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:

Monday, March 23, 2015

UK Needs Immigration Points System says Nigel Farage UKIP Leader

Speaking in Margate at the anti-immigration/anti-EU UKIP's spring conference, Nigel Farage said that the UK should have an Australian-style points system to determine who can settle in the country. Perhaps a bit of an odd remark to make as the UK has had a points based system since 2008.

Support for Points Based System

Farage is not alone in calling for a points system. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, is also a strong advocate. In October last year, during an interview on the Andrew Marr show, Johnson said: "On the border controls thing, that is critical and I think that is now emerging as the number one thing we need probably to sort out in this renegotiation.

Why shouldn't we have some sort of points-based system, such as they have in America or Australia, why shouldn't we have that?"

Again, a somewhat odd remark to make. We do not believe that there has ever been an US points based system.



Net UK migration figures released

Following the release of net migration figures, showing that almost 298,000 foreigners arrived in the UK in 2014, Farage seized the opportunity to criticise David Cameron.

The Prime Minister had pledged to reduce UK immigration figures to the tens of thousands. However, according to the new statistics released on February 26, numbers are almost treble David Cameron's initial target.

During his address to UKIP delegates, Farage said: "Cameron pledged that a Conservative government would reduce immigration into the UK to tens of thousands of people per year and that we should judge him on his record. Well the figures were close to 300,000 a year.

What UKIP must do is inject new impetus into the immigration debate. Only by removing Britain out of Europe, and reclaiming the nation's borders, can we provide the British public with an opportunity to support something they want, and UKIP will campaign for country to implement a points system similar to Australia's."



Office for National Statistics

The ONS says that the surge in immigration numbers was fuelled by increases in immigration from outside the EU, which is subject to a complex visa process, and within the EU, where free movement rules apply.



Australian Points System

There are various skilled immigration visa categories in Australia. Immigrants looking to gain entry into Australia as skilled migrants need to gain points based on their skills, qualifications, work experience, etc.



Farage repeating misleading remarks

Opposition parties said that Farage's comments are nothing new. In July last year the UKIP leader also said that Britain should adopt a points-based system like the one used in Australia.

Many commentators say that Farage is mentioning the Australian system as a way of pushing his anti-immigration agenda, at a time when figures suggest David Cameron is a long way off reducing immigration numbers to the tens of thousands as promised by him before the last General Election.



UK Points-based system since 2008

As mentioned already a points system has been used in Britain since 2008, introduced by the previous Labour government as the first of its kind in Britain. Applicants for Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 visas gain points based on various criteria in order to determine their eligibility to work or study in the UK.

The implementation of a points-based system in Britain in 2008 was at the time also likened to the Australian system. It's introduction replaced the previous scheme which consisted of 80 different types of UK visa. In fact even before 2008 the UK had a points based system called the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP).

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

Monday, March 16, 2015

US Immigration Protection for Millions of Illegal Immigrants delayed

Millions of applications were expected to be lodged by illegal immigrants seeking legal immigration status in the US before 18 February 2015. However, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, a city along the Texas border with Mexico, issued a temporary court order on Monday 16 February stopping Obama's executive actions from going ahead. This would have benefited some illegal immigrants who came to the US as children (DACA) and illegal immigrant parents of US Citizens or permanent residents (DAPA).

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Obama's administration wishes to extend a programme implemented in 2012, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The programme originally allowed illegal immigrants who arrived in the US as children to remain in the US legally, provided they were born after 1981 and were in the country prior to 2007.

The President further expanded this programme in 2014 under executive action to include children who were in the US before 2010, an action that would benefit an estimated 270,000 additional immigrants. The application process was due to start on February 18th.



Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)

In addition to DACA, the administration has launched Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). This programme is for parents illegally in the US of US-born citizen children or of permanent residents in the US, provided they have lived in the country for five years and have no serious criminal convictions.

Any deferred action programme (DAPA) allowing temporary stay for illegal immigrant parents of US citizen children and legal residents will not commence until May 2015 at the earliest. Because of the recent temporary Court Order there may be further delays in this being introduced.

The move to protect five million illegal immigrants from deportation, most of whom are 'undocumented' adult parents of legal residents and citizens, has been severely criticised by Obama's opponents.



Programme Costs

The proposed cost of Mr Obama's plan to help five million of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the US to stay is expected to reach anywhere between $324 million and $484 million over the next three years according to a letter written by Jen Johnson, the President's homeland security secretary.



Concerns about ability to deal with visa applications

However, many commentators have expressed deep concern about the pressure on the US immigration system as a result of increased applications.

Assuming the new DACA and DAPA does eventually go ahead US Citizenship and Immigration Services are anticipating around 1.3 million applications from people in the first six months, which will increase the workload of an agency that's already dealing with close to 6.3 million applications per year.



US Government Visa Fees

The cost of a DAPA application will be $465 and applications will be processed at a facility in a Washington suburb. 1,000 government staff will be dealing with the applications, assisted by 1,000 private contractors.

It's anticipated that close to 1.9 million applications will be made for the DAPA programme in the first 18 months following its launch.



Visits home by illegal immigrants unlikely

It seems that illegal immigrants will not be able to visit home outside of family emergencies or for the purposes of employment under the DAPA scheme.

This is of great importance to many iillegal immigrants who would like to see family and friends that they may not have seen for many years.



Opposition to immigration reforms

Obama's biggest challenge lies in the House of Representatives, where Republicans have voted to block the President's programmes. There have been attempts to prevent funding of the Department of Homeland Security, which deals with the processing of US visas. As already mentioned a US Judge has at least on a temporary basis prevented reforms from going ahead.

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