant improvements.

She said: "Fine-tuning the immigration system will help ensure we are demonstrating to the rest of the world that Britain remains open for business and that visitors are always welcome in the UK, whether they come for leisure or work.

In a global marketplace we must make sure we stay ahead of our competitors as we work to carry on attracting the business and leisure travellers who will help our economy grow further still."



The Updated System

The updated system will see the emergence of four visit visa categories, including:
  • A standard visa for tourists
  • Paid performing artists for those appearing in concerts, theatre or other performance arts
  • A visit visa for those marrying or entering a civil partnership in Britain
  • A transit visa for those passing through




The Home Office said it had compiled the reforms following consultation with over 100 organisations, consisting of business groups, tourism bodies and representatives from science and technology sectors.



Visit Visa Statistics

According to recent data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), around two million visitor visas were issued in 2014. This represents a one percent rise on 2013. Data also shows that approximately 100,000 were refused.

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Australian Prime Minister announces stricter Immigration Rules

Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has announced tougher immigration controls and a national security crackdown. His announcement comes in the wake of the Sydney hostage siege in December 2014, when an Iranian refugee, Man Haron Monis, walked into a cafe and held 18 hostages at gunpoint.

A report into the siege came to the conclusion that the decisions made by authorities regarding Monis enabling him to stay in Australia were reasonable. However, the report did recommend changes to immigration, citizenship and bail legislation.



Abbotts Plans

His plans will see the denial of welfare payments to individuals seen as a threat, the revocation of passports for those who have dual citizenship and in some cases the restriction of overseas travel; this in a bid to prevent funding and limit the movement of terrorists.

Mr Abbott said that some personal freedoms will suffer in order to be able to fight the continued threat of radical groups such as Islamic State (IS).

In a statement of intent, amid growing pressure for him to take action, he said: "For too long, we have given those who might be a threat to our country the benefit of the doubt. We will never sacrifice our freedoms in order to defend them, but we will not let our enemies exploit our decency either."

Mr Abbott believes that plans to tighten Australian immigration laws will help remedy the failings of the current system.



Failing and Flailing Leader

However, an opposition leader labelled the measures 'a weak attempt from a failing and flailing' leader to repair a tarnished reputation by provoking fear in the community.

Green Party leader, Christine Milne, said: "This approach worked for him in opposition and he thinks it will work while he's in power, but the Australian public are not going to fall for it."

Despite successfully fighting off a leadership challenge earlier this month from a member of his own Liberal Party, Mr Abbotts approval ratings amongst voters has remained low since the beginning of 2014.



Aimed at hate-preachers

Mr Abbott said his new laws will also be aimed at tackling 'hate-preachers'. He said that terrorists frequently claimed welfare benefits. He accused dozens of Australians, currently fighting in Iraq and Syria, of being 'on the dole'. He also said that payments to individuals deemed to be a high security risk will soon be stopped.



Australians joining extremist groups

It's understood that 110 Australians have travelled to Iraq and Syria to join up with extremist groups; the country's security agency is actively investigating over 400 'high-priority' cases, which is more than double the figure of 12 months ago.

Australia, a firm ally of the USA and its efforts to quash Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria, has been on high alert for attacks by home-grown Islamist extremists. Australia raised its threat level in September 2014. Dubbed the 'anti-extremism' strategy, Abbot's plan is to prevent a repeat of the Sydney siege and monitor more closely the threat from home-grown extremists.

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