HLG Weekly Newsletter

Jan 23,2017
United States

1. Gregory Krieg, “Trump Hints at European Immigration Restrictions”, CNN, January 15, 2017


  • President-elect Donald Trump in an interview suggested that his pledge to tighten immigration restrictions could be extended to European nations, according to a Bild transcript translated by CNN from German.
  • Asked why he thought the Brexit campaign was successful, Trump blamed loose borders and concerns about the effects of immigration. He also tied it to US security concerns.
  • Asked whom he trusted more, Merkel, a longtime US ally, or Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump called it a draw -- at least for now.

2. Martin Crutsinger, “IMF Boosts Growth Forecast for US, Cites Trump Impact”, Montreal Gazette, January 16, 2017


  • The new outlook puts U.S. economic growth at 2.3 per cent this year and 2.5 per cent in 2018. That would be an improvement from lacklustre U.S. growth around 1.6 per cent in 2016.
  • The new forecast represented a boost of 0.1 percentage point for 2017 compared to the IMF's last forecast released in October and an even bigger boost of 0.4 percentage point for 2018, reflecting an expectation that Trump's program will take time to be implemented.
  • While Trump's election victory boosted economic prospects in the United States, the impact has been uneven for the rest of the world. Some countries could see stronger growth from the increase in activity in the United States, the world's largest economy, but some emerging market countries may face challenges as global interest rates rise.

3. “DHS Publishes Final International Entrepreneur Rule”, USCIS, January 17, 2017


  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today published a final rule to improve the ability of certain promising start-up founders to begin growing their companies within the United States and help improve our nation’s economy through increased capital spending, innovation and job creation.
  • Under this final rule, DHS may use its "parole" authority to grant a period of authorized stay, on a case-by-case basis, to foreign entrepreneurs who demonstrate that their stay in the United States would provide a significant public benefit through the potential for rapid business growth and job creation. The new rule is effective July 17, 2017, which is 180 days after its publication in the Federal Register.
  • Under this final rule, eligibility may be extended to up to three entrepreneurs per start-up entity, as well as spouses and children. Entrepreneurs granted stays will be eligible to work only for their start-up business. Their spouses may apply for work authorization in the United States, but their children will not be eligible.

4. Paul Welitzkin, “EB-5 Requirements Could Change”, China Daily, January 17, 2017


  • Last week the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, published new proposed rules for the EB-5 immigrant visa. It calls for raising the minimum EB-5 investment amount from $500,000 to $1.35 million in a targeted employment area or high unemployment area. The rule would also increase the minimum investment amount to $1.8 million from $1 million in other areas.
  • In December the US House of Representatives and Senate passed a continuing resolution that funds the US government until April 28. It included a provision to continue EB-5 with the current minimums.
  • "By providing a much-needed increase in investment levels and by reining in abusive gerrymandering practices, these changes will help restore the program so it creates meaningful jobs in distressed and rural areas as Congress always intended," Senator Pat Leahy, who has been critical of EB-5, said in a statement on Jan 12.

5. Ai Heping, “Report: California is No 1 for Most EB-5 Investment”, China Daily, January 18, 2017


  • More than half of all investors who received green cards through the federal EB-5 investor program between 2009 and 2014 chose to live in California, according to the Department of Commerce. Between 2009 and 2014, more than 8,000 EB-5 investors and their family members resided in the state, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services data (USCIS), the report said.
  • The second-biggest EB-5 settlement area was New York, which had roughly 1,500 EB-5 residents during the same period. In addition to California and New York, the top five states where EB-5 investors and families resided were Florida, New Jersey and Washington.
  • By using EB-5 investment and job creation estimates over the two-year period of fiscal years 2012 and 2013, the report released on Jan 10 said there were 10,644 investors, total dollar value of investment was $16.4 billion and 169,759 jobs were expected from 134 projects in EB-5 regional centers.

6. Eric Bradner, “Trump to Begin Renegotiating NAFTA with Leaders of Mexico, Canada”, CNN, January 22, 2017


  • At a White House event Sunday, Trump said he had scheduled meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
  • "Anybody ever hear of NAFTA?" he said. "I ran a campaign somewhat based on NAFTA. But we're going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration, on security at the border."
  • Trump has also pledged to get Mexico to pay for a wall along the United States' southern border -- potentially, he has said, through tariffs. Imposing those border taxes now would violate NAFTA.

7. “Asia Drives Rise in 2016 World Tourism Numbers”, Deutsche Welle, January 17, 2017


  • The number of international tourists rose by four percent worldwide to 1.2 billion in 2016 as Asians travelled more, but security fears hit visitor arrivals in Europe, the World Tourism Organization (WTO) said Tuesday.
  • The number of people living in Asia and discovering both their own region and the rest of the world rose eight percent compared to 2015, the Madrid-based body said. The Asia-Pacific area, meanwhile, proved a popular destination - the second most visited region after Europe.

8. Melissa Lin, “ASEAN Tourism Campaign Aims to Grow International Arrivals to Region to 121 Million”, The Straits Times, January 18, 2017


  • The campaign called the Visit Asean@50 coincides with the 50th anniversary of Asean and will highlight the region's best 50 festivals and 50 most unforgettable travel experiences.
  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who launched the campaign at the opening of the five-day Asean Tourism Forum on Wednesday, said the aim is to grow international tourism arrivals to the region by 10 per cent to 121 million, spending to USD83 billion ($118 billion) and average length of stay from six to seven days by the end of the year.
  • The Asean Tourism Research Association will also be offering two post-graduate scholarship schemes, Mr Lee announced. Four universities in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia have pledged to offer scholarships to support the scheme.
Hong Kong

9. “Hong Kong Withdraws Visa-Free Facility for Indians”, Economic Times, January 21, 2017


  • "The Pre-arrival Registration for Indian Nationals will be implemented on January 23." the Hong Kong immigration department said in an announcement on its official website. "Indian nationals must apply for and successfully complete pre-arrival registration online before they can visit or transit the HKSAR visa-free (if seeking to enter the HKSAR during transit). Pre-arrival registration is not required for Indian nationals in direct transit by air and not leaving the airport transit area," it said.
  • A notice on the Indian Consulate in Hong Kong said Indian passport holders without the Pre-Arrival Registration Slip, except those belonging to any of the exempted categories, would not be allowed to board a conveyance bound for Hong Kong. A Pre-Arrival Registration is normally valid for a six month period or until the expiry date of the Indian passport linked to it, whichever is earlier.

10. “Japan Considering Launching Visa-Free Air Travel Between Hokkaido, Southern Kurils”, Sputnik News, January 16, 2017


  • It is planned to establish air travel to the Southern Kurils' islands of Kunashir and Iturup, since the travelling between the two islands is carried out only by sea, which is possible only from May to October during the shipping period, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held meetings in Nagato and Tokyo on December 15-16, 2016. During Putin’s visit, the two sides agreed to step up economic cooperation on the Kuril islands. Russian and Japanese companies also signed 68 documents on energy, investment, agriculture and visa facilitation.

11. “Japan Set to Fast-Track Permanent Residency for Skilled Foreign Professionals”, The Japan Times, January 18, 2017


  • The Justice Ministry is moving to ease requirements for the permanent residency for highly skilled foreign professionals such as researchers in cutting-edge fields by the end of March, sources said Tuesday. The ministry specifically plans to allow such foreign nationals to acquire permanent resident status as soon as a year, after hearing public comments from Wednesday, they said.
  • The envisaged system change will give workers assigned at least 70 points the permanent resident status in three years, and one year for those with 80 points or more, the sources said.
  • A total of 6,298 foreign nationals were certified as highly skilled professionals as of the end of October last year. Of them, about one-third are expected to be able to gain the status in a year under the new system, according to the ministry.

12. “The Malaysian Passport Now Holds 5th Position in International Ranking”, Malaysian Digest, January 18, 2017


  • Malaysia had a score of 153, which puts it in the fifth group slot with Ireland, Canada, and New Zealand in the 2017 Passport [Index].
  • The World Economic Forum had put Malaysia on the eighth spot last year and this index ranked passports according to countries that can be visited without applying for a visa. Singapore and Malaysia are the only two nations in Asean to have user-friendly passports from this region with regard to visa-free or visa-on-arrival entries, based on the latest index.

13. Fairuz Mohd Shahar, “Malaysia Targets 200,000 Foreign Students by 2020, Sees Education as Main Revenue Contributor”, New Straits Times, January 19, 2017


  • Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this today, adding that government is targeting to host 200,000 foreign students here by 2020.
  • He also pointed out that public safety remains high priority and that all foreign students who wish to further their studies in Malaysia would need to undergo several academic and safety screenings to ensure they are competent and qualified to study in the country.

14. “Zahid: No Concession for Indians to Get Citizenship”, Free Malaysia Today, January 20, 2017


  • No flexibility will be given to the Indian community in this country who are not citizens to obtain the identity card, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
  • According to Zahid, who is also the home minister, he would find a solution and handle the documentation problem that not only affected the Indian community, but also the Chinese, Kadazan, Dusun, Murut and Iban communities.

15. Samhati Bhattacharjya, “Singapore Passport is the World’s Second Most Powerful: Check World Top Ten Index”, International Business Times, January 16, 2017


  • Singapore passport is the world's second most "powerful", according to the 2017 Passport Index put together by global financial advisory firm Arton Capital.
  • According to a press release from Arton Capital, Singapore overtook South Korea to become the highest-ranked Asian passport.
  • Last year in February, the 2016 Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index ranked Singapore at the fifth place, with unrestricted access to 173 countries out of 219 countries. Germany came up tops in Henley & Partners' 2016 index as well.

16. “Thai Arrivals to Taiwan Forecast to Hit 360,000 in 2017”, Focus Taiwan, January 20, 2017


  • Taiwan's visa-free treatment of Thai nationals has stirred up interest and could nearly double Thai visitor arrivals in Taiwan to around 360,000 in 2017, the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) said Friday.
  • At a conference held by the TTAA in Bangkok on Friday to encourage Thai travel agencies to organize tours to Taiwan, about 120 travel agencies showed up, 20 more than expected. Only 50 to 60 companies typically attended similar conferences in the past, the TTAA said.
  • Citizens of Thailand and Brunei have been allowed to visit Taiwan without a visa under the one-year trial program as part of Taiwan's "new southbound policy" that seeks to strengthen Taiwan's relations with Southeast Asia.

17. Nanat Suchiva, “Visa Incentives May Last Longer”, Bangkok Post, January 21, 2017


  • The Tourism and Sports Ministry will propose to the cabinet next Tuesday to extend visa incentives for at least another three months in a bid to lure more foreign tourists and drive the industry during the low season.
  • The cabinet last year waived visa fees and halved the visa-on-arrival fee to 1,000 baht for tourists from 19 countries from Dec 1, 2016 to Feb 28, 2017. This special visa scheme benefits visitors from Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
  • [Minister Kobkarn Wattanawrangkul] said the visa scheme has increased foreign tourist arrivals since December. Last year there were 32.6 million arrivals in Thailand. During Jan 1-20, Thailand welcomed 1.8 million international tourists, up 6% year-on-year.
United Arab Emirates

18. “UAE Ranked as GCC’s ‘Most Powerful’ Passport”, Arabian Business, January 15, 2017


  • The UAE has the most powerful passport in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, allowing visa-free travel to 122 countries, according to the Passport Index 2017, a global ranking of the world’s passports.
  • The index, released by Arton Capital, a global advisory for residence and citizenship solutions, puts Kuwait on the second place with a visa-free score of 81 followed by Qatar at 77, Bahrain at 72, Oman at 69 and Saudi Arabia at 66.
  • The Visa Restrictions Index 2016, released by Henley & Partners in February last year, said the UAE nationals have visa-free access to 122 countries.

19. “UAE Citizens No Longer Need Pre-Entry Visas for Costa Rica”, Gulf Business, January 17, 2017


  • The two countries signed a protocol granting mutual exemption from pre-entry visas for holders of ordinary and special mission passports, official news agency WAM reported. The protocol amends an existing agreement, which already exempts holders of diplomatic and special passports from the pre-entry visa requirements for both the UAE and Costa Rica.
  • The amendment was signed by UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Manuel Gonzalez Sanz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Costa Rica.

20. “Visa-Free Regime to be Established Between Armenia and UAE”, ArmenPress, January 19, 2017


  • Armenia’s Government approved the proposal on signing an agreement with the United Arab Emirates over the elimination of visa regime. “This program aims to boost tourism and the business cooperation”, Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan said at the Government session.
  • During the Government’s previous session, a decision was made to open Armenia’s Consulate in Dubai.

21. Brenda McGregor, “France Aims to Attract Entrepreneurs, Engineers, and Investors with French Tech Visa”, French Tribune, January 18, 2017


  • The French Tech Visa program aims to attract investors and new companies. The visa will be valid for four years and will be renewable at end of the term. For people eligible for French Tech Visa, no work permit will be required. Additionally, the French government will fast track the process for some of the applicants.
  • The visa can be acquired under three different categories. The categories are for entrepreneurs who plan to setup a business in France. Another category under French Tech Visa for Founders for which people can contact their local French consulate for more information. The third category will be via French Accelerators and Start-Up Competitions.

22. Federico Guerrini, “Portugal is Working on a Startup Visa for Indian Entrepreneurs”, Forbes, January 17, 2017


  • During a high profile meeting with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi held last Saturday in New Delhi and the "India X Portugal" startup event which took place two days later in Bangalore, Portugal's PM Antonio Costa and Secretary of State of Industry João Vasconcelos said they were going to speed up the visa application process for Indian entrepreneurs wishing to launch their startup in Portugal, with the creation of a so-called "Startup Visa".
  • In 2009, the country introduced the so-called non-habitual residents' taxation regime to attract foreign capital (which enables, under certain conditions, those who become tax resident in Portugal to pay only 20 percent of taxes for five years), and three years later the so-called Golden Visa, a fast-track scheme to enable entrepreneurs coming from outside the Schengen area to stay in the country.
United Kingdom

23. George Parker & Helen Warrell, “Work Permits at Heart of UK’s Brexit Immigration Control Plan”, Financial Times, January 16, 2017


  • Senior government officials expect the prime minister to decide on a system based on work permits and new automated security checks — similar to the US visa-waiver programme — for EU citizens travelling to Britain.
  • Pro-Brexit politicians want an end to free movement and the introduction of a work permit system, with the government having the power to decide how many EU citizens would be allowed into Britain each year to take up a job offer. They also want restrictions on welfare payments.
  • Home Office officials are also working on the idea of an electronic visa-waiver scheme for EU citizens visiting Britain — similar to the US Electronic System for Travel Authorisation, or Esta — to allow for pre-travel security screening.

24. Tara John, “Theresa May Sets Britain on Course for a Hard Brexit”, TIME, January 17, 2017


  • U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has outlined her vision for a U.K. outside the European Union, confirming that Britain will leave the bloc’s single market in order to regain full control of immigration.
  • In a wide-ranging speech, May also said that the U.K. would seek: A new customs relationship that would allow Britain to negotiate trade deals around the world, but have “frictionless” cross-border trade.; A “phased implementation process” at the end of the two-year period of negotiations, rather than a lengthy transitional deal; no more unrestricted immigration from the E.U.
  • “To be clear, what I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market,” she said. “Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out.”

25. Caroline Mortimer, “Two Countries Have Already Told the UK They Must Relax Immigration Rules if They Want Free Trade”, The Independent, January 22, 2017


  • Australia's high commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer, has echoed India’s calls for Theresa May to relax rules on visa restrictions on its citizens if she wants to form a lasting trading partnership outside the EU.
  • “We would want to see greater access for Australian businesspeople working in the UK and that’s often been a part of free-trade negotiations – it hasn’t always been by the way, but it’s often been part of our free-trade negotiations," he added.
  • “Mobility issues are of importance to us; we cannot separate free movement of people from the free flow of goods, services and investments”, a senior Indian official said. Ms May has made India - one of the fastest growing economies in the world - the centrepiece of her post-Brexit trade plans. It was the first country she visited after becoming Prime Minister.

26. Michael Koziol, “’World First’: Government Moves to Radically Overhaul Australia’s International Airports”, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 22, 2017


  • Passengers will be processed by biometric recognition of the face, iris and/or fingerprints, matched to existing data. By 2020 the government wants a system in place to process 90 per cent of travellers automatically, with no human involvement.
  • The Seamless Traveller project has been in train since 2015, with almost $100 million budgeted over five years, but the DIBP has only now embarked on the most ambitious aspect of the project, which it says will "transform the border experience".
  • The department wants to pilot the technology in July at Canberra Airport, which handles limited flights to Singapore and Wellington. It would be introduced at a major airport such as Sydney or Melbourne in November, with the rollout completed by March 2019.


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