HLG Weekly Newsletter

May 02,2017

1. “Africa’s Most Powerful Passports: SA in Top Three – WEF”, Biz News, May 1, 2017

  • Drawing on data from the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index 2017, which ranks each country and territory in the world by the number of countries that their citizens can travel to visa-free, [the report on the World Economic Forum (WEF) website] highlights that the Seychelles has the top passport.
  • Citizens from the tourism hot-spot of Mauritius also have a high level of travel freedom, with visa-free access to 131 countries, [it] notes. “This is ahead of many Caribbean islands, Latin American countries and non-EU European nations like Serbia and Moldova.”
  • Turning to the host of this year’s WEF Africa gathering, [John McKenna] points out that South Africans have visa-free access to 98 countries, but the continent’s biggest economy has slipped down the ranking.



2. Al-Masry Al-Youm, “Egypt Mulls Granting Residence Permits to Foreigners in Return for Bank Deposits”, Egypt Independent, April 28, 2017

  • The National Defense and Security Committee of the House of Representatives approved on Thursday a draft law submitted by the government to amend some provisions of Law No. 89 of 1960 on the entry and residence of foreigners in Egypt, and Law 26 of 1975 on Egyptian nationality.
  • [Major General Kamal Amer, chairman of the committee] added in a press statement after the meeting that the aim of the draft law is to establish a new system for the residency of foreigners in Egypt depending on a "residence deposit", especially amid increased requests by foreigners to obtain residence permits in Egypt in light of the international changes taking place in the region.
  • Under the residence upon a deposit system, foreigners will apply for residence permits in return for depositing money in Egyptian banks in foreign currency. After 5 years of residence in Egypt, they can apply for citizenship, he added.


British Virgin Islands

2. “BVI to Introduce Electronic Visas”, BVI News, April 25, 2017

  • The government said it will introduce electronic visas, otherwise known as e-Visas, in an effort to make the British Virgin Islands more accessible to persons who currently require visas to visit.
  • The National Democratic Party government also noted that, last year, it implemented a visa waiver system for persons in possession of United States and Canada visas.



3. Gisèle Nyembwe, “Canada’s 2016 Record High Level of Resettlement Praised By UNHCR”, UNHCR, April 24, 2017

  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) praised Canada today for providing solutions to the plight of a record 46,700 refugees through their resettlement to Canada in 2016. 
  • This is the largest amount of refugees admitted in a year since the implementation of the 1976 Immigration Act and a significant contribution to UNHCR’s global appeal to increase much needed refugee solutions. Compared to 2015, the 2016 resettlement level reflects a striking 133 per cent increase. 


4. Kathleen Harris, “Liberals Repeal Conservative Immigrant Residency Requirement Targeting Marriage Fraud”, CBC News, April 25, 2017

  • The Liberal government is repealing a measure brought in by the Conservatives that required newcomers to live with their sponsoring spouse for two years or face deportation. According to the Privy Council Office website, the cabinet decision was formally taken April 13 and will be published on May 3 in the Canada Gazette, the government's official newsletter.
  • Dench said reports of fraudulent marriage have been blown out of proportion, and noted there are already provisions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to crack down on people who misrepresent themselves or make false claims.


5. Monique Scotti, “Immigration Sponsorship Lottery Draws Nearly 100K Applications”, Global News, April 27, 2017

  • About 95,000 would-be sponsors vied for a chance to bring a parent or grandparent to Canada this winter, new data released by Citizenship and Immigration Canada reveals. Between Jan. 3 and Feb. 2, 2017, interested family members eligible to sponsor a new arrival were able to fill out an online form. Of those, 10,000 were randomly selected, according to a release issued Thursday.
  • The government’s immigration plan currently sets the total number of parents and grandparents Canada is willing to welcome each year at 20,000. A further 64,000 people (who are not the parent or grandparent of the sponsor) are also expected to arrive via the same family reunification program. In total, Canada is set to welcome 300,000 permanent residents this year.
  • Those who did not win a chance to apply in this year’s inaugural lottery will have the opportunity to try again in 2018, the government promised.


St. Kitts & Nevis

6. “China Welcomes St. Kitts-Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme”, Caribbean News Now, April 29, 2017

  • Les Khan, the CEO of the St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) has just returned from a trip to Beijing in China as part of his global marketing programme. This trip reaffirmed St Kitts and Nevis as having a mature real estate market and one that provides the best value for clients. The trip also follows on the robust growth of real estate applications.
  • Khan said of the trip: “I was delighted with the level of interest shown by prospective applicants and agents in China. It is a clear demonstration that our reputation as a platinum CBI programme with robust and transparent investment application processes has stood us in good stead.”


United States

7. “US Issues New Fraud-Proof Green Cards”, Voice of America News, May 1, 2017

  • The redesigned cards, which have enhanced graphics and additional security features, are more secure than the old ones. "The new card designs demonstrate USCIS' commitment to continue taking a proactive approach against the threat of document tampering and fraud," according to USCIS.
  • While May 1 is the launch date for the new cards, USCIS says some of the old ones may still be issued until they have run out. Both old and new cards remain valid until they reach their expiration dates.


8. Paul Welitzkin, “EB-5 Gets Five-Month Extension”, China Daily, May 2, 2017

  • The visa program was given a one-week extension until May 5 as part of a spending measure – called a continuing resolution – approved by Congress on April 28 to avoid a shutdown of the federal government. Then on Sunday Congress extended a new funding bill until September 30, which also gave EB-5 a five-month extension without changes.
  • "Congress did this to give itself more time to try to resolve some big-ticket items like additional funding for the military and healthcare reform," Stephen Yale-Loehr, a law professor at Cornell University wrote in an email.
  • The White House issued a statement to The Washington Post last week saying that the Trump administration is weighing changes to the program.



9. “Schengen-Style ASEAN Single Visa May Start From Thailand, Cambodia”, Xinhua, April 27, 2017

  • Discussion on a Schengen-style ASEAN single visa is still underway, while Thailand plans to start a single visa scheme with Cambodia as the first step, a Thai minister said Thursday.
  • The minister said Thailand and the countries in ASEAN are still working on the single visa, but she didn't give any clear time frame. Thailand plans to start a single visa with Cambodia but the problem of different visa fees needs to be tackled first, she said. Officials from other ASEAN countries also welcomed ASEAN single visa.



10. “Russian Tourism to China Surges: Number of Visitors Doubles in 2017 Over 2016”, Sputnik International, April 29, 2017

  • The increase in the number of Russian tourists who visited China in the first quarter of 2017 under visa-free regime amounted to 98 percent as compared to the same period last year, Deputy Head of the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism (Rosturism) Nikolai Korolyov said Friday.
  • According to Korolyov, around 1,288,000 of Chinese citizens traveled to Russia in 2016, while some 1,676,000 Russians visited China during the last year.



11. Ali Al Shouk & Aghaddir Ali, “UAE Visa on Arrival for Indians With US Visa From May 1”, Gulf News, April 25, 2017

  • Indian passport holders with a valid American visa or a Green Card will be eligible to get UAE visa on arrival at all ports starting May 1, officials said on Tuesday. The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation this week circulated a letter to authorities to grant the UAE visa to Indians with valid America visa or Green Card following a Cabinet decision last month.
  • Officials at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai confirmed that they will start implementing the order on May 1.


South Korea

11. Celine Ge, “Hong Kong Tourists Flocks to South Korea to Fill in Void Left by Chinese”, South China Morning Post, April 28, 2017

  • South Korea is quickly becoming the top draw for Hong Kong tourists, as hotel vacancies rose and prices dropped following China’s boycott of everything Korean amid a diplomatic spat.
  • Searches for Seoul by Hong Kong holidaymakers on global travel search engine Kayak shot up by 100 per cent last month from a year earlier, while visa-free Jeju Island has also witnessed an uptick in local tourist interest recently, according to data from the US-based company.
  • “Interestingly, Seoul quickly climbed in the rankings as a top destination among Hongkongers, as many believe it will be less crowded and things are going to be much cheaper,”Kayak’s Asia-Pacific senior director Amy Wei said.



12. “Most of the New Taiwan Citizens Come From Vietnam”, Asia One, April 24, 2017

  • Nearly 70 per cent of foreigners who became naturalized R.O.C. citizens in 2016 were from Vietnam, according to government statistics released Saturday. Other top sources of Taiwan's newest citizens were Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia, in that order. 
  • In 2016, 96.8 per cent of all the naturalized citizens were from Southeast Asia. A trickle of immigration came from Japan, South Korea, the US, Germany and India. The MOI pointed out that the nationality law had been revised in December 2016 to encourage foreign high-level professionals to become naturalized citizens. Foreign high-level professionals can now become ROC citizens without having to give up their original citizenship, the MOI said. 



13. Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit, “Taiwan Extends Visa Free for Thais”, TTR Weekly, April 27, 2017

  • According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of China (Taiwan), the visa exemption that was offered to nationals of Thailand and Brunei will now be extended to 31 July, 2018.
  • The visa-free privilege allows Thai and Brunei passport holders to stay in Taiwan for up to 30 days. Since its introduction on 1 August, last year, the numbers of visitors from Thailand and Brunei have increased by 57.26% and 52%. In the first two months of this year alone, the number of Thai visitors jumped by 91.83%, the ministry said.


United Arab Emirates

14. UAE Nationals to Have Visa-Free Entry to Japan”, Gulf News, April 24, 2017

  • Emiratis will soon be able to visit Japan visa-free for up to 30 days after pre-registering, the Japanese Embassy in Abu Dhabi announced on Monday. Under the new rules, which come into effect from July 1, Emiratis with ordinary e-passports can fill in a simple form and pre-register at Japanese embassies or consulates around the world, free of charge. 
  • Holders of the newly registered e-passport can then enter Japan as many times as they want during a three-year period or whenever their passport expires — whichever comes first. From July 1, entry into Japan will be denied unless the visitor has completed the registration of the e-passport in advance.



Czech Republic

15. “MfD: Czechs May Offer Golden Visas to Rich Foreigners”, Prague Daily Monitor, April 25, 2017

  • The Czech Republic may introduce the chance of granting the long-term residence to the foreigners who will pledge to invest much money and create new jobs here, dubbed the golden visas, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today.
  • Investments may be added under the amendment to the foreigners' residence law that was endorsed by the Chamber of Deputies and was sent to the Senate, MfD writes. The interior and labour and social affairs ministries are writing a decree for it, it adds. Its draft says that the foreigner in question will have to present a business plan with a contribution to the Czech Republic and then invest 75 million crowns so that it could be considered an important investment. In addition, the foreigner must create 20 new jobs, MfD writes.



16. Andrew Byrne, “EU Visa Deals Boost Demand in Budapest”, Financial Times, April 26, 2017

  • Budapest’s luxury residential market has experienced an influx of Chinese and Russian investors in the past two years, lured in part by a scheme granting EU residency to foreigners who buy €250,000 in government bonds via approved intermediaries.
  • Applicants did not need to buy property to benefit from the scheme, which was abandoned earlier this year. But analysts say it helped revive foreign interest in the property market and created a similar impact to the wave of Irish buyers who bought apartments in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis. This fresh influx may partly explain a surge in Hungarian house prices, which grew faster than in any other EU country for much of 2016 and have now surpassed their 2008 peak.



17. John Monaghan, “Irish Passport Applications Expected to Pass One Million Mark in Year for First Time”, The Irish Times, April 25, 2017

  • Applications for Irish passports are set to pass the one million mark in a calendar year for the first time.A total of 733,060 passports were issued in 2016, but if current demand continues the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin is expecting more than a million requests to be processed this year. 
  • The Irish Post has reported that there were 51,000 applications from Britain and Northern Ireland between January and March this year - up more than two-thirds on the same period in 2016.



18. “Portugal Becoming the ‘New Florida’ for Wealthy Brazilians”, The Portugal News, April 27, 2017

  • [A report this week by Portuguese newspaper, Diário de Notícias] says it is estimated that the Portuguese consulate in São Paulo now issues around 820 new citizenship permits for Portugal every month, which will go some way towards contributing to the number of Brazilians in this country rising from the current 85,000, to 100,000 in the very near future.
  • By 2015, 69 Golden Visa permits – which authorise residence in Portugal in exchange for investment of over one million euros – had been issued to Brazilian citizens; that number today, in little over 12 months, has more than quadrupled, to 282.
  • However, the report concludes the city most sought after by the Brazilian middle and upper classes is not Lisbon: it is Coimbra, where more than 10 percent of university students are from Brazil.



19. “309 People Granted Slovak Citizenship in 2015”, The Slovak Spectator, April 25, 2017

  • Slovakia granted altogether 309 people citizenship in 2015, of which 66 percent went to citizens of non-EU countries. The most successful applicants were Ukrainians (23.6 percent of all citizenships granted), followed by Czechs (22.7 percent) and Americans (10 percent).
  • On the other hand, Slovaks were the third most successful applicants for citizenship in Hungary, the SITA newswire reported, referring to the data of the Eurostat statistics office.



20. Antonio Maqueda & Lluís Pellicer, “Spain’s ‘Golden Visa’ Scheme Brings in €2.16 Billion in First Three Years”, El País, April 24, 2017

  • Three years on, 2,236 investors have benefited from the proposal, bringing in €2.16 billion, of which 72% has gone into property. The total number of people granted residency in Spain under the so-called Entrepreneur’s Law is now 27,301, including family members.
  • Chinese and Russian millionaires make up 59.4% of total investment pumped into Spain through the scheme […]. Close behind come Russians, with 685 visas. The latest figures show that the number of investors has risen fourfold since 2014, with the amount they have invested increasing three times in the same period.



21. China Ready to Introduce Visa-Free Regime for Ukrainians - Ambassador”, Interfax-Ukraine, April 24, 2017

  • The Chinese government expresses its readiness to introduce a visa-free regime with Ukraine on the basis of the will of the two countries, Chinese Ambassador to Ukraine Du Wei has said.
  • “The Chinese side is ready at any time, in accordance with the readiness of the two sides, on the principle of equality and mutual benefit, to take new measures for the exchange of people between our countries, including a visa-free regime,” he said at a press conference on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and China in Kyiv on Friday.


22. “European Parliament Confirms That Ukraine to Get Visa-Free Regime on June 11”, Ukrinform, April 27, 2017

  • Dariusz Rosati, the Chairman of the European Parliament's Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, said this on Thursday, an Ukrinform correspondent reported. "Starting from June 11 the European borders will be open for Ukraine," Rosati said.
  • As reported, the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union approved on Wednesday the draft legislative act on including Ukraine in the list of the third countries whose nationals should not be in possession of visas when crossing the borders of the EU Member States.


New Zealand

23. Harkanwal Singh & Lincolm Tan, “Rising Work Visas Drive Migration”, New Zealand Herald, April 24, 2017

  • A Herald analysis into immigration data found work visa arrivals increased from 16,787 in 2004 to 41,576 last year. The top five source countries for work visas last year are the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, South Africa and the United States of America.
  • Despite China and India being among the biggest source countries for permanent residents, they are not among the top five for direct migrant workers. "They are more likely to transition to permanent residence through temporary work and study visa routes using options such as the transition to work provisions," said Professor Spoonley, an expert on immigration.
  • Spoonley said high value immigrants from the UK and US will remain and important source of skilled migrants, and expected the numbers to trend upwards through the mid and later part of 2017.




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