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Latest UK immigration figures released

by Dominic 30/08/2012 12:47:00

The Office for National Statistics released its latest quarterly report today, offering the opportunity to shed light on the progress of the Government's tougher UK immigration measures.

The Conservative Party made reducing net migration to the UK to the 'tens of thousands' an election pledge in 2010; upon taking parliament, net migration to the UK stood around the 250,000 mark.

The Conservatives, in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, have set about making changes to the UK visa and immigration systems which have included adding salary thresholds and caps to visa numbers, removing post study work rights for international students and clamping down on fraudulent student visas.

As many of the changes concern routes into the UK used primarily by legitimate immigrants wanting to move to the UK for bona fide reasons, the changes have been met with dismay with accusations of making the immigration process deliberately harder for legitimate migrants while doing little to tackle illegal immigration.

Just this week, one London university had its licence to welcome overseas students revoked, leaving as many as 2,000 students uncertain of their immigration (and education) status and proving that the Government means business. The debate over whether to include student numbers in net migration figures at all is an ongoing and embittered debate.

However, despite the tough resolve and harsh restrictions added on to policy, immigration figures published in May showed an almost negligible decrease in net migration - down just 3,000 to 252,000.

The figures were quickly labelled a failure by opposition politicians but Immigration Minister Damian Green insisted there were positives to be taken and reverted to the much reused and recycled refrain of comparing fixing the immigration system to 'turning round an oil tanker'.

Current figures

The latest report from the ONS shows a more substantial decrease, down to 216,000 in the year to December 2011. While this may be appear to be a considerable change - almost 15% - the ONS was quick to point out that this was not statistically significant.

Total long-term international migration estimates, 2002–2011
Source: Office for National Statistics, August 2012

The number of National Insurance numbers issued to foreign workers also fell by 15% in the year to March.

There was also a slight increase on the long-term emigration from the UK in the same period, with education being the most common reason for people leaving.

It was however, students entering the UK that will perhaps generate the most headlines. In the year to June 2012, just over 280,000 student visas were issued: a 21% drop.

Reaction

Praise

That did not stop Immigration Minister Damian Green praising the figures as proof tougher measures were starting to tell.

"We are now starting to see the real difference our tough policies are making, with an overall fall in net migration and the number of visas issued at its lowest since 2005," said the minister.

"At the same time, there are encouraging signs that we continue to attract the brightest and best and to support tourism in the UK.

"We will continue to work hard to ensure that net migration is reduced from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands by the end of this parliament.

"We are doing this by improving the selectivity of our immigration system and increasing enforcement activity to prevent people coming into the UK illegally and removing those with no right to be here."

Criticism - figures too high

Sir Andrew Green of MigrationWatch UK, which favours tougher immigration methods, said 216,000 is still 'far too high' and proved further changes were called for.

"The Government must ensure that they pursue the national interest ahead of vested interests," said Sir Andrew.

"They now need a blitz on bogus students and much tougher action on enforcement and removal. For too many years we have had only a token effort at tackling illegal immigration."

Criticism - figures too low

However, left-leaning think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), who have consistently argued the need for current levels of net migration, said the figures showed 'the folly of the Government's target to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 a year'.

"The combination of recession and immigration policy changes may be starting to have an impact but more than a third of the fall is due to a rise in emigration," said Sarah Mulley, IPPR associate director.

"The statistics show that the Government remains a long way from its goal."

Ms Mulley conceded that the Government was making progress, but the wrong progress.

"The Government is making progress towards its target but only at significant economic cost: reducing the numbers of skilled migrants who come to the UK to work hard, pay taxes, help businesses grow, and staff our public services, as well as fee-paying students who support our colleges and universities and provide jobs for thousands."

Education providers shared Ms Mulley's concerns, claiming the drop in student visa numbers were very concerning for the country's multi-billion pound international education industry.

"A drop in international students will damage our universities, which rely on the economic contribution these students make, and deny domestic students the opportunity to mix with multinational academic peers," said Michael Corner of the international education provider Study Group.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Tyson hits back at New Zealand visa speculation

by Dominic 30/08/2012 11:29:00

Mike Tyson answered his critics
a little more directly this time.

Former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson has hit back at speculation he may be refused a New Zealand visa.

The 46 year old former prize-fighter is due to speak in Australia and New Zealand in November as part of his 'Day of the Champions' motivational speaking tour. However, the NZ leg of his trip was put in jeopardy yesterday when doubt arose that Tyson would be approved a New Zealand visa.

New Zealand immigration law stipulates that anyone sentenced to five years imprisonment or more is ineligible for an NZ visa; Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison for rape in 1992 although he was released after serving three.

Immigration New Zealand yesterday said Tyson's application would be processed like any other, suggesting his hugely public profile and controversial reputation wouldn't play a part in the decision.

Tyson originally remained optimistic about his chances of reaching New Zealand, saying he was 'so excited to be visiting' and 'looking forward to meeting' his fans.

However, the former undisputed heavyweight champion didn't forge a reputation as 'the baddest man on the planet' for nothing and his attitude towards the trip has soured since.

"I'm not going to sit here and cower and beg to come to your country," said Tyson in a teleconference from Las Vegas to Auckland.

"I'm sorry but if I can't come, I can't come. It will be my misfortune but I don't want to feel like I'm on trial to come to your country.

"I haven't been to New Zealand, man it must be a serious country if I can't go there."

Tyson's promoter, Max Markson, who appeared in the teleconference alongside the ex-fighter, said they were appealing to 'the minister' - presumably Immigration Minister Nathan Guy - over the case.

"We've applied for the visa and asked for special discretion from the minister, so we're waiting for patiently for a visa," said Mr Markson.

Mr Markson said Tyson, who has since turned his life around since struggling with drug dependencies and going bankrupt in 2003, should be allowed to visit New Zealand.

"[Tyson is] a great ambassador and he really does have a tremendous story which he has to tell the people of New Zealand and it would be a tragedy if the show that he's been doing on Broadway for the last few weeks can't be told."

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Mike Tyson to be denied New Zealand visa?

by Dominic 29/08/2012 11:55:00

The former undisputed
heavyweight  champion of the
world is now a motivational
speaker.

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson is due to speak at an event in Auckland in November but could be denied a New Zealand visa due to his 1992 conviction for rape.

The former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, now 46, is due to embark on a tour of Australia and New Zealand giving motivational talks but his New Zealand leg of the tour has been thrown into doubt after New Zealand immigration officials.

Tyson was imprisoned at the height of his boxing career for the 1991 rape of Desiree Washington, the then-Miss Black Rhode Island, in an Indianapolis hotel room. Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison, he was paroled after three.

New Zealand immigration law currently stipulates that anyone who has served a prison term of five years or more is ineligible for a visa.

However, as Tyson only served three years and is a public figure who has turned his life around since his much publicised bankruptcy in 2003 and drug dependency problems, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) have refused to categorically state whether his visa application will be denied.

"Mike Tyson will have to apply for a visa to enter New Zealand and make full disclosure of his previous convictions," read an INZ statement.

"There is never a guarantee that any visa application will be approved. All visa applications are considered on their individual circumstances.

"The Immigration Act 2009 allows for discretion to be exercised in certain cases."

Tyson is expected to be joined on his tour by fellow motivational speakers Willey Jolley, Stephen Young and Loral Langmeier.

The former boxer, who still holds the record for youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and TBF heavyweight titles, which he did at just 20 years old and retired with a record of 50 wins in 58 fights with 44 knockouts, expressed his excitement and travelling to New Zealand and Australia.

"I'm so excited to be visiting Australia and New Zealand for the first time," he said in a statement.

"I have lots of friends there and look forward to meeting all my fans."


- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the New Zealand Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

The 'end' of the mining boom and how it affects Australian immigration

by Dominic 24/08/2012 11:39:00

Construction on new mines might
be slowing, but operation in
existing mines is not.

Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson declared yesterday that Australia's much publicised mining boom, which preserved the country's economy while much of the world slid into recession, is 'over', but is that fair? And what does it mean for people wanting to move to Australia?

Hundreds of thousands of Brits have chosen to move to Australia over the years in search of better opportunity, few have been disappointed and never has that statement been fairer than in the middle of the resources boom which saw even truck drivers commanding six figure salaries.

But now Minister Ferguson has said the boom is 'over' so will that mean Australia will now join the Western World in an economic slump? Will opportunities become thin on the ground? Is it still worth the move?

'Doom and gloom': the end of the mining boom
"The resource boom is over," declared Minister Ferguson yesterday. "We've done well - AU$270 billion [£177 billion] in investment, the envy of the world."

The minister's statement comes in the wake of mining giant BHP Billiton scrapping its plans for two projects worth more than AU$50 billion (£33 billion), a copper mine in South Australia and an expansion of an existing iron ore mine in Western Australia, citing increased development costs, a high Australian dollar and falling commodity prices.

Following BHP's announcement, the Sydney Morning Herald declared 'The bubble has burst'.

Another Australian mining giant, Rio Tinto, said it would also be scaling back its operations due to the slowdown.

"We are going to have to make more tough decisions, invest in fewer projects, we are going to have to defer other things, we are going to have to stage projects," said Rio Tinto Chief Executive Tom Alabanese.

What are the facts?

Despite the cancellation of the mining projects and predictions of slowdowns, many are refusing to panic just yet.

Finance Minister Penny Wong said government predictions have factored in the predicted slowdown for some time.

"We've still got a long way to run when it comes to this investment boom," said Minister Wong.

"We've got over half a trillion dollars of investment, and over half of that is at the advanced stage.

"So I think the 'doom and gloom' that some are putting about isn't appropriate."

The minister's dismissal of dire predictions holds considerable weight; there are currently 10 large scale resource projects under construction in the country according to Deloitte, out of which seven remain on track with customers locked in.

National Australia Bank agree with the minister, stating in their official prediction that the boom will not peak until next year or the year.

When will the mining boom end? What will happen when it does?

Deloitte's Chris Richardson says booms are nothing new and this one still has plenty of time left given the developments in Asia: 

"By the standards of booms, this one is already pretty old and will go for some time given the sheer size of the seismic shift under way in places like China and India, with people moving off farms and into factories."

Many of the dire predictions are based on the fact that China's economy, which has fuelled Australia's success, is predicted to stabilise after years of unprecedented growth but Saul Eslake, chief economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (Australia), says the Chinese economy's growth might be slowing, but it won't stop for a long time yet:

"The history of Japan and Korea tells us that the intensity of demand for commodities falls away once a country reaches per capita income somewhere between US$18,000 and US$25,000 (£11,000-£16,000). In China, I think that's about a decade away."

Studies by two industry bodies published earlier this week reported that while construction and expansion of new and existing projects may begin to slow, current mines will continue to operate and the focus of the resources industry will simply transition to maintaining.

Are skilled workers still needed in Australia?

Workers' unions have consistently stated their opposition to the use of foreign labour on one of the country's biggest assets, claiming that Australian labour should be used first to benefit from the boom.

However, independent studies have consistently argued that the location of the majority of the projects mean Australian labour is difficult to tempt away from the cities in the east, and this unlikely to change when expansion slows.

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart was granted the first Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA) in May which allowed the world's richest woman to bring in over 1,700 foreign workers for her multi-billion dollar Roy Hill project and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen confirmed earlier this month plenty more EMA deals were in the pipeline.

Western Australian Representative Gary Gray added this week that between six and 12 new EMAs had been applied for to help with the continuing shortage of labour.

"We do have to accept that we've got to get our projects built on time and on budget, and that requires labour force certainty," said Mr Gray.

"We need to supplement our skilled workforce with a skilled migration program that's absolutely, totally sensitive to market conditions."

Leonie Cotton, casework department manager at the Australian Visa Bureau, says the mining boom's progress is only incidental to the opportunity on offer in Australia:

"Australia is roughly the size of Europe but has less than half the population of the UK and while it's true that the mining boom has needed to rely on foreign labour to allow it to expand, Australia has always needed skilled foreign labour to supplement its workforce.

"Boom times are nothing new, and by definition end. But when it does Australia will still need workers in the IT, healthcare, construction and plenty of other industries as well as engineers and miners for its resources sector."



- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Australian Immigration Update - 16 August, 2012

by Dominic 16/08/2012 10:02:00
Foreign students turn to crime to bypass Australia visa checks

Australia's Migration Review Tribunal (MRT) has said it has heard several cases of foreign students, typically from India, paying criminals thousands of dollars for fraudulent documents to support their Australia visa applications...read more.

Labor prepare to legislate Australian immigration solution

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said her government has begun drafting legislation to resume offshore processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and Papa New Guinea...read more.

Australian immigration asylum seeker bill passes House of Representatives

An Australian immigration bill consisting of recommendations in Angus Houston's expert panel report has made it through the House of Representatives and will now head to the Senate...read more.

Study claims Australia visa holders don't take work from Australians

A new study published by a Perth university claims the 457 visa program, which allows skilled foreign citizens to live and work in Australia, does not hinder Australians' chances at gaining work...read more.




Foreign students turn to crime to bypass Australia visa checks

Foreign students are reportedly
paying for falsified evidence.

Australia's Migration Review Tribunal (MRT) has said it has heard several cases of foreign students, typically from India, paying criminals thousands of dollars for fraudulent documents to support their Australia visa applications.

The MRT said it had heard 15 cases of fraud allegations in the past year but the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) claims cases reaching the MRT are just the tip of the iceberg and that there are several hundred cases of such tampering with Australia visa applications.

The MRT said the most common form of the scam involved students paying as much as AU$3,500 (£2,350) for falsified employer references which claimed the applicant had completed 900 hours of unpaid work experience with them. The scam is often in the restaurant industry or other small businesses as the increased levels of independence mean fewer checks are carried out, allowing criminals to operate what officials called 'an organised and lucrative criminal enterprise'.

Carmine Amarante has been identified as the scheme's organiser and main beneficiary from the extortionate methods. Amarante is alleged to have created over 500 fraudulent documents which were used in hundreds of visa applications; charging as AU$3,500 per application and paying businesses as little as AU$300, Amarante is thought to have netted as much as AU$2 million (£1.3 million).

The man was jailed for three years.

David Young of the MRT said the Australian immigration system, which was 'designed to bring skilled individuals into Australia' was being shamelessly manipulated in 'a calculated fraud'.

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Labor prepare to legislate Australian immigration solution

Ms Gillard wants the asylum
seeker issue finally dealt with.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said her government has begun drafting legislation to resume offshore processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and Papa New Guinea.

The decision comes after Ms Gillard's expert panel, chaired by former Defence Chief Angus Houston delivered his report to the parliament yesterday. The panel made a total of 22 recommendations in total including portions from each of the three main parties' preferred options.

The panel's report looks set to put an end to a near year long debate over the issue which resulted in a political deadlock and the deaths of hundreds of asylum seekers. As processing in Nauru and Papa New Guinea was a Coalition policy, the opposition have declared the panel's recommendation as a victory, but Ms Gillard says the situation had dragged too long.

"I think Australians are sick at heart about watching it," said the prime minister.

"They're over it. I'm over it. We're all over it. I am prepared to further compromise from the government's position.

"I'm not going to play politics or look at political scoreboards when too many lives have been lost."

Ms Gillard said she hoped legislation would be finalised by the end of the week, opposition immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison said the Coalition would support Labor's legislation only after scrutiny.

"We can get on with this over the next few days as long as the government doesn't try to slip Malaysia through the back door," said Mr Morrison.

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Australian immigration asylum seeker bill passes House of Representatives

The bill will now be debated in
the Senate.
 

An Australian immigration bill consisting of recommendations in Angus Houston's expert panel report has made it through the House of Representatives and will now head to the Senate.

Mr Houston was appointed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to find a solution to the protracted debate over how best to deal with asylum seekers during the six week winter break.

After six weeks, the panel delivered a total of 22 recommendations which included allowing offshore processing in Nauru and Papa New Guinea (PNG). While debate over some of the other recommendations is likely to continue, the government has moved to implement processing on the Pacific Island nations.

A bill which would allow immediate processing in the two countries in temporary tents while the processing centres are reopened was approved by both the governing Labor and opposing Coalition politicians in the House with only Greens Representative Adam Bandt and independent Representative Andrew Wilkie.

The Greens are the only party to have opposed the panel's recommendations in line with their staunch opposition to offshore processing of any kind; Greens leader Christine Milne said her party was disappointed at the 'inhumane' proposal of keeping refugees in tents and Mr Bandt attempted to have an amendment added to the bill which would limit the time refugees could be kept on Nauru or PNG to a year.

The passing comes after three asylum seeker boats bound for Australia were reported to be in distress; the Australia navy conducted a search and rescue operation and escorted two of the three boats' passengers to the processing centre on Christmas Island.

The third has not been found and fears about the passengers' safety have been growing.

Ms Gillard said as the bill had been announced on Monday, the latest arrivals could be the first to be processed as part of the changes.

"If they get on a boat or if they stay where they are now, there is no difference except that you end up risking your life at sea and you give people smugglers your money," said the prime minister.

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Study claims Australia visa holders don't take work from Australians

ECU argues foreign labour is
necessary due the reluctance
of domestic labour to relocate.

A new study published by a Perth university claims the 457 visa program, which allows skilled foreign citizens to live and work in Australia, does not hinder Australians' chances at gaining work.

The School of Management at Edith Cowan University in Perth says the 457 visa program is essential to account for reluctances from Australian workers and skills gaps in the domestic labour market.

The majority of the debate surrounding the 457 visa debate is centred on the mining boom in Western Australia; thousands of workers are needed to ensure the continued progress on the multi-billion dollar projects.

Several workers' unions have argued that Australians should be considered for the work before foreign labour is allowed to be brought in. However, Dr Susanne Bahn, who led the research, says jobs are often made available to Australian citizens but many are reluctant to relocate to the west coast.

Dr Bahn said many workers' reluctance usually centres on family commitments, increased living costs and a comparatively low level of infrastructure in the sparsely populated state.

The study also argues that some 457 visa holders' skills would be impossible to find locally and leave foreign labour as the only option.

"This is the first study of its kind in Australia," said Dr Bahn, "and shows that although the resources industry often seeks to employ Australian workers, some of the skills required are so specialised that the skill set required is simply not available."

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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

UK Immigration Update - 15 August, 2012

by Dominic 15/08/2012 10:44:00
Dog the Bounty Hunter denied UK visa

Dog the Bounty Hunter has had his UK visa application rejected due to his involvement in a 1976 murder...read more.

UK visa changes mulled to capitalise on Olympic success

The Government is reportedly considering changes to UK visa policy in order to make it easier for foreign tourists to visit after the success of the Olympic Games...read more.

UK immigration staff exceeded expectations during Olympic rush

UK immigration figures show passport and border control staff outperformed all targets during the Olympic Games...read more.

UK visa changes to lure Chinese tourists

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said new UK visa offices and staff will be set up in China as well as a Chinese-language website in order to triple the number of Chinese tourists visiting Britain...read more.




Dog the Bounty Hunter denied UK visa

Dog the Bounty Hunter will not
be appearing on the new series
of Celebrity Big Brother.

Dog the Bounty Hunter has had his UK visa application rejected due to his involvement in a 1976 murder.

Duane 'Dog' Chapman, who made his name as the star of the Hawaii-set TV show Dog the Bounty Hunter, has been rejected for a UK visa due to his part in a 1976 murder.

Mr Chapman was expected to appear on the latest version of Channel 5's Celebrity Big Brother but has had to cancel after the UK Border Agency failed to approve his application.

Mr Chapman claims he has since renounced his life of crime and often tells his bounties to do the same and 'go with Jesus' when he apprehends them but his own past has come back to bite him.

In 1976 Jerry Oliver was gunned down in Texas by one of Mr Chapman's associates who had gone to purchase drugs from him; Mr Chapman himself was waiting in a car outside at the time but was convicted of first degree murder nonetheless and sentenced to five years in prison.

Mr Chapman, who served 18 months of his sentence, has been no stranger to controversy; in 2007 a private phone conversation between the Dog and his son, Tucker, was released. In the tape, Mr Chapman was heard using several racial slurs and chastised his son for dating an African American girl.

However, Mr Chapman has taken the news stoically, expressing his regret he would not be able to appear on the show and saying he hoped the 'red tape' could be resolved.

"I'd like to see your country and I have a lot of fans there and I'd like to meet them," Mr Chapman said.

"I have always wanted to come here."

Mr Chapman's wife Beth, who also appears on the show, expressed a little more frustration and pointed out her husband's charitable work as cause for approving his application.

"It's just incredible that something that he did 33 years ago is just haunting him," said Mrs Chapman.

"It prevents him making a living. Our society is so unforgiving it seems, no matter how many good things we do."

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UK visa changes mulled to capitalise on Olympic success

The success of the Olympics
has led to increased in interest
in visiting the UK.

The Government is reportedly considering changes to UK visa policy in order to make it easier for foreign tourists to visit after the success of the Olympic Games.

Previous reports have cited complicated UK visa application processes as a deterrent to more foreign tourists visiting Britain. While studies have shown that many foreign tourists would prefer to visit the UK, large numbers choose to visit France, Germany or Italy instead on a Schengen visa.

A UK visa currently allows non-EU tourists to visit Britain and Ireland but for a similar price, a Schengen visa allows a holder to visit a total 26 European countries. The Schengen visa application is also much shorter and multilingual than the English and Welsh UK visa application.

With the Chinese economy currently producing vast numbers of first time international travellers, most Western countries are eager to attract the tourists who have been shown to spend more on average on a typical holiday than any other nationality.

However, six times as many Chinese tourists visit France compared to Britain, nine times as many to Germany, many blame this on tourist visa processes.

Tourist bodies have called in the past for simpler visa applications and, with the country currently in the spotlight thanks to the unexpected success of the 2012 Olympic Games, the Government is considering loosening visa restrictions in order to capitalise on this.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to discuss the issue during a speech at the Tate Modern on Tuesday; policy aspects reportedly up for debate include translating the visa application form, expedited application processes and allowing visa applications to be filed at other European countries' application centres around the world.

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UK immigration staff exceeded expectations during Olympic rush

Waiting times at the UK borders
during the Games exceeded
all targets..

UK immigration figures show passport and border control staff outperformed all targets during the Olympic Games.

Significant and widespread scepticism regarding the UK immigration system's ability to cope with increased demand was rife prior to the Games due to reports of protracted queuing times, understaffed passport desks and threats of strikes.

However, contingency plans put in place to man extra desks and open up priority lanes have paid off as despite Heathrow Airport processing record levels of passengers on several days of the Games, queuing time targets for both European Economic Area (EEA) and non-EEA passengers were surpassed.

Immigration Minister Damian Green had previously said non-EEA passengers should have to wait no longer than 45 minutes and EEA passengers less than half that time. However, reports earlier this summer claimed people were waiting in excess of three hours with lines stretching over half a mile in immigration halls.

Mr Green paid tribute to the border staff for ensuring that similar situations were avoided.

"Our staff and volunteers have shown fantastic dedication and commitment during what has been an extremely busy period," said the minister.

"These figures are proof that our detailed planning for the Olympics, combined with wider action to cut queuing times and keep the border secure, have paid dividends."

BAA chief Colin Matthews echoed Mr Green's praise:

"We are proud to have played our part in giving the very best welcome to London 2012 to athletes and visitors alike. Seven years of hard work and planning, the warmth and enthusiasm of more than a thousand volunteers and additional Border Force staff produced our strongest ever passenger satisfaction scores."
 

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UK visa changes to lure Chinese tourists

Chinese tourists are worth
hundreds of millions to
the British economy.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said new UK visa offices and staff will be set up in China as well as a Chinese-language website in order to triple the number of Chinese tourists visiting Britain.

Chinese tourists have been shown to spend more than any other nationality on holiday but tough UK visa requirements mean Britain welcomes significantly less than its European neighbours.

In order to combat that and capitalise on the momentum of the London Olympics, Mr Hunt said 150 additional visa officers will be employed during peak months as well as 72 agents for tourist groups.

"We'll be looking at improvements to the visa system and work with airlines to improve the number of flight connections to China," said the culture secretary.

The UK visa application is currently limited in its language options but Mr Hunt said a Chinese language website with online application capability will go some way to help potential visitors overcome the language barrier.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said the goal was to increase Chinese tourists from current levels of 150,000 to almost half a million, providing an extra £500 million in spending creating over 10,000 jobs.

"China is one of the UK's priority markets for tourism and business and we are committed to providing an ever improving service to support this," said Mr Green.

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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the UK Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Olympics and UK immigration

by Dominic 14/08/2012 15:47:00

Mo Farah, double gold medallist and one
of the stars of the 2012 Olympics, was
born in Somalia and moved to the UK to
escape the war torn country.

Aside from a strangely poor closing ceremony, the London 2012 Olympics were an exceptional, and widely unexpected, success. While the organisation of the Games was fraught with budget and staffing concerns, it was on the field that Britain surprised the most, finishing only behind China and the US in the medals by winning the most medals since 1908.

A few weeks ago, we looked at the influence immigration has had on the success of the US Olympic team in the past. America has won nearly half of all Olympic medals ever awarded and has the broad, welcoming immigration policies of the past to thank for the evident diversity of its high flying team.

But what about the UK? Being the home nation was certainly an advantage to TeamGB, anyone who witnessed Mo Farah's performances could not deny that but the UK's march toward the top of the Olympic table did not begin in London, TeamGB finished fourth in Beijing.

Only the US and China have finished above TeamGB in the past two Summer Games; China's 1.3 billion strong population might be proving a match for America's 350 million people of all walks of life but is the UK that far behind?

UK immigration policy is currently a controversial topic; with Britain on course to be the most populous country in Europe, the Government has pledged to bring net migration down to roughly a third of its current levels but where would TeamGB have finished without its immigrants?

A study by independent think-tank British Future found approximately a third of TeamGB's 65 medals were won by athletes with immediate family members from outside Britain, including the following high profile eight athletes:

Athlete

Event

Medal

Immigration Connection

Mo Farah 5000m and 10,000m Two Gold Born in Somalia, moved to the UK as a child.
Jessica Ennis Heptathlon Gold Jamaican Father
Bradley Wiggins Cycling - Time Trial Gold Born in Belgium, Australian father.
Laura Robson Tennis - Mixed Doubles Silver Born in Australia
Laura Bechtolsheimer Dressage One Gold One Bronze Born in Germany
Christine Ohoruogu 400m Silver Nigerian-born Parents
Robert Grabarz High Jump Bronze Born in Germany
Anthony Ogogo Boxing Bronze Nigerian father

UK immigration has resulted in Great Britain becoming one of the most diverse countries in the world; in London alone over 300 languages are spoken and while immigration is certainly one of the most divisive issues around, Sunder Katwala of British Future says its benefits are plain to see.

"The record breaking achievements of TeamGB athletes have reflected an inclusive and authentic pride in the shared, multi-ethnic society that we are today."

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the UK Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

US Immigration Update - 14 August, 2012

by Dominic 14/08/2012 11:20:00
Young Brit gets US visa victory

A young British woman has been granted permission to remain in America after her US visa expired when she turned 21...read more.

Young immigrants prepare for US immigration directive opening

Thousands of young illegal immigrants are queuing up, eager to take advantage of the president's executive order which will allow them to live and work legally for two years free from the threat of deportation...read more.

New York grants to help young people avoid US immigration scams

The New York state legislature has announced it will provide $450,000 in grants to groups who are assisting young immigrants apply to President Obama's Deferred Action scheme...read more.



Young Brit gets US visa victory

Lauren Gray has been granted
permission to stay in the US.
 

A young British woman has been granted permission to remain in America after her US visa expired when she turned 21.

Lauren Gray was born in the UK but spent the majority of her life in Missouri, moving there in 1995 with her parents who moved to America on a business US visa to manage a hotel and restaurant.

However, the E-2 class of visa Ms Gray's parents held offers no path to residency and children are only alloved to remain in the country until they are 21 unless they get a visa of their own.

Ms Gray has reportedly been trying to get her own visa for nine years but an extensive backlog in the US immigration system meant she came perilously close to facing the prospect of moving back to a country she barely knows, alone.

Ms Gray's struggle became known when her story was featured in several newspapers and she eventually caught the attention of Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. The Democratic senator then personally called Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano regarding Ms Gray.

The Department of Homeland Security has since granted Ms Gray leave to live and work in the US for a further two years, after which she will have to either renew the deferral or secure her own visa.

While acknowledging that the victory is only temporary, Ms Gray said she was "thrilled I get to stay and live my dream here like I wanted."

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Young immigrants prepare for US immigration directive opening

People are queuing up across
the US to file their applications.
 

Thousands of young illegal immigrants are queuing up, eager to take advantage of the president's executive order which will allow them to live and work legally for two years free from the threat of deportation.

President Obama in June took a major step in the US immigration debate by issuing an executive order which put a stop to the deportations of all illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought to the US before they were 16.

If they met those conditions and had either graduated high school or served in the military and had no criminal record, they could defer deportation for two years and be granted a work permit by applying to the scheme and paying the $465 (£296) application fee.

The president's order, known as Deferred Action, is likely to have a significant effect on November's presidential election but the nearly 2 million people the directive helps only care about one thing at the minute: getting their work permit.

Some had expected potential applicants to be cautious as their illegal status has forced them to be but with applications for the scheme due to open tomorrow, immigration advisers, charities and lawyers nationwide have been swamped by young immigrants eager to get their applications in as soon as possible.

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New York grants to help young people avoid US immigration scams

The New York state legislature
wants to ensure people avoid
being taken advantage of.
 

The New York state legislature has announced it will provide $450,000 in grants to groups who are assisting young immigrants apply to President Obama's Deferred Action scheme.

Applications for Deferred Action begin being accepted tomorrow and allow young immigrants to gain a work permit valid for two years if they meet a number of conditions.

However, as the president's scheme is aimed at illegal immigrants, many maintain a cautious approach toward government departments and immigration officials are concerned that some will turn to private advisers for advice, and this leads to the possibility of scams.

Reports last month confirmed several instances of unscrupulous advisers offering potential applicants the opportunity to 'fast-track' or 'guarantee' their applications for sums as much as $4,000 (£2,550). At the time of these reports, little information had been released by immigration officials about the application process and when details eventually did emerge, the application fee was just $465.

In order to combat these growing concerns, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo promised $600,000 (£380,000) to pay for advertising campaigns and legal counsel but the state's assembly has gone further by promising a further $450,000 for clinics, workshops and legal services state-wide.

"It is critical that we get information out to our immigrant communities so that people will know who is eligible for deferred action and so that they can avoid being scammed," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the American Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

US Immigration Update - 08 August, 2012

by Dominic 08/08/2012 10:59:00
New US visa category for foreign job makers proposed

A bipartisan bill in the US House of Representatives has been proposed which would allow foreign entrepreneurs capable of creating jobs for American citizens to obtain a US visa has gained widespread support...read more.

Obama’s US immigration directive outlined

Further details to President Obama's US immigration order have been outlined for the first time, explaining how as many as 1.4 million people can avoid deportation...read more.

US visa ban for foreign students attending unaccredited universities

The House of Representatives has passed a bill which would prevent foreign students from attending unaccredited universities...read more.




New US visa category for foreign job makers proposed

The bill proposes granting
immigrants who are capable
of creating jobs for citizens.
 

A bipartisan bill in the US House of Representatives has been proposed which would allow foreign entrepreneurs capable of creating jobs for American citizens to obtain a US visa has gained widespread support.

Democratic Representative John Conyers of Michigan and Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah have proposed amending the Immigration and Nationality Act to grant a US visa to more people who can help the struggling economy.

Under current legislation, foreign citizens can obtain work visas for themselves and their families but don't place any emphasis on job creation, says Mr Conyers.

"Our immigration system provides green cards to those who fill jobs in the American economy, but not to those who create jobs. This makes no sense," he said.

"The lack of a path to permanent residency deters many entrepreneurs from helping revitalise our economy and lower unemployment.

"The bill would address the concern by making existing employment-based green cards available to those who establish a new business and create and sustain jobs for American workers."

The American Investment and Job Creation Act of 2012 (HR 6210) has already won support from several reputable and influential bodies including the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Venture Capital Association but will need support from the Senate to become law. 

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Obama’s US immigration directive outlined

The president's directive has
proved exceptionally divisive.
 

Further details to President Obama's US immigration order have been outlined for the first time, explaining how as many as 1.4 million people can avoid deportation.

There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the US and how to deal with them has been almost as big an issue as how to stop them entering for decades. With so many people living in fear of deportation, President Obama used his executive powers to bypass the government and put a stop to the deportation of illegal immigrants who were brought to the US as children.

The move ignited an immediate political uproar; in an election year, bold political statements are common, moves are not and the president's move is seen as exceedingly risky, one which could cost him the election, or win it.

While the political ramifications remain to be seen, the actual ramifications were felt immediately. With only basic criteria outlined - applicants have to be under 30, brought to the US before they were 16, have no criminal record and have served in the military or graduated high school - and no definite date for applications, the potential for exploitation was rife.

Reports immediately began to flow in of unscrupulous US immigration agents and advisers reportedly offering to 'fast-track' applications for as much as $4,000 (£2,500). As all of the directive's target are technically illegal, few are willing to go to the authorities to report such scams, or even for assistance, through fear of deportation.

However, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have outlined the full requirements for the first time.

  • Applications will begin being accepted on 15 August
  • The cost of an application will be $465 (£298)
  • Evidence supporting an application will be required
  • Applications will be reviewed individually at one of four USCIS centres
  • Decisions will be received before Election Day (6 November)

Renowned civil rights activist and Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez, who has been a vocal advocate of immigration reform, said the president's directive was a monumental achievement in the fight for equality among immigrant communities.

"You cannot overstate how important this moment will be in immigration communities and Latino neighbourhoods across the country."

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US visa ban for foreign students attending unaccredited universities

Only accredited universities
will be allowed to grant
foreign students visas.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill which would prevent foreign students from attending unaccredited universities.

The Student Visa Reform Act comes in the wake of charges against the dean of a Californian university over allegations of several cases of visa fraud. Jerry Wang, CEO of Herguan University was charged with 15 counts of visa fraud including forging documents and allowing scores of foreign students to remain in the country without a valid US visa.

In order to combat similar crimes, the bill passed by the House of Representatives prevents all postsecondary educational institutions from enrolling more than 25 students on non-immigrant visas if they are not accredited by an organisation approved by the Department of Education.

"The accreditation requirements instituted by this bill will prevent illegitimate institutions from cheating foreign students who legitimately seek a bona fide education in the United States," said Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren, the bill's sponsor.

"In addition, this requirement will prevent fly-by-night [untrustworthy] institutions from engaging in student visa fraud to smuggle or traffic persons into the country."

The bill will now be presented to the Senate for further review. 

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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the American Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.