- “Egypt, Sudan Continue to Disagree on Visa-Free Travel Deal”, Middle East Monitor, January 11, 2018
- There are a number of obstacles facing the implementation of the Four Freedoms agreement between Egypt and Sudan, the Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, revealed yesterday. Speaking in a conference held in Cairo with his Tanzanian counterpart, Augustine Mahiga, Shoukry said that the consultations on the Four Freedoms agreement have not reached the full implementation phase yet, adding “we are facing some obstacles”.
- In 2004, Egypt and Sudan signed the socalled the Four Freedoms Convention, allowing the free movement of citizens between both countries, as well as working and owning property with no special permit. Egypt recently requested an amendment be made to some of the agreement’s clauses, including restricting the entry of Sudanese citizens to Egypt.
- Egypt and Sudan have experienced strained relations over several controversial issues; most notably the Halayeb and Shalateen region which Sudan claims is its sovereign territory.
- Sakeus Iikela, “Namibia Launches E-Passport”, All Africa, January 8, 2018
- Nehemia Nghishekwa, acting permanent secretary in the ministry, launched the epassport in Windhoek on Friday. "A biometric passport is a highly secured travel document or passport with a chip for document security enhancement, rendering it difficult to forge," he said. The e-passport will be issued as from today, while the current machine-readable passports in circulation will still be in use until they outlive their five-year lifespan. It will be available to ordinary, diplomatic and official passport holders.
- Nghishekwa said the ministry will still issue the brown passport, also known as the emergency travel document, until further notice. The epassport will cost N$160 for the time being, until government gazettes the new fee of N$200, which was approved by Cabinet last year.
- “Zimbabwe to Become a Visa Free Destination”, Khuluma Afrika, January 14, 2018
- Immigration Department Principal Director Mr Clemence Masango today announced that they are working on enabling Zimbabwe to be a SansVisa Destination. Addressing members from the Tourism Sector who attended a briefing at Meikles Hotel earlier today, Masango announced that they are facilitating Visa Abolition so that visitors will be able to jet in from any country without any permit complications and that his Department will soon announce further revision of the Visa Regime.
- He said the Immigration Department is almost done with the revision of the Visa Regime but waits for authorization from the government. “The exercise is continuous but bear with us we are a government system everything goes through channel and authorization but the first exercise is ready for publication once the necessary clearance has been attended to” echoed the Director of Immigration Department.
- Shaina Luck, “Nova Scotia Filled Just a Quarter of its Spots Under New Immigration Program”, CBC, January 11, 2018
- The Atlantic Immigration Pilot launched in March 2017 and was designed to bring more skilled workers to Atlantic Canada by quickly identifying employers and reducing applicant processing time to six months or less. The joint federalprovincial program designated 2,000 spaces for the four Atlantic provinces in 2017, and the program will also run this year and the next.
- Nova Scotia had a quota of 792 spaces in 2017 but only filled 201 of those spots, said Suzanne Ley, the executive director of the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration. "It's common in Year 1 for low uptake for immigration programs. It's important to understand it can often take several years for a new immigration program to fully ramp up," Ley told the Nova Scotia Legislature's standing committee on economic development Thursday.
- “Canada to See 1.7 Pct Yearly Growth of Economy for Next 5 Years”, Xinhua, January 13, 2018
- Canada's economy is to see average annual 1.7 percent growth for next five years, according to CBC Friday. CBC said it obtained an internal memo for Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau, which forecasts average annual growth of just 1.7 percent in 2018 through to 2022. The Canadian economy has been improving for a year, averaging 3.7 percent growth, with the jobless rate recently hitting a record low of 5.9 percent.
- The government announced last November that annual immigration levels will rise from 300,000 in 2017 to 340,000 in 2020, to help offset Canada's aging demographic. The memo says adding 15,000 skilled immigrants each year could add onetenth of a percentage point each year to Canada's GDP growth, but it cautions "there is no silver bullet solution to raising Canada's productivity growth."
St. Kitts & Nevis
- Joyce Loan, “St. Kitts and Nevis Begins Diplomatic Relations with Gabon”, WIC News, January 10, 2018
- The high commissioner of St Kitts and Nevis to the UK has officially started diplomatic relations between the Caribbean nation and Gabon. A joint communique, formalising ties between the two countries, was signed by Kevin Isaac and Aichatou S Aoudou, the ambassador of the Gabonese Republic.
- According to a statement from the embassy in London, Aoudou “exalted the establishment of diplomatic relations by committing herself to the nourishment of the relations in London and beyond.” Visafree travel for citizens of both countries is something that should be worked on soon, she added.
- Justin Bachman, “Flying Domestic May Get Harder Thanks to Driver’s License Law”, Bloomberg, January 8, 2018
- Four years after hijackers showed driver’s licenses to board planes used in the 2001 terrorist attacks, Congress passed the “Real ID” Act to force states to exert greater oversight of the primary identification Americans use when they fly domestically.
- Now, after 13 years of delays and extensions, the Trump administration has fixed a hard deadline of October for states to comply. Under the law, all airline travelers must display a new, technologically advanced license if they wish to board a plane… The Department of Homeland Security has given the 23 states still operating under extensions until Oct. 10.
- To compel compliance, the Trump administration—as with the preceding Bush and Obama administrations—is threatening to bar airline passengers if their license isn’t “Real ID” approved
- Miriam Jordan, “Trump Administration Says That Nearly 200,000 Salvadorans Must Leave”, The New York Times, January 8, 2018
- Nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador who have been allowed to live in the United States for more than a decade must leave the country, government officials announced Monday. It is the Trump administration’s latest reversal of years of immigration policies and one of the most consequential to date.
- Salvadorans were by far the largest group of foreigners benefiting from temporary protected status, which shielded them from deportation if they had arrived in the United States illegally. The decision came just weeks after more than 45,000 Haitians lost protections granted after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, and it suggested that others in the program, namely Hondurans, may soon lose them as well. Nicaraguans lost their protections last year.
- The administration is giving Salvadorans in the program until September 2019 to get their affairs in order. After that, they no longer will have permission to stay in the country, forcing them into a wrenching decision.
- Chantal Da Silva, “H-1B Visa Holders Will Not be Forced to Leave U.S., Immigration Services Says”, Newsweek, January 11, 2018
- The Trump administration appears to be distancing itself from claims it has been considering ending the practice of extending H1B visas during the green card application process.
- […] Jonathan Withington, chief of media relations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), said that while the agency is examining other potential policy changes as part of the "Buy American, Hire American" executive order signed by the president last April, the H1B extension policy was not expected to change.
- “What we can say, however, is that USCIS is not considering a regulatory change that would force H1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing our interpretation of section 104(c) of AC-21, which provides for H-1B extensions beyond the 6-year limit.”
- Rich McKay, “U.S. Resumes DACA Applications After Judge Blocks End to Program”, Reuters, January 14, 2018
- U.S. immigration authorities said on Saturday that it will resume accepting requests under a program that shields young people brought to the United States illegally from deportation after a court order blocked a government decision to end the program.
- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said on its website that people who previously received a grant of protection under the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) may apply for a renewal under the terms in place before it was rescinded in September.
- The announcement comes after a U.S. judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a decision by President Donald Trump to end DACA later this year. Congress is debating whether or not to write new legislation that would grant legal status to these immigrants that were brought to the U.S. as children and remain illegally.
- Andrew Higgins, “A Visa-Free Zone Welcomes Your Wallet. But Maybe Not Your Beard”, The New York Times, January 8, 2018
- Except for men with long beards and women wearing veils or jewelry with a crescent moon motif, just about anyone can enter Chinese territory — at least a few miles of it — across a frontier marked only by two thin stripes of paint daubed across the road. The stripes — one red, one light blue — demarcate the border between China’s restive region of Xinjiang in the far west of the country and Kazakhstan, a Central Asian neighbor.
- There are no Chinese visa checks, no officious border guards or customs officials, only a detachment of the People’s Armed Police, a paramilitary force entrusted with watching out for Islamiclooking dress near the stripes on the road.
- Around two million Chinese enter the zone each year, far more than the number of Kazakhs, but they mostly stay on the Chinese side. Traffic across the barely marked border, at least in winter, flows almost entirely one way. Only a trickle of Chinese pass into Kazakhstan as throngs of Kazakhs pour in the other direction to shop for clothing, toys and electronic goods, many of them counterfeit, in Chinese shops.
- “Indian Passports May No Longer Be Used as Address Proof”, Zawya, January 13, 2018
- The Indian passport is set to go through a lot of changes, if the proposal of the ministry of external affairs is implemented. They will no longer be valid proof of address, a Hindustan Times report says. Reason: The current last page with the passport holder's address and the names of the guardian will be dropped.
- What's more, to make immigration and screening more efficient, orange coloured passports may be issued for individuals in the emigration check required (ECR) category.
- Surendera Kumar, undersecretary of policy and legal matters at the consular, passport and visa division of the ministry, was quoted in the report as saying that, "The decision to keep the last page of the passport blank has been taken" to protect the details contained. Though not printed, the details will be saved on official systems and remain accessible for immigration officials and agencies concerned by scanning a barcode present, a report in CN Traveler said.
- “Visa-Free Travel to Qeshm Island of Iran Opened”, Mehr News Agency, January 11, 2018
- According to Iranian deputy foreign minister, the nationals of 180 countries can travel to Iranian southern island of Qeshm with no need to apply for visa prior to their travel. “With opening of the electric visa issuance office at Qeshm Airport, the nationals of 180 countries in the world can receive their visa at Qeshm Airport within 20 minutes with just having their passport at hand,” said Hassan Ghashghavi, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs.
- Qeshm Island, located between the opening of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, is Iran’s second free trade zone and a unique tourism hub.
- “Foreign citizens can also apply for tourism visas without physical presence in Iranian missions just using the Internet. The procedure code will be sent to their cell phones.
- Behrouz Mehri, “Record Number of Tourists Visit Japan in 2017”, Japan Today, January 13, 2018
- A record number of tourists visited Japan last year, the government said Friday, as the country gears up to welcome the world to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. Some 28.7 million foreign tourists entered Japan in 2017, meaning the country has tripled its number of visitors in the past five years amid a massive promotional drive ahead of the Olympics.
- Tokyo has eased visa requirements, expanded duty free programs and changed customs and immigration rules to promote tourism in a drive to spur the nation's overall economic growth. "We need to take further steps and accelerate our efforts toward achieving the goal of 40 million visitors by 2020," Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii told a regular briefing.
- Roy Mabasa, “Taiwan Reiterates ‘Visa-Free’ Appeal”, Manila Bulletin, January 9, 2018
- Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) Representative Gary Lin said it “will not hurt” if the Philippines extend the visafree treatment to Taiwanese nationals, just like what it has already granted to its neighbors like Japan, South Korea, the ASEAN region, and even Hong Kong, which is only an administrative region of Mainland China.
- For a start, he suggested that the visafree issuance could be extended to the “elite” in Taiwan, meaning from high-ranking officials, business executives, or famous personalities.
- “Tajikistan, Uzbekistan Agree On Visa-Free Travel”, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, January 11, 2018
- Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have agreed to visafree travel between the two Central Asian countries and other border-crossing measures, according to Tajik media. Media reports on January 11 said that the decisions came during a visit to Dushanbe by Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov. They said Aripov and his Tajik counterpart, Qohir Rasulzoda, agreed to finalize and sign the new border protocols in the near future.
- The new border regulations will allow Tajik and Uzbek citizens to visit each others’ countries without visas for up to 30 days. They will also provide for the building of new checkpoints along the border and the opening of several bus links to connect the two nations' towns and cities.
- “Armenian Parliament to Debate Visa Waiver with Tajikstan”, ArmenPress, January 11, 2018
- The foreign relations committee of the Armenian parliament held an extraordinary session to debate the ratification of the agreement about mutual civilian visits between Armenia and Tajikstan.
- Deputy FM Shavarsh Kocharyan said the document is rather standard and implies a visa free travel regime for citizens of Armenia and Tajikstan.
- Alesia Rudnik, “10 Days Visa-Free: A New Stage for Belarusian Tourism”, Belarus Digest, January 11, 2018
- On 26 December, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka signed a new decree on a 10days visa-free entry regime for foreigners. It expands upon last year’s decree on 5-day visa-free entrance to the Augustow zone in the Hrodna region. The changes are in tandem with a February 2017 decree, which grants tourists a Belarus-wide, five-day visa provided they fly into Minsk airport.
- The new visafree rules are valid from 2018 and allow citizens of 77 countries to spend 10 days without a visa in the Hrodna and Brest regions. No changes have been made for those who enter without a visa into Minsk airport, and as such can still only spend five days in Belarus, but are able to travel anywhere in the country.
- Thu-Huong Ha, “Germany Has Regained its Crown as the World’s Most Powerful Passport”, Quartz, January 9, 2018
- Germany is at the top for the fifth year in a row, with visafree or visa-upon-arrival access to 177 countries, up from 176 last year.
- A separate ranking called Passport Index is published by the global financial advisory company Arton Capital, and is updated in real time. In December, Arton’s Passport Index put Germany back on top, consistent with Henley’s ranking.
- Andrew Rettman, “Russian Elite Flocks to Buy Maltese Passports”, EU Observer, January 11, 2018
- The newlyminted Maltese nationals emerged in a list of more than 2,000 names published in the country's legal gazette at the end of last year. It came out after the previous gazette showed that 40 percent of new passport buyers in 2015 were also Russians.
- The surge in Russian applications comes after the EU and US imposed economic sanctions and visabans and asset-freezes on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine in 2014. It also comes amid US plans to create a new blacklist on 29 January 2018 of cronies of Russian president Vladimir Putin over his meddling in the 2016 US election.
- "The list of new citizens of Malta … has enough wellknown Russian names to drive home an uncomfortable truth for the Kremlin: the Russian elite doesn't feel attached to Putin's besieged fortress project", Leonid Bershidsky, a Russia expert at the Bloomberg news agency, said on Thursday (11 January).
- Alisi Vucago, “Visa-Free Travel to Argentina for Fijians”, The Fiji Times, January 9, 2018
- Fijians now have the opportunity to travel to Argentina without a visa through the 'Agreement on Waiver of Transitory Visas for Holders of Ordinary Passport' between Fiji and Argentinian governments.
- Fiji's Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Ioane Naivalurua said the visafree entry of Fijians into Argentina and vice versa would encourage increased opportunities for trade, investment, and sports particularly rugby, and tourism.
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