HLG Weekly Newsletter

Jan 16,2017

1. Wale Odunsi, “Nigeria Resumes Citizenship Grants After 4-Year Suspension”, Daily Post Nigeria, January 12, 2017

  • The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday granted citizenship to 335 foreigners and disqualified 165 others. The development came four years after such were approved by the Nigerian government.
  • Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, made the disclosure to State House correspondents after the FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari. He said before granting the citizenship, the council approved recommendation of an advisory committee comprising representatives of the Department of State Services and Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice.
South Africa

2. “Tourism Received Record Boost from International Passengers from June-December 2016”, Cape Business News, January 11, 2017

  • New direct flights to Cape Town have given the tourist industry a fabulous boost at the time we need it most, says Ms Janine Myburgh, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • There was a 15.71% increase in international arrivals for the whole year and this was significantly better that the 5.41% increase in the number of domestic passenger arrivals.

3. “Major Hotel Development Launched in Dominica”, Dominica News Online, January 9, 2017

  • A 200-room five-star hotel to be developed under the Citizenship by Investment Program (CBI) was officially launched in Dominica on Monday. The Silver Beach Resort and Spa will be located at Picard Beach in Portsmouth and has announced partnership with Marriot International.
  • [Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit] said the decision of Marriott Resorts to affix its luxury brand to a property in Dominica ought not to be trivialized and it speaks volumes of the high esteem in which Dominica is held by objective thinkers and observers in North America and the international community.

4. “European Union Visas Will No Longer Help Foreigners to Entering Panama”, Panama Today, January 14, 2017

  • In the Executive Decree 591 of December 28, 2016, published in the Official Gazette, the Government of Panama withdraws from the list the visas issued by the European Union, except the United Kingdom.
  • According to the law, all nationals of countries that have not signed a visa suppression agreement with Panama must file a visa with the National Immigration Service or consulates if they wish to visit the country.
  • Panama is currently requesting visas to countries such as Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and most of Asia, Africa and Oceania.
United States

5. Patricia Zengerle, “Obama Administration Ends Special Immigration Policy for Cubans”, Reuters, January 12, 2017

  • The Obama administration said on Thursday it was repealing a measure granting automatic residency to virtually every Cuban who arrived in the United States, whether or not they had visas, ending a longstanding exception to U.S. immigration policy.
  • The United States and Cuba have spent several months negotiating the change, including an agreement from Cuba to allow those turned away from the United States to return. Cuban officials said the U.S. policy had promoted illegal migration, people-trafficking and dangerous journeys across the Florida Straits on flimsy vessels.

6. Henry Meier, “Federal Immigration Agency Proposed New EB-5 Visa Rules”, Los Angeles Business Journal, January 13, 2017

  • The biggest change would be to raise the minimum allowable investment amount for certain “targeted employment areas” from $500,000 to $1.35 million. The minimum investment amount for areas that are not specifically designated as low employment jurisdictions would be bumped up from $1 million to $1.8 million.
  • If adopted, the changes would, in some instances, also allow candidates to keep their priority position in the EB-5 visa queue even if issues arise with projects related to their applications. This change is noteworthy because the program has experienced massive growth since 2008 and has a backlog of applicants, according to department statistics. There are 10,000 EB-5 visas available each year and last year officials received 17,691 applications.

7. David Z. Morris, “Congress Already Looking at Tightening H-1B Immigration”, Fortune, January 15, 2017

  • The House Judiciary Committee is currently reviewing a bill that would require employers to pay high-skilled foreign temporary workers hired under the "exempt" category of the H-1B visa program at least $100,000 a year, up from a current minimum of $60,000, and index the new minimum to inflation. Known as the “Protect and Grow American Jobs Act,” the bill is sponsored by California Republican Representative Darrell Issa, a major supporter of President-Elect Donald Trump.
  • President-elect Trump has been vocal about plans to curtail or reform the program, arguing that, instead of hiring top-tier foreign talent, companies are using it primarily to hire entry-level foreigners on the cheap, even when there are Americans who could fill a job.

Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral, “PHL Chairmanship of ASEAN 2017 Launched”, Business World Online, January 16, 2017


  • President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sunday led the launching ceremony of the Philippines’ chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 2017 as he vows to “strengthen the capacities” of micro, small and medium enterprises and urge the regional bloc’s dialogue partners to observe “non-interference.”
  • “We can work to strengthen the capacities of micro, small and medium enterprises, promote and protect the welfare of migrant workers, and ensure social protection for the vulnerable sectors of society,” Mr. Duterte said in a prepared message during yesterday’s event held at his hometown of Davao City.
  • Mr. Duterte then called on ASEAN Dialogue Partners to “renew their dedication to the valued purposes and principles stated in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation -- including non-interference -- in promoting regional peace and stability through abiding respect for the rule of law.”

9. Amina Nazarli, “Azerbaijan Attractive for Migrants, Foreign Investors”, AzerNews, January 11, 2017

  • Political stability, dynamic economic development as well as successful foreign policy make Azerbaijan attractive for foreign migrants. Chief of the State Migration Service of Azerbaijan Firudin Nabiyev said at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers on January 10 dedicated to the results of socio-economic development of 2016 and objectives for future, chaired by President Ilham Aliyev.
  • Appropriate geopolitical location of Azerbaijan, political stability, dynamic development, democracy, broad international cooperation, as well as favorable conditions created for foreign and domestic investments as a result of purposeful policy directed towards development of oil and non-oil sector considerably increased the amount of investments, he added.

10. “China Tourism Revenue Grows Fast in 2016”, CCTV, January 10, 2017


  • China's domestic tourism industry earned about 3.9 trillion yuan (about 563.6 billion U.S. dollars) in 2016, up 14 percent year on year, official statistics showed on Monday. Domestic tourists made 4.44 billion trips last year, an increase of 11 percent, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) said.
  • Domestic tourism is expected to increase 10 percent year on year to 4.88 billion trips in 2017, with revenue rising 12.5 percent to 4.4 trillion yuan, according to CNTA data. China plans to raise tourism revenue to 7 trillion yuan by 2020, the Chinese government has said.
  • By 2020, investment in tourism is expected to grow to 2 trillion yuan, and the sector will contribute more than 12 percent of GDP, according to a State Council five-year tourism plan (2016-2020).

11. Celia Chen, “How Booming Outbound Tourism is Making China’s Airports an Attractive Investment”, South China Morning Post, January 11, 2017


  • Mainland tourists could make 200 million outbound trips by 2020, according to CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, while JP Morgan sees growth of 10 to 12 per cent in the coming two years. Outbound trips increased 4.3 percent to 122 million in 2016, data from the China National Tourism Administration show.
  • JP Morgan said the growth prospects for international traffic remain stronger than for domestic air travel in China. Higher profits could also come from the healthier margins in the ‘non-aeronautical’ segment in China’s major airports.
Hong Kong

12. Prudence Lui, “HK Trade Mulls New Tourism Law”, TTG Asia, January 11, 2017

  • If the Travel Industry Bill gets passed, Hong Kong would see the establishment of a new travel industry statutory body charged with policing the industry with more stringent penalties. When established, the Travel Industry Authority (TIA) will take over the licensing and trade regulatory roles from the Travel Agents Registry and the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC).
  • New regulations set to be introduced include the mandatory deposit of HK$500,000 (US$64,472) for new agents, which comes in addition of the required paid-up capital of not less than HK$500,000. This measure is meant to safeguard against the closure of agencies before they pay off financial penalties with the TIA.

13. “Record 24 Million Visited from Abroad in 2016”, The Japan News, January 11, 2017


  • The number of visitors to Japan in 2016 jumped 21.8 percent from the previous year to an estimated 24,039,000, renewing its record high for the fourth successive year, Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii said Tuesday. The growth was led by visitors from China, South Korea and Taiwan.
  • An increase in the number of air routes to Japan, including those operated by budget airlines, and the relaxation of visa requirements contributed to the record-breaking travel demand, officials said.

14. Leslie Andres, “Zahid: 74 pct Increase in Chinese Tourist Arrivals to Malaysia Thanks to Visa Waiver Programme”, New Straits Times, January 11, 2017


  • Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today though official records have yet to be calculated, there had been an estimated increase of 74 per cent since the programme began. He said an estimated 1.2 million people from China had applied for visas for the whole of 2015, while another 500,000 of the East Asian nation's citizens entered Malaysia from other countries.
  • Last year, however, 2.2 million Chinese had applied for entry into Malaysia, via normal visa procedures, e-visa or the electronic tourist registration information (Entri) system.
  • Asked if the possibility of a similar visa waiver programme for Malaysians entering China was discussed, Zahid said the matter had been brought up before and the Chinese government was still weighing up the idea.

15. “Thailand Expects Tourism Revenue of Nearly $50 Billion in 2017”, Reuters, January 9, 2017


  • Thailand expects revenue from foreign tourists to rise 8.5 percent to 1.78 trillion baht ($49.8 billion) this year, a deputy prime minister said on Monday. The expected rise results from an improved outlook for global tourism as well as Thailand's investment in infrastructure, Deputy Prime Minister Thanasak Patimaprakorn told reporters.
  • Thanasak expects daily tourist spending to increase to 5,200 baht per person this year, from 5,100 baht last year.
  • Last year, Thailand had 32.6 million visitors, a rise of nearly 9 percent from the year before.

16. “Ankara Expects Visa Liberalization with Russia, Boosting Bilateral Relations”, Sputnik News, January 11, 2017


  • Ankara expects the liberalization of the visa regime between Russia and Turkey and further enhancing of bilateral relations, local media reported Wednesday, citing a source in the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
  • The source added that Ankara was determined to return the relations with Moscow to their former level, noting that it was not supposed to be an alternative to relations with the Western countries, according to the newspaper.

17. “Turkey to Grant Citizenship to Investing Foreigners”, Daily Sahah, January 12, 2017


  • Foreigners who were confirmed to have made a fixed capital investment of at least $2 million by the Economy Ministry, or those who were found by the Environment and Urbanization Ministry to have purchased at least $1 million worth of immovable properties without selling them within three years of the purchase will be eligible to acquire Turkish citizenship, subject to a Council Of Ministers authorization.
  • In addition, foreigners who would create at least 100 jobs according to a Labor and Social Security Ministry verification and those found to have kept at least $3 million in their deposit accounts for three years in Turkish banks, verified by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), or those determined to have purchased government borrowing instruments amounting to at least $3 billion while keeping them for three years, verified by the Undersecretariat of Treasury, would also be granted Turkish citizenship.

18. “Uzbekistan Postpones Plan for Visa-Free Travel”, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, January 9, 2017


  • President Shavkat Mirziyaev has postponed by nearly four years a plan to introduce visa-free travel in Uzbekistan for citizens from 27 other countries. Uzbekistan's official website for legislation on January 9 published a presidential decree on the issued that was signed on December 29.
  • The decree says the postponement was proposed by the State Tourism Committee, the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry's State Customs Committee, and other ministries "in order to provide steady and balanced development of tourism activities" and to "secure safety for lives and health of foreign tourists and citizens of Uzbekistan."

19. “Tourism Association Seeks Longer Visa Waiver for Europeans”, Vietnam Net, January 10, 2017


  • The HCMC Tourism Association has proposed the Government extend the visa waiver for citizens of five Western European countries, and consider adding India and Australia to the list, the association said at a review conference last Friday.
  • “We want the visa waiver to last at least until June 30 next year and hope the Government will have a final say soon so that we can map out promotion programs,” Nguyen Thi Khanh, vice chairwoman of the association told the Daily on the sidelines of the meeting.

20. “Belarus Introduces Five-Day Visa-Free Travel for Citizens of 80 Countries”, TASS, January 9, 2017


  • Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree on Monday scrapping visa requirements for residents of 80 foreign countries for a period of no more than five days, the press service of the Belarusian president reports.
  • "The document establishes visa-free procedures of entry into Belarus for a period no longer than five days on entry via a check point across the State Border, the Minsk National Airport, for citizens of 80 countries," it said, specifying that the decree covers 39 European countries, including all EU countries, as well as Brazil, Indonesia, the United States and Japan.
  • As for the citizens of Vietnam, Haiti, Gambia, Honduras, India, China, Lebanon, Namibia and Samoa, a compulsory additional demand for them is to have in their passports a valid multi-entry visa of a EU or a Schengen zone state with a mark confirming the entry to their territory, as well as plane tickets confirming the departure from the Minsk National Airport within five days from the entry date.

21. “Bulgaria’s Tourism Minister Expects 40% Rise in Russian Tourists in 2017”, Novinite, January 11, 2017


  • Outgoing Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova is of the opinion that the number of Russian tourists to Bulgaria could increase by 40% in 2017.
  • According to data of the National Statistical Institute, Bulgaria was visited by 530,000 Russian tourists until November 2016 and the peak was in July 2016 – nearly 152,000 tourists. In 2015, Russian tourists numbered 418,000 and the increase was due to the refusal of Russians to go on holiday to Turkey and Egypt.

22. “Georgians May Travel Visa-Free to EU As Soon As March”, Agenda Georgia, January 13, 2017


  • Previously it was believed Georgia would receive the long-awaited EU visa waiver by the end of April 2017, but now European Parliament (EP) members are saying this could happen as early as the beginning of March.
  • The EP published the schedule of its plenary sessions on its website yesterday; the issue of Georgia’s visa waiver will be voted on February 2. This is the date that Georgians had been waiting for since mid-December 2016 after three EU institutions agreed on the final text of the visa liberalisation document.
United Kingdom

23. Thomas Colson, “Theresa May’s Proposed Brexit Crackdown on Student Immigration ‘Could Cost the UK £2 Billion a Year’”, Business Insider, January 12, 2017


  • The report suggests that up to 31,000 EU students could be deterred from coming to the UK if the Home Office makes European students pay the same university rates as non-EU nationals after Brexit, which would represent a 57% decline. Currently, nationals within the EU pay similar rates to British students, but that will likely change once the UK exits the European Union.
  • [The Higher Education Policy Institute Report] suggests that an extra 20,000 foreign students a year could be attracted by the depreciation in the sterling, which makes UK courses cheaper. That could potentially boost universities' revenue by up to £187 million a year.
  • Polls have indicated widespread public support for existing levels of foreign students. A ComRes poll in October 2016 found that three-quarters of the British public would like to see the same or an increased number of international students in the UK and 91% of British adults believe that international students should be able to stay and work in the UK for a period of time after they have completed their study.


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