HLG Weekly Newsletter

Feb 06,2017

1. “South Africa to Scrap Visas for Russian Tourists in Late February”, TASS, January 31, 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


2. Andrew Vaughan, “One-Third of Canada Could be Immigrants by 2036: StatsCan”, Macleans, January 25, 2017


  • The study suggest that the proportion of immigrants in Canada’s population could reach up to 30 per cent in 2036 — compared to 20.7 per cent in 2011 — and a further 20 per cent of the population would be the child of an immigrant, up from the 17.5 per cent recorded in 2011.
  • Researchers concluded more than half of the country’s immigrants will be of Asian origin within the next two decades with a corresponding decline in the number of European immigrants.

3. “Canadians Holding Dual Citizenship With Countries Targeted by Immigration Ban Can Still Enter U.S.”, National Post, January 28, 2017


  • The Trudeau government has received assurances that Canadian passport holders will not be caught up in an American travel ban that has barred citizens of seven countries from entering the United States.
  • “We have been assured that Canadian citizens travelling on Canadian passports will be dealt with in the usual process,” said the email from Kate Purchase, Trudeau’s director of communications. “[Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael] Flynn confirmed that holders of Canadian passports, including dual citizens, will not be affected by the ban,” Purchase said.

4. “U.S. Won’t Ban Canadian Permanent Residents, Immigration Minister Says”, CBC, January 30, 2017


  • Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said that the White House has given assurances that permanent residents of Canada can enter the U.S. provided they have a valid Canadian permanent resident card and passport from one of the seven affected countries.
  • The prime minister tweeted that the White House confirmed that dual citizens with a Canadian passport are also allowed into the U.S.

5. David Ljunggren & Alistair, “Canada to Offer Temporary Residency to Travelers Stranded by U.S.”, Global News, January 30, 2017


  • Canada will offer temporary residency to any travelers stranded by U.S. President Donald Trump‘s orders temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries, a senior official said on Sunday.
  • Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told a news conference he did not know how many people might be eligible but said only a handful of passengers headed to the United States from Canada had been denied boarding.

6. Josh Elliott, “Canada ‘Leading the Free World’ on Immigration: New York Times”, CTV News, February 5, 2017


  • In the article titled "Canada, Leading the Free World," U.S. journalist Nicholas Kristof praises Canada for its inviting immigration policy, at a time when "all around the world, countries are slamming the doors shut."
  • Kristof praises Canada's private sponsorship program, touts diversity at the highest levels of government, and suggests based on a poll that Canadians "now take more pride in multiculturalism than in hockey."
United States

7. Julia Edwards Ainsley, “Trump Moves Ahead on Mexico Border Wall, Targets U.S. ‘Sanctuary Cities’”, Reuters, January 25, 2017


  • Trump signed two executive orders during an appearance at the Department of Homeland Security, one on building a wall along the roughly 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) U.S.-Mexico border and the other to strip federal grant money from "sanctuary" states and cities, often governed by Democrats, that harbor illegal immigrants.
  • In an interview with ABC News, Trump said construction on the wall would start within months, with planning starting immediately, and that Mexico would pay back to the United States "100 percent" of the costs.

8. “Donald Trump: Green Card Holders Allowed to Re-Enter US as Immigration Ban Eased”, ABC News, January 30, 2017


  • "As far as green card holders going forward, it doesn't affect them," Mr Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus told NBC News. Mr Priebus added that these green card holders would be subjected to "more questioning" by US Customs and Border Patrol agents when they try to re-enter the US "until a better program is put in place over the next several months"
  • In a statement, Homeland Security secretary John Kelly also said he deemed the entry of lawful permanent residents "in the national interest". All green card holders who were detained at US airports had been admitted into the country by late Sunday (local time), a US official familiar with the process told Reuters.

9. Martha Bellisle, “Washington State Suing Trump Over Immigration Order”, ABC News, January 30, 2017


  • Washington state's attorney general said Monday he is suing President Donald Trump over an executive order that suspended immigration from seven countries with majority-Muslim populations and sparked nationwide protests. Attorney General Bob Ferguson became the first state attorney general to announce a legal action against the Trump administration over one of its policies.
  • Ferguson said the lawsuit against Trump and high-ranking Trump administration officials would be filed later Monday in federal court in Seattle. He said it would seek to have key provisions of the executive order declared unconstitutional. The lawsuit also seeks a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the executive order.

10. “Armenia-UAE Visa-Free Regime to Boost Tourism Between Two Countries – UAE Ambassador Says”, ArmenPress, January 31, 2017


  • Elimination of visa regime between Armenia and the United Arab Emirates will contribute to the development of tourism, trade, and economic relationships between the two countries, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Armenia Jassim Mohamed Al Qasemi told reporters, “Armenpress” reports.
  • TArmenia’s Government approved on January 19 the proposal on signing visa-free agreement with the UAE.

11. “Iran, Kazakhstan Agree on Visa-Free Trips”, Tasnim News Agency, January 25, 2017


  • Following talks between Director General of Consular Affairs of Iranian Foreign Ministry Ali Chegini and his Kazakh counterpart in Astana, the two sides agreed that Iranian and Kazakh tourists travelling in groups of 5 to 50 will not need a visa anymore.
  • They also agreed to grant merchants of the two countries visas with extended validity, enabling them to stay longer in the destination country without having to go through red-tape.
  • President Rouhani also unveiled plans then for direct flights between Tehran and Astana, saying Iran has made preparations for special customs services for Kazakhstan in border markets.

12. “Kuwait, Croatia Sign Visa Waiver Agreement”, Kuwait News Agency, February 5, 2017


  • Kuwait and Croatia on Sunday signed an agreement on mutual visa exemption, in the presence of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahamad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
  • The agreement applies to holders of diplomatic passports and as co-signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah and the Croatian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Kuwait Tomisalv Bosnjak.

13. “Kyrgyzstan Extends Visa-Free Stay for Qataris”, The Peninsula Qatar, February 1, 2017


  • An official source at the Department of Consular Affairs of the Foreign Ministry stated that the Government of Kyrgyzstan issued on December 19, 2016 a decision increasing the duration of exemption from entry visa for citizens of some states intending to visit Kyrgyzstan.
  • In a statement yesterday, the source said that the decision granted Qatari citizens up to 60 days during which they do not need to obtain entry visa to Kyrgyzstan.

14. “DPM: Visa-Free Entry into Malaysia for Indian Nationals Living Abroad”, Malay Mail Online, February 5, 2017


  • Indian nationals living outside India will now also enjoy visa-free travel to Malaysia for tourism, said Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. The Deputy Prime Minister said that it was appropriate that the Cabinet decision to provide the facility to tourists from India be extended to Indian nationals living outside the country so as to encourage them to come to Malaysia.
  • According to Ahmad Zahid, this flexibility would attract the approximately 500,000 Indian nationals residing in Qatar as businessmen, professionals and technical experts, to visit Malaysia.

15. “E-Visa in Thailand to Launch in 2017”, Tourism Review, January 30, 2017


  • Following the ministry cabinet meeting, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports in Thailand, announced that the government had validated the process of entry into Thailand, notably with the implementation of the electronic visa. The Department of Foreign Affairs will thus work with the immigration office to develop the system in the country. Its full integration is planned for 2018, according to an Action-Visa report.
  • The Minister of Tourism also recalled that the single visa project for the ASEAN region is still under consideration, which is however the case since 2013. This would make it possible to visit Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand with a single visa, as is already the case in the Schengen area of Europe, for example.

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.

16. Tuba Sahin, “Turkey: New Citizenship Rules Attracting Foreign Buyers”, Andalou Agency, January 25, 2017


  • As part of a package aimed at encouraging investment in Turkey, under the new regulations, enacted on Jan. 12, Ankara will grant citizenship to foreign investors who buy real estate in Turkey worth a minimum of $1 million so long as the property is not sold for at least three years.
  • The regulation also covers foreigners who deposit a minimum of $3 million in Turkish banks so long as that sum is not withdrawn for three years. A similar measure applies to foreign investors who hold government-issued bonds worth at least $3 million which are not diversified for three years.
  • Turkey offers houses for cheaper prices, higher quality, and bigger sizes as well as Turkish hospitality, a more economical lifestyle, and more affordable shopping than other countries, Ali Taylan, the head of Turkey’s All Real Estate Federation, said on Tuesday.
United Arab Emirates

17. Rezab Oueiti, “Russian Tourists to Get Visas on Arrival to UAE”, The National, January 30, 2017


  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, approved Cabinet Decree No 24 for 2017, which means that under UAE regulations, Russians will now be given an initial entry visa for 30 days, renewable only once for a further 30 days.
  • The UAE has received more than 600,000 Russian tourists in the past two years, and there are 56 flights a week between the two countries by UAE national carriers. This number is expected to increase after the decree comes into force.
  • The UAE is Russia’s most important business partner in the GCC and is the 10th largest foreign investor in Russia with projects valued at Dh66 billion up to 2014.

18. Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit, “Vietnam Offers E-Visas”, TTR Weekly, February 3, 2017


  • Vietnam has launched its first electronic visas for citizens of 40 countries, worldwide, effective 1 February. Local media reported that nationals of 40 countries will be able to apply for the 30-day single-entry e-Visa, which will save a visit to a consulate or queuing for an visa-on-arrival at a Vietnamese airport. The government confirmed the e-Visa was launched as a two-year pilot scheme.
  • Visitors can enter Vietnam at eight international airports; Tan Son Nhat, Ho Chi Minh City, Noi Bai, Hanoi and Danang in the central region. They can also use the visa to enter at 13 international land border gates and via sea at seven ports across the country.

19. “World Tourism Organization Welcomes Belarus’ Visa-Free Policy”, Belarusian Telegraph Agency, January 30, 2017


  • The UNWTO has expressed its full support to the decision of the Government of Belarus to launch the 5-day visa-free policy that will be applicable to travelers from 80 countries, reads a message posted on the UNWTO website, BelTA has learned.
  • “Visa facilitation is among the most effective strategies to induce tourism development in a region or in a country, so we are sure that the tourism sector will experience a positive shift in Belarus,” said UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai.

20. Sam Shead, “France Has Introduced an Uncapped Immigration Visa for Tech Workers – Digital Minister Axelle Lemaire Explains Why”, Business Insider, January 25, 2017


  • The "French Tech Visa" will allow overseas developers and founders outside the EU to be fast tracked on France's "Passeport Talents" visa programme. The tech visa — announced last week — costs €270 (£230), and there is no cap on the number of people it can be awarded to each year. It'll be available to skilled recent graduates, highly-skilled workers, researchers, founders, and investors, as well as anyone that's internationally or nationally renowned in the tech field.
  • "This is the goal of this initiative: making the administrative path to obtain a visa simple, fast and readable in order to reinforce France attractiveness for foreign entrepreneurs, employees and investors.” [said French Minister of State for Digital Affairs Axelle Lemaire]

21. John Irish, “Amid Trump Immigration Row, France Doubles Visas for Iranians in 2017”, Reuters, January 30, 2017


  • France said on Monday it would double the visas available for Iranians in 2017, partly in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban order against nationals from Iran and six other countries that is intended to secure U.S. borders. Speaking to the French expatriate community in Iran's capital, Tehran, Foreign Minister Jean-marc Ayrault said discrimination was not the answer to terrorism.
  • France issued about 40,000 visas to Iranians in 2016, a French diplomatic source said, adding that the visas would cover tourism, students and work.

22. “Georgia Introduces Visa-Free Regime with Jordan”, Vestnik Kavkaza, January 26, 2017


  • Citizens of Jordan will be able to visit Georgia without visas, corresponding decision to abolish visa regime was made by Georgian government.
  • According to the document "On amendments to the list of countries whose citizens can enter Georgia without visas," citizens of Jordan will be able to freely enter the country and stay on its territory for one year.

23. “Historic Decision: European Parliament Approves Visa-Free Travel for Georgian Citizens”, Agenda, February 2, 2017


  • Holders of Georgian biometric passports will now be able to enter the Schengen Area for 90 days within any 180-day period for holiday, business and other purposes except for that of working.
  • The visa waiver applies to the Schengen Area, which includes 22 EU member states (all except Ireland, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria) in addition to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
  • The visa waiver for Georgia will enter into force simultaneously with the visa-suspension mechanism, on which EU institutions have already reached an agreement.

24. Harry Cooper & Jacopo Barigazzi, “An Italian Residence Permit, Yours for €500,000”, Politico, February 2, 2017


  • In an effort to reduce the country’s debt, the Italian government will start selling visas to non-EU citizens in exchange for a €500,000 investment in a start-up. The plan, approved by the Italian parliament in early December as part of the 2017 budget, is expected to take effect next month once the fine-print has been finalized.
  • Having purchased the visa, applicants can obtain a permit to stay in Italy for up to five years, at which point they can apply for longer permits and, eventually, Italian citizenship.
  • To obtain a so-called investors visa, an applicant must buy €2 million of Italian government bonds, or €1 million of bonds or shares in an Italian company, or invest €500,000 in a start-up, or make a €1 million philanthropic donation.

25. “Visa-Free Travel Between Russia and South Africa Not Yet in Force – Embassy”, TASS, January 23, 2017


  • An instruction signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on January 18 mentions the signing of a protocol between the countries on mutual abolition of visas for holders of regular international passports ‘through an exchange of notes’. The procedure can take up to 30 days.
  • "We expect that this process may be completed by the end of February 2017," the embassy said. In February, the countries will mark 25 years since they established diplomatic relations.
New Zealand

26. Corin Dann, “NZ Migration Numbers Booming and Not Slowing Down – New Statistics”, TVNZ, January 30, 2017


  • Statistics New Zealand says the country gained a net (seasonally adjusted) of 6000 migrants in the month of December. That takes the annual net gain of migrants to a new record of 70,600. In the year to December permanent arrivals totalled 127,300, which was up 5400 (or 5 per cent) on the previous year.
  • Meanwhile, Statistics New Zealand says visa types contributing the most were work visas, which were up by 3800 to 41,600 since 2015. That was followed by returning New Zealand and Australian citizens, at 37,700, up 2000 from 2015.
Papua New Guinea

27. Rositta Liosi, “MOU Between Israel and PNG Will Enable Visa Free Travel”, EMTV, February 1, 2017


  • According to a press statement by the Papua New Guinea Israel Jewish Council, ‘Israeli Nationals will not require visas to enter PNG ports for 60 days and PNG Nationals will not require visas to enter Israeli ports up to 90 days.
  • The Visa Exemption for Holders of Diplomatic, Service/Official and National/Ordinary Passports, is an agreement that was signed between Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato and his Israeli counterpart.
  • Israeli President, Benjamin Netanyahu, reaffirmed PNG that Israel was willing to give it a prime spot at Jerusalem, and not Tel Aviv where all other diplomatic missions are located.


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