- Daniel Mumbere, “Benin, Seychelles ranked most visa-open African nations”, Africa News, November 30, 2018
- Benin has ended the year in the top spot of the Africa Visa Openness Index Report 2018, after it opened up its border to all African travellers. The West African country introduced a visa free policy for all nationals of African countries, joining Seychelles in the category of most visa open nations on the continent.
- The index, developed by African Union and the African Development Bank, for three years now, shows that African countries are becoming more open to each other.
- “Ethiopia’s decision to introduce a visaon-arrival regime for all African passport holders shows that Africa is indeed on an upward trajectory towards seamless borders and the free movement of its people", said Amb. Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
- “Kenya and Mozambique sign deal to waive visa requirements”, The East African, November 22, 2018
- Kenyans traveling to Mozambique will now not be required to acquire visas before visiting the Southern African nation, thanks to a visa waiver agreement signed between the two countries on Wednesday. Similar courtesies will be extended to Mozambicans coming to Kenya.
- President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Mozambican counterpart, President Filipe Nyusi, witnessed the signing of a bilateral agreement to abolish visa requirements for citizens of both countries in order to ease trade and travel between the two nations.
- “South Africa’s new visa rules take effect from 1 December – here’s what you need to know”, Business Tech, November 30, 2018
- The Department of Home Affairs has published an amendment to the Immigration Act which is set to have major implications for immigrants, tourism and the economy. The changes – which will come into effect from 1 December – were first mooted as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic stimulus package revealed in September.
- Arguably the biggest change will be the reversal of a rule introduced by former Home Affairs minister, Malusi Gigaba, which required foreign minors travelling to South Africa to produce an unabridged birth certificate before being allowed access into the country.
- Other changes include: Revised rules for spouses entering the country as part of a permanent homosexual or heterosexual relationship; revised rules for applicants of a general work, business, and corporate visas; changes for applicants of permanent residency or residency on other grounds.
Antigua & Barbuda
- “Antigua and Barbuda could soon benefit from US visa interview waiver programme”, Antigua Observer, November 19, 2018
- Joaquin Monserrate, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, spoke about Antigua and Barbuda’s exclusion from the programme during an exclusive interview with OBSERVER media on his first official visit to the twin island state late last week. Under the policy, which took effect in September, citizens who reside in the approved countries will not have to travel to Barbados to renew their U.S. Visas.
- So far, St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis have been approved for the waiver in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) while Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent and the Grenadines were excluded. This means that locals who want to renew their U.S. visas must travel to Barbados.
- “That does not in any way preclude the possibility that we will not include Antigua and Barbuda at some point. The programme is assessed periodically and that reflects upon the commonalities of issues on which we see each other,” Monserrate said.
- Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, “Visitor visa applications from Chinese nationals made more efficient”, Government of Canada, November 23, 2018
- In support of growing relations between Canada and China, and the CanadaChina Year of Tourism, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is collaborating with Ant Financial Services Group (Ant Financial) on a client service initiative making it easier and more convenient for Chinese nationals to apply for a Canadian visitor visa, particularly when applying online.
- Chinese nationals who use Alipay, a leading mobile and online payment platform in China that is operated by Ant Financial, now have the option to submit an Englishlanguage Zhima report to show proof of financial standing as part of their visitor visa application. Zhima Credit is an independent credit-scoring assessment service that is operated by Ant Financial.
- The Zhima report is more comprehensive than the traditional bank statements and deposit certificates typically received in support of visitor visa applications. Chinese nationals can, however, continue to provide bank statements or other evidence of financial standing if they choose. The free report is easy to access and can be easily uploaded to an online application, or printed and submitted with a paper application. IRCC officials will be able to quickly verify the authenticity of the report, allowing for more efficient processing.
- “Visa Applicants For Canada Must Now Provide Biometrics”, Q Costa Rica, November 22, 2018
- People who apply for a visa to Canada must now provide biometrics starting December 31, 2018, for applicants from Asia, Asia Pacific, and the Americas […]. The new set of requirements for applicants from Europe, Middle East and Africa began on July 31, 2018.
- “The Government of Canada will expand its biometric data collection because of its proven effectiveness in protecting the integrity of the immigration system and national security,” the Canadian embassy in Costa Rica said in a statement.
- The visa application has a cost of CA$85 Canadian dollars per person – about US$65 dollars or about ¢39,000 colones. However, families who complete the process will pay a maximum of CA$175 Canadian dollars. If the visa is approved, the biometrics is good for a 10 year period.
- The biometric requirement does not apply to children 14 years of age and those 79 years or over. Citizens of visafree countries (who travel as tourists), accredited diplomats and official government officials are exempt.
- Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, “Canada and Portugal Youth Mobility Arrangement Now in Effect”, Government of Canada, November 30, 2018
- Portugal is the newest country to have an agreement with Canada under the International Experience Canada (IEC) program. This opens further channels of exchange between Canadian and Portuguese youth by providing an opportunity for Portuguese youth to work and travel in Canada, while Canadian youth may work and travel in Portugal.
- As part of this agreement, foreign nationals from Portugal may participate in all 3 of IEC’s programs – working holiday, international coop and young professionals – when the 2019 season opens.
- The IEC Program allows youth to gain valuable international work experience and travel abroad. With the addition of Portugal, Canada now has formal Youth Mobility Arrangements with 34 countries and territories where Canadian youth are allowed to work while they travel. Young people from these same countries and territories are also able to come to Canada to work and travel.
- Jen Schulz, “Dominica continues to place itself at centre stage with big achievements”, WIC News, November 28, 2018
- Enabling travel to more than 135 countries and territories without needing to preapply for a visa, the Dominican passport is one of the most prestigious in the world. Dominican citizens can access most of Europe and South America, major business hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore, and countless leisure spots across the world.
- Significantly, in May 2015 Dominica signed a visa waiver agreement with Europe, which, after the agreement’s ratification in December that year, enabled Dominican citizens to travel across the Schengen countries for 90 days within any 180day period.
- Indeed, in an index issued by the Financial Times’ Professional Wealth Management magazine in 2017 and 2018, Dominica was ranked for two years in a row as the world’s best citizenship by investment destination.
St. Kitts & Nevis
- “St. Kitts and Nevis, Cambodia sign diplomatic relations”, St. Kitts & Nevis Observer, November 19, 2018
- St. Kitts and Nevis and Cambodia, an ASEAN member state, established diplomatic relations on Nov. 16. St. Kitts and Nevis continue to expand its diplomatic footprint and today established diplomatic relations with The Kingdom of Cambodia at an ambassadorial level in New York.
- Both Ambassadors committed to signing a visa waiver agreement soon and looked forward to the movement of people between the two countries.
- “Updates on EB-5 Visa Retrogression”, The National Law Review, November 21, 2018
- At a recent EB5 industry forum, Mr. Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Department of State (DOS) Immigrant Visa Control & Reporting Division, provided key insights on what the latest data suggests regarding the future availability of visas in the EB-5 category.
- In terms of EB5 number use by country, although Mainland China remains the largest user of EB-5 visa numbers, the latest data indicates that the cumulative number usage by the rest of the world has surpassed total numbers used by China for the first time in recent history, with China receiving about 48 percent of the total EB-5 annual visa allocation in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The next largest users are Vietnam, which reached its annual per-country cap of 7.1 percent for the first time in FY2018, and India, which showed significant growth, increasing number usage from 1.7 percent in FY2017 to 6.1 percent in FY2018.
- Based on these demand trends, Mr. Oppenheim predicts that by July 2019, but possibly earlier, India may retrogress. Mr. Oppenheim anticipates very slow movement for Mainland China, while Vietnam is likely to advance to September 2016 this fiscal year, but will likely retrogress in May or June of 2019 and begin to track with China.
- “Chengdu to extend visa free period for foreigners”, Khmer Times, November 26, 2018
- Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, will extend its visafree period for foreigners transiting through the city from 72 hours to 144 next year, local authorities said Saturday. People of 53 listed nationalities with valid travel documents and onward travel booked for within 144 hours are eligible for the visa-free policy, which will become available from January 1, 2019.
- The new arrangement is an extension and optimization of the current 72hour visa-free transit policy, according to the exit and entry administration of the Sichuan provincial public security bureau.
- Besides Chengdu, Fujian Province’s coastal city of Xiamen, Shandong Province’s coastal city of Qingdao, Hubei Province’s capital city of Wuhan, and Yunnan Province’s capital city of Kunming will also implement the policy on New Year’s Day.
- “India Imposes Online Registration for Indians Arriving on Employment Visa to 18 Countries”, Albawaba, November 20, 2018
- Indian citizens holding NonEmigration Check Required (non-ECR or ECNR) passports will now to have to mandatorily register themselves online before travelling to 18 countries, including Qatar, on an employment visa, according to a new advisory issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The decision has been taken to “provide protection and welfare to Indian emigrants abroad”, the advisory – which is available on the website of the Indian embassy in Qatar - states.
- The registration has to be completed on the portal, www.emigrate.gov.in, at least 24 hours before departure. Those who fail to register will not be allowed to travel to these 18 countries – Qatar, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Thailand, the UAE and Yemen – for employment starting January 1, 2019, the MEA has said.
- “Offloading of unregistered non-ECR emigrants at the airports would be effected by the appropriate authority after January 1, 2019,” the advisory continues, adding that there is no change in existing procedures for all other visa categories.
- Azizah Fitriyanti, “Britain gives visa free visit for Indonesian business people”, Antara News, November 23, 2018
- The Government of Britain offers visa free visits for Indonesian business people representing 23 selected companies. "The most important criterion is that the companies have big contribution to the economic relations between Indonesia and Britain," says British Ambassadors to Indonesia Moazzam Malik here on Thursday.
- Indonesia is the third country in Asia Pacific receiving the "Selected Business Scheme" after China and India. "This means we see it important the business potentials in Indonesia , beneficial to Britain and Indonesia," Malik said.
- The companies to receive the SBS facility are British companies having branches in Indonesia and Indonesian companies having units in Britain such as PT Bank HSBC, PT Standard Chartered, PT Sinar Mas Grup, and PT Astra Zeneca Indonesia.
- Mohammad Ghazal, “130 requests for citizenship filed under expanded investor criteria”, The Jordan Times, November 26, 2018
- The government will next week begin looking into requests to obtain Jordanian citizenship by investors who have existing projects in the Kingdom under an incentives programme introduced by the government, an official said on Monday.
- "After the government's latest decision, we received 130 requests by investors who have exiting projects to obtain the citizenship. A specialised government committee will start looking into these request next week," Minister of State for Investment Affairs and Jordan Investment Commission (JIC) Chairman Muhannad Shehadeh said on Monday.
- He added that nine requests by Arab investors to obtain the Jordanian citizenship had already fulfilled the conditions and will be referred to the Cabinet next month. Once approved, the overall number of investors who will receive citizenship will increase to 15.
- Elaine Hou & Elizabeth Hsu, “Reciprocal visa waiver between Taiwan, Palau to begin Dec. 1”, Focus Taiwan, November 30, 2018
- Reciprocal visafree entry between citizens of Taiwan and Palau will take effect on Dec. 1, with visitors from the Pacific ally getting visa-free stays of up to 90 days in Taiwan and vice versa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday.
- Travelers of the two countries must have a passport with at least six months of validity to be able to take advantage of the visafree treatment, it said.
- Lainey Loh, “Thailand waives visa fees to boost tourist numbers”, Asian Correspondent, November 21, 2018
- Tourists from India, as well as 21 other countries, can travel to Thailand for 15 days over a time period between Dec 1, 2018, and Jan 31, 2019, without needing to pay the THB2,000 (US$60) fees upon entering the country. This move was decided as part of Thailand’s efforts to boost the tourism inflow after a slight slump last year.
- The application requires a whole collection of documents including a boarding pass, a valid passport, a completed visa application form, one recent photography not older than 6 months, a confirmed departure ticket, and proof of means of living expenses, among others. Depending on passenger traffic, the visaon-arrival process could take anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour.
- Phatarawadee Phataranawik, “Govt offers free dinner, free visa too”, The Nation, November 28, 2018
- The Government and the private sector are launching joint campaigns to bring back Chinese tourists during the peak festive season and hope that this will help Thailand reach this year’s tourism targets. Despite the drop in Chinese tourists over the last four months, a rise in nonChinese tourists may actually help boost the overall economy, top officials said.
- So, in an effort to give tourism a boost, the government and private sectors have joined hands to woo tourists with various campaigns. The government last Wednesday launched the quickentry e-Visa on Arrival (E-VOA) system for 20 countries – including China – waiving the Bt2,000 visa fee for 60 days at two airports. Meanwhile, the government’s economic tsar, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, earlier this month made a deal in Shanghai with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to help promote Thailand as a tourist destination.
- “Turkish property sales to foreigners jump 134 percent in October”, Daily Sabah, November 21, 2018
- For another month, Turkish housing sales to foreigners recorded a 134.4 percent increase in October compared to the same period of last year, according to data by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat). Foreigners purchased a total of 30,431 housing units in the period of January to October this year, the data of the statistical body revealed.
- Under regulations that went into effect this September, foreigners who own real estate in Turkey worth a minimum $250,000 – down from $1 million – are eligible for Turkish citizenship. Some 6,276 houses were sold to foreigners, including 36 percent (or 2,283 units) in Istanbul, the country's largest city by population.
- Official data showed that Iraqis topped the list of buyers in October with 1,439 properties, followed by Iranians with 557 units, Kuwaitis with 378, Germans with 341, and Russians with 336 properties.
- “Turkey expects to attract $3B with another major investment summit”, Daily Sabah, November 29, 2018
- The most densely populated city in Turkey, Istanbul, is preparing to host the Badeer 1st Business World and Investment Opportunities Summit on Dec. 56, within the framework of which Turkey expects to attract $3 billion in foreign investment and launch a billion-dollar investment fund […].
- The event, which will be held under the auspices of the Trade Ministry and with the support of the Treasury and Finance Ministry, the Presidential Investment Office, the Industry and Technology Ministry and the Culture and Tourism Ministry, aims to bring together around 270 foreign investors from more than 40 countries, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Russia, Japan, France, Qatar, Yemen, Lebanon, Sudan, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with Turkish authorities, businessmen and business nongovernmental organizations.
- [F]oreigners who own real estate in Turkey worth a minimum of $250,000, instead of the previous limit of $1 million, can now apply for Turkish citizenship. Turkey's housing sales to foreigners have presented an upward trend since 2012, the year when parliamentary law made it easier for foreign investors to purchase real estate in the country.
United Arab Emirates
- “UAE, Congo ink deal for visa-free travel”, Khaleej Times, November 21, 2018
- UAE passport holders will now be able to travel to yet another country visafree after the country signed an agreement with Congo on mutual visa exemption.
- Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Leonard She Okitundu, VicePrime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, signed the agreement on Monday.
- According to rankings by Passport Index, the UAE passport is the world's third most powerful, allowing Emiratis to travel to 113 countries visafree, while 50 countries grant UAE passport holders visa on arrival.
- Andrew Torchia, “UAE to offer long-term visa to rich educated foreigners”, livemint, November 26, 2018
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will offer longterm visas to rich property investors, senior scientists and entrepreneurs in an effort to support its economy and real estate market, which have been hurt by low oil prices.
- Detailed rules approved by the cabinet on Saturday offer fiveyear residency to owners of UAE real estate worth at least 5 million dirhams ($1.4 million), as long as ownership is not based on loans, state news agency WAM reported.
- Renewable 10year visas will be provided to foreigners with investments in the UAE of at least 10 million dirhams, if non-real estate assets account for at least 60 percent of the total. Investors can bring spouses and children into the country.
- Other rules offer fiveyear visas to entrepreneurs and 10-year visas for scientists and researchers with top qualifications. Outstanding students can stay for five years.
- “UAE now has the most powerful passport in the world”, The Independent, December 2, 2018
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has overtaken Singapore and Germany as the country with the world’s most powerful passport. According to Passport Index, UAE passport holders are now able to gain entry to 167 countries without obtaining a prior visa 113 countries visa-free, and another 54 using visas on arrival.
- The oil rich state jumped from third place last month into first after four more countries were added to its list of visafree destinations on 1 December, Gulf News reported.
- Georgi Gotev, “Visa-free travel to continue after Brexit, according to draft agreement”, Euractiv, November 23, 2018
- EU and UK citizens will continue to enjoy visafree travel across the Channel after Brexit, at least for short-term visits, if the draft Political Declaration on future relations made public on Thursday (22 November) is adopted by both sides. London had hinted that it could introduce visas for nationals of some EU countries after Brexit, should it choose to do so.
- Britain’s former chief negotiator David Davis said in September 2017 in reply to a question from EURACTIV.com that the UK will be free to introduce visas for Poland, Romania and Bulgaria and may do so after its “orderly exit” from the EU.
- “Belarus, Colombia sign agreement on visa-free trips for holders of service, diplomatic passports”, Belarusian Telegraph Agency, November 19, 2018
- Belarus and Colombia signed an intergovernmental agreement on visafree trips for holders of diplomatic and service passports, BelTA learned from the press service of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- The document was signed during a working visit of Belarus' Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Evgeny Shestakov to Colombia.
- Elias Hazou, “Golden visa funds could be used for subsidising rents”, Cyprus Mail, November 19, 2018
- Speaking in parliament, Interior Minister Constandinos Petrides said they are considering a proposal put forward by the ruling Disy party, under which part of the revenues from the foreign investment scheme would go toward subsidising rents for vulnerable households. The proposal envisages increasing the minimum required investment by foreign nationals – €2 million currently – by €50,000.
- Meanwhile, he added, the government is proceeding with raising the rent subsidy to eligible households by 10 per cent.
- “Australia agrees deal with Ireland on sharing E3 US work visas”, Irish Central, November 23, 2018
- A deal has been reached between Ireland and Australia under which Irish are eligible to receive the E3 visas that Australians do not use every year. Currently, 11,000 working visas are set aside for Australian citizens under the E3 visa scheme. Australia fills about half the total and Ireland would be eligible for the other 5,000 or so if a bill before Congress is passed. Spouses can also work on the visa making it especially valuable.
- […] The Australian embassy was "comfortable" with the new legislation and would be recommending members of Congress support the bill. Passage of the bill is by no means guaranteed but it appears to have a very good chance as President Donald Trump’s administration has made clear their support for it.
- Unlike other visas, the E3 visa permits the spouses of Australian recipients to live and work in the US without restrictions and can be renewed indefinitely. It is relatively cheap and allows Australians to bypass the pool of hundreds of thousands of other applicants competing for the right to work in America.
- Robbie Lawther, “Montenegro agrees citizenship by investment plan”, International Adviser, November 23, 2018
- The Government of Montenegro has agreed the details for its Residence and Citizenship by Investment Programme. Montenegro will start accepting applications on 1 January 2019, it said in a statement. The scheme will last for three years, during which time a maximum of 2,000 applicants will be granted citizenship.
- The investment requirements are as follows: €100,000 (£84,438, $113,486) in the form of a Government Fund Donation, and €250,000 investment in approved real estate in an undeveloped region (north of the country), or €450,000 investment in approved real estate in a developed region (south of the country).
- Each applicant will also pay a government fee of €15,000, with family members paying €10,000 each up to a maximum of four. Each next family member will pay €50,000. Permanent residence status can be achieved within three weeks. Citizenship is then granted within a period of six months as permanent residents.
- “Spain tops the ‘golden visa’ residency-for-investment table in the EU”, Murcia Today, November 29, 2018
- Close to 6,000 investors have been awarded residency in Spain so far this year, including 546 for spending over 500,000 euros on property. The number of “golden visas” issued in Spain this year, allowing residency for nonEU nationals who invest half a million euros or more in property this country, is set to reach a new record, as the popularity of the country grow among the wealthier classes in other nations.
- It is reported that among the golden visa applicants the most popular locations for resettling are Barcelona and Madrid, although the Russians tend to gravitate towards Marbella, the Costa del Sol and the Costa Blanca.
- Russia is the source of the second highest total of golden visa immigrants since 2013, totalling 1,997, but the list is topped by China with 4,640.
- “Thailand introduces visa-free travel for Ukrainians – Poroshenko”, The Unian, November 22, 2018
- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said the government of Thailand introduced visafree travel for Ukrainians.
- "I welcome the introduction of visafree travel for Ukraine by the Thai government. From now on, Ukrainian citizens will be able to travel to that country without wasting time on visa formalities for tourist purposes and up to 30 days," he wrote on Facebook.
- “Australia plans to relax rules for stripping citizenship”, 660 City News, November 21, 2018
- Australia has revealed plans to increase government powers to strip citizenship from extremists and to control the movements of Australian fighters who return home from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday outlined the contentious bills, some of which he wants passed by parliament this year. He also wants passed this year cybersecurity laws that would force global technology companies to help police unscramble encrypted messages sent by criminals.
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