1. Katie Beck, ‘’Why citizenship is now a commodity’’, BBC, May 30th, 2017
- Investment citizenship programmes are not new. They’ve been around for decades, primarily as a way for countries to boost their incomes. Canada and the Caribbean island of St Kitts and Nevis started theirs in the 1980s and the US and UK began similar ones in the 1990s.
- The specifics of different investment citizenship programmes vary by country. They allow foreigners to invest in real-estate projects and businesses, buy property, or to donate money directly to a country’s government in exchange for a visa or passport.
- Wealthy, private investors from emerging market economies are driving the trend, according to The International Monetary Fund.
2. ‘’Global citizenship at the heart of discussion on human rights education in Geneva’’, UNESCO, May 30th, 2017
- Bringing together Member States, UN agencies and civil society, the seminar provided a valuable opportunity to explore connections between initiatives from around the world promoting Human Rights Education in response to SDG Target 4.7
- SDG Target 4.7 stands as an unparalleled recognition of the importance of education in achieving sustainable development that is just, peaceful and inclusive. In this context, the seminar offered a timely opportunity to learn about action in Human Rights and Global Citizenship Education from around the world in support of the Education 2030 Agenda.
- Ms Ruprecht presented UNESCO’s transversal action in the field of Global Citizenship Education, from the establishment and monitoring of targets for the implementation of SDG 4.7, to working with Member States to build capacities across learning environments. Emphasising that “Global Citizenship Education can take many forms around the world”, she highlighted its role in “empowering learners with the values, behaviours, attitudes and knowledge to contribute as citizens”.
3. Sharon Harris, ‘’Foreign citizenship investment is becoming an insurance policy for the wealthy’’, Born 2 Invest, May 31st, 2017
- The so-called citizenship investment is on the rise with the more affluent members of a country investing in real estate and in other businesses of another country in order to get citizenship status.
- BBC reports that investors often come from emerging countries and are seeking residency granting them permission to stay, live, work, study, and engage in other activities in the more developed countries. The preferred locations for immigration are the United States of America, Europe, and New Zealand.
- Regardless of which country they choose, one common advantage that these citizen investors will enjoy is the freedom to travel to a lot more visa-free countries.
4. Ivan R. Mugisha, ‘’Africa: Visa-Free Travel Across Africa Closer to Reality’’, AllAfrica, May 29th, 2017
- The ambitious programme by the African Union to remove visa charges for Africans travelling within the continent moved one step closer to fruition on May 23. This followed a meeting of over 100 African government officials in Kigali to fine-tune a draft treaty establishing free movement around the continent.
- "For us, the benefit of free movement of people, goods and services outweighs the real potential security and economic challenges that may be generated" [said Katyen Jackden.]
- Apart from removal of visa requirements, adopting the protocol will usher in the African passport. It also introduces free movement of Africans for a period of 90 days, as well as right of residence for any African in a territory other than his or her country of origin.
5. Hugo Goodridge, ‘’Egypt hopes new residency-for-deposits system will boost investments’’, Al-Monitor, May 30th, 2017
- In an interview with Al-Monitor, Kamal Amer, the head of the Egyptian parliament's National Defense and Security Committee, said that the introduction of a system granting residency to foreigners in return for bank deposits in hard currency “is in line with the Egyptian national security regulations.” This system was introduced earlier this month through amendments to the law on the entry, residency and exit of foreigners and the Egyptian Nationality Law.
- Amer stressed that any person or foreign national posing a threat to Egyptian national security will not be allowed to enter the country.
- Under the residence-for-deposits law, foreigners apply for residency permits in return for depositing money in Egyptian banks in foreign currency. After five years of residency in Egypt, they can apply for citizenship.
- The key to a thriving economy is a strong, skilled and knowledgeable workforce. And while in a perfect world a company might be able to find that skill and knowledge on its doorstep, the reality in the global economy is that companies might have to look far and wide for the right people.
- “Canada needs to attract and retain temporary and permanent business workers as key talent to support economic development in today’s competitive global market,” says the CBA’s National Immigration Law Section in a recent submission to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. In fact, the Section notes, the government has made it clear in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that it is committed to pursuing economic goals through business.
- The Business Immigration Program could improve its intake management by using an “expression of interest” system that favours people with Canadian business experience, and is not biased toward particular age or education levels, which would be counterproductive.
7. Emmerson Anthony, ‘’Dominica PM seeks visa settlement between Russia and the Caribbean’’, WIC News, June 2nd, 2017
- Roosevelt Skerrit was speaking at International Economic Forum (SPIEF) to an audience of delegates from across the globe.
- “The Caribbean community is very keen on advancing its relations with the Russian Federation and also Eurasia. There’s a lot that the Caribbean community can share in the integration process,” the prime minister said.
- In detailing the Eastern Caribbean’s experience and expertise with matters of integration and what it can bring to the table, Skerrit spoke highly of the strength of the Eastern Caribbean dollar and the fact that it was actually studied by the European Union while it was in the process of implementing its own currency, the Euro.
St. Kitts & Nevis
8. Loshaun Dixon, ‘’St. Kitts and Nevis’ CBI Programme Recognized Internationally as ‘Most Trusted and Successful of its Kind’’’, The St Kitts & Nevis Observer, June 3rd, 2017
- Chief Executive Officer of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) Les Khan said in a recent press release that “measures taken to restructure and rebrand St. Kitts and Nevis’ Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI) continue to yield benefits, as the country’s programme is once again recognized internationally, this time as the ‘most trusted and successful programme of its kind.’”
- He said the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to work toward “making the federation’s passport one of the most valued passports in the Caribbean, as this will help to further cement the nation’s preeminent status in the CBI industry.
- “The prime minister and his cabinet are aggressively working on improving diplomatic relations with other countries and in increasing visa-free access. Additional investment options are being considered and other product offerings are to be announced shortly,” he said.
9. Carol Morello, ‘’U.S. embassies start new vetting of visa applicants’’, The Washington Post, June 1st, 2017
- Consular officers at U.S. embassies around the world have started more intensive vetting of some visa applicants, including asking for their social media handles, in an effort to block potential terrorists and other national security threats from entering the country.
- Under a supplemental questionnaire that came into use May 25, both visitors and would-be immigrants to the United States may be given a new, supplemental questionnaire probing for more detailed information.
- Though responding is voluntary and “not necessarily” a rationale for visa denial, the questionnaire advises that not providing answers could cause a delay in processing.
10. ‘’Homeland Security chief signals shift on immigration program’’, Associated Press, June 1st, 2017
- Immigrants who have legally lived and worked in the U.S. since disasters in their countries years ago may have to start thinking about going home, the U.S. Homeland Security chief said Thursday.
- In an interview with The Associated Press, Secretary John Kelly sent strong signals that immigration benefits known as "temporary protected status" should not be as open-ended as they have become for tens of thousands of people from Haiti and Central America.
- "The point is not that there be a complete recovery of all ills in the country," Kelly said. "The point is, whatever the event is that caused TPS to be granted - that event is over, and they can return."
11. Lisa Smith, ‘’400,000 US Expats Ready To Renounce Citizenship Over FATCA’’, iExpats, June 2nd, 2017
- Around 400,000 American expats have plans to renounce their US citizenship mainly due to strict FATCA tax rules, according to a new survey.
- The poll by international tax service Greenbacks asked Americans living overseas if they plan to give up their citizenship because of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
- One in 20 (5%) said they are already planning to do so, while 19% admitted that they had not yet decided what to do and another 43% said they would not rule out the move.
- On 5 May, the OECD launched a public disclosure facility for information on schemes designed to circumvent the application of the Common Reporting Standard.
- Several submissions highlighted the use of so called Occupational Retirement Schemes (ORS) in Hong Kong, China to avoid reporting under the CRS. The Hong Kong authorities have taken swift action, issued relevant guidance on the inland revenue website to clarify that only certain registered ORSs are out of scope of CRS reporting and are assessing whether further action is required in this respect.
- The OECD is also in close contact with a number of jurisdictions in order to assess whether other schemes that have been disclosed through the facility (including a number of residence by investment programmes) may pose an actual risk for avoiding CRS reporting and therefore need to be addressed.
13. ‘’Myanmar state counselor leaves for visit to Canada, Sweden’’, Xin Hua Net, June 5th, 2017
- Myanmar State Counselor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi left for Canada and Sweden aimed at promoting relations with the two countries, according to reports of Myanmar News Agency Monday.
- During her 10-day visit, Suu Kyi is expected to meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Speaker of the Swedish Parliament Urban Ahlin and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven respectively.
- Suu Kyi holds honorary citizenship to Canada which was presented to her in 2012 by John Baird, the Conservative foreign minister at the time, during a visit to Myanmar.
14. ‘’Easing of visa rules for New Southbound Policy countries takes effect’’, Taiwan News, June 3rd, 2017
- New visa regulations for passport holders from South and Southeast Asian countries took effect June 1 as part of efforts to expand multifaceted exchanges with the regions under the government’s New Southbound Policy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced.
- Under the revised rules, passport holders from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam who have been issued an entry visa or alien resident certificate by the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the past 10 years are now eligible to apply online at no cost for a Travel Authorization Certificate. The TAC program, launched in 2009, offers a multiple-entry visa that is valid for 90 days and permits a maximum stay of 30 days.
- According to the MOFA, this mechanism currently facilitates 160,000 visits from Southeast Asian countries annually. The new regulations are expected to further boost people-to-people exchanges between Taiwan and the region since an estimated 1.35 million people from the seven aforementioned countries have been issued visas in the past decade, making them eligible to apply under the TAC program, the ministry added.
- Thailand has become the 98th jurisdiction to join the Inclusive Framework on BEPS ("IF") and will participate on an equal footing with all other IF members at the next plenary meeting of the IF that will be held on 21-22 June 2017 in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
- The programme will assist Thailand to implement new international tax standards with a focus on Country-by-Country Reporting and the other BEPS minimum standards, and the standards for exchange of information on request and for the automatic exchange of financial account information (the "Common Reporting Standard").
16. Chamaine Ng, ‘’New Thai visa rule: Fees waived for Singaporeans’’, The Straits Times, June 2nd, 2017
- The Thai Embassy clarified yesterday that visa fees are waived for Singaporeans when they apply for any category of visa for Thailand, including when entering the country for the third time or more by land.
- Under the new rule, visitors who arrive by land via bus or rail have to obtain a visa in advance if they are visiting for the third time or more in a calendar year. This affects visitors from countries that are entitled to a 30-day visa exemption, including Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines. The regulation does not affect tourists who arrive in Thailand by plane or ship.
- However, the Thai Embassy yesterday said the fee is waived for Singaporeans, based on an existing agreement between the two countries that is "symbolic of longstanding and close relations between Thailand and Singapore".
17. Thuy Ha & Vy An, ‘’Don't let them leave: Vietnam advised to act fast as clock ticking on visa-free travel’’, VN Express International, June 5th, 2017
- Vietnam's Tourism Advisory Board has said the current visa exemptions for citizens of select European countries should be renewed for five years and that eligible visitors should be allowed to stay a whole month, instead of only 15 days.
- This scheme, if not extended, will expire on June 30, affecting travelers from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
- The Tourism Advisory Board has also proposed including more European countries as well as Australia, Canada and New Zealand in the visa waiver program.
18. May Bulman, ‘’Brexit: EU nationals seeking British citizenship more than triples in past year, new figures show’’, The Independent, June 2nd, 2017
- The number of European Union (EU) nationals seeking British citizenship has more than tripled during the past year, in a huge surge since the Brexit vote.
- In just the first quarter of 2017, 9,400 EU applicants sought UK citizenship – three times as many as in the same period as last year, according to The Times.
- Applications from the founding EU states France, Germany and Italy more than quadrupled to 4,790 — the highest such figure in at least seven years.
- There was collective concern expressed this week amongst members of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) over the impact of recent changes to immigration regulations. It was agreed the changes may detrimentally affect Australia’s ability to attract high calibre global talent.
- “On a daily basis our members are dealing with the deep executive talent pools that exist within Australia. However, these talent pools do not always offer the depth of executive experience needed to meet the future needs of a business. With executive recruitment now a global story and given rapid disruptive changes in the market, Australian companies must ensure they are globally competitive.’’ [Mr. Graham Willis said]
- “The decision by a Senior Executive to relocate—whether for offshoring or onshoring—is not one taken lightly; nor is the decision by Australian companies to employ overseas talent,” he said. “It is significant that the collective view of Australian AESC members this week was that the proposed 457 and 186 visa changes are likely to be counterproductive in attracting the very best executive talent to Australia.”
20. Paul Kerin, ‘’Immigration is the golden goose our economy needs’’, The Australian, June 5th, 2017
- Immigration over recent decades has made today’s Australians much better off — and further ongoing immigration is critically important if we are to maintain and improve our future living standards. Unfortunately, calls for immigration cuts tend to get louder whenever a politically sensitive issue that might somehow relate to immigration arises. Housing affordability is the latest such issue to prompt howls. However, we’d be mad to listen to them.
- A higher NOM rate would boost GDP per person further. The commission estimated that a 1 per cent NOM rate would raise GDP per person by 10 per cent in the long-run. A more recent study published in Oxford Economic Papers found that a 50 per cent increase in Australia’s NOM rate (which would boost annual population growth by about 0.4 per cent) would raise GDP per worker by 0.25 per cent in the short-run and by over 1.8 per cent in the long run.
- Nor does the evidence support fears that immigrants steal locals’ jobs and reduce wages. Consistent with the findings of international studies, the commission concluded that immigration has negligible effects on the wages, employment and workforce participation of local workers.
21. ‘’Tightening working visa rules tough on tourism’’, Scoop, May 29th, 2017
- A Government proposal to tighten immigration rules doesn’t take into account the challenges New Zealand’s $35 billion tourism industry faces in attracting staff, particularly in visitor hotspots and during the peak season.
- Tourism Industry Aotearoa says the Government’s proposed changes to the Essential Skills visa will only make it more difficult for the fast growing tourism industry to attract essential staff, stifling the growth potential of the country’s largest export earner.
- In a submission to the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment on the proposed changes, TIA is calling on strategic leadership by the Government to support tourism as a career and to attract New Zealanders to work in tourism.
22. Isaac Davison, ‘’Nearly all houses sold to NZ citizens and residents, latest data shows’’, NZ Herald, June 1st, 2017
- Around 82 per cent of houses in the country are being bought by New Zealand residents or citizens, Land Information NZ says.
- Around 2 per cent of transfers involved no buyer with NZ citizenship or residency, though some of them had student or work visas.
- Of the houses sold to offshore tax residents, Chinese and Australians made up the biggest share of purchases. National has ruled out restricting house sales to non-residents, while Labour wants to ban sales to people living offshore.
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