visabureau.com > blogs > official blog

News, commentary & perspective from Visa Bureau

Randy Quaid denied Canadian visa

by Dominic 28/01/2013 14:59:00

Randy Quaid faces felony charges
should he return to the US.

Hollywood veteran Randy Quaid has been denied permanent residency in Canada after he tried to seek refuge there following a federal arrest warrant in his native US.

Mr Quad and his wife, Evi Quaid, fled to Canada last year after causing $5,000 (£3,200) of damage to a Californian home they were renting. American authorities refused to extradite the pair to face felony vandalism charges and so were permitted to remain in Canada.

However, the local authorities in Santa Barbara, California maintain that they will prosecute Mr Quaid and his wife should they return to the US.

The former Golden Globe winner petitioned to become a permanent resident of Canada late-last year but was refused as the actor does not have a passport.

Mr Quaid alleges he needs to stay in Canada to avoid 'Hollywood star-whackers' who have allegedly killed his friends David Carradine and Heath Ledger.

Celebrities taking up permanent residency in third countries has become newsworthy in recent months after French cinema star Gerard Depardieu was granted Russian residency by Vladimir Putin in order for the Frenchman to avoid paying the 75% tax rate.

However, it would appear Mr Quaid, who is the older brother of fellow Hollywood star Dennis Quaid, does not have enough clout with the Canadian immigration officials to warrant a special grant of permanent residency.

Mr Quaid, who is best known for his roles in screwball comedies such as National Lampoon's Vacation as well as a dramatic turn in Independence Day, has been granted leave to appeal the decision to the federal court.

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 citizenship test struggles

by Dominic 23/01/2013 14:47:00

Native Australian citizens perform
almost as badly on the Australian
citizenship test as Brits and Kiwis.

A recent report published in The Australian newspaper showed that New Zealanders and Britons struggled more than any other nationality in the Australian citizenship test. While this may have come as an embarrassment for Kiwis and Brits - traditionally Australia's closest cousins - a follow up report showed that Australians struggle too.

Foreign citizens living in the country on an Australia visa can apply for citizenship after they have fulfilled certain requirements such as length of time living the country. However, as part of the process an applicant must pass a citizenship test - a series of multiple choice questions on Australian history, culture and what it means to be an Australian.

The Australian government has been reluctant to release results publicly in the past but an application under the Freedom of Information Act by The Advertiser newspaper managed to wheedle the results from Australian immigration officials.

The results showed that Swedish citizens scored the highest, with an average score of over 98%. The Swedes were quickly followed by the Dutch (97.6%), the Finnish (97.5%) and the French and Swiss with 97.4% each.

British applicants however ranked 18th overall with a score of 95.6%. Even more embarrassing however are the Kiwis, who ranked among the least knowledgeable about their closest neighbours with a pitiful score of just 72.6%.

Adelaide University Associate Professor in history and politics Paul Sendziuk came to the Brits and Kiwis' defence by claiming that the two nationalities were too often taking Australia's close relationships with New Zealand and the UK for granted and doing little to prepare for the test.

"It is interesting that applicants from the UK, and particularly New Zealand, perform less well than those from similarly developed and wealthy countries," said Professor Sendziuk.

"It is possible that they do not study enough because they feel that they can rely on their background knowledge of Australia, which is a fair-enough assessment given the level of cultural exchange that already exists between Australia and these places.

"It is also possibly that they take the rest a bit lightly - knowing that they are likely to achieve a pass mark even without much study."

The results make for cringe worthy reading for British and Kiwi applicants but there was one nationality that wasn't assessed that perhaps has even more reason to be embarrassed: Australians.

In a follow up report in The Australian, the newspaper set out to find out how native Australian citizens would perform in the test. After polling almost 5,000 readers, it turned out that while most have a good grasp of Australian history and beliefs, just half had a decent understanding of the country's legal and judicial systems.

How much do you know about Australia? Click here to take a practice test, the answers can be found here.


- 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.

EU Referendum and UK immigration

by Dominic 23/01/2013 11:51:00

Prime Minister David Cameron
delivered his much anticipated
speech on the EU today.
 

David Cameron has promised a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union should the Conservatives win the next election, but what would that mean for UK immigration policy? And will it even happen?

In a long awaited speech - six months in the making - Prime Minister David Cameron has outlined his party's policy on putting the UK's membership of the European Union to the British public with a simple in/out referendum, should his party secure a majority at the next General Election. An event which would have a widespread on many aspects of British politics - particularly UK immigration policy. 

The referendum

"It is time for the British people to have their say," said the prime minister. "It is time to settle this European question in British politics. I say to the British people: this will be your decision."

Calls for a referendum on the UK's EU membership have been growing recently following cuts to public services and other harmful effects of the GFC. The prospect of Romania and Bulgaria acceding to the EU later this year has caused some to fear an influx of migrants and the rise of the UK Independence Party luring support from traditional Conservative Party supporters has increased pressure on the prime minister regarding a referendum.

Mr Cameron said that, should the Conservatives secure another term, a referendum would be held early in the next parliament; this is thought to be most likely before the end of 2017.

The prime minister said the decision for a referendum comes at a time when 'disillusionment' with the EU was 'at an all time high'.

"Simply asking the British people to carry on accepting a European settlement over which they have had little choice...is why I am in favour of a referendum. I believe in confronting this issue, shaping it, leading the debate. Not simply hoping a difficult situation will go away."

Despite promising the referendum, Mr Cameron said he would first attempt to renegotiate a unilateral agreement with the EU to change the UK's relationship with the single market and secure more autonomy over such policies as immigration.

Once a new arrangement had been concluded, only then will the referendum take place. The EU is certain to change as the global economy continues to settle following the Global Financial Crisis and Mr Cameron said it would be 'wrong to ask people whether to stay or go before we have had a chance to put the relationship right'.

Mr Cameron added that should the British public vote to remain part of the EU in any referendum, he would fight 'heart and soul' to remain part of the single market.

What would the UK's leaving the EU mean for UK immigration?

The UK's membership of the EU
has become a controversial issue.

Should the Conservatives win the next General Election and hold the referendum, the effect on UK immigration is likely to be incredibly affecting - particularly for those wanting to move to the UK from within the EU - but also for those already here.

Changes to the status of EU citizens who have used the Freedom of Movement directive to live and work in the UK would almost certainly lead to a surge in UK visa applications for those wanting to remain. With so many EU citizens already in the UK, this could result in an over burdening of the Home Office and potentially even lead to panic among those faced with being forced to leave the UK.

However, Marissa Murdock, casework manager at the UK Visa Bureau, says the timescales mentioned and the magnitude of the change would mean that any real effect would take several years to be felt.

"The decision to leave the EU would necessitate a large number of transitional measures being put in place to UK immigration policy and such large changes rarely take fewer than a matter of years," said Ms Murdock.

"A raft of new rules combined with the political uncertainty of such a change would mean most current UK residents would have sufficient time to apply for residency or Indefinite Leave to Remain [ILR] before any changes could take effect.

"While it would remain to be seen whether any changes would affect ILR or residency requirements, should this happen there could be significant backlash to those who had already obtained permission to remain in the country."

Will it even happen?

Mr Cameron has already said that he will seek to secure a new relationship with the EU before holding a referendum. While this prospect has already been derided by some, the larger question is whether the Conservative Party is even capable of securing the required majority in 2015.

According to the latest YouGov poll, Ed Miliband's Labour Party currently has an 11 point lead over the Conservative Party.

Lord Ashcroft, the influential Conservative peer, said it was time for the party's euro sceptics to 'declare victory and talk about something else'.

"The new policy will be in the manifesto. The only question is whether we get a chance to implement it," said Ashcroft.

"And that depends on whether we get a majority at the next election. And that depends on how voters think we are doing on the economy, jobs, public services, welfare, crime immigration: whether we are on their side and understand their priorities."


- 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.

Is immigration really the biggest issue facing the UK?

by Dominic 14/01/2013 13:25:00

One in three people surveyed
said UK immigration was the
biggest issue facing the
country.
 

A recent study by a leading think-tank has revealed that UK immigration is considered the biggest issue threatening the UK, but is it as bad as it seems?

The report, titled 'State of the Nation: Where is Bittersweet Britain Heading?' was written by the think-tank British Future and published in the Observer, claims that one in three Britons believe tensions between immigrants and those born in the UK is the most divisive issue in the country.

Public concern

Immigration was chosen by more people as the nation's biggest issue than the still flailing economy and the housing market's ongoing problems.

Net migration to the UK stood at record high levels until recently with over 250,000 more people entering the UK than leaving each year. Figures have since started to reduce after the Conservative-led coalition Government's changes continued to take their toll but it appears to have done little to dampen the public's concerns.

The study, which surveyed 2,515 people aged between 16 and 75, said respect for the law, for the freedom of speech of others and English language ability were the three most important traits for new immigrants to have.

Is it damaging?

The Labour Party has admitted in recent months that their government's actions which encouraged large amounts of immigration fostered negative attitudes toward those who criticised immigration rates.

However, while the British Future's report showed that the public was more concerned with immigration than any other single issue, it also showed that they country is tolerant towards immigrants, with almost 70% of those surveyed saying immigrants should be given access to the welfare state as long as they contribute to society and keep within the boundaries of the law.

Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said the report showed an anxiety regarding immigration at a national level but that this considerably reduced when respondents considered their local areas: just 19% reported immigration to be the most divisive around their own homes.

"People are obviously very anxious about immigration," said Mr Katwala. "But I was struck by how much higher it was as a national rather than a local tension.

"That to me suggest that managing local tensions is obviously very important, but it is probably not the answer entirely because people have this national-level concern.

"I think would be wrong to say that local concerns are real and national concerns are just driven by the media, but I think what is going on there is people asking: 'does the system work?' And I don't think anyone has any confidence as how it is managed as a system.

"Also there is a concern around national cohesion, identity and ability to cope with the scale of change."

Marissa Murdock, casework manager at the UK Visa Bureau, says the report proves that attitudes towards immigration and immigrants are not as caustic as some would have you believe.

"Expressing opinions on immigration levels has become thin ice for many people; those lamenting high levels are labelled xenophobic while those advocating the benefits of multiculturalism are blamed for economic troubles," said Ms Murdock.

"Yet the report shows that neither label is fair or accurate; the public's concern does not lie in issues with individual immigrants but the numbers of immigrants.

"As the Government continues to take measures to reduce net migration the public's welcoming attitude should become more evident."


- 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.

UK visa processing transferred to Croydon

by Dominic 02/01/2013 13:01:00

The UK Border Agency has announced that the processing of UK visa applications from many countries will now take place in Croydon, rather than individual international offices.

The UKBA has been plagued in recent months by reports of extensive backlogs and delays in processing applications, as well as poor exit controls. It is thoguht that by centralising all UK visa applications to one office, not only will such delays and lapses occur, but all applications will be processed by a single team, resulting in a much fairer and better balanced system.

The agency is releasing which countries will be affected the changes individually, so far the UKBA has included the following countries as eligible for visa processing in Croydon:

Croydon Processing 

  •  Passport holders of the following countries will have their UK visa applications processed in Croydon:
Denmark 
Estonia Finland
Iceland 
Norway  Sweden 

- 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.