MEDIA

HLG Weekly Newsletter

Mar 20,2017
AFRICA
South African Development Community

1. Unathi Nkanjeni, “#AfriTravel: SADC Passport on the Cards?”, Traveller24, March 14, 2017

 

  • The Southern African Development Community (SADC) plans on launching a new passport rule that could see borders within the region become a thing of the past for local travellers. The idea behind the initiative is to ensure that an individual only uses one passport as an international travel document across the globe as well as end immigration challenges facing neighbouring countries.
  • Plans for a SADC passport emerged after African Union heads of state launched an African passport at the body's summit in Rwanda in July last year. The East African Community launched its passport four months earlier and put these into operation in January this year.
Kenya

2. Patrick Vidijia, “EAC’s E-Passport Roll-Out Pushed to September”, The Star Kenya, March 14, 2017

 

  • Kenya will roll out the East Africa Community e-Passport in September, Interior Ministry announced on Tuesday. Through a tweet, the ministry said the issuance of the travel documents will begin from September 1.
  • According to the ministry, this was to be done simultaneously with other East African Community member states. [Gordon Kihalangwa, the Director of the Department of Immigration Services] said the department was confident that the new dates will not be changed.
Rwanda

3. Wolfgang H. Thome, “Rwanda Continues Deliberate Path of Travel Expansion”, eTurbo News, March 14, 2017

 

  • A new bilateral air services agreement was signed over the weekend between the island nation of Sao Tome e' Principe and Rwanda, allowing for flights between the two African countries when either national airline is ready to do so.
  • Also inked were additional bilateral agreements covering a mutual visa waiver, cooperation in tourism, trade, agriculture, and animal resources.
AMERICA
Canada

4. Levon Sevunts, “No Need for ‘Canadian Values’ Tests for Immigrants: Immigration Minister”, Radio Canada International, March 17, 2017

 

  • The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sees no need to institute a ‘Canadian values’ test for prospective immigrants to Canada, said federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.
  • The ministry has been pushing for this move in face of resistance from the Foreign Ministry, who remain resolved that the visas should be granted in reciprocity to the respective countries.
  • The Canadian model of immigration makes sure that there is a clear path to citizenship and the vast majority of immigrants do become fully integrated Canadian citizens, Hussen said. “We believe that we should be open to ideas, to people and to immigration. We believe that immigration is a great source of strength for our country.”
United States

5. Dileep Thekkethil, “USCIS to Accept H-1B Applications from April 3”, The American Bazaar, March 15, 2017

 

  • The USCIS said in a press release on Wednesday that the H-1B petitions can be filed starting from April 3, 2017, and any petition filed before this will be rejected. US Congress has set a cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per fiscal year. Last year, the USCIS received 236,000 H-1B applications, almost three times the quota.
  • Recently, the USCIS said it was temporarily suspending the facility for premium processing of H-1B petitions. This will be applicable to all petitions filed starting from April 3. What this essentially means for the petitioner is that they won’t be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification.
  • USCIS has also increased the filing fee for Form I-129 to $460 and has also lifted the 14 days additional time to correct a dishonored payment. USCIS has made it clear that it will reject the entire H-1B petition if the payment is rejected by the bank or financial institution and there will be no option for the petitioner to request for reconsideration.

6. Varghese K. George, “U.S. Lawmakers Back Green Cards for STEM Graduates”, The Hindu, March 16, 2017

 

  • U.S. Senator Thomas Tillis said on Wednesday all international students who complete an advanced degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in the country should be given permanent residency in America.
  • The Republican from North Carolina was supported by his Senate colleague from the State, Richard Burr, while speaking at an event organised by the U.S.-India Friendship Council and the U.S India Business Council. These senators and several other lawmakers present at the event said America needs more skilled workers and India was in a position to supply these skills.
ASIA
China

1. “China Eases Visa Rules in a Bid to Draw Talent”, The Straits Times, March 15, 2017

 

  • A new pilot programme unveiled by the Ministry of Public Security last Thursday allows anyone who has been employed in China for at least two consecutive years to apply for a five-year work permit, the report said on Monday. Previously, the report said, most foreign employees had to apply for a new work permit every year, even if they were hired on multi-year contracts.
  • It said the scheme is expected to be rolled out in the coming months in "demonstration zones for innovative reform" in a total of nine cities and provinces including Beijing, Wuhan and Hebei, and 11 free-trade zones including those in Tianjin, Chongqing and Henan province.
Singapore

8. “Singapore Passport Ranks No.4 in the World, Top in Asia for Visa-Free Access”, The Straits Times, March 16, 2017

 

  • The Singapore passport continues to be widely accepted globally, reaching its highest ranking at No. 4 on this year's Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index against a global trend of decreased travel freedom.
  • The number of countries and territories that Singapore passport holders enjoy visa-free access to has remained unchanged from last year at 173, putting the Republic level with seven other countries including the United Kingdom and France. Singapore is now the highest-ranked Asian nation, breaking a tie with fifth-placed Japan (172), which has lost visa-free access to one country.
Taiwan

9. Matthew Strong, “Taiwan Prepares Visa Waivers for India and 5 Other Countries”, Taiwan News, March 15, 2017

 

  • Taiwan is preparing visa waivers for tourists from India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar within the next three years, the government said Wednesday. Tourist arrivals from 18 countries targeted by the “New Southbound Policy” were up by 42.8 percent in January compared to the same month last year.
  • At present, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines were the five most important sources of tourists in the group of 18.
United Arab Emirates

10. Cleofe Meceda, “UAE Has best Passport for the Rich in Arab Region”, Gulf News, March 12, 2017

 

  • The UAE has been ranked as the best passport within the Arab region, 70th globally, as it offers citizens visa-free access to 122 countries, followed by Kuwait (ranked 94th globally), Qatar (97th), Bahrain (105th) and Saudi Arabia (113th).
  • As previous studies have shown, thousands of millionaires move to the UAE every year, with last year alone seeing about 3,000 high-net-worth individuals migrating into the country. Foreigners, however, don't have the option to acquire or invest in a UAE citizenship.

11. “Now, Emiratis Don’t Need Entry Visa to Visit Brazil”, Gulf News, March 17, 2017

 

  • Emirati holders of diplomatic, special, official and service passports will be exempted from visa requirements to enter Brazil, according to an agreement signed on between the UAE and Brazil.
  • The visa waiver agreement was signed during a visit by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, to Brazil where he met Aloysio Nunes, Brazilian Minister of Foreign Relations.
Vietnam

12. Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit, “Vietnam’s eVisa Encourages Travel”, TTR Weekly, March 16, 2017

 

  • Ho Chi Minh City’s tourism authorities claim that the launch of an eVisa, last month, has increased travel bookings to Vietnam and particularly the southern city which is the country main gateway. According to Ministry of Public Security’s Department of Immigration, 490 foreigners applied for an eVisa since it was introduced in February. Of that total 210 applications were filed a week after the pilot scheme was introduced.
  • A two-year pilot programme started 1 February. It allows travellers from 40 countries to apply for an eVisa and pay for it through a bank transfer. Applications are processed by the immigration authority within three working days, after which time applicants can access and print their eVisa using an ID provided by the website during the submission process. No letter of guarantee or invitation is required for online visa applications, and eVisas have avalidity period of 30 days.
EUROPE
Greece

13. “Greek Parliament Passes Granting Citizenship to Descendants of Holocaust Survivors”, YNet News, March 18, 2017

 

  • The Greek parliament voted in favor of granting citizenship to descendants of Greek Jews, Holocaust survivors, on Friday. The voting took place after decades of delay. In 2011, the Greek government had voted in favor of granting citizenship to elderly Greek Jews who had survived the Holocaust.
  • It is estimated that 20,000 descendants of Holocaust survivors of Greek origin live in Israel, while several thousands are believe to live in the US.
Norway

14. “Norway Opens Doors to Dual Citizenship”, The Local, March 13, 2017

 

  • Norway’s Høyre (Conservative) Party, the largest party in the governing coalition, voted at its annual conference in favour of a proposal to allow dual citizenship in the country. The proposal, made by the party’s youth wing Unge Høyre as well as a number of county representatives, received overall support at the conference.
  • [Daniel Skjevik-Aasberg of Unge Høyre’s central committee] told NTB [news agency] that he hoped Høyre’s MPs would now see the proposal through when it is put before parliament during the spring session.
Sweden

15. “Sweden Has World’s Most Powerful Passport”, The Swedish Wire, March 13, 2017

 

  • Out of 199 countries, the Scandinavian country came out on top, followed by Belgium, Italy and Spain.
  • The Nomad Passport Index found that Swedes can visit 176 countries without a visa, and have the ability to work abroad without having to pay tax at home. The Nordic nation also received top marks in terms of personal freedoms, with citizens enjoying free speech, a free press and some of the lowest incarceration rates in the world.
Turkey

16. “Turkey Grants Permanent Work, Residence Permits to Qualified Foreign Employees, Investors”, Hurriyet Daily News, March 14, 2017

 

  • Turkey will grant permanent work and residence permits to qualified foreigners who have to meet several criteria, including contributing to the country’s science, technology, employment and economy, a new practice published in the Official Gazette said March 14.
  • Applications to obtain the card will be done through an application system with the ministry if the person is in Turkey, and will be made through Turkish missions if the person is abroad. The documents from overseas applications will be transferred to the ministry, where the decision will be made. Authorities will then grant the cards to applicants based on a point scoring system.
  • The cardholders and their relatives will be able to obtain Turkish citizenship once the ministry approves, and under the condition that the person does not present a threat against national security and public order.

17. “New Era of Passport-Free Travel Between Turkey, Ukraine Begins”, Daily Sabah, March 15, 2017

 

  • Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yldırım and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Groysman agreed Tuesday to allow their citizens to travel to each other's countries without passports. Yıldırım said the agreement would enable citizens of Turkey and Ukraine to travel to each other's countries with their national identities.
  • The Ukrainian premier said that over one million Ukrainian tourists visited Turkey every year.
Ukraine

18. “Visa Free Regime Between Ukraine, EU Should Enter Into Force by End of June – Hugh Mingarelli”, Ukrinform, March 13, 2017

 

  • According to the current plan, a visa-free regime between Ukraine and the European Union should enter into force before the end of June of this year. Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine Hugh Mingarelli has stated this in an interview with RBC-Ukraine.
  • "The principal decision has been already made by the relevant bodies of the European Union. According to the current plan, the visa free regime should enter into force before the end of June,” he said.

19. “Got $100 Grand to Burn? Then You Too Can Become a Ukrainian Citizen!” Sputnik News, March 19, 2017

 

  • Foreign nationals can get on a fast track to receiving Ukrainian citizenship by investing the equivalent of $100,000 US into the country's economy, according to a recent directive by the Ukrainian cabinet of ministers.
  • However, the document emphasizes that highly skilled professionals and workers for whom there is an "urgent need", plus scientists and cultural workers, as well as those who have invested the equivalent of $100,000 into the Ukrainian economy, are not subject to [immigration] quotas.
  • Under Ukrainian law, non-Ukrainians who do not have relatives in Ukraine can receive citizenship after having resided in the country for five years, gained proficiency in the Ukrainian language, and demonstrated knowledge of the country's constitution. Officially, Ukraine's Law on Citizenship does not provide for receiving citizenship via investment alone.
OCEANIA
New Zealand

20. “Americans’ Applications for NZ Citizenship Up 70 Percent After Donald Trump’s Election Win”, NZ Herald, March 14, 2017

 

  • The number of Americans who applied for a grant of NZ citizenship rose by 70 per cent in the 12 weeks following the election of President Donald Trump when compared to the same period a year earlier, immigration records obtained by The Associated Press show.
  • Figures also show the number of Americans who obtained a New Zealand work visa in January was up 18 per cent from a year earlier, as was the number of Americans who visited the country.

19. “Got $100 Grand to Burn? Then You Too Can Become a Ukrainian Citizen!” Sputnik News, March 19, 2017

 

  • Foreign nationals can get on a fast track to receiving Ukrainian citizenship by investing the equivalent of $100,000 US into the country's economy, according to a recent directive by the Ukrainian cabinet of ministers.
  • However, the document emphasizes that highly skilled professionals and workers for whom there is an "urgent need", plus scientists and cultural workers, as well as those who have invested the equivalent of $100,000 into the Ukrainian economy, are not subject to [immigration] quotas.
  • Under Ukrainian law, non-Ukrainians who do not have relatives in Ukraine can receive citizenship after having resided in the country for five years, gained proficiency in the Ukrainian language, and demonstrated knowledge of the country's constitution. Officially, Ukraine's Law on Citizenship does not provide for receiving citizenship via investment alone.

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The material contained in this Publication is solely intended to inform readers of general legal information and/or developments. It is not intended, and should not be relied upon, as a legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Harvey Law Group (“HLG”) is not liable and in any way responsible for any harm or damages resulting from the use of the information contained on this Publication for legal or any other purposes. All rights reserved.