HLG Weekly Newsletter

May 12,2016

1. Roger Belgrave, "Ottawa announces plans to fast-track visas and work permits for skilled foreign workers", Brampton Guardian, November 30th, 2016

  • Immigration Minister John McCallum and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains unveiled a government strategy to help Canadian companies recruit global talent and drive economic growth.
  • To make recruitment of that foreign talent easier, the government will commit more resources to accelerating the visa and work permit approval process for specific professionals. “For certain high-tech skilled global talent we will reduce the processing time to two weeks,” McCallum announced. Canada must also facilitate the admission of certain key foreign workers to attract multinationals and foreign investment, he added.
  • Additionally, the immigration minister revealed, his ministry would make it easier for companies to bring in skilled foreign expertise for short-term work.

2. Ashifa Kassam, "Canada prepares for surge of Mexican immigrants after visa lift and Trump win",
The Guardian, December 1st, 2016

  • Mexican visitors to Canada will no longer need visas. The move has left the government anticipating an increase in Mexican tourists and business travellers, a spokesperson for Canada’s immigration ministry said.
  • Canada’s minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship has downplayed any concerns, arguing that the visa lift will yield deeper ties between Canada and Mexico and boost tourism. “We are very happy to welcome more Mexican tourists to this country and to accept the jobs that go along with that,” John McCallum recently told the House of Commons.
  • The government will continue to closely monitor migration from Mexico, he said, and could move to reinstate the visa if it sees a spike in the number of Mexican asylum seekers. “There would come a point where a visa could be reimposed,” he said.
St. Kitts & Nevis

3. "St Kitts-Nevis citizenship programme changes designed to attract investors of good character", Caribbean News Now, December 1st, 2016

  • Les Khan, chief executive officer of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), said that, during the 2013-2014 period, volume within the application process was significant, hence the reasons for the changes. He explained that changes took place firstly within the Unit, which now boasts of a management team of very experienced and qualified persons.
  • “[We have] individuals with varying backgrounds who add to our process of decision making and [who] make it much more solid and all encompassing,” said the CEO. “We have streamlined our operations; we have put a system into production and this is the first workflow system in citizenship by investment programmes in the world. So as a leader in the programme, here is St Kitts and Nevis again leading on the technology front.”
  • The CEO said that during the period of recalibration, other programmes in the region such as in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and Dominica took the opportunity to promote themselves, noting that the local CBI programme could not have been promoted because reforms were being made to the process.
St. Lucia

4. "CIP grants thirty-eight citizenships", St. Lucia Times, December 1st, 2016

  • The Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) has granted thirty-eight citizenships, after approving eleven applications. A presentation made by the Chairman of the Board, Ryan Devaux, indicated that fourteen families and four single applicants have applied to the programme to date comprising of sixty-five individuals in total. Three applications have been denied with four pending.
  • It was disclosed that processing times from compliance to a decision was forty-two days for the shortest, one hundred days for the longest and seventy-one days on average.
United States

5. "Adam Shaw, Businesses brace for Trump decision on H-1B visas in wake of Sessions pick", Fox News, November 25th, 2016

  • Trump has shifted stances somewhat on the visas. After initially taking a hard stance against them, in contrast to some of his Republican opponents, at a primary debate in March he appeared to change his stance and said: “I’m changing. I’m changing. We need highly skilled people in this country, and if we can’t do it, we’ll get them in.”
  • He later released a statement saying the H-1B program “is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay.” 
  • Advocates of immigration restriction have been made hopeful that a Trump administration will clamp down on the visa. In particular they have been buoyed by Trump’s decision to pick Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as his attorney general – known for his hardline stances on both illegal and legal immigration.

6. "Ellen Sheng, China’s Favorite U.S. Visa Program May Have Ally in Donald Trump", Forbes, November 30th, 2016

  • Trump has not stated a position on the EB-5 program. Despite his hard stance on immigration, calls to increase screening of immigrants, and threats to start a trade war against China, Trump is no stranger to Chinese investment or to EB-5 funds. His son-in-law Jared Kushner’s rental apartment complex in Jersey City, New Jersey, named Trump Plaza, has taken in $50 million in EB-5 funds, mostly from Chinese investors.
  • Though insiders in Washington are cautiously optimistic that Trump will continue the program, they caution that nothing is certain at the moment.

7. Boonsong Kositchotethana, "France seeks to woo back ASEAN visitors", Bangkok Post, November 28th, 2016

  • The France Tourism Development Agency, known as Atout France, has teamed with up with 13 French firms, including Air France and Club Med, to launch a series of roadshows in four targeted countries in Southeast Asia. They are Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, which constitute the bulk of visitors from the region to France.
  • The launch of the Douce France (Sweet France) roadshow coincides with the first anniversary of the terror attacks in the French capital, which killed 130 people and devastated the country's tourism industry.
  • Asean as a whole represents France's second-largest tourist market in Asia after China

8. Gerard dela Peña, "More direct flights between Europe, ASEAN eyed", Inter Aksyon, December 1st, 2016

  • With its fast-growing economies and population, ASEAN has been tagged as the world's most dynamic aviation market. That's why Henrik Hololei, director general of the European Commission's directorate general for mobility and transport, recently visited Manila to engage ASEAN leaders in a dialogue.
  • He sees a win-win situation for both trade blocs, adding that ASEAN, which is in the process of integration, will also learn from the European experience.

9. "WEF: ASEAN more open market than EU, US", Bangkok Post, December 1st, 2016

  • Asean is a more open market for international trade than either the European Union or the United States, according to a World Economic Forum report released on Wednesday.
  • "Asean's progress as an economic power comes at a time when the United States and European Union are becoming less open," it said in a key finding of the 2016 Global Enabling Trade Report.
  • − US President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on a pledge to withdraw from international trade agreements and possibly levy trade tariffs. European states, buffeted by populists, have been under pressure to ditch a trade deal with Canada and a proposed agreement with the United States.

10. "Indonesia proposes ‘ASEAN-Pacific axis’ alternative to TPP and Chinese initiative", Asia Pacific Report, November 28th, 2016

  • Indonesia has proposed the setting up of a new trade bloc that could counterbalance the dominance of the United States and China. Given its strategic position as a member of both ASEAN and APEC, Indonesia has called on APEC members to consider forming a free trade bloc between ASEAN and the Pacific Alliance countries if Trump decides to kill off the TPP.
  • Jusuf said although many APEC members expected Trump not to follow through on his campaign promises over ending the TPP, the countries were still prepared with alternatives should the US, the initiator of the TPP, withdraw its commitment.

11. "China-Latin America ties at new stage of development", Xinhua, November 25th, 2016

  • Ties between China and Latin America and the Caribbean have entered a new phase of development and cooperation, said Yang Wanming, China's ambassador to Argentina.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping made state visits to Ecuador, Peru and Chile recently and attended the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Lima. This trip has not only consolidated the traditional friendship between China and the three countries, but also laid out the new roadmap and new program to deepen cooperation between China and Latin America, said the ambassador.
  • China has signed free trade agreements with Chile, Peru and Costa Rica. It stands as the second largest trading partner and the third largest foreign investor in the region.

12. Bharti Jaini, "Govt approves new visa policy to attract foreigners, boost trade", The Times of India, November 30th, 2016

  • The Union cabinet on Wednesday expanded the scope of e-tourist visa to include purposes such as short-term medical treatment, business trips and conferences. With the enlarged scope, the e-tourist visa will be rechristened the e-visa and shall allow the holder dual entries for tourism and business purposes and three for medical treatment.
  • As per the Cabinet decision cleared by the Modi government, the e-visa scheme will be extended to 8 more countries, taking the total number of nations that enjoy the facility to 158. E-visa will now have a validity of 60 days and can be applied for by foreign nationals up to four months ahead of the visit.

13. "Iran, Russia to sign deal on visa-free package tours soon: Qassemi", Press TV, November 28th, 2016


  • Iran and Russia are set to sign an agreement in the near future on removing visa requirements for travelers using package tours, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi says.
  • He dismissed media reports on Monday about the removal of visa requirements for Iranian and Russian citizens since 2017, saying they were “imprecise.” The Iranian spokesperson said many more steps must be taken before Tehran and Moscow reach necessary agreements on the abolition of visa requirements for their citizens.

14. Calvin Hui, "‘Uncut gem’ Myanmar a lure for Singapore businesses", Channel News Asia, November 25th, 2016


  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced during his visit to Myanmar in June that citizens from both sides will not need visas to enter each other's country for visits of up to 30 days. Currently, Singaporeans have to apply and wait for a visa, which costs at least S$35, depending on the purpose of the visit.
  • ANZ Research economist Ng Weiwen said the new visa rules will allow Singapore businesses to tap on emerging opportunities in Myanmar, particularly the rise of the middle-class. 
  • OCBC economist Terence Wu added that the new Myanmar investment law, which is expected to come into force in April next year, could help provide policy clarity for investors. Changes in incentives in the areas of income tax exemptions and land use may serve to redirect investment flows.

15. "Visa-free travel to bring 35% rise in Singapore visitors forecasts Minister", Frontier Myanmar, December 1st, 2016


  • The Minister of Hotels and Tourism, U Ohn Maung, has predicted a sharp rise in the number of visitors from Singapore following an easing of visa restrictions, reports said. A decision by the two countries to introduce visa-free travel for their citizens for up to 30 days from December 1 was announced during a visit to Myanmar by Singapore Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsieng Loong in June.
  • “I do expect a 35 percent increase of Singaporeans travelling to Myanmar if we successfully promote the variety of tourist attractions the country has to offer. Myanmar is safe, excellent to travel the whole year round, and Myanmar food is certainly something to come back for over and over again,” the minister said.
  • Figures cited by Myanmar Tourism Marketing show that 43,000 Singaporeans travelled to Myanmar in 2015. More than 32,000 Singaporeans visited this year to the end of August, an increase of 18 percent over the same period in 2015.

16. Mayvelin U. Caraballo, "PH woos Spain, other countries to invest in integrated ASEAN", The Manila Times, November 29th, 2016


  • The Philippines is encouraging more investment from Spanish and other foreign business groups that want a foothold in the highly lucrative and emerging integrated Southeast Asian market, the Department of Finance said on Monday.
  • As of April this year, data from the National Economic and Development Authority showed that Spanish Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines amounted to $29.93 million. The government is also improving the ease of doing business in the country by drastically cutting red tape by simplifying procedures and reducing the number of approvals required for businesses to set up shop.

17. Bianca Cuaresma, "S&P: PHL to see fastest growth in ASEAN", Business Mirror, November 29th, 2016


  • International credit watcher Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings (S&P) retained its 6.5-percent full-year growth forecast for the Philippines despite the economy’s better-than-expected performance in the January-to-September period that saw the GDP expansion averaging 7 percent.
  • The 6.5-percent forecast is the fastest among the rated Asean countries and one of the fastest in Asia Pacific, next only to S&P’s 8-percent forecast for India and 6.6 percent for China.
  • “The Southeast Asian economies are seeing stable growth, with the Philippines outperforming the region,” S&P said. The report did not say if the third-quarter economic performance has been factored in.

18. "DOT: PH might waive visas for Chinese tourists", The Filipino Times, November 29th, 2016


  • The Department of Tourism (DOT) has stated that the government is studying the possibility of a visa waiver for Chinese tourists to boost travel between the two countries. The Philippine Department of Tourism earlier set a goal of increasing Chinese arrivals to one million in 2017, which more than doubles 2015’s figure.
  • Philippine Ambassador-Designate to China Chito Sta. Romana said the two countries have agreed to relax the visa restrictions “but to regulate it until such time the conditions are ripe” and both governments have decided on the details.

19. Azlan Othman, "Taiwan beckons Bruneians", Borneo Bulletin, November 27th, 2016


  • The call was made by Jason CH Wan, the official representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Brunei Darussalam at the ‘Time for Taiwan Invitation, Taiwan Amusement Park’ workshop.
  • The Taiwanese visa waiver programme for Brunei citizens came into effect from August 1, 2016. Permanent residents of Brunei with a Certificate of Identity document can visit Taiwan for up to 30 days without having to apply for a visa starting December 1, 2016.
  • “So many things can be done in Taiwan, such as enjoying its warm hospitality and now we are more Muslim-friendly with the presence of restaurants, hotels and places of worship,” Jason Wan said.
United Arab Emirates

20. Aarti Nagraj, "UAE citizens can now travel visa-free to the Bahamas", Gulf Business, November 28th, 2016


  • The UAE and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas have signed an MoU for a bilateral visa waiver on Sunday. According to the agreement, UAE citizens holding diplomatic, special, service and ordinary passports will be exempt from an entry visa when travelling to the Bahamas, official news agency WAM reported. Citizens of the Bahamas will also be able to travel visa-free to the UAE.
  • Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the UAE and the Bahamas enjoy “historical relations based on mutual understanding and respect.”

21. Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit, "Vietnam readies for e-visas", TTR Weekly, November 30th, 2016


  • Vietnam’s National Assembly has recently approved a resolution on a pilot project that will offer electronic visas for foreigners starting from 1 February next year. Saigon Times media reported to be eligible for an e-visa, the applicant must be a citizen of a country that has diplomatic relations with Vietnam and poses no threat to the nation’s security and social order.
  • The e-visa project in Vietnam will give visitors a stay of up to 30 days. The government says it is compiling a list of nations eligible for e-visas, and will identify the country’s border gates for the trial run, but it is understood it will probably be limited to international airline gateways such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang at the beginning.
  • Vietnam’s e-visa pilot scheme will last two years starting from 1 February 2017. The results of the scheme will be presented to the country’s National Assembly in 2018 when it will be decided whether the scheme should becomes a permanent feature.

22. Novan Iman Santosa, "France aims to welcome more RI tourists", The Jakarta Post, November 29th, 2016


  • “Some 100,000 Indonesian tourists visited France in 2015 and the number is expected to jump to about 150,000 in 2017,” said Morad Tayebi, ASEAN regional director of Atout France, the French tourism development agency in the region. “The Indonesian market is booming and doing well, much better than the rest of ASEAN.” From 2017, Indonesia is expected to be the biggest ASEAN market for France, he added.
  • He attributed the jump in Indonesians visiting France to faster visa processing. “Now it takes some 48 hours and we expect it to become even faster, about 24 hours, in the next two years,” he said.

23. Claire Caruana, "A Maltese passport is the ninth ‘most powerful’ in the world", Times of Malta, November 28th, 2016


  • Malta has the ninth “most powerful” passport in the world, down two places from last year, according to this year’s Passport Index.
  • Over the past two years, Malta issued almost 700 passports to wealthy individuals in exchange for cash, generating at least €200 million. The programme requires a €650,000 contribution to a national development fund and an investment of €150,000 in government stocks or bonds. Applicants must also own property worth at least €350,000 in Malta for at least a year In return, an investor gets the Maltese passport providing visa-free travel to at least 166 countries.

24. "Top diplomat says Turkey seeks visa-free regime with Russia", TASS, December 1st, 2016


  • Turkey calls for fully lifting visa requirements with Russia and working on the issue of mutual trips on domestic passports, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday after a meeting of the Russian-Turkish joint strategic planning group in Alanya. 
  • "We have a potential for developing relations. We want a full lifting of restrictions on visas with Russia and switching to using domestic identity cards for trips between our countries," Cavusoglu said. 

25. "Visa liberalization for Turkish citizens traveling to EU may take place in December", Daily Sabah, December 1st, 2016


  • According to a report in Die Welt, the newspaper's EU sources said, officials from Turkey and the European Union are holding talks for visa free travel to the bloc, which was included as a key article of a readmission deal signed between the two parties.
  • In the case that both sides reach agreement on the subject, Timmermans is expected to visit Ankara the following week and the European Commission will announce its support for visa liberalization.

26. "Ukraine is ready for visa-free travel", Euro News, November 24th, 2016


  • Ukraine is ready for visa-free travel – so says the European Council’s Donald Tusk. He was speaking after the 18th EU-Ukraine Summit in Brussels, attended by President Petro Poroshenko.
  • But there is still no date for the visa liberalisation, since details, officials say, still have to be agreed by EU institutions.
United Kingdom

27. Anushka Asthana, "Ministers want controls on skilled and unskilled EU workers, says sources", The Guardian, November 30th, 2016


  • Ministers have told colleagues they want a tough system that is profoundly different to the one that currently exists, with restrictions at all levels. Theresa May wants free movement to be a red line in Brexit negotiations and has been reported to support the idea of EU citizens being able to travel freely for holidays, to study or to marry, but with a robust visa scheme for those wanting to work.
  • The Guardian understands that there have also been discussions about a second, more liberal immigration system under which free movement would stay but with an “emergency brake” if immigration levels became unacceptably high.
  • The question of what Britain’s immigration looks like is at the heart of an ongoing battle between MPs and business leaders who campaigned for Brexit, not least because its toughness could dictate the level of economic access granted to Britain.


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