HLG Weekly Newsletter

Apr 24,2017

1. Yomi Kazeem, “Ghanaians Had More Applications to Win the US Green Card Lottery Than Any Other Country”, Quartz, April 19, 2017

  • In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, Ghana, with 1.73 million people, accounted for the highest number of applicants for the US diversity visa program also known as “green card lottery”. It’s all the more remarkable because those applications, based on US State Dept. data analysis by Pew Research, would account for around 7% of Ghana’s population of 25 million.
  • In 2013 and 2014, Ghana also had the highest number applicants behind only Nigeria. In comparison, Nigeria’s total in 2014 accounted for just above 1% of its population.



2. “Southern Africa: Mozambique and South Africa Extend Visa Waiver Period”, All Africa, April 20, 2017

  • The Mozambican and South African governments have agreed to extend the period in which citizens of one of the two countries can visit the other without an entry visa from 30 to 90 days.
  • The extension of the waiver to 90 days took effect on Wednesday. It covers Mozambicans visiting South Africa or South Africans visiting Mozambique for purposes of tourism, family visits, health care, business, conferences, seminars, workshops, student exchanges and sporting visits - a list which covers the vast majority of visits made for three months or less.


South Africa

3. Nelie Erasmus, “Citizenship of Foreign Children”, Bosveld Review, April 20, 2017

  • If one parent is a South African citizen, the child will be a citizen by birth, and the [Department of Home Affairs] says it applies the law when it determines and records the identity and status of persons. 
  • “Citizenship is not in every country based on nationality of territory,” the statement reads. According to the department, children born of permanent residents follow their parents’ status.”


4. Prinesha Naidoo, “Uber Rich Splurge on ‘Plan B’ Citizenship Schemes”, Moneyweb, April 21, 2017

  • High Net Worth South Africans (HNW), in pursuit of alternative citizenship and residency, are forking out millions in job creation and investment initiatives abroad. New United States Citizenship and Immigration Services data shows wealthy South Africans consistently rank among the top 15 investors by origin in pursuit of EB-5 visas.
  • The majority of HNW individuals don’t necessarily want to leave South Africa but are seeking freedom – freedom of business travel for entrepreneurs and freedom to study abroad for their children…More than 80% of the applications […] were for programmes in Malta and Antigua, both of which offer strong passports. 
  • Programmes in Portugal and Grenada are also proving popular especially as the latter has signed an E-2 investor visa treaty with the US. The treaty allows citizens of Grenada to obtain US residency permits provided they operate businesses in the US.



5. Gabriel Pomerancblum, “E-Visa Could Add USD 447 Million to Economy”, Brazil-Arab News Agency, April 18, 2017

  • Streamlined entry visas to Brazil for tourists coming from the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan could bring an additional BRL 1.4 billion (USD 447 million) to the Brazilian economy in two years’ time according to federal government forecasts.
  • As of late 2017, the entire visa application and issuance process for travellers from those countries will be done online, and is expected to take no longer than 48 hours. The government released a statement asserting that a second phase will see the the e-visa system be put in place for tourists from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, India and China.



6. Stephanie Levitz, “Launch of New Canadian Immigration Stream Could Be Unexpected Answer to Trump”, CTV News, April 19, 2017

  • The federal Liberals began work on a new immigration program to attract highly skilled labour before U.S. President Donald Trump took office. But what they'll be watching for now is whether the planned June launch of their Global Talent Stream program could be a way to benefit from what Trump has done in his tenure so far.
  • An overhaul of the economic immigration program by the previous Conservative government and the introduction of a system known as Express Entry was supposed to help make it easier. But that program had a six-month lag time and tech firms don't want to wait that long. The Global Talent Stream system aims to process work permits for "highly skilled talent" in two weeks.


United States

7. Sara Ashley O’Brien, “H-1B Visa Applications Decline for the First Time in 5 Years”, CNN, April 17, 2017

  • On Monday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that the number of H-1B applications fell below 200,000 this year for the first time since 2014. 
  • Just 85,000 H-1B visas (20,000 of which are reserved for master's degree holders) are granted annually, but the past few years have seen swelling demand. Applications for the visa opened on April 3, and it was the fifth consecutive year that the cap was met within five days. During that period, 199,000 applications were received. In 2016, USCIS received 236,000 applications -- and the number had been climbing since at least 2013.


8. Pete Kasperowicz, “Trump Issuing New, High-Tech Green Cards to Prevent Immigration Fraud”, Washington Examiner, April 21, 2017

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it would start issuing the new cards on May 1, and that the cards would use "enhanced graphics and fraud-resistant security features."
  • USCIS said the new green cards would display a person's picture on both sides of the card, and show an image of the Statue of Liberty. Employment Authorization Documents will also include photos of the authorized person, and show a picture of a bald eagle. Both sets of documents will also include holographic images, and will no longer display the person's signature, a move that could make it harder for people's signatures to be forged.
  • USCIS said older green cards and EAD papers would remain valid until they expire, after which they will be replaced by the new, redesigned versions.



9. Laura Zhou, “China Launches Revamped ‘Green Cards’ for Foreigners”, South China Morning Post, April 18, 2017

  • Under the new directive from the Ministry of Public Security, which is in charge of residence affairs in China, holders of foreigners’ permanent residence cards can apply to renew the current permits with a new one embedded with a readable chip that contains identity information, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
  • The card can be swiped at various government agencies and institutions, making it easier and faster for foreigners to carry out tasks such as buying train tickets, Xinhua cited an unnamed ministry official as saying.
  • The introduction of the new green card is part of efforts by government leaders, including President Xi Jinping, to clear the path for skilled foreigners to settle in China.


South Korea

10. Hyunsu Yim, “Southeast Asian Package Tour Groups Can Now Visit Jeju Visa-Free”, The Korea Bizwire, April 28, 2017

  • Tourists from Southeast Asian countries visiting Jeju Island on the last leg of their tour will soon be able to travel to the rest of South Korea for five days without a visa, according to government officials. When the new visa rule takes effect in September, Southeast Asians nationals will be able to visit cities like Seoul and Busan for up to five days and Jeju for as long as 10 days without the hassle of obtaining a visa, so long as Jeju is included in their itinerary.
  • Under the newly introduced visa policy, visitors from the Southeast Asian region can arrive in South Korea via Incheon Airport then fly out of Jeju International Airport.



11. Ashley Tang, “Malaysian Passport Ranked Fourth Most Powerful in the World”, The Star Online, April 19, 2017

  • The Malaysian passport is the fourth most powerful in the world, according to the Global Passport Power Rank 2017. Malaysia improved its position by two visa-free changes from 2016 to tie in fourth position globally with Japan as well as Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria and Portugal with an overall visa-free score (VFS) of 156. 
  • In the rankings published by Arton Capital's Passport Index, a VFS represents the number of countries a passport holder can visit visa-free or with a visa-on-arrival. The index is the only real time global ranking of the world's passports, which is updated as frequently as new visa waivers and changes are announced.



12. Thea Alberto-Masakayan, “Philippines Told to Organize Tour Groups for Visa-Free Entry to South Korea”, ABS-CBN News, April 19, 2017

  • Rhee Kangil, chief marketing manager of Jeju Tourism Organization (JTO), confirmed reports that South Korea will soon allow Jeju-bound tour groups from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam to go to other parts of South Korea for five days, without visa, if they transfer at Incheon or Gimhae.
  • "The [visa-free] system [being offered] is when tourists using a package come to Korea and if there's Jeju [island] on the itinerary. It only applies to package tours but there has to be designated travel agencies. It cannot be any travel agency selling Korean packages," Rhee explained.
  • "The Philippines has not yet designated travel agencies, I don't know how long it takes but the Korean government will have to work with the Philippine government to designate the travel agencies," he added.


13. “Philippine Passport Holders, Can Enter Taiwan in 1 Year Even Without Visa”, UNTV News, April 20, 2017

  • Starting June 2017, Philippine passport holders may enter Taiwan even without visa. Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs or MOFA will begin a one-year trial period giving Filipinos a chance to enter Taiwan visa-free. The new policy will be effective from June 1, 2017 until July 31, 2018; allowing a 30-day stay in the country.
  • It can be noted that in September 2016 Taiwan has relaxed its policy in giving Electronic Visa for Filipinos and other Asian citizens. The number of tourists in Taiwan has increased by almost fifty percent.



14. Chew Hui Min, “Singapore Ties With Germany for Most Powerful Passport in the World”, The Straits Times, April 19, 2017

  • For the first time, Singapore is tied with Germany as the country with the most powerful passport in an international ranking. Both Germany and Singapore now top the Global Passport Power Rank 2017, published by Arton Capital's Passport Index.
  • Holders of the Singapore passport can now get visa-on-arrival in Ukraine for up to 15 days, upping the Republic's score by one to 159, Arton Capital said in a press release on Tuesday (April 18). Singapore was second before this change.
  • Germany still has the edge for visa-free free travel, it said. Germans can travel to 125 countries without a visa, holders of the Singapore passport, 122. But Singapore beats Germany with a visa-on-arrival score of 37 to 34. The result - a tie.



15. “99% of Those Given Bulgarian Citizenship in 2015 Were From Outside EU – Eurostat”, The Sofia Globe, April 22, 2017

  • Ninety-nine per cent of those granted Bulgarian citizenship in 2015 were from non-EU countries, the bloc’s statistics agency Eurostat said in a new report. That year, a total of 1275 people became Bulgarian citizens. Of this sum, the largest number were from Ukraine, 17.6 per cent, followed by Russians, 16.8 per cent, and people from Turkey, 14 per cent, Eurostat said.
  • Since 2010, more than five million people in total were granted a citizenship of an EU country. Of the total number of people obtaining the citizenship of one of the EU member states in 2015, 87 per cent were non-EU citizens.



16. Julian Bonnici, “UK Applications for Maltese Citizenship Doubled Since Brexit”, The Independent Malta, April 20, 2017

  • Britons applying for Maltese citizenship have doubled since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, figures provided to The Malta Independent by the Ministry for Justice, Culture, and Local Government have revealed.
  • In 2016, the government received a total of 424 applications (35 per month), a sufficient increase from the 204 (17 per month) and 152 (12 per month) applications received in 2015 and 2014 respectively. 
  • The sudden increase in interest in Maltese citizenship is undoubtedly the result of the British public’s decision to leave in the EU in June 2016, with the number of applications practically doubling the following July; 29 in June and 52 in July.


17. Ivan Martin, “Russians Head List for Maltese Citizenship”, Times of Malta, April 22, 2017

  • Russians were the main recipients of Maltese citizenship in 2015, EU figures show. A breakdown of the approved citizenship applications provided by the European Union’s statistics office, Eurostat, shows that 646 applicants were granted Maltese citizenship two years ago. 
  • Just over 40 per cent, or 258, were Russians, Eurostat said. The second largest group of new citizens were from the United Kingdom, at eight per cent, and Ukraine, four per cent. According to the data, nearly nine of every 10 successful citizenship applicants to European countries were non-EU citizens (so-called ‘third-country nationals’).



18. “Welcome to the Russia Far East: Visa Rules Eased for 18 Countries”, The Siberian Times, April 20, 2017

  • This week has seen the announcement from prime minister Dmitry Medvedev that citizens of 18 countries will be allowed drastically simplified visas to travel to Russia from 1 August 2017.
  • The full list is Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, India, Iran, Qatar, China, North Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, Mexico, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tunisia, Turkey, and Japan. Medvedev said cancellation of existing visa procedures for tourists and entrepreneurs initially for those entering in Vladivostok 'will help increase the investment and tourism attractiveness of the Far East'.
  • People on the list will have simplified entry procedures into Russia through the free port of Vladivostok. Tourists and entrepreneurs will only be required to fill a form on the website of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Applications will be approved within four days. Electronic single entry visas will be issued directly at the Russian border and will be valid for 30 days.



19. “Turkey to Increase Period of Visa-Free Stay for Russian Citizens”, Daily Sabah, April 22, 2017

  • The maximum duration of stay in Turkey without a visa for Russian citizens will be increased to 90 days from 60, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Sunday. The move came right after Russian deputy Foreign Minister Aleksey Meşkov said that Moscow is ready to facilitate visa procedures in certain categories for Turkish citizens.
  • Previously, Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced that Ankara had begun negotiations with Russia regarding passport-free travel, saying that Turkey will be installing devices in airports with capabilities to read the identification cards of Russian citizens.



20. “Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Says No Additional Documents Required After Introduction of Visa-Free Travel With EU”, Interfax Ukraine, April 19, 2017

  • The package of documents that need to be presented on the border with the EU will not change after the introduction of a visa-free regime, First Deputy Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko has said. "No one will ask about any additional documents, except those the border guard could ask a person with a visa in his passport," Prystaiko said.
  • Meanwhile, he recalled that a mandatory condition for visa-free border crossing is a biometric passport, and Ukrainians will be able to stay in the Schengen area for no more than 90 days within 180 days. "Let's be organized and civilized. If you want to stay more than 90 days, please get a visa. If you want to work or study - go to the embassy and get a special visa," Prystaiko explained.


21. “China Ready to Introduce Visa-Free Regime with Ukraine – Ambassador”, Ukrinform, April 22, 2017

  • Chinese Ambassador to Ukraine Du Wei said this at a press conference on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and China.
  • "The Chinese side is ready at any time in accordance with the desire of the two sides, on the principle of equality and mutual benefit, to take new measures for the human exchange between our countries, including a visa-free regime," the diplomat said.


United Kingdom

22. Helen Warrell, “UK Considers Two-Year Visa for Young Europeans After Brexit”, Financial Times, April 17, 2017

  • Ministers are considering a two-year fixed visa for young Europeans seeking work in the UK in low-skilled sectors such as construction, social care and hospitality after Brexit. High quality global journalism requires investment. 
  • The new visa route would be aimed at EU nationals aged between 18 and 30 who are prepared to take jobs for a strictly limited period. Applicants would not be allowed to bring any dependents and would be prevented from claiming benefits such as housing allowance.
  • One senior immigration adviser told the Financial Times that while it might be controversial, creating a new version of the youth mobility scheme was one of the government’s “only options” for ensuring an adequate supply of low-skilled workers after Brexit.



23. Alec Macfarlane, “Australia First: Country Overhauls Visa Program for Skilled Workers”, CNN, April 18, 2017

  • Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Tuesday that the country is overhauling a visa program that allows skilled workers from abroad to hold jobs for up to four years. The current visa program, known as 457, was intended to allow employers to plug gaps in the Australian labor market. It will be replaced by two temporary visas, one for two-year stays and another for four-year stays.
  • The number of eligible jobs for the visas will be cut from 651 to 435, and application fees will rise. The government said the visas will be restricted to filling critical skills shortages. The new visas will require at least two years of previous work experience, better English language ability, stricter labor-market testing and a criminal background check.
  • Current 457 visa holders won't be affected by the changes, the government said. Around 96,000 people held the visas in Australia at the end of September, down nearly 8% from a year earlier, according to the latest official data.


24. Emily Tamkin, “Australia Announces Citizenship Exam Will Now Test ‘Values’”, Foreign Policy, April 20, 2017

  • mMgrants will be required to live in Australia for four years — not one, as currently — before they can apply for Australian citizenship. For another, Turnbull said on Thursday, the citizenship examination will be redone so as to raise the standard of English language proficiency.
  • It will also add a component that tests whether the applicant displays “Australian values,” asking questions like whether applicants send their children to school, or have jobs. “Why should the test simply be a checklist of civic questions?” Turnbull asked, later adding, “What we are doing is strengthening our multicultural society and strengthening our values.”


New Zealand
  1. Eleanor Ainge Roy, “New Zealand Restricts Skilled-Worker Visas in ‘Kiwis-First Approach to Immigration’”, The Guardian, April 19, 2017
  • The New Zealand government has announced plans to tighten access to skilled work visas to help get Kiwis into jobs ahead of migrants. Employees in seasonal work such as fruit picking would also have their visas shortened to the length of time they were needed in the country.
  • The changes include raising the income threshold to be classed as a skilled migrant to nearly NZ$50,000 (£27,500) a year, classifying anyone earning NZ$73,000 and above as high-skilled and restricting work visas to low-skilled workers to three years, after which a mandatory stand-down period will be enforced before workers can re-apply.




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