1. Deirdre Gittens, “Barbados Signs Visa Waiver Agreement With China”, Caribbean News Now, March 28, 2017
- Citizens of Barbados and China can now enter each other’s territory with an ordinary passport and no entry visa, following the signing last week of a visa waiver agreement.
- [Ambassador of China to Barbados, Wang Ke,] disclosed that Chinese tourists did not focus solely on scenic attractions and shopping, but also on life experiences and leisure tours. The envoy suggested, therefore, that Barbados would be “a dream place” for many Chinese who wanted to experience the Caribbean, and could become a new preferred destination for high-end Chinese travellers.
- Barbados is the third Caribbean island, and the tenth country worldwide, to sign a visa waiver agreement with China.
2. Nicholas Keung, “Job Program for Immigrants Aims to Fill Labour Gaps Outside GTA”, The Toronto Star, March 26, 2017
- Currently, the [Rural Employment Imitative] program serves any employer outside the GTA, but ultimately it hopes to focus on communities with populations under 10,000. The project is the brainchild of the Peel Newcomer Centre and the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporation, a federally-funded group representing 61 rural communities.
- Since the project shifted into high gear in November, it has received more than 100 job leads, drawn 90 newcomers interested in relocating and made three successful matches. The jobs, many in the manufacturing sector, include auto parts production, mining, information technology, health care, project management and marketing.
3. “New Immigration Application Intake Rules for 2017-2018”, Government of Quebec, March 30, 2017
- New rules regarding the maximum number of applications for a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ – Québec selection certificate) that can be received by the Ministère will be in effect from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, inclusively.
- The Ministère will receive 5000 applications for a selection certificate under the Regular Skilled Worker Program during the next intake period, the dates of which will be announced at a later date.
- From May 29, 2017 to February 23, 2018, the Ministère will receive a maximum of 1900 applications for a selection certificate under the Investor Program, including a maximum of 1330 applications from foreign nationals from the People’s Republic of China, including the administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao.
- For the period April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, no applications for a Certificat de sélection du Québec will be received under the Entrepreneur Program and Self-Employed Worker Program.
4. Canada to Welcome More French-Speaking Skilled Immigrants With New Changes to Express Entry”, Government of Canada, March 31, 2017
- Starting on June 6, 2017, additional points will be awarded to candidates who have strong French language skills. These additional points represent an important change that will contribute to the growth, vitality and prosperity of Francophone minority communities across Canada.
- Other changes to the Express Entry system planned for June include points for candidates with siblings in Canada and voluntary registration with Job Bank.
5. Andrew Cromwell, “Federal, Atlantic Governments Pleased With Response to Immigration Pilot Project”, Global News, March 31, 2017
- The project, the first of its kind in Canada, looks to process up to 2,000 applications for skilled immigrants this year for the four Atlantic provinces.
- The project also makes it possible for people to apply for permanent residency. In total, close to 200 employers across the Atlantic region have expressed interest in the program.
6. “IMF Predicts Marginal Growth for St. Lucia in 2017”, Antigua Observer, April 1, 2017
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting that St. Lucia will record economic growth of 0.5 per cent this year driven mostly by continued strong performance in construction and agriculture.
- The IMF said good governance of the citizenship by investment programme (CIP) and of the sovereign wealth fund are essential to minimize risks and ensure good use of these additional resources. “As in other countries, the CIP entails significant reputational and financial integrity risks, which could be minimized by strict adherence to the highest standards for due diligence, governance, and transparency.”
7. Paul Bedard, “Census: Immigration to Bust 100-Year Record, Continue Surging”, Washington Examiner, March 28, 2017
- Already 13.5 percent of the U.S. population, immigrants will surge to 15 percent in 2023, according to Steven Camarota, the director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies. At a conference to discuss the impact of immigration on public schools, he said "the share will hit 15 percent in just six years and that will surpass the all time high in the United States reached in 1890."
- When it comes to what the nation expects of its immigrants, Camarota cited those who believe in multiculturalism. "The idea is that there is no American culture. Immigrants instead should retain their identity and America should accommodate the new arrivals rather than the new arrivals largely accommodating themselves to American culture," he said.
8. Ellen Sheng, “Tired of Waitlists and Uncertainty, Some Chinese Favor U.S. Visa Over Green Card”, Forbes, March 28, 2017
- Wealthy Chinese looking for an extended stay in the U.S. are turning to visas, such as the L1, which allows companies to transfer key personnel or founders to manage the business for up to seven years.
- Besides the L1 visa, wealthy Chinese sometimes pursue the EB-1 visa, given to people with "extraordinary ability." A millionaire or billionaire who has launched a company and brought it public can qualify for such a visa based on their success.
- Though the EB-5 program has lost some of its luster, the U.S. remains an attractive destination for now. For certain types of people, the U.S. is still seen as a bargain "a place where you can acquire hard assets and make investments with no risk of appropriation by the government.
9. Randyl Drummer, “Foreign Investors Rush to Apply for Eb-5 Visas as Latest Program Deadline Approaches”, CoStar Group News, March 29, 2017
- Developers and foreign nationals uncertain about the program's future are rushing to apply ahead of the April 28 deadline, when lawmakers may either sharply raise minimum contribution requirements or allow the program to expire.
- Multifamily housing industry veteran Thomas T. Demery, who has consulted in securing EB-5 funding for projects and regional centers in Florida, Washington, D.C. and Kentucky, has seen an uptick in the number of Chinese investors filing applications in advance of the April 28 deadline.
10. Sara Ashley O’Brien, “H-1B Visa Applications Open Up Next Week”, CNN, March 29, 2017
- On April 3, people can start submitting H-1B visa petitions for the new fiscal year. It's in high demand: Last year, the cap of 85,000 H-1B visas was reached less than a week after the application period opened up. During that time, 236,000 petitions were submitted. When demand exceeds supply, the visas are awarded through a lottery system.
- Non-premium visa petitions can take as much as eight months before they're approved, immigration lawyers say. USCIS hopes to reduce overall processing times with the temporary [premium processing] freeze.
11. Molly Lortie, “High Court Rules to Give Passports to Tibetans Born in India”, The Tibet Post, March 30, 2017
- In a groundbreaking move for Tibetans, the government of India has decided to issue passports to Tibetans born in India between 26 January 1950 and 1 July 1987 as per the Indian Citizenship Act 1955 following a Delhi High Court ruling.
- The High Court directed the Ministry of External Affairs and all Passport-issuing authorities to process the applications for passports of eligible Tibetan refugees, or be liable to contempt of court.
12. “2,157 Pakistani Nationals Got Indian Citizenship in 6 Years”, The Tribune India, March 31, 2017
- The Union Home Ministry has revealed that as many as 5,477 foreigners, including 2,157 Pakistanis and 918 Afghans, acquired Indian citizenship during the last six years.
- A thorough study […] under the Right to Information (RTI) Act reveals that the number of foreigners acquiring Indian citizenship has doubled from 2014-2016 when compared to three years of the previous government.
- During the last three years, the number of immigrants from developed nations has also increased, from the US out of total 61 immigrants, 46 applied and granted citizenship rights only between 2014 and 2016. Seven French nationals, eight persons each from Germany and Italy also got citizenship rights.
13. Yoshifumi Takemoto, “Japan Considers Easing Chinese Visa Rules to Extend Tourism Boom”, Reuters, March 30, 2017
- The government is considering lowering the prescribed minimum annual income a Chinese citizen needs to obtain a multiple-entry visa to 3 million yen ($26,983.27) from around 4 million yen now, the sources said.
- "We want to announce this policy when the time is right, depending on the pace of increase in hotel accommodation," said one source, who declined to be named because the plans are not final.
- The number of foreign visitors to Japan rose 21.8 percent to a record 24 million last year, the Japan National Tourism Organization has said. China was the number one source of tourists visiting Japan, accounting for 26.5 percent of all arrivals.
14. “Ecuador Imposes Visa Regulations on North Koreans”, Yonhap News, March 30, 2017
- Ecuador on Wednesday called off a visa waiver program for North Korea in an apparent response to U.N. sanctions on the North's nuclear and missile tests. The step took effect immediately after a foreign minister order requiring North Koreans to get a visa to enter Ecuador was announced in the official gazette on the day.
- The visa restrictions are viewed as unusual given that Ecuador is one of the nations whose visa policies are the most lenient in the world. Ecuador strongly guarantees the universal freedom of movement in its Constitution revised in 2008, allowing all nationals of all nations around the world, except for 11 countries, to enter visa-free.
15. “Sri Lanka Grants Dual Citizenship to 1,750 Expats”, Can-India News, March 30, 2017
- Internal Affairs Minister S.B. Navinna told Xinhua news agency that there were as many as 23,000 expatriates who applied for dual citizenship, but only 1,750 could secure the chance this time.
- He said the government, formed after the 2015 presidential election, decided to give this right to Sri Lankans domiciled abroad so that they could stake a claim to their motherland. The minister said these expats were forced to flee the country at different points in the past due to the conflict.
16. Keoni Everington, “High-Level Professionals’ No Longer Have to Renounce Citizenship”, Taiwan News, March 27, 2017
- On March 24, the ministry promulgated a regulation as a supplement to an amendment to the Nationality Act […] passed by the legislature in December last year which gave special exemptions and extensions for the requirement that foreign national to renounce their citizenship before being eligible to become a Taiwanese citizen.
- Those foreign nationals who do not fall under one of the specified categories for exemption will have one year to renounce their prior citizenship. If they fail to do so, their Taiwanese citizenship application will be pronounced as invalid.
- The ministry said the new amendment does not apply to Chinese citizens or residents of Hong Kong or Macau, as the naturalization process for them is dictated by the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area.
United Arab Emirates
17. Mary Achkhanian, “UAE Visa on Arrival for Indians With US Visa, Green Card”, Gulf News, March 29, 2017
- Indian passport holders with a valid American visa or a Green Card will now be eligible to obtain a UAE visa on arrival, as per the decree approved by the UAE Cabinet, it was announced on Wednesday. The visa will be valid for 14 days, with a single extension possible for a fee.
- The number of Indian tourists coming to the UAE last year reached about 1.6 million Indian tourists, and there were about 50,000 UAE tourists who visited India in the same year. There are about 143 flights a day between the UAE and Indian cities, at a rate of 1000 flights per week.
18. “Vietnam Welcomes Over 3 Million Foreign Visitors in Q1”, VNExpress, March 29, 2017
- Vietnam welcomed more than 3 million foreign visitors in the first quarter of 2017, a 30 percent increase from the same period last year, official data showed. Over 70 percent of arrivals were from Asian countries.
- In a bid to give the tourism industry a major push, the Vietnamese government has launched its much-touted online visa system for travelers on short holidays or casual business trips.
- Tourism is expected to contribute 10 percent to Vietnam’s gross domestic product by 2020 when the country expects to receive up to 20 million foreign visitors and earn $35 billion in tourism revenue.
19. Rikard Jozwiak, “Jubilant Georgians Ring In Visa-Free Travel to EU”, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, March 28, 2017
- Georgians are celebrating their newly won freedom to travel visa-free to most EU countries, with officials cheering it as a "historic" achievement for the country's nearly 4 million people.
- Georgian nationals with biometric passports can now travel visa-free to all EU member states except Britain and Ireland. It also applies to non-EU Schengen-area countries Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland.
20. Elaine Edwards, “Launch of Online Application Form for Irish Passports”, The Irish Times, March 30, 2017
- Irish citizens may now renew their passports online wherever they are in the world, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has announced. The online passport application service will work for both passport books and cards, and is available to adult citizens over 18 who already have a passport.
- The service has a target turnaround time of 10 working days plus postage wherever in the world the applicant is based. The Minister said the streamlined service will allow applicants the convenience of submitting information, including photographs, digitally, and will avoid the need for witnessing of forms and the printing of photographs.
21. “Russia, Iran Reach Deal on Visa-Free Travel for Tourist Groupsc”, Sputnik News, March 28, 2017
- The governments of Russia and Iran concluded Tuesday an agreement on visa-free trips for tourist groups. The document was signed following the talks of Russian and Iranian presidents, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani, respectively.
- In 2016, the Iranian Vice President said that the country wants to attract 1-2 million visitors by removing tourist visas for Russian nationals.
22. “Visa-Free Travel Between Russia and South Africa Comes Into Effect”, TASS, March 30, 2017
- After the two countries exchanged relevant notes in late April, the Russian foreign ministry said that starting from March 30 "Russian and South African nationals who do not plan to work, study or reside in the territory of the other state will need no transit or entry visas to stay there for a period of up to 90 days."
- A spokesman for the consular department of the Russian embassy in South Africa told TASS that Russian nationals can enjoy 90-day visa-free stay in South Africa once every calendar year. According to official data, 15,000 Russian tourists visited South Africa in 2015.
23. Maria Tadeo & Sharon R. Smyth, “Wealthy Venezuelans Are Seeking Haven in Madrid”, Bloomberg, March 27, 2017
- The number of Venezuelans arriving in Spain rose more than 50 percent in 2015, according to the Spanish statistics office, the biggest increase after immigrants from the Ukraine.
- With its shared language, stable politics and a property market that’s still recovering from a six-year crash, Spain holds many attractions for wealthy Venezuelans seeking a shield their assets from economic disorder in their home country. The number of properties sold to Venezuelan nationals jumped 17 percent in 2016 according to Spain’s property register.
- While Venezuela’s central bank stopped publishing inflation data in December 2015, the International Monetary Fund argues the nation has entered a spiral of hyperinflation with price increases seen rising above 1,600 percent this year.
24. “Brexit Sparks Surge in Brits Applying for Spanish Citizenship”, The Local Spain, March 30, 2017
- The number of British residents applying for Spanish nationality has multiplied by 431 percent since the referendum on Brexit in June last year. New figures released by the Cervantes Institute show the huge surge in the number of Brits seeking citizenship in their adopted homeland in order to ensure they will retain their rights as citizens of a European Union nation.
- The official figures back up anecdotal evidence that more and more Brits are considering adopting Spanish nationality.
25. Lucie Rychia, “Record Number of Danes Applies for Swedish Citizenship”, The Copenhagen Post, March 27, 2017
- The number of Danes who have obtained Swedish citizenship reached new record highs in 2016, according to figures from the Swedish statistics agency, Statistiska Centralbyrån. Some 1,942 Danish nationals became citizens of Sweden last year – an almost 30 percent increase compared with the previous year, when 1,510 Danes received the privilege.
- The number of Danes applying for Swedish citizenship has grown significantly, ever since the Danish Parliament made it possible for people to hold dual nationality in September 2015.
26. Sadık Sözer Çizmeci, “New Turquoise Card of Turkey”, Hurriyet Daily News, March 27, 2017
- The [new Turquoise Card Regulation] defines the Turquoise Card as a document that grants permanent right to work and residency in Turkey to its holder and a residence permit to his/her relatives.
- The new point-based scoring system is established and accepted as a means of regulating the Turquoise Card immigration system within the newly established five categories of skilled foreigners; Highly Skilled Labor, Highly Qualified Investors, Scientists and Researchers, internationally successful foreigners in cultural, artistic or sports activities, and foreigners who contribute in recognition or promotion of Turkey or the Turkish culture.
- Similar to ordinary work permit applications, foreigners residing outside of Turkey might apply for the Turquoise Card through Turkish representative offices. Additionally, Turquoise Card applications might be submitted through authorized intermediary institutions that are authorized by the Labor Ministry.
Papua New Guinea
27. “Vanuatu, Fiji, and Samoa on PNG Dual Citizenship Country List”, Radio New Zealand, March 31, 2017
- PNG's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Rimbink Pato launched the PNG Citizenship and Dual Citizenship Pathways system. It means citizens of Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Germany and USA can now apply for dual citizenship in PNG.
- Other foreign nationals eligible to apply for dual citizenship in PNG include investors, people married to Papua New Guineans, long-term residents, sportsperson and people with PNG descent.
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