HLG - Weekly Newsletter – 25.02.2019

Feb 26,2019





  1. Gbenga Omokhunu, Abuja, “FG grants visa free waiver for accredited election observers”, The Nation, February 21, 2019
  • Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) on Thursday approved a visa-free waiver for foreign accredited election observers and monitors. The development according to government is due to the rescheduling of the 2019 general elections.
  • In a statement issued on Thursday in Abuja by the Comptroller General (CG), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, affected individuals and organisations wishing to extend their stay or travel back to their countries and return for the next election are advised to visit Nigeria Immigration Visa Desk at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Headquarters. The minister emphasised that no fee is to be paid for the process.


  1. Sule Ya’u Sule, “Welcoming the new Nigerian 10-year E-passport”, Daily Trust, February 24, 2019
  • The new ten-year security-enhanced e-passport is tribute to the vision and drive for excellence by the Comptroller-General of Immigration, Muhammad Babandede and his team.
  • The new passports have features that meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation ICAO standards. With twenty-five new security features which include the engraving of a holder’s National Identity Number (NIN), the new international passport which will become available for issue to members of the public from March 4, 2019, has acquired exceptional economic value.






  1. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, “Caregivers will now have access to new pathways to permanent residence”, Government of Canada, February 23, 2019
  • Caregivers will soon have access to 2 new 5-year caregiver immigration pilots that will replace expiring and ineffective pilot programs. The new pilots will allow caregivers to come to Canada together with their family and provide a pathway to permanent residence.
  • Under the new pilots, applicants will be assessed for permanent residence criteria before they begin working in Canada. Once the caregiver has their work permit and 2 years of work experience, they will have access to a direct pathway to become a permanent resident.
  • In addition, the Minister also launched the Interim Pathway for Caregivers, which will be open from March 4, 2019, until June 4, 2019.
  • […] The Interim Pathway for Caregivers will provide those caregivers an opportunity to stay in Canada permanently. The interim program will have modified criteria compared to the current pilot programs and offer a pathway to permanent residence for caregivers who, in good faith, have come to Canada and are providing care to Canadians, without a clear pathway to permanent residence.


  1. Kathleen Harris, “Liberals launch 2 new immigration pilots for foreign caregivers”, CBC, February 23, 2019
  • Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is announcing two new five-year initiatives today that will allow caregivers to bring family members with them to Canada, and make it easier for them to become permanent residents.
  • "Caregivers provide care to families in Canada that need it, and it's time for Canada to care for them in return," Hussen said in a statement. "We are providing them with both the opportunity to bring their family members here and access (to) permanent residency to demonstrate our commitment."
  • A total of 5,500 principal applicants will be permitted annually, and family members will not count toward the cap.


  1. Allison Lampert, “Quebec lawyers try to save immigrant applications amid crackdown”, Reuters, February 23, 2019
  • Lawyers in the Canadian province of Quebec on Friday asked a judge to halt the suspension of almost 20,000 applications by immigrants caught up in a crackdown by the new center-right government.
  • Draft legislation by the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) has triggered the suspension of 18,000 applications made under existing laws from immigrants seeking to live in the predominantly French-speaking province.
  • Lawyer group Association québécoise des avocats et avocates en droit de l’immigration asked Quebec Superior Court Justice Frederic Bachand to order the government to process existing newcomers’ applications as the bill is being debated.


St. Kitts & Nevis


  1. Federation has diplomatic ties with 34 countries, visa arrangements with 15”, The St. Kitts & Nevis Observer, February 20, 2019
  • The diplomatic footprint of St. Kitts and Nevis has grown tremendously since 2015 with the signing of new diplomatic relations with 34 countries and the addition of some 15 visa free waiver arrangements, said Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, the Honourable Mark Brantley, during a community consultation with the Federal Cabinet held Feb. 18 in Nevis.
  • This “takes our passport to one of the most powerful in the region and we have committed to making it the most powerful in all of the Caribbean and Latin America as we continue to work at this,” said the foreign affairs minister.


St. Lucia


  1. Saint Lucian named head of regional Citizenship by Investment body”, St. Lucia News Online, February 20, 2019
  • Saint Lucian Nestor Alfred has been named the chairman of the Citizenship by Investment Program Association (CIPA), a regional body that is made up of Citizenship by Investment (CUI) unit heads of countries that have such investment programs. Alfred, who is head of Saint Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment Unit, was appointed on January 31.
  • CIPA is a regional body made up of the CIU-heads of the Caribbean’s five citizenship by investment programs – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia. It was formed to forge closer cooperation and coordination among the five countries.
  • Alfred replaces Les Khan, who was chairman of the body for 18 months. The chairmanship of the body normally lasts for one year.


United States


  1. Daniel Shoer Roth, “It’s about to get easier for legal immigrants in Miami to get their papers. Faster, too.”, Miami Herald, February 22, 2019
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is expanding a new program that promises to speed up the adjudication of immigration benefits.
  • The agency will announce in coming days that its Information Services Modernization Program (ISMP) will be deployed to its Miami district office to allow immigrants to check on the status of their cases and receive other important information by telephone.


  1. Chris Fuchs, “After long wait, U.S. moves forward with proposal to end work permits for spouses of H-1B visa holders”, NBC News, February 23, 2019
  • The proposed regulation was officially delivered to the Office of Management and Budget for review Wednesday, according to a government database, which means the Department of Homeland Security has finished its work on the policy.
  • “The news really is this rule is finally moving forward as a proposal in a formal way,” said William Stock, an immigration lawyer from Philadelphia and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
  • USCIS spokesperson Jessica Collins said in a statement to NBC News that the agency continues to review all employment-based visa programs, including employment authorization documents for H-4 visas. “No decision about the regulation concerning the employment eligibility of certain H-4 spouses is final until the rule-making process is complete,” she said.






  1. Soth Koemsoeun, “Thailand to waive re-entry visa for Cambodian workers, says embassy”, The Phnom Penh Post, February 25, 2019
  • Thailand has confirmed it will waive visa fees for Cambodian workers who travel home for Khmer New Year, a press release issued by the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok states. The embassy said Cambodian workers would be exempt from paying re-entry fees when they returned to Thailand after the holiday.
  • “The free re-entry visa is valid from April 5 to April 30. All workers must return to Thailand no later than April 30, 2019,” read the statement dated Friday 22 and obtained by The Post on Sunday.





  1. Roy Mabasa, “Acquiring Argentine visa made easier”, Manila Bulletin, February 21, 2019
  • Under Resolution 33/2019 issued this month, the Philippines is now included in Argentina’s Autorizacion Electronica de Viajes (AVE), a system that would provide Filipinos with a United States B2 (tourism) class visa the facility to apply for an Argentine visa through the website of the Direccion Nacional de Migraciones (National Directorate for Migration)
  • The inclusion of the Philippines in the list is expected to increase tourism and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, especially as more Filipinos develop a taste for traveling to new destinations. Argentines may enter the Philippines visa-free for a period of 30 days




  1. Taiwan's NIA defends amnesty policy for people who overstay visas”, Taiwan News, February 24, 2019
  • The National Immigration Agency (NIA) on Sunday defended its policy to encourage foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas to turn themselves in after it was harshly criticized by an official with a crime control association.
  • Under the NIA amnesty program, those residing in Taiwan beyond the expiration of their visa who turn themselves in from Jan. 1 to June 30 will only be subject to a maximum penalty of NT$2,000 (US$64.89) and a limited re-entry ban or suspension of visa-free privileges. Visa overstayers who are arrested face heavier punishment, including a penalty of up to NT$10,000 and a longer re-entry ban.
  • It also noted that the amnesty program, designed to reduce the number of violators that has built up in recent years, is temporary, and that after June 30, the law will be amended to stiffen penalties for visa overstayers, regardless of whether they turn themselves in or are arrested.




  1. Passport-free travel between Turkey, Moldova”, Daily Sabah, February 20, 2019
  • Gürol Sökmensüer, Turkey's ambassador to Chisinau, said citizens of Turkey and Moldova will be able to travel to each other's countries with only identification documents as of Tuesday.
  • Sökmensüer noted that in line with the agreement inked between the two countries, citizens will be able to stay in Moldova visa-free with a new type of chipped identification every 180 days as of Feb. 19, 2019, provided they do not exceed a 90-day stay.


United Arab Emirates


  1. Russia waives entry visas for UAE nationals”, GDN, February 18, 2019
  • The Russian Federation has exempted the holders of ordinary personal UAE nationals from the pre-entry visa requirements. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation announced the measure, which will take effect on Sunday, Albayan reported.
  • The Russian decision to scrap pre-entry visa requirement followed an agreement which was signed last July in the city of Kazan, Russia. “The visa waiver reflects steadily-growing relations between the UAE and Russia”, said Undersecretary Ahmed Sari Al-Mazrou.


  1. Pedro Goncalves, “Demand for second passport in UAE up 30%”, International Investment, February 19, 2019
  • […] Most of the requests made in the UAE towards obtaining an alternative citizenship came from Asian and Middle Eastern nationals living in the UAE. Syrians top the list and account for 14% of total demand, followed by Pakistani nationals (12%), Indian residents (10%) and Egyptians (9%).
  • Citizenship by Investment said it has been witnessing some major changes and one of them is the introduction of the new Turkish citizenship program which was published on the Official Gazette and entered into force in September 2018.






  1. Elias Hazou, “Cyprus scrambles as Brexit deadline nears”, Cyprus Mail, February 24, 2019
  • Earlier this month foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides sent a letter to his UK counterpart Jeremy Hunt, assuring him that the rights of British expats in Cyprus would be honoured in the event of an ‘orderly’, or agreed Brexit.
  • In his letter, the foreign minister said Cyprus was preparing in close cooperation with the EU and other member states for all outcomes, including that of a no-deal exit. In case of a hard Brexit, he added, “Cyprus stands ready to ensure that those British citizens residing in Cyprus presently, and until 29 March 2019, will be able to continue residing and enjoying the same rights as provided for in the withdrawal agreement.”
  • […] In an agreed UK exit, the transition period will start on 30 March 2019 and end on 31 December 2020. In a no-deal situation, there is no transition period.




  1. John Dennehy, “Portugal's 'golden visas' generating wide interest in Middle East”, The National, February 20, 2019
  • A senior Portuguese minister has said his country's "golden visa" scheme is generating wide interest in the Middle East, with Arabs and South Asians among the most common applicants. ` Eurico Brilhante Dias, Portugal’s secretary of state for internationalisation, revealed that most applicants from the region come from Pakistan, followed by India and Egypt, including some living in the UAE.
  • The scheme has generated about €4 billion (€16.66bn) in investment for Portugal since it was set up in 2012. The vast majority of the 6,000-plus applicants granted visas so far are Chinese with those from the Middle East taking visas numbering in the hundreds.
  • “Our scheme is transparent,” said Mr Dias. “All money related to laundering or that could have come from a criminal source – that money is not welcome in Portugal.”




  1. Mohammad Ali, “Moscow Seeks Visa-Free Travel To Oman - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov”, Urdu Point, February 18, 2019
  • Russia has asked Oman to scrap visa requirements for its citizens, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday.
  • A direct air link between Moscow and Muscat was set up last October. Oman has also decided to ease visa rules for Russian citizens. Lavrov said this would help broaden business and tourism flows.


  1. Michael Pavitt, “Russian Parliament ratifies visa-free travel agreement with Belarus for European Games”, Inside the Games, February 20, 2019
  • The Russian Parliament has ratified an agreement between the country and Belarus which will enable visa-free travel in its territory for foreign nationals arriving for the European Games. A significant number of overseas sports fans are expected to attend Minsk 2019 via Russia.
  • The intergovernmental agreement was signed by Russia and host nation Belarus last May. The agreement was aimed at assisting people who are attending the European Games.
  • Under the terms of the agreement, foreign nations will be able to enter, exist, stay and transit through the territory of the other state without visas. They will require an authentic identification, as well as a document permitting them to attend the international sporting event in either Russia or Belarus. The agreement will be valid through until July 10, according to Minsk 2019.


United Kingdom


  1. Daniel Boffey, “Britons may need £52 visa to visit mainland Europe after Brexit”, The Guardian, February 20, 2019
  • British tourists travelling to continental Europe may need to pay £52 for a visa in a few weeks after Spanish demands over the status of Gibraltar again derailed Brussels’ preparations for Brexit. Agreement on legislation exempting UK nationals from requiring the travel permit is mired in a dispute over whether the British overseas territory should be described as a “colony” in the EU’s statute book.
  • Spain has insisted, with the reluctant support of the other 26 member states, that a footnote containing the contentious description of the disputed territory is added to the legislation.
  • The legislation being discussed by the EU institutions would put the UK on a visa-exemption list from 29 March, when the country formally leaves the bloc. But if the impasse is not broken and the UK crashes out on 29 March, British tourists will be left in legal limbo as the UK will be neither on the list of countries where a visa is required or among those with an exemption.





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