Central African Economic and Monetary Community
- Moki Edwin Kindzeka, “Central Africa Regional Bloc Creates Six-Country Visa-Free Zone”, Voice of America News, November 2, 2017
- The Central African Economic and Monetary Community reached a key milestone this week. Heads of state meeting in Chad lifted visa requirements for their citizens traveling within the sixmember regional bloc.
- The announcement marked the culmination of 23 years of negotiation. Citizens of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Central Africa Republic, CongoBrazzaville, Gabon and Chad no longer need visas to travel within the six-member economic bloc. Chadian President Idris Deby made the announcement at the CEMAC heads of state summit in Ndjamena.
- CEMAC Commission President Pierre Moussa said the states are taking measures to address security concerns. He said for the new visafree policy to be fully effective, the heads of state have authorized the Development Bank of Central African States to pay $2 million as part of the debt they owe the International Police Organization so that they can help secure the borders of CEMAC.
- Albertina Nakale, “Namibia Scraps Visas for Africans”, New Era News, October 31, 2017
- Namibia has gotten the ball rolling on plans to scrap visa requirements for African passport holders after Cabinet authorised the implementation of this process – to be carried out in line with diplomatic procedures. Namibia will soon start issuing African passport holders with visas on arrival at ports of entry as a first step towards the eventual abolition of all visa requirements for all Africans. However, no deadline has been announced for the conclusion of the visafree regime with all countries.
- Cabinet last year resolved to abolish all visa requirements into the country for all African holders of diplomatic or official passports, as a gesture to African countries for the role they played during Namibia’s liberation struggle.
- Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, “Historic Multi-Year Immigration Plan Sets Out Highest Levels in Recent History”, Government of Canada, November 1, 2017
- Today, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced the Government of Canada’s historic multiyear immigration levels plan that will responsibly grow the number of permanent residents Canada welcomes annually.
- Beginning with 310,000 new permanent residents in 2018, and growing to 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020, this plan sets out the most ambitious immigration levels in recent history. This measured, gradual increase will trend towards one percent of the population by 2020, spurring innovation and representing a major investment in Canada’s prosperity, now and into the future.
- Supporting both Canadian businesses and labour market needs, the multiyear immigration plan will foster economic growth in the face of slowing labour force growth and an ageing population. With approximately 60 percent of the increase, over the three year period, in the economic category, this plan helps distribute the benefits of immigration across Canada, responding to a unanimous call by provinces and territories earlier this fall.
- Kathy Armstrong, “Canada Has Released 10,000 Extra Working Visas”, The Independent Ireland, November 4, 2017
- 10,000 new work permits have been released for young Irish people. In good news for those hoping to move to Canada, the Canadian Immigration Services announced that they are increasing their immigration permits from 300,000 this year to 310,000 in 2018, 330,000 the following year and 340,000 in 2020.
- The visas are available to anyone aged between 18 and 35 and include Young Professional and Working Holiday permits. The working permits were released last night and allow people to live and work in Canada for up to two years, while the International CoOp visas are valid for up to a year.
- Niraj Chokshi, “U.S. Passports of Child Sex Offenders Will Note Their Convictions”, The New York Times, November 2, 2017
- The passports of Americans convicted of sex offenses against a child will soon bear a mark of their crimes. The State Department announced this week that a sentence noting their conviction would be added to the back inside cover of offenders’ passports.
- Once the State Department receives their names from the Department of Homeland Security, it will begin notifying affected sex offenders that their passports were being revoked and reissued with the new language.
- Smaller passport cards, which can be used only for very limited international travel, will not be issued to such offenders because they lack room for a similar message. It was not immediately clear how many passport holders would be affected.
- Eric Beech, “U.S. To End Protected Status for Nicaraguan Immigrants in 2017”, Reuters, November 7, 2017
- The United States will end in January 2019 a special status given to 5,300 Nicaraguan immigrants that protects them from deportation, senior Trump administration officials said on Monday.
- The decision to end TPS for Nicaraguans is part of President Donald Trump’s broader efforts to tighten restrictions on immigration. Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from across Central America live and work in the United States, but some are protected from the threat of deportation under the TPS program. Thousands from both Nicaragua and Honduras were given the special status in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America.
- In the case of Nicaragua, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke decided the conditions caused by Hurricane Mitch “no longer exist, and thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.
- “Bahrain to Impose Entry Visas on Qatar Nationals and Residents”, The National, November 1, 2017
- Bahrain says it will start imposing entry visas on Qatari nationals and residents from November 10 as a "security" measure, stepping up pressure on Doha days after calling for the GCC to freeze its membership. Citizens from the six GCC countries are supposed to be able to travel within the Gulf visafree using only an identity card.
- Manama, along with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, announced a travel ban on Qatari citizens on June 5. But the latest move appears to formalise travel restrictions for Qataris. "The new measures [are aimed] at preventing harming the security and stability of the kingdom of Bahrain particularly in light of the latest repercussions of the crisis with Qatar," Bahrain's official BNA news agency said on Tuesday.
- The travel ban on Qataris announced by Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia on June 5 came as the three countries and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade links with Doha over its support of extremist groups and links with Iran.
- “Permanent Residency Made Easier for Shanghai’s Expats”, ECNS, November 1, 2017
- Shanghai is testing out a an initiative aimed at simplifying the process of getting a Chinese "green card", a permit for permanent residence for nonChinese citizens. New rules in Shanghai have allowed a greater number of foreigners to qualify for the permit. As long they have lived in the city for four years, make at least 600,000 yuan (97,000 US dollars) a year and pay 120,000 yuan in taxes annually, an expat can apply for permanent residency.
- The new rules now includes a much wider range of professionals than business executives, scientists or academics, who were the only groups previously authorized to apply. "Those who have a doctoral degree can apply for permanent residency without any income or company sponsorship requirements," said Cai Baodi, Deputy Director of Foreigner Visa Department at the Shanghai ExitEntry Bureau.
- "Others who have worked in the FTZ, Zhangjiang Park or two incubator bases for over four years can get a green card, but they are required to stay in the country for at least six months each year. Chinese with a foreign passport who have close relatives living in Shanghai can also apply for a green card," Cai added.
- Rahul Tripathi, “India, Russia Ink Deal to Grant Visa-Free Entry to Airline Pilots, Crew”, The Indian Express, November 1, 2017
- India and Russia have signed an agreement for granting visafree entry to pilots and crew members of chartered and scheduled flights between the two countries. The development comes ahead of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s long-pending visit to Moscow.
- According to officials, this will mean that pilots and cabin crew members of airlines operating between the two countries will not require business visas. Instead, they can be issued temporary landing permits (TLPs).
- [Ministry of Home Affairs] instructions for grant of TLP also state that permits to cabin crew and pilots of scheduled and unscheduled flights, as approved by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, may not be charged a fee for the grant of landing permits up to a period of seven days. However, if their stay exceeds beyond seven days, a fee of $40 is charged, officials said.
- “Taiwan Visa-Free Travel Begins for Filipinos”, ABS-CBN News, November 1, 2017
- The first plane from Manila landed in Taipei on Wednesday as Taiwan commenced a trial 9month visa-free travel regime for visitors from the Philippines. Statistics show that more than 200,000 visitors came to Taiwan from the Philippines from January to September this year, a 70 percent increase compared with the same period last year.
- The Manila Economic and Culture Office, the Philippines' de facto embassy in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic relations, welcomed the Taiwanese government's decision to grant visafree entry to Filipinos for up to two weeks for tourism, business, visiting relatives and other purposes.
- There has already been a significant increase in visitors from ASEAN countries since Taiwan relaxed visa rules for them in August last year. Over 200 million of them came during the year before that, up from about 1.5 million the previous year.
- Mona Ahmed, “Qatar Grants Visa-Free Entry for 80 Nationalities”, Egypt Today, November 9, 2017
- The Qatari authorities have officially granted visafree access to citizens of 80 countries. Eligible travelers will be issued a multi-entry visa waiver free of charge at the port of entry, upon representation of a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months, and a confirmed onward or return ticket.
- "Qatar is now the Middle East's most open country, thanks to a new package of visa facilitation measures, visitors can now enter Qatar without a visa or they can simply fill out a visa application form online," said Qatar's Ministry of Tourism in a statement issued on Thursday.
- Visa waiver will vary by country, for nationals of 47 countries including Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. A visa waiver can be obtained upon arrival, and will be valid for 30 days since issuance. For nationals of 33 countries (including most EU countries), a visa waiver can be obtained on arrival, and will be valid for 90 days when it is issued.
- “Saudi Arabia to Begin Issuing Tourists Visas”, CTV News, November 2, 2017
- Saudi Arabia plans to start issuing tourist visas "soon", authorities said Tuesday, as the ultraconservative kingdom seeks to attract international visitors in a radical overhaul of its oil-dependent economy. "Tourist visas will be introduced soon," Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, head of the Saudi tourism authority, was quoted as saying in a statement. He did not specify a time frame.
- Alcohol, cinemas and theatres are still banned in the kingdom, an absolute monarchy and one of the world's most conservative countries. But authorities in recent months have sought to project a moderate image with a string of reforms, including the decision allowing women to drive from next June. The kingdom is also expected to lift a public ban on cinemas and has encouraged mixedgender celebrations -- something seldom seen before.
- The moves appear designed to project the kingdom in a favourable light as it seeks to attract badly needed foreign investment.
- “ICA to Roll Out Electronic System for Permanent Residency Applications”, Channel News Asia, November 2, 2017
- The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said on Thursday (Nov 2) it will introduce an electronic system for permanent residency applications on Dec 18 this year. With the electronicPermanent Residence (e-PR) system, applicants do not have to make an appointment with ICA to submit their documents. Instead, they can key the required information into a virtual application form on the ICA website, and scan and submit the documents electronically.
- Fees for PR applications are also set to increase. Previously, applicants were not charged a processing fee, but had to pay S$100 for an entry permit if their application was successful. With the new system, each applicant will have to pay a processing fee of S$100, as well as S$20 for the entry permit if their application is successful. This is applicable to submissions from Dec 18.
- ICA also said in its press release that it will only accept PR applications through the ePR system and will no longer release any e-appointment slots from Dec 18.
- Chyun Eun-ju, “Visa-Free Entry Granted to Tourists from Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines During PyeongChang Olympics”, The Korea Times, November 6, 2017
- Visitors from Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines will be allowed to enter South Korea without a visa through Yangyang International Airport until April, as PyeongChang, near the airport, hosts the Winter Olympics in February. And discounts for electronic visas for Chinese group tourists, which were due to end by December 31, will be extended until 2018, the South Korean government said.
- The government also will waive the visa requirement for Chinese cruise ship passengers. Tourists from Southeast Asia who have visited other OECD member countries will be allowed to have multipleentry visas.
- International travelers who stop over at Incheon International Airport will be able to use the 72hour transit tour program. This allows them to enter the nation visa-free and stay for 72 hours. More programs for foreigners in transit are under way.
- Jonathan Hicap, “Visa-Free South Korea Entry Via Pyeongchang”, Manila Bulletin, November 4, 2017
- According to the culture ministry, tourist groups from the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia will be allowed to visit Olympics host city Pyeongchang until April next year without a visa if they enter the country through the YangYang International Airport, Yonhap News reported.
- The airport is located in YangYang County, Gangwon Province, 158 kilometers from Seoul. The Korean government has been heavily promoting the Pyeongchang Winter Games, which will be held from February 9 to 25 next year.
- “President Tsai Plans to Give Visa Waiver to Six Pacific Allies”, Taiwan News, October 31, 2017
- President Tsai Ingwen announced that Taiwan will offer visa waivers to six countries in the Pacific during her official visit to Taiwan's diplomatic allies. On Tuesday (Oct. 31), in a meeting with the Legislature of the Marshall Islands, Tsai said Taiwan will soon give visa waivers to six countries, including the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Palau, and Tuvalu.
- During her visit to the Marshall Islands, Tsai has signed various agreements that will enhance Taiwan's exchanges with the Marshall Islands in several areas such as education, agriculture, and climate change. After the Marshall Islands, Tsai will visit Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands and her last stop will be in U.S. territory of Guam on Nov.3, before returning to Taiwan the next day.
- “Taiwan Passes New Law to Attract More Foreign Professionals”, Focus Taiwan, October 31, 2017
- The Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professional Talent, which passed the legislative floor on that day, eases Taiwan's regulations pertaining to visas, work permits, taxes, insurance, pension and residency for foreign professionals and their families.
- The Act extends work and residence permits for foreign whitecollar professionals from the current maximum of three years to five. It also removes the requirement that such workers must remain in Taiwan for 183 days per year to maintain their status. In addition, it allows foreign nationals to enter Taiwan on a job-seeking visa that will be valid for six months instead of the current three.
- Under the revised Act, an Employment Gold Card that includes a work permit, residence visa, alien residency permit and reentry permit will be introduced for foreign professionals. The "four-in-one card" makes it easier for foreign nationals to change jobs in Taiwan because they will no longer be dependent on their employer to apply for a work permit.
- The Act also stipulates that the spouses, minor children and disabled children of foreign professionals can apply for permanent residency in Taiwan.
- Min Chung-han and Elizabeth Hsu, “Taiwan Citizens Not Allowed to Hold Temporary Chinese Passport: MAC”, Focus Taiwan, November 7, 2017
- The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top authority on crossstrait affairs, announced on Tuesday that Taiwan citizen are not allowed to hold a Chinese passport, even those specified as valid for only single exit and entry trips with tour groups.
- The Cabinetlevel institution issued the warning after a Taiwanese man had his Republic of China (Taiwan) household registration and passport canceled on returning from a tour to China and Russia in early October.
- Citing the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, the MAC said the law clearly stipulates "the people of the Taiwan Area may not have household registrations in the Mainland Area or hold passports issued by the Mainland Area."
- “Turkey Missions in US Resume Visa Services”, Hurriyet Daily News, November 10, 2017
- The Turkish Embassy in Washington announced on Nov. 9 that Turkey’s diplomatic and consular missions in the U.S. have started accepting visa applications of U.S. citizens on a limited basis. “Regarding evisas and border visas, the statement by our Embassy dated Oct. 8 is still in effect,” it said in a statement, indicating that visa services at borders and e-visa procedures were still suspended.
- Ankara and Washington have taken mutual steps for accepting visa applications on a “limited basis” ahead of an official visit by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım to the U.S. The U.S. had claimed the decision to resume visa services came after Turkey’s assurance that no additional local employees of the U.S. mission would be investigated, detained or arrested for “performing their official duties.”
United Arab Emirates
- “UAE, Switzerland Sign Visa Exemption Deal”, Gulf Business, October 31, 2017
- The UAE and Switzerland have announced an agreement to exempt passport holders from having to obtain shortstay visas. Under the deal, UAE citizens will be able to visit Switzerland, and Swiss passport holders the UAE, for a short stay without having to obtain a visa.
- The scheme is part of an agreement to match entry terms offered by the UAE to European nationals within the Schengen area. Switzerland was previously on a list of countries where passport holders would obtain a multiple entry 90day visit visa valid for six months when entering the UAE.
- “UAE, Ukraine Sign Visa-Free Agreement”, Khaleej Times, November 2, 2017
- Following the negotiations between Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, the two countries have agreed upon a visafree regime. UAE and Ukrainian passport holders will now no longer need visas to travel to each other's countries.
- A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the two countries towards the same effect. Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of the United Arab Emirates on the abolition of visa requirements.
- Joyce Loan, “UAE Visitors Get Visa-Free Access to St. Lucia”, WIC News, November 2, 2017
- Nationals from the United Arab Emirates are now able to make visafree visits to St Lucia, after an agreement was reached between the two countries. The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation made the announcement, with the rules relaxed from November onwards.
- The new regulations mean holders of diplomatic, private, VIP and regular passports from the UAE are exempt from previsa entry requirement. Emiratis can can stay in St Lucia without a visa for up to 60 days per visit.
- “Armenians to Get Danish Visa ‘Significantly Easier’ – Official”, PanArmenian, November 9, 2017
- The government on Thursday, November 9 approved a proposal to sign an agreement on facilitating the issuance of visas between Armenia and Denmark.
- "The Armenian citizens will be able to stay 90 days over a 180day period in Denmark and other countries of the Schengen area," Kocharyan said. "The facilitation targets a number of groups - scientists, NGO representatives, members of delegations. This is a serious step on the road to simplification of visa regime with the European Union."
- “Wealthy South Africans Are Piling into Malta Property for Citizenship”, Business Tech, November 10, 2017
- The demand from affluent South Africans for offshore property investments has boosted demand for Malta property. These wealthy South Africans are looking for offshore property for a variety of reasons – from holiday and retirement homes to investing in Citizenship by Investment programmes.
- According to the Global Property Guide, annual rental yields in Malta are climbing steadily. It noted that larger investment apartments in the favourite expatriate areas such as Sliema, St. Julians and Swieqi have average prices per square metre of around €3,200 to €3,500 and yielded returns of around 4.4% last year.
- Aside from a favourable tax climate, there are no property or council taxes, nor any other costs usually associated with owning property. There are also no inheritance taxes. The property side of a citizenship or residence application is safe and straight forward.
- “Russian Ambassador Says Visa-Free Agreement to Boost Brunei, Russia Ties”, Xinhua, November 11, 2017
- The visafree travel agreement between Brunei and Russia marks a major step forward in the bilateral relations, Vladlen Semivolos, the Ambassador of Russian Federation to Brunei said. "Until now, the privilege of visa-free travel was enjoyed only by diplomats and holders of official or service passports. And today we are proud to announce that all citizens of Russia and Brunei who hold ordinary passports no longer need to worry about visa formalities," Vladlen Semivolos said.
- According to the Agreement between the government of Brunei Darussalam and the government of the Russian Federation on Mutual Exemption of Visa Requirements for Holders of Ordinary Passports, the citizens of the two countries holding valid ordinary passports may enter into, exit from, transit through and uninterruptedly stay in the territory of the other country without visas for a period not exceeding 14 days from the date of entry.
- Nick Perry, “New Zealand Moves to Ban Foreign Investors From Buying Homes”, The Globe and Mail, October 31, 2017
- New Zealand's new government is moving quickly to fulfill a campaign promise by banning foreign investors from buying homes. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Tuesday that she expects to introduce new laws within weeks that would take effect early next year. She said the government is determined to make it easier for New Zealanders to buy homes and to stop foreigners from driving up prices.
- Under the proposed housing legislation, Australians and foreigners who are New Zealand citizens or residents would be exempt. Foreigners could also continue to buy residential land to build new homes.
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