MEDIA

HLG Weekly Newsletter

Mar 13,2017
AMERICA
Antigua & Barbuda

Kieron Murdoch, "Citizenship by installment", Antigua Observer, November 25th, 2016

The government of Antigua & Barbuda has been advised that the country could be missing out on the chance to add rare professionals to the workforce by not having a “skilled persons” option in the Citizenship by investment Programme (CIP).

The advice comes from Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) Chisanga Puta-Chekwe, who argued that the proposal if taken up could benefit the country. “One of the recommendations that I made at a recent conference was adding the skilled person category. So that a person who might not have the $1.5 million to invest in a business and might not even have the 200,000 to invest in the national development fund – but a person who has skills that are badly needed by Antigua & Barbuda,” he said.

Canada

"IRCC Releases Instructions for Candidates Who May Claim Additional CRS Points", CIC News, November 23rd, 2016

On November 19, 2016, Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Canada (IRCC) implemented several important changes to the Express Entry system and its Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

Candidates in the Express Entry pool are ranked according to their CRS points score. Consequently, after the reform that took effect as of November 19, some candidates in the Express Entry pool may be able to update their scores.

If candidates think they are affected by the changes, IRCC instructs that they should: (1) Log into their online account and update their Express Entry profile by answering the new questions IRCC has added to the system. (2) After a profile is updated, the candidate’s CRS score may be updated.

Simon Calder, "Canada’s eTA travel scheme is now mandatory", The Independent, November 25th, 2016

The eTA mirrors the US “Esta” programme, though with less onerous demands for information, and validity of five years, rather than two. The scheme began in the summer of 2015 and was due to become obligatory from 15 March 2016. However, issues with IT forced the authorities to postpone the scheme until after the summer.

As with the Esta scheme, it has attracted online scammers who set up websites designed to look like the official portal. One Belize-based organization is charging £80 for a process that should cost just C$7 (£4.20). The only legitimate site is canada.ca/eTA.

United States of America

Patrick Cain, "U.S. Applications to Canadian universities soar after Trump’s election", Global News, November 24th, 2016

University admission offices across Canada are seeing far more American applicants than normal in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election.

Changes to federal immigration rules announced just after the U.S. election make it much easier for non-Canadians to stay and work here after going to a Canadian university, and smooth the path to citizenship.

Sam Levine, "Judge Tell New Citizens They Can Leave the U.S. if They Don’t Like Donald Trump", Huffington Post, November 19th, 2016

A federal judge presiding over a naturalization ceremony in San Antonio, Texas, on Friday told new U.S. citizens if they didn’t like President-elect Donald Trump, they could leave the United States.

Judge John Primomo told KENS 5 that his comments were intended to be unifying and that he meant them to be respectful to the office of the president. He also criticized demonstrators who have been protesting Trump since he was elected on Nov. 8. Since the election, there has also been an uptick in attacks on minority groups in the United States, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Gutavo Palencia & Sofia Menchu, "Central Americans surge north, hoping to reach U.S. before Trump inauguration", Reuters, November 24th, 2016

Central American countries warned on Thursday that large numbers of migrants have fled their poor, violent homes since Donald Trump's surprise election win, hoping to reach the United States before he takes office next year.

"We're worried because we're seeing a rise in the flow of migrants leaving the country, who have been urged to leave by coyotes telling them that they have to reach the United States before Trump takes office," Maria Andrea Matamoros, Honduras' deputy foreign minister, told Reuters, referring to people smugglers.

The foreign ministers of Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala met on Monday to formulate a strategy to protect their migrants in the United States, in a show of regional solidarity.

ASIA
APEC

"APEC summit leaders earn of dangers posed by Trump’s economic protectionism", South China Morning Post, November 22nd, 2016

Leaders at the weekend meeting warned against anyone adopting the same deal-destroying economic ideologies they say are embraced by Trump. Washington’s allies, as well as President Xi Jinping, took aim at his anti-globalisation views.

In a bid to salvage the TPP – a trade deal that excludes China and part of Washington’s so-called pivot to Asia to counter China’s growing influence – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe became the first leader to meet the US president-elect when he travelled to Trump Tower in New York on his way to Peru.

Other countries, like Singapore and New Zealand, are also trying to ratify the trade deals –domestically, but whether their determination will amount to anything meaningful without the –policy direction of next US administration is –unclear.

ASEAN

"Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines ‘the bright spots of ASEAN", GovInsider, November 25th, 2016

Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines are the most promising growth spots in ASEAN, according to the Asian Competitiveness Institute at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. “In ASEAN, the bright spot is Indonesia first, followed by Vietnam, and then by the Philippines,” Professor Tan Khee Giap, co-director of the unit, told the ACI conference.

If Indonesia meets its goal of 7% GDP growth per year, it will be the 7th largest economy in the world by 2030, he added. “Indonesia should rightly lead the charge in ASEAN,” he noted. “If you do that, ASEAN can be the fourth largest economy in the world,” he said to a room of Indonesian governors and senior officials.

Azerbaijan

Malahat Najafova, "US Embassy launches Interview Waiver Program in Azerbaijan", Azeri-Press Agency, November 25th, 2016

Now, Azerbaijani citizens who meet all qualifications and wish to renew their visas within 12-48 months of the date of expiration will no longer be required to make an appointment for a visa application interview with a Consular Officer.

If qualified, applicants only need to fill out the visa application form, print out the completed DS-160, pay the visa application fee, and drop off all necessary documents at the Visa Document Courier Services. Applicants with visas issued before January 1, 2008 must come in person to the embassy to have their fingerprints retaken.

China

"Xi’s Peru visit a milestone in bilateral relations, says ambassador", The Global Times, November 19th, 2016

Noting that Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski visited China in September, his first trip abroad after taking office, Jia said that the exchange of visits between the two heads of state within three months fully reflects the height of political mutual trust between the two sides.

China is Peru's largest trading partner, biggest export destination, and Peru is among the first countries to conduct production capacity cooperation with China, said Jia.

Yu Ran, "New travel regulations for Chinese entering the US", China Daily, November 25th, 2016

Each EVUS enrollment requires the visa holder to provide his or her name, birth date, an emergency contact, a contact in the US, passport information as well as biographical and employment details. The applicant will also have to answer questions related to security and travel eligibility.

The EVUS system will inform visa holders of their application result within minutes after the electronic form submission. However, officials said that some people may have to wait up to 72 hours. The EVUS system, which can be accessed at evus.gov, is currently in its trial phase and enrollments are free. Visa holders can expect to pay $8 per enrollment after the trial period.

India

Charu Sudan Kasturi, "Visa hope for diaspora descendants", The Telegraph, November 28th, 2016

India may soon offer lifetime visas to the nearly eight million descendants of the indentured workers taken from the country to East Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and the Caribbean by colonial powers.

Indian-origin foreigners who hold Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards, issued under a scheme started by the Manmohan Singh government and expanded by the current administration, can already visit India without ever needing a visa.

However, the OCI card, which does not grant citizenship but offers other benefits, is open only for up to fourth-generation emigrants from India, a rule that effectively bars many descendants of workers shipped out through the 19th century.

The government is now drafting a plan to extend the facility and its benefits to older emigrant families, including those of indentured laborers taken by the British, French, Portuguese and the Dutch to their then colonies.

Philippines

"The Philippines may waive visas for Chinese tourists: official", CRIEnglish, November 27th, 2016

The Philippine government is studying the possibility of a visa waiver for Chinese tourists to boost travel between the two countries, an official with the Philippine Department of Tourism said.

If Chinese tourists are granted visa waivers, the Philippines could capture a bigger chunk of outbound Chinese tourists to boost the country's tourist sector.

The Philippine Department of Tourism earlier set a goal of increasing Chinese arrivals to one million in 2017, which more than doubles 2015's figure.

Thailand

"Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit, Thailand hands out free visas", TTR Weekly, November 24th, 2016

The Thai Cabinet approved a plan, Tuesday to waive visa fees for tourists from 19 nations, 1 December to 28 February next year. According to the Cabinet statement, the scheme will help to boost travel during the peak season months. They will still have to apply for a visa through normal channels, but the visa will be issued gratis.

The 19 nations eligible for the visa-fee waiver comprise of Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Citizens from the 19 countries needed to pay THB1,000 fee to process a visa at Thai embassies or consular offices. The visa-on-arrival fee that was increased, 27 September, to THB2,000 will be reduced to THB1,000 for citizens of the 19 countries. The visa-on-arrival is valid for 15 days.

Vietnam

"Vietnam approves e-visa pilot", Vietnam Express, November 25th, 2016

On Tuesday, Vietnam's National Assembly overwhelmingly approved a plan to allow foreign tourists to apply for electronic visas (e-visas) starting on February 1, 2017.

Under the program, tourists will be able to apply online for 30-day, single-entry e-visas by paying a non-refundable application fee online.

The Vietnamese government is working to decide which nationalities will become eligible for the program and which Vietnamese border gates will allow foreigners to enter by applying online.

EUROPE
Belarus

"No visa requirements between Belarus and Brazil as from November 25", Belarus Telegraph Agency, November 24th, 2016

A visa-free regime between Belarus and Brazil will become operational as from 25 November, spokesman for the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dmitry Mironchik told a briefing for the press.

“The intergovernmental agreement with Brazil on visa-free travel for citizens of the two countries enters into force on 25 November. Under the agreement, the citizens of the two countries - holders of valid passports, will have the right to enter, leave, transit and temporary stay on the territory of the other state within a period of up to 90 days a year without a visa,” Mironchik said.

European Union

"Ukraine citizens to get visa-free travel to EU", BBC News, November 24th, 2016

The visa-free scheme will allow Ukrainians with a biometric passport to enter the Schengen area - including some non-EU areas such as Switzerland and Iceland, but not the UK or Ireland - without a visa for up to 90 days.

He said all EU states had decided Ukraine was ready for a visa-free regime, and that it would come into force once the European Parliament and the European Council agreed on changes to the EU's visa policy.

Russia

"Russia, Iran Drafting New Deal on Visa-Free Travels", Tasnim News Agency, November 23rd, 2016

Director of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia Ivanov Yevgeny Sergeevich said he and his Iranian counterpart have drafted a new agreement on visa-free tourist trips, expressing the hope that the deal would be signed within the next four months.

Under the new agreement, Iranian tourists, in groups of 5 to 50 people, can travel to Russia without an entry visa for up to 15 days, he explained. Hopefully, if the agreement is signed in 2017, Iranian tourists will be able to visit Russia in summer, Sergeevich added.

In November 2015, Iran and Russia clinched an agreement on simplifying visa requirements, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran. The accord took effect in February 2016.

United Kingdom

"Selene Brophy, UK has ‘no plans’ to change visa requirements for SA travellers", News24, November 22nd, 2016

A petition to restore visa-free travel for South Africans to the UK, organized by the Royal Commonwealth Society and the South African Chamber of Commerce UK is just a 1,000 votes away from the required 10,000.

However SA's British High Commission spokesperson Isabel Potgieter says, "There are no current plans to change the UK visa requirement for South Africans. The UK Government keeps its visa regime under regular review and we continue to work closely with South Africa on migration and border security issues.”

But while the UK hits the road to reforming its policies in light of an independent Britain, South Africa is in talks to ease European travel requirements for locals, ahead of the 10th anniversary of the SA-EU bilateral special agreement. Measures being looked at include the feasibility of multiple-entry visas for SA business travellers to the EU, as well as full exemptions for South African leisure travellers.

OCEANIA
Australia

"Amy Remeikis, 457 occupation list to be ‘condensed’, says Immigration Minister Peter Dutton", The Canberra Times, November 20th, 2016

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has continued the "Australia-first" jobs pitch, seized upon by both major parties in the wake of Donald Trump's election, confirming the Turnbull government will condense the number of occupations eligible for a 457 visa.

The government announced it was reversing Labor's extension on the number of days a foreign worker can remain in Australia while in-between jobs, from 90 days back to 60 days, with Mr Dutton rebuking claims the switch came after pressure from Labor, or Mr Trump's election, by pointing to the changes having been gazetted in October.

Sacha Payne, "Chinese tourists to trial 10-year multiple entry visas to Australia", SBS, November 24th, 2016

Speaking at a tourism summit in Canberra, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he and China President Xi Jinping had agreed to make 2017 the "Australia-China Year of Tourism".

Visitors from China are the second largest group among international arrivals to this country. They are also one of the highest spending, injecting $8.3 billion into the Australian economy last year. That figure is estimated to grow up to $13 billion by 2020.

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