MEDIA

HLG - Weekly Newsletter – 18.09.2018

Sep 18,2018

AMERICA

 

Antigua

 

  1. Shermain Bique-Charles, “New CIP Product to Fund UWI”, The Daily Observer, September 15, 2018
  • The government of Antigua and Barbuda has introduced a new Citizenship by Investment product to help fund the University of the West Indies Campus expected to be located at Five Islands. Prime Minister Gaston Browne made the announcement in Parliament on Thursday, saying that the new product will be sold at US$ 150,000.
  • According to the arrangement, the product is for families with six or more applicants. It will include oneyear of free tuition for a single member of that family. “The individuals who sell these applications under this programme will be paid a commission of $30,000.” the prime minister said.
  • According to the prime minister, by the end of the year, it is projected that $190 million will be raised through the C.I.P.

 

Barbados

 

  1. Barbados Switches to e-Passports”, Loop, September 17, 2018
  • Persons applying for Barbados passports for the first time, or those seeking to renew them, will now be issued with an epassport. This comes as the Barbados Immigration Department commences the phasing out of the machine-readable passport for the e-passport, following a recommendation by the International Civil Aviation Authority as the new standard to be adopted for travel document issuance.
  • Chief Immigration Officer, Wayne Marshall, explained that the epassport was a biometrically enabled passport with a chip and antenna in the cover that increased the security features.
  • Marshall said that the more security features a passport had, the more accepted it was by countries around the world. “Barbados is moving towards it because of the security features and to maintain the high standard of the Barbados passport,” he stated, adding Barbados ranked highest among Caribbean countries that do not require a visa for entry into most countries.

 

Grenada

 

  1. US Approve Visa Renewal Waiver for Grenada”, The New Today, September 17, 2018
  • Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has welcomed the decision taken by the United States government of President Donald Trump to allow for Grenadians to process their visa renewal procedures at home online without the additional cost of travelling to Barbados.
  • Under the arrangement, Grenadians are no longer mandated to travel to Barbados to renew their visas, since the waiver makes it possible for them to apply online and then use a courier service to send their passports to the U.S Embassy in Barbados.
  • The new directive from Washington will not apply to those foreigners who came into possession of a Grenada passport by buying it through the controversial scheme known as Citizenship By Investment (CBI). Applicants who receive CBI passports will be required to schedule an interview with the embassy in Barbados for visa renewals.

 

St. Lucia

 

  1. US Announces Interview Waiver Process for Qualifying Visa Renewals in Saint Lucia”, The Voice, September 11, 2018
  • Saint Lucian passport holders, with the exception of beneficiaries of the citizen by investment programs, may qualify for a visa renewal interview waiver if their previous visa expired within the past twelve month and they are applying for the same category as their previous visa.
  • The applicant must be physically present in Saint Lucia or within the consular district of the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados to avail themselves of this option. Additionally, the previous U.S. visa must be in the applicant’s possession, and the application must have submitted a 10fingerprint scan in conjunction wit the previous visa application.
  • Eligibility for interview waiver does not automatically entitle applicants to a waiver of the interview requirement. Meeting the general qualifications for visa renewal interview waiver does not guarantee that an applicant will not be requested to present him or herself in person for an interview at the Embassy.

 

  1. Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri, “St. Lucia Empowers You With Citizenship and the Freedom of Mobility”, Khaleej Times, September 12, 2018
  • In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, [Nestor Alfred, the Director of the Citizen by Investment Unit (CIU) of St. Lucia] said that St. Lucia is the most promising destination for people who want to identify themselves with a second home. He said the prime objective of CIP is to attract "reputable" clientele from around the world, and ensure the development of the Caribbean island on modern lines.
  • He enthrals logic as he says that investment is a means to an end, and "Our prime concern is security considerations as we evaluate credentials of applicants for citizenship." "We make sure that wrong people do not end up having our passport, and in this regard, we have a foolproof mechanism to vet an applicant's background checks and the veracity of finances," he pointed out. St. Lucia has visa-free entry protocol with around 135 countries.
  • Outlining the indispensability of St. Lucia, Alfred said it has a stable government and has been free from the uprising and other fissures. The crime rate is the lowest in the region, and it has a vibrant services sector. Its domestic financial sector is quite dynamic and consists of international banks, offshore financial companies and provides a perfect environment for optimisation.

 

United States

 

  1. Jessica K. Lang, “USCIS Explains New Policy on Discretionary Application Denials”, The National Law Review, September 12, 2018
  • Beginning September 11, 2018, USCIS immigration officers will have more discretion to issue petition and application denials without first issuing Requests for Evidence (RFEs) or Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs).
  • Adjudicators have full discretion to issue denials where the initial evidence submitted does not establish eligibility or there is no possibility of approval based on the evidence submitted.
  • If the initial required evidence is missing, adjudicators will determine whether this was due to mistake or misunderstanding and to what extent the applicant tried to comply with the instructions and regulatory requirements. If it is determined that the “error” was due to a mistake or misunderstanding, an RFE would be issued instead of an outright denial. USCIS declined to clarify the factors for making a determination, but it provided, as an example, missing pages from an applicant’s passport.

 

 

ASIA

 

China

 

  1. ’Startup Visa’ Lures Expats to Shanghai”, The Nation, September 16, 2018
  • Since 2015, Shanghai has launched 25 pilot visa policies to streamline and simplify the foreigner visa application process and to diversify the visa types to better fit the demand, said Cai Baodi, chief of the foreigner visa management division at the ExitEntry Administration Bureau.
  • Among the 25 pilot visa policies, four are directly linked to foreigners opening businesses in the city. These include issuing visas that allow current international students in Chinese colleges to start businesses in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone and the Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone, and allow foreign technological specialists or college professors to commercialize their research in those areas.
  • Besides current students and professors, graduates with a degree from the world's top 300 universities ranked by the Center for WorldClass Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University can get the "entrepreneurship visa" within two years of graduation to live and work in Shanghai.Foreign entrepreneurs with a business plan and documents proving their investment and source of income can also apply.

 

  1. Publicity Department of CPC Hainan Provincial Committee, “China’s Hainan Aims to Attract Tourists From Nordic Countries and Russia”, PR Newswire, September 17, 2018
  • Hainan province in southern China is hoping to attract tourists from Nordic countries and Russia, a delegation from Hainan has said, which is organized by the Publicity Department of CPC Hainan Provincial Committee.
  • Wang Qi, head of the delegation, said the three countries are among the 59 nations in the newly announced visa waiver program. The citizens of these countries are allowed, starting from May 2018, to enter Hainan province without a visa if they stay there no longer than 30 days. A tourist agency of Hainan is required to be the operator though.

 

South Korea

 

  1. Don Ross, “Laos Drops Visa for Koreans”, TTR Weekly, September 14, 2018
  • Lao PDR has extended visafree travel to South Korean visitors for up to 30 days. According to Laotian Times, the visa-free privilege became effective 1 September following an announcement of the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) 30 August. The government hopes visa-free travel will help reverse the negative trend in tourist arrivals that has plagued the country’s fledging tourism industry for two years.
  • The Laotian Times’ report quoted government statistics that showed 170,571 visitors travelled to Laos from South Korea last year. That was a 2% decline on 2016 when visits reached 173,260. Most Korean tourists visited Vientiane and then travelled overland to Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang.
  • Travellers from ASEAN countries can visit visafree for up to 15 days. The same rule applies to visitors from Scandinavia, Japan, Russia, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

 

United Arab Emirates

 

  1. UAE Becomes 9th Most Powerful in the World”, Khaleej Times, September 13, 2018
  • Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, had tweeted early Thursday morning, "Good morning to all my followers. The UAE passport has just been ranked as the 9th most powerful passport with visafree entry to 157 countries world wide."
  • A bilateral visa waiver agreement between the UAE and Russia earlier in July had seen the Emirati passport become the 10th most powerful in the world. The agreement with Russia has taken UAE's visafree score to 155, while Russia has a visa-free score of 115, according to the Arton Capital Passport Index.

 

  1. John Dennehy, “We Want More UAE Students in the US, Says Top Official”, The Nation, September 18, 2018
  • Carl Risch, Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Consular Affairs, said concerns among some Emirati students that they were unwelcome in the US were entirely unfounded. Speaking during a brief visit to the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, he insisted America had always supported “academic freedom” and encouraged international students.
  • “The US and people of the US the vast, vast majority - welcome students from all around the world,” Mr Risch said. “We want people to pursue education in the US. We are open to students. All are welcome regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or language.”

 

Vietnam

 

  1. Sri Lanka Vietnam Eye Direct Flights, Visa Relaxation”, Economy Next, September 12, 2018
  • Sri Lanka and Vietnam is to begin talks on relaxing visa rule and establish direct air links, following a meeting with Prime Minister of the two countries in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had discussed the possibility of starting direct flights and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had has said all facilities would be provided for the move.
  • "Talks on relaxing visas to promote tourism will begin soon," a statement from the Prime Minitser's office said. Wickremesinghe is in Vietnam to attend World Economic Forum regional event focusing on the Association of South East Asian Nations.

 

EUROPE

 

Albania

 

  1. Visa Free Travel Boosts Chinese Tourists to Albania”, Tirana Times, September 13, 2018
  • The visa free travel that Albania offered to Chinese tourists this year has had a positive impact on increasing the number of tourists from the world’s second largest economy and the largest source of outbound tourists.
  • Although still modest considering the huge potential and traditional AlbaniaChina ties, the number of Chinese tourists to Albania rose to more than 8,600 until early July 2018, a 50 percent hike compared to the first half of 2017, according to the Chinese embassy in Tirana.
  • The visa waiver allows Chinese tourists to visit Albania from April 1 to October 31, 2018 and stay in the country for up to 90 days, benefiting Albania’s rapidly growing tourism industry and potential Chinese tourists to the tiny Balkan country which in the 1960s and 70s was the key ally of thencommunist Albania and has now emerged as one of the top investors and trading partners.

 

France

 

  1. Ilia Roubains, “France to Abolish Corporate Relocation Tax”, New Europe, September 17, 2018
  • France will abolish a tax that aims to make divesting from the French economy more difficult, Les Echos daily reported on Saturday, September 15. The abolition will go into effect from January 1st, 2019.
  • The Exit Tax targets socalled high net worth individuals with assets of more than €800,000 in stocks and bonds or 50% shares in a company. Current law obliges entrepreneurs to pay an exit fee for company relocation equal to 15 years of capital gains; when moving financial assets, the exit fee is 30%.
  • The Exit Tax will be replaced with a new framework that aims to prevent “tax optimisation” strategies, that is, the buying and selling of assets inand-out of France to take advantage of investment incentives.
  • In an interview with Forbes in May 2018 President Macron said that the Exit Tax sends a negative message to entrepreneurs in France because it prevents “greenfield investment,” incentivising French startups to launch their projects abroad. “… If you are able to attract, good for you, but if not, one should be free to divorce,” Macron said at the time.

 

Kosovo

 

  1. Rikard Jozwiak, “European Parliament Votes in Favor of Talks on Visa Liberalization for Kosovo”, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, September 13, 2018
  • The European Parliament has approved the opening of negotiations with the European Council on visa liberalization for citizens of Kosovo. A total of 420 EU lawmakers voted in favor on September 13, while 186 voted against and 22 abstained. Kosovo remains the only country in the Western Balkans whose citizens still need a visa to travel to the EU.
  • Once the two EU institutions manage to reach a deal on the visa waiver, Kosovar citizens will be able to enter the EU without a visa for 90 days in any 180day period if they hold a biometric passport. The waiver applies to all EU countries apart from Britain and Ireland but includes non-EU states such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
  • The European Commission confirmed in July that Kosovo had fulfilled all the benchmarks required for its citizens to qualify for visafree travel within Europe's Schengen Area, and the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee last month backed opening the talks with the council.

 

Malta

 

  1. Alex Butler, “Why the Ultra-Rich Are Getting Their Hands on Maltese Passports”, Lonely Planet, September 13, 2018
  • It turns out that among those seeking a second passport, many are looking towards the sunny island nation of Malta, according to a report from Bloomberg News. A Maltese passport affords its holders a number of great benefits, mainly visafree travel to 182 countries and the right to live, work and study in European Union nations and Switzerland.
  • [A]pplicants will have to make a contribution to the development of Malta, purchase stocks or bonds, and make a property transaction – which will add up to an investment of around €900,000.
  • Since citizens of EU member states have the ability to live, work and study in any of the countries, those who buy a Maltese passport gain much more than just residency on the islands.

 

  1. Alice Woodhouse, “Malta House Price Growth Outstrips Hong Kong to Take Top Ranking”, Financial Times, September 14, 2018
  • Malta has snatched the title for the fastestrising house prices from Hong Kong, after the Mediterranean island enjoyed a boost from its technology sector, according to Knight Frank.
  • House prices in the Mediterranean climbed 16.9 per cent in the twelve months to the end of June compared to a year earlier, leading the estate agency’s Global House Price Index for the first time and outstripping the 15.9 per cent growth in Hong Kong. The island nation was ranked in second place at the end of March. Prices in Malta have risen thanks to strong economy and a “buoyant technology industry”, the Knight Frank said.
  • The country has attracted wealthy individuals through a programme offering Maltese citizenship which includes the right to live and work in the rest of the EU - in return for investment.

 

Netherlands

 

  1. Ilia Roubanis, “The Netherlands Moves to Allow Dual Citizenship by 2019”, New Europe, September 13, 2018
  • The Dutch government is currently reviewing the country’s nationality law as part of an effort to allow dual citizenship by the spring of 2019. According to Justice Minister Mark Harbers, the plan is to widen the Netherlands’ criteria for dual nationality. At present, naturalised Dutch citizens must renounce the nationality of their country of origin, unless they are married to a Dutch national.
  • The new law will allow firstgeneration migrants in the Netherlands to be holders of more than one passport, a move that would affect 87,000 first- and second-generation UK nationals living in the Netherlands. At the same time, children of Dutch nationals living abroad will not be forced to make a mutually exclusive choice about their nationality.

 

Russia

 

  1. Russian Tourism Body Backs Lifting Visas for Turks to Boost Visits”, Daily Sabah, September 11, 2018
  • The head of the Russian federal tourism body voiced support Tuesday for the government's move to simplify the visa regime with Turkey in hopes of increasing tourism rates back home.
  • Oleg Safonov, chairman of the Federal Tourism Agency of Russia (Rostourism), told reporters at an economic forum in the far eastern city of Vladivostok that the issue of simplifying the visa regime for Turkish citizens in some categories is being intensively discussed by the Turkish and Russian foreign ministries.
  • As Turkey welcomes millions of Russian tourists each year, Ankara argues that visa liberalization would significantly boost the number of Turkish tourists in Russia. Some 4.7 million Russian tourists visited Turkey in 2017, marking a significant comeback from 866,000 in 2016 at the height of the diplomatic spat.

 

United Kingdom

 

  1. Dan Sabbagh & Jessica Elgot, “Driving Licenses May be Invalid in EU if No Brexit Deal, UK Warns”, The Guardian, September 13, 2018
  • UK driving licences will not be valid in the European Union if no Brexit deal is agreed, and travellers with passports close to their expiry may be denied entry into the bloc, the government has said.
  • British drivers may have to obtain one of two different types of international driving permit (IDP), depending on the destination country, in order to drive in the EU on business or on holiday. They will cost £5.50 and will become available from Post Offices from 1 February if no exit deal is struck.
  • However, people holding EU driving licences will be able to drive in the UK without requiring any extra paperwork. “The UK does not require visiting motorists … to hold a separate IDP to guarantee the recognition of their driving licence,” the paper says.

 

  1. Jamie Grierson, “UK Passports Could Lose Up to Nine Months’ Validity After Rule Change”, The Guardian, September 14, 2018
  • Travellers who renew their passports face losing up to nine months’ validity due to a littlepublicised change to rules brought in by the Home Office. Up until last week, when British citizens renewed their passports, time remaining on the existing document was added to the new one – up to a maximum of nine months. But passport applicants have been told this no longer applies and any remaining months will be lost if an attempt is made to renew the document early.
  • Passports are valid for 10 years and currently cost £75.50 to renew online or £85 by post, with the fee increasing in March above the rate of inflation. The change in rules with regard to carrying over validity could lead to applicants renewing their passports as late as possible to eke out the validity.
  • Martin Lewis, the founder of Money Saving Expert, said: “This change affects price, because in effect passports will now only last nine and a half years.
  • On Thursday, the government published advice for travelling to the EU on a UK passport in the event of a nodeal Brexit, in which it recommended renewing a passport if it is to be older than nine years and six months after 29 March 2019.

 

 

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