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Australian Immigration Update - 06 August, 2012

by Dominic 06/08/2012 11:04:00
Australian immigration fuels population boom in city suburbs

Increased rates of Australian immigration in the past five years has led to an incredible growth in popularity of suburban property outside of the country's main cities, a recent study shows...read more.

Government insists controversial Australia visa progress remains positive

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has said the controversial Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA), which provides temporary foreign workers an Australia visa to work on particularly large projects, is moving forward despite the criticism...read more.

Minister promises flexible Australia visa program to cope with construction demand

In a speech to the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has paid tribute to 'responsive' Australia visa policy when providing foreign skills to the country's mining and construction industries...read more.

New laws to crackdown on employers hiring workers without valid Australia visa

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says he is introducing new laws which will give authorities the power to investigate employers suspected of hiring foreign workers without a valid Australia visa and impose tough penalties on those found guilty...read more.

Public call in to Australia visa fraud hotline

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has lauded the impact a special hotline has had in tracking down illegal immigrants...read more

Navitas chief blames Australia visa rules for student slump

International education provider Navitas has said tightened Australia visa requirements can be blamed for a declining trend in international students heading to the country to study...read more




Australian immigration fuels population boom in city suburbs

More people are moving out of
Melbourne's centre.

Increased rates of Australian immigration in the past five years has led to an incredible growth in popularity of suburban property outside of the country's main cities, a recent study shows.

A report published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows almost 650,000 new residents in Melbourne's outer areas alone, with much of it being attributed to Australian immigration.

"What comes to the fore over the past five years is the level of overseas migration," said Andrew Howe, a spokesperson for ABS. "A lot of them have chosen Melbourne."

Five of Melbourne's suburban areas topped the list of population growth over the last decade but as more land opens up for development outside other Australian cities, more are expected to catch up quickly.

Increased rates of immigration have increased demand for property within city centres and urban residential areas, meaning many Australian citizens and new migrants have chosen to look futher afield for cheaper, and often larger, homes.

However, Mr Howe says inner city living is also proving extremely popular, particularly among young professionals and students, with Melbourne's Docklands area being highlighted as undergoing rapid rates of growth tahnks to an urban renewal scheme.

"Inner-city living has become more popular in all Australian capital cities. People want to live closer to the city - especially younger adults wanting to be closer to work and education."

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Government insists controversial Australia visa progress remains positive

Mr Bowen said there has been
no slowdown in EMA processing.
 

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has said the controversial Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA), which provides temporary foreign workers an Australia visa to work on particularly large projects, is moving forward despite the criticism.

An EMA allows large-scale projects, typically mining projects, to bring in large numbers of foreign workers when local labour cannot be found although critics contend the EMAs do not include sufficient safeguards to ensure local labour is thoroughly sought before foreign labour can be used.

The first EMA was approved in May to the world's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, and her Roy Hill iron ore mining project in Western Australia. Ms Rinehart was granted permission to bring in 1,715 foreign workers over the next three years.

However, the deal proved so controversial with Australian workers' unions and opposing politicians as well as from some within the government that the deal is still being negotiated. 

Yet Mr Bowen has denied claims that further EMAs will not be approved.

"There's been no slowdown in approval of EMAs because we only have a certain number of applications," the minister told a mining industry conference, adding that negotiations for the Roy Hill EMA were still ongoing due the government's commitment to get it right.

The immigration minister refused to say how many EMA applications his department had received but admitted that as many as 50 projects would be eligible for an agreement.

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Minister promises flexible Australia visa program to cope with construction demand

The minister praised the ability
of the immigration system to
respond to changing needs.
 

In a speech to the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has paid tribute to 'responsive' Australia visa policy when providing foreign skills to the country's mining and construction industries.

Mr Bowen said Australia visa application rates had risen in accordance with the recovery of the global economy and had proved essential in ensuring the continuing progress of the mining and construction trades which kept Australia in growth while the rest of the world suffered.

"The 457 visa program has proved to be highly responsive to labour market conditions.  For example, over the year to June 2009 — during the peak of the global financial crisis when employment growth was starting to come off — we saw visa applications fall by 11 per cent," said the minister.

"As the economy has recovered following the global financial crisis, so too have 457 visa applications. There are now more than 90,000 primary 457 visa holders in Australia.

"These trends are particularly strong in the mining states of Western Australia and Queensland. Across Australia, the number of 457 visa holders going into the mining industry has increased by 77 per cent over the past 12 months, from 3,650 to 6,500.  At the same time, construction sector 457s increased by 55 per cent from 5,900 to 9,200."

Chinese-fuelled demand for Australia's abundant resources meant that the country kept its head above water while much of the Western World struggled with economic woes.

"The temporary skilled migration program is assisting industry to obtain the skills it needs, where and when it needs them," Mr Bowen said.

Australia may have enjoyed massive investment during the global financial crisis but with most economies having begun the road to recovery, the previously-booming level of demand from Australia has started to slow and Mr Bowen says Australia has to be prepared.

"We have continued to reduce 457 visa processing times, even with the strong growth in 457 numbers. We are now fast-tracking visa applications for the resources sector, with the median processing time at 13 days."

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New laws to crackdown on employers hiring workers without valid Australia visa

Australia is trying to crackdown
on illegal immigration.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says he is introducing new laws which will give authorities the power to investigate employers suspected of hiring foreign workers without a valid Australia visa and impose tough penalties on those found guilty.

Mr Bowen said Australian immigration authorities would be given the power to search offices and fine employers with illegal workers up to AU$50,000 (£33,800) as current legislation does little to limit the exploitation of foreign workers and increase job opportunities for Australians.

"Limited criminal sanctions introduced by the Howard government in 2007 have proved ineffective, so new measures are needed," the minister said in a statement.

Mr Bowen said an employer's ignorance to an employee's immigration status would not be accepted as a valid excuse for taking on illegal workers, leaving it up to employers and companies to carry out due diligence on their employees.

The wording of the policy dictates that employers must be able to 'establish they took reasonable steps... to either verify that the foreign national worker is not an unlawful non-citizen or verify that the foreign national worker is not in breach of the work-related visa'.

Mr Bowen said he will be seeking feedback on the proposals before introducing the laws to parliament by the end of the year.

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Public call in to Australia visa fraud hotline

People have been encouraged
to call the 'dob-in line'.
 

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has lauded the impact a special hotline has had in tracking down illegal immigrants.

While numbers of illegal immigrants are typically hard to keep track of, the estimates predict there are as many as 100,000 people working in the country without a valid Australia visa. And the government wants to track them down.

In order to assist enforcement, a special hotline has been set up which allows members of the public to report people they suspect of being in the country illegally. The line received almost 17,000 calls over the past year, 325 a week.

Australian immigration officials say over 15,000 people in the country illegally over the past year, although how many of these were then deported is not known.

The effectiveness of the line has been praised by Minister Bowen, labelling the hotline as a 'dob-in line' which was proving to be a 'valuable tool in maintaining the integrity of our migration program'.

"I encourage anyone with information about illegal workers, visa overstayers or visa fraud to call the immigration dob-in line on 1800 009 623," said the immigration minister.

"The Immigration Department collects and records all information provided, officers will the investigate the allegations by checking records, conducting surveillance and carrying out site visits to locate individuals involved in illegal practices."

Mr Bowen said the government would be making further changes to Australian immigration legislation which would make it easier for officials to combat illegal immigration.

"Illegal workers undermine the integrity of Australia's migration program, reduce work opportunities for Australians and expose vulnerable workers to exploitation."

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Navitas chief blames Australia visa rules for student slump

Attacks on Indian students in
2009 led to widespread 
protests (pictured) and resulted
in declining visa rates.
 

International education provider Navitas has said tightened Australia visa requirements can be blamed for a declining trend in international students heading to the country to study.

"I think a large part of [the decrease is] driven principally by the changes in the regulatory environment which means that the opportunities for students to come and study in number of our key markets has been reduced substantially," said Navitas chief executive Rod Jones.

Australia's multi-billion dollar international education industry is a world leader but has struggled to recover since several high profile attacks on Indian students in 2009.

The industry was worth as much as AU$18 billion (£12 billion) a year to the Australian economy but Mr Jones says declining application rates and a rising Australian dollar have seen that value fall to AU$12 billion (£8 billion).

A drop in student numbers has been common knowledge in Australia for some time and the government has taken steps to address the decline.

A series of adjustments to application processes known as the Knight reforms were introduced earlier this year and Mr Jones says the industry could now begin to recover.

"There's no doubt the market has bottomed [out] in terms of student numbers and we are clearly seeing, as I think are most parts of the industry, a return of students back to Australia.

"We'll expect to start growing from here."

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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.

Australia Immigration - Asylum Seeker Update - 03 August, 2012

by Dominic 03/08/2012 16:06:00
With the Australian parliament on its winter break for another two weeks, asylum seekers have been arriving in Australian waters in even greater numbers. The record number of monthly arrivals was broken in June, and then again in July. The total in 2012 surpassed the previous annual record in just seven months and recently topped 7,000 arrivals, not including crew members.

The debate has been raging on for months with politicians, charities, oppositions and the public all calling for their own brand of solution to the issue. With the political deadlock not looking likely to lift any time soon however, whether a suitable deterrent presents itself is another issue.

Former Australian immigration official recommends closing door to asylum seekers

Former First Assistant Secretary Des Storer has said Australian immigration policy is contradictory and encourages asylum seekers...read more.

Government denies Australian immigration deal with Indonesia

The government has moved to play down recent reports that Indonesian and Australian immigration authorities were close to signing a deal which would allow Australia to patrol Indonesian waters in search of asylum seeking boats without permission...read more.

People smuggler’s Australia visa cancelled

The government has confirmed that alleged people smuggler Ali Al Abassi, also known as 'Captain Emad', has had his Australia visa cancelled...read more.

Australia immigration situation runs risk of creating asylum seeker underclass

With asylum seeker numbers currently at unprecedented levels, the level of benefits provided to them combined with increasingly overcrowded facilities is at risk of creating a new lower class of impoverished people...read more.




Former Australian immigration official recommends closing door to asylum seekers

Former First Assistant Secretary
Des Storer says asylum seekers
should be given a choice as to
where they're sent.

Former First Assistant Secretary Des Storer has said Australian immigration policy is contradictory and encourages asylum seekers.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has established an expert panel headed by former Defence Chief Angus Houston to find a solution to the ongoing asylum seeking issue after politicians failed to do so.

Under current legislation, new arrivals' claims for refugee status are assessed and if they are approved they can begin the process of obtaining a visa which would allow them to remain in Australia.

The PM's panel has since stopped hearing arguments but Mr Storer has reportedly said the only effective method to deterring asylum seekers would be to prevent asylum seekers arriving by boat from applying for an Australia visa.

"This can be done by excising Australia for the purposes of migration. This would mean that all unauthorised arrivals are detained," he said.

The former assistant secretary, who is now an adjunct professor at Monash University, said asylum seekers arriving in Australia should be given the option of returning to Indonesia, which is where most boats depart from, returning to their home countries or being set to a refugee camp of their own choice.

"If you really want to stop the boats and protect people's lives, that is the best way."

Mr Storer claims his proposal would save enough money to almost double Australia's refugee intake to 25,000, would not be in violation of the country's refugee obligations and would be satisfactory to all parties. 

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Government denies Australian immigration deal with Indonesia

A deal which would allow Australian
patrols in Indonesian waters is still
being negotiated, despite reports
to the contrary.

The government has moved to play down recent reports that Indonesian and Australian immigration authorities were close to signing a deal which would allow Australia to patrol Indonesian waters in search of asylum seeking boats without permission.

With record numbers of asylum seeking boats making the risky journey between the two countries, it was reported that Australia was set to be given permission to begin search and rescue operations without risk of confrontation in an effort to avoid more disasters like the ones which saw 94 people drown in June.

Indonesian Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said on Wednesday that he expected a deal to be signed as early as September but a spokesperson for Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare has quelled the reports, saying the proposal 'has not been put formally to the government and has not been under consideration to date'.

Any agreement is likely to be reported as just a stop gap while the government continues to find a suitable deterrent to preventing asylum seekers attempting the journey at all. The last deterrent in place, the previous Howard-government's Pacific Solution was abandoned upon the Labor Party taking government; their own deterrent proposals, the East Timor Solution and the Malaysia Solution have failed to support.

The Malaysia Solution was struck down in the High Court last year and boat arrivals have since reached record levels just over halfway through the year while no deterrent is in place.

Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott has criticised the deal and once again reiterated his assertion that his party's policies, which would involve reinstating many parts of the Pacific Solution and include escorting asylum seeking boats out of Australian waters, is the only real deterrent available.

"We've had the East Timor Solution, the Malaysia Solution, now we've got the ostrich solution where Julia Gillard sticks her head in the sand and the boats just keep coming and coming and coming," said Mr Abbott.

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People smuggler’s Australia visa cancelled

Captain Emad fled Australia after
Four Corners confronted him over
alleged people smuggling activities.

The government has confirmed that alleged people smuggler Ali Al Abassi, also known as 'Captain Emad', has had his Australia visa cancelled.

Investigative journalist TV show Four Corners made the allegations in June when they confronted the Iraqi national at his job as a supermarket worker. The man fled the country the day after the program aired but it has taken almost two months for the government to cancel the man's visa.

"The decision has taken effect," said Immigration Minister Chris Bowen who said his department had conducted an extensive investigation. "Mr Al Abassi no longer has a visa to return to Australia."

Four Corners alleged Captain Emad set up a people smuggling ring in Canberra after entering Australia in 2010 as a refugee. When confronted the man refused to comment and promptly left the country, despite being in Australia legally.

"My department has undertaken domestic and international investigations into his case and, on the basis of this further information, I have decided to cancel Mr Al Abassi's visa while he is still offshore under Section 128 of the Migration Act," said Mr Bowen.

Australia is keen to clamp down on people smuggling in the midst of record levels of asylum seeker arrivals by boat but opposition immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison said the decision was an empty gesture, effectively 'shutting the gate after the horse has bolted'.

"Minister Bowen's cancellation of Captain Emad's cold case visa, two months after he left the country, will hardly have people-smugglers shaking in their boots," said Mr Morrison.

"Captain Emad is likely to be sitting in one of his perfume shops overseas, counting the money he has made from his people-smuggling operations and laughing at how much of a fool he has made our government and Minister Bowen in particular."

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Australia immigration situation runs risk of creating asylum seeker underclass

Australia may have to contend with
a new underclass of struggling
migrants.

With asylum seeker numbers currently at unprecedented levels, the level of benefits provided to them combined with increasingly overcrowded facilities is at risk of creating a new lower class of impoverished people.

Australian immigration policy dictates that all 'irregular maritime arrivals' - asylum seekers arriving by boat - are detained. Their claims for refugee status are assessed and then, if successful, they are eligible to be released into community detention on an Australian visa program known as bridging visas.

In community detention, asylum seekers are entitled to six weeks accommodation provided by the Red Cross, basic health care and the ability to work. However, bridging visa holders are not entitled to any employment associated state benefits, are not provided with English language programs and are expected to have found alternative accommodation on their own after the initial six weeks.

With care for often very vulnerable asylum seekers almost entirely dependent on charitable donations and the consecutive months of record arrivals of asylum seeking boats, detention centres are reaching capacity and forcing the government to release more people out into community detention.

Almost 3,200 asylum seekers have been released into community detention in the past eight months alone and with little or no language skills, limited access to state benefits or assistance and expected to survive on AU$31 (£21) a day, many have been forced to sleep in overcrowded hostels or boarding houses.

Jana Favero of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne says not enough is being done to ensure new arrivals are capable of establishing themselves in the country.

"We have a waiting list for the first time in 11 years of people needing assistance," said Ms Favero.

The Australian government is desperately in need of a solution to the ongoing asylum seeker issue but with a minority government needing opposition assistance and all parties refusing to compromise their position, the issue may continue to spiral when the parliament reconvenes this month.

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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 - 03 August, 2012

by Dominic 03/08/2012 10:39:00
Child Palestinian refugees get UK visa to visit Olympics

Ten Palestinian children from the notorious Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon have arrived in the country after finally being granted a UK visa at the 11th hour...read more.

Tory MP bemoans UK immigration policy after failed citizen's arrest

Conservative MP Stewart Jackson has voiced his frustration with UK immigration policy after being assaulted by an immigrant while he tried to perform a citizen's arrest...read more.

UK visa rejection leads to Paralympian heartbreak

A nine-year-old Vietnamese boy's hopes of seeing his uncle compete in the Paralympic Games this month have been ruined after his UK visa application was rejected...read more.




Child Palestinian refugees get UK visa to visit Olympics

The children received permission
to travel to the UK at the last
minute.

Ten Palestinian children from the notorious Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon have arrived in the country after finally being granted a UK visa at the 11th hour.

Children from the camp visit the Shatila Theatre Trust in North Tyneside every year but this year's trip was put in jeopardy after being informed their UK visa applications had been rejected by the British Embassy in Beirut just days before their trip.

After contacting Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell, the applications were reviewed and approved but the trip was put in fresh jeopardy after it was revealed the visas would only be valid the day after they arrived in the country.

After paying £9,000 for the flights for the 12 and 13-year-olds, it looked as though the trip would have to be cancelled or the charity would have to pay for more flights which, during the peak time of the Olympic Games, would either be impossible or too expensive.

"It wasn't something we had budgeted for and I feel very angry because it's not our fault, it's the British Embassy and the [UK] Border Agency, but it's us that had to pay," said Peter Mortimer, the charity's founder.

The matter was resolved when the charity was able to change the flights by paying a re-booking fee of £1,500. The children have since arrived in Tyneside but Mr Mortimer says the matter is not over.

"I will take this up when [the children leave], we don't have this kind of money, we are a charity."

The children's teacher, Mariam Najem, who accompanied the group along with two others said the trip had never before been an issue but the situation could have been resolved much easier if they had been informed earlier.

"We have never had problems with visas before, we didn't expect it, and there was no time to apply again," said Ms Najem.

"When we finally got them it was very difficult to find flights, we had to be at the airport and 2pm and we only found out we had got the last seat at noon so we just had to get ready and go."

During their trip, the children watched an Olympic football match between Brazil and New Zealand at Newcastle's St James Park and they will also be creating art projects which will be installed at Tynemouth Station.

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Tory MP bemoans UK immigration policy after failed citizen's arrest

Mr Jackson says uncontrolled UK
immigration rates result in people
drinking in town centres.
 

Conservative MP Stewart Jackson has voiced his frustration with UK immigration policy after being assaulted by an immigrant while he tried to perform a citizen's arrest.

While out shopping with his family in his constituency of Peterborough, Mr Jackson attempt to apprehend a man he saw vandalising a bus shelter. After grappling with the man, he was kicked in the chest and the man escaped. Mr Jackson says he does not regret his actions despite failing to apprehend the man and injuring himself but says failed UK immigration policies are to blame.

"I don't regret it, ultimately you can't just walk by and watch somebody destroying public property, not just my constituency but my home as well," said the MP, adding that the man was drunk. "Not only did he smash a bottle into a bus shelter, he kicked the glass through onto pensioners and shoppers."

Mr Jackson said that while the problem also resulted from 'too much imbibing of alcohol to the extreme in the city', uncontrolled immigration, particularly from Eastern Europe, was resulting in thousands of people entering the country without work who were turning to alcohol.

"While it's not exclusively eastern Europeans, there are a large number of eastern European people who like to get drunk."

The Peterborough MP said the free movement directive within the EU limited the Government's ability to prevent large numbers of people from needlessly entering the country.

"The free movement directive connects to this, because we've had 20,000 people come to the city from Eastern European countries."

Mr Jackson said such levels of immigration were 'fine and dandy if you're getting the funding to deal with that issue' but in a city with precious few industries to speak of, an influx of people unable to find work presents too much of a burden.

"We've had the proper funding to deal with that, but we're at the centre of the food processing and logistics industries in Peterborough, generally low or intermediate skill work."

The UK has experienced unprecedented levels of European immigration since eight countries including Poland and Romania acceded to the EU in 2004; the Labour Party recently admitted they got UK immigration policy wrong during their time in government.

The current coalition Government have promised to bring net migration to the UK down from current levels of approximately 250,000 to the ‘tens of thousands’ by the end of the current parliament but Mr Jackson says the level of immigration should be secondary to the quality.

"It seems to be bizarre that we're turning away people from India and Singapore with degrees in IT which could grow a business, at the same time we completely fail to restrict access to European migrants with few or no skills.

"That's the crazy immigration system that we've got."

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UK visa rejection leads to Paralympian heartbreak

Daniel Munro will not be able to
watch his uncle compete at the
Paralympic Games in London.

A nine-year-old Vietnamese boy's hopes of seeing his uncle compete in the Paralympic Games this month have been ruined after his UK visa application was rejected.

Daniel Munro had been hoping to see his uncle, John Munro, compete as a member of TeamGB in the sitting volleyball competition which starts on 30 August but his UK visa application reportedly failed to convince UK immigration authorities that he did not present a risk of becoming a burden on state benefits.

Daniel and his mother, Anne, were intending to stay with Mr Munro in London and a family friend, Reverend John Taylor, for a month but has had to cancel the trip after the UK Border Agency (UKBA) said they were 'not satisfied' that Daniel would be 'maintained and accommodated adequately by relatives or friends, or that you can meet the cost of the return journey'.

Daniel's family was informed of the decision only after Ms Munro had paid £1,800 on flights. Ms Munro, who has an Australian passport but lives in Vietnam with her son, was granted entry into the country.

"It's a total nonsense, I don't know what these officials are thinking," said Reverend Taylor. "She is quite annoyed about it, because it doesn't make any sense and it is costing her a lot of money.

"They refused on the grounds that Daniel could be dependent on the benefits system, despite John sending all his bank statements and letters from me to prove that we would support him."

Ms Munro expressed her disappointment that Daniel would not be able to see his uncle compete but said the British visa system should be better equipped to deal with such instances.

"I am not angry about the refusal of the visa for my son if extra evidence is required. However, I am angry with the system," she said.

"Visa applications should not be processed until all the documents have been checked and the applicant should be told of all necessary requirements."

A UKBA spokesperson said the Munro family could appeal the decision which they would 'aim to consider within three weeks'. 

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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.

Canadian Immigration Update - 2 August, 2012

by Dominic 02/08/2012 10:37:00
Crackdown on Canada visa abuse

The government has announced its intention to toughen Canada visa restrictions for international students in order to combat reported abuse of the system...read more.

Public asked for input in Canadian immigration initiative

Canadian immigration officials have launched an online campaign aimed at allowing members of the public to offer their opinion on Canada's federal Immigration Investor Program...read more.

Minister scrutinised over Conrad Black's Canada visa

A coalition of 80 Canadian immigration lawyers have written to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney demanding to know his level of involvement in the decision to grant disgraced former media mogul Conrad Black a Canada visa...read more.




Crackdown on Canada visa abuse

The government wants to make
sure foreign students are using
their Canada visa to study.

The government has announced its intention to toughen Canada visa restrictions for international students in order to combat reported abuse of the system.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said he had heard anecdotal reports of foreign citizens entering the country on a legally obtained Canada visa ostensibly to attend one of the country's colleges or universities and were either purposely seeking employment instead of studying, or were being exploited into the sex industry.

The immigration minister last month prevented foreign citizens in the adult entertainment industry from applying for a visa and was warned at the time that this would only push more people into attempting to enter the country illegally.

"This is a loophole being allegedly used by some criminal operations to bring potentially vulnerable young women to Canada to face exploitation," said Mr Kenney.

"We don't have much in the way of hard data on this. It's a concern that has been raised and I think it's a legitimate one and we think this underscores the need for us to better police the program."

The UK has notoriously suffered from abuse of its student visa system and the debate whether to include student figures as part of net migration figures still rages on. However, despite being a world leader in the international education industry alongside the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand, Canada is the only country which has no checking process in place to check applicants' authenticity.

Foreign citizens claiming they are entering Canada to study and finding work instead damages the country's international reputation and its billion-dollar international education industry while undermining migrants who enter Canada through the proper immigration channels.

Mr Kenney has said he is proposing provinces submit lists of education institutions within their jurisdictions which have credible histories of welcoming bona fide international students and barring others from accepting international students.

"Our broader concern is to ensure the integrity of the student visas that we issue."

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Public asked for input in Canadian immigration initiative

Canada is asking for public input
on how best immigration can
benefit the public.

Canadian immigration officials have launched an online campaign aimed at allowing members of the public to offer their opinion on Canada's federal Immigration Investor Program.

The Immigration Investor Program allows foreign entrepreneurs to obtain a Canada visa if they can prove they have business experience, have a net worth of at least CA$1.6 million (£1 million) and are willing to invest CA$800,000 (£510,000) in the Canadian economy.

Many countries around the world have immigration schemes targeted at wealthy investors and many often prove controversial as they are seen as allowing wealthy people to essentially buy their way into a country while everyone else follows regular channels.

However, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says he is asking for public opinion on how to set the program's requirements to best benefit the country's economy, and therefore public.

“We can no longer be a passive player in the global competition for talent and investment. That is why we need to review our immigration programs to create dynamic opportunities that enable immigrants’ investments to directly benefit the Canadian economy,” Mr Kenney said in a statement.

One change to policy reportedly being considered is requiring the CA$800,000 investment to be much more active rather than the interest free loan which is permitted under current legislation.

Applications for the program are currently suspended while the government reassesses the criteria and attempts to deal with a backlog of visa applications in all programs. Suggestions are being heard until September and the program is expected to begin taking applications again at the start of 2013.

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Minister scrutinised over Conrad Black's Canada visa

Lord Black has now returned to
Canada on a temporary
residency permit.

A coalition of 80 Canadian immigration lawyers have written to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney demanding to know his level of involvement in the decision to grant disgraced former media mogul Conrad Black a Canada visa.

Conrad Black, who was born in Canada, was forced to renounce his citizenship upon taking a peerage in the British House of Lords. Lord Black was then charged in the US with fraud and obstruction of justice for his alleged part in a US$60 million (£38.6 million) scheme centred on Hollinger International, the media company he controlled.

Lord Black was sentenced to 42 months in an American prison for his part of the scheme; he was released in May of this year.

Where he intended to return however proved highly contentious; with his wife and family in Toronto, he announced his intention to return to his country of birth but needed a Canada visa to do so, an unlikely prospect given his criminal record.

Lord Black was granted a temporary residency permit just days before his release and despite insistences from Minister Kenney that he took no part in the decision, a group of immigration lawyers claim Lord Black's application would never have been accepted without political interference.

The lawyers wrote their letter after Mr Kenney's office attempt to have one Toronto-based lawyer censured for publicly expressing his doubt that Mr Kenney did not intervene in Lord Black's application.

The letter claims the group find Mr Kenney's assurance that Lord Black's case was processed 'without any input from yourself' was 'not credible' and challenged Mr Kenney to 'report us to the Law Society' if 'you believe our statement violates the Law Society of Upper Canada rules'.

The immigration minister's office dismissed the letter.

"If the lawyers who signed this letter think it is acceptable for a lawyer to accuse a public office holder of interference without a shred of evidence, and with all evidence to the contrary, then, with due respect, they have a warped sense of professionalism and legal ethics," said a spokesperson for the minister. 

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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the Canadian 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.

New Zealand Immigration Update - 01 August, 2012

by Dominic 01/08/2012 11:23:00
Christchurch set to benefit from New Zealand immigration

As Christchurch continues its recovery from the earthquake which devastated the city and cost 185 people their lives, New Zealand immigration looks set to propel the country's second largest city to its most ethnically diverse...read more.

New Zealand visa reprieve for Tongan testimony

Victims of New Zealand visa scam targeted at Tongans living illegally in the country have been urged to come forward to help prosecute the scams' perpetrators...read more.

New Zealand immigration makes Auckland cultural diversity capital

A recent New Zealand immigration study revealed that as many as two in five residents in Auckland were born overseas, making the country's largest city one of the most multicultural cities in the world...read more.




Christchurch set to benefit from New Zealand immigration

Christchurch looks set to
prosper thanks to New
Zealand immigration.

As Christchurch continues its recovery from the earthquake which devastated the city and cost 185 people their lives, New Zealand immigration looks set to propel the country's second largest city to its most ethnically diverse.

A significant proportion left the city following the events of February 2011 but slowly and surely people have begun to return. And in order to make up for those that have left, New Zealand immigration has supplied scores of construction workers to assist with the rebuild operation, and many of them will be looking to stay as the operation finishes in the next 18 months.

Auckland, currently the largest and most diverse city in New Zealand, has a population of 1.5 million, 40% of which were born overseas. While Christchurch's population is made up of just 20% foreign-born residents, below the national average of 23%; studies predict that is about to change.

"The proportion of ethnic groups in the city will rise quite rapidly and quite fast," said Professor Paul Spoonley of Massey University. "It's going to change the cultural mix and transform the community."

An estimated 26,000 construction workers are set to arrive in Christchurch over the next 18 months, along with another 12,000 strong secondary wave of shop owners, restaurants etc.

Professor Spoonley said Christchurch might not be prepared for such a change but would need to welcome new arrivals to ensure the successful revival of the city.

"Christchurch is going to need to rebuild in a social sense as well as a physical sense. You need champions for the rebuild, you need champions for worker recruitment and I think you will need champions for making Christchurch a welcoming city.

"The people of Christchurch have got to understand that there are going to be very different faces on the streets soon. It's going to be a very different city in a few years and it is important they adjust to that."

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New Zealand visa reprieve for Tongan testimony

Tongans have been assured they
won't face deportation if they
help authorities catch the
scams' perpetrators.

Victims of New Zealand visa scam targeted at Tongans living illegally in the country have been urged to come forward to help prosecute the scams' perpetrators.

Reports of unscrupulous or sham immigration advisers purportedly offering to obtain a New Zealand visa for Tongan citizens living illegally in New Zealand are rife but authorities have struggled to gain assistance from victims through fear of being deported.

Immigration scams targeting vulnerable people are common around the world as illegal residents are typically desperate for a route to legal residency or citizenship yet are reluctant to go to the authorities once they have been scammed through fear of being deported.

In order to help tackle such schemes, New Zealand immigration authorities have promised not to take action on any Tongans who come forward with information about the schemes regardless of their immigration status.

"We actually got an assurance from the investigating police detective and also immigration department that those people who were victims of this scam would be able to come in and puck up their passports without any recourse in regard to their situation of being an overstayer," said Will Ilolahia, a New Zealand-Tonga community activist.

"We're trying to encourage our people that by being straight up with this that might help them in their own situation.

"Every community has their crooks but for me this is just not on. It's preying on the desperation of these people who are just trying to get a good life."

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New Zealand immigration makes Auckland cultural diversity capital

Auckland is one of the most
culturally diverse cities in the
world.

A recent New Zealand immigration study revealed that as many as two in five residents in Auckland were born overseas, making the country's largest city one of the most multicultural cities in the world.

The report places Auckland alongside other major world cities such as New York City, London and Toronto as welcoming to people of all nationalities and will be extremely beneficial to New Zealand's international reputation.

As the world's most isolated country, New Zealand immigration did little for the country's population and diversity; government policy typically placed higher preference on people of British or Dutch origin which resulted in a predominantly West European and Maori population.

However, in the past two decades, New Zealand visa and immigration policy has become much more welcoming to people of all nationalities and the country's cities now present a much more varied and diverse face to the world.

The national average of 23% foreign born is relatively high compared to the rest of the world but Auckland's 40% average makes it a genuine world leader in diversity and as other major world cities with broad ethnic spectrums have shown, a multicultural population fuels a city's influence on culture, industry and politics.

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- 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.