HLG - Weekly Newsletter – 18.02.2019

Feb 18,2019





  1. Abel Agoro, “Government to Open New Offices for Issuance of e-Passports in Counties and the Diaspora”, Kenyans, February 11, 2019
  • The government is engaging in efforts to ease the e-passport application process by opening more centers for the Immigration Department. According to the Director General of Immigration, Alex Muteshi, plans are underway to open four Immigration offices across the country including in Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisii, and Embu.
  • “We are also going to open six more stations abroad including Washington (United States of America), London (United Kingdom), Berlin (Germany), Paris (France), Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and Johannesburg (South Africa),” Muteshi stated.






  1. Philip Authier, “Quebec's new immigration application system already popular, ministry says”, Montreal Gazette, February 15, 2019
  • Quebec’s immigration ministry released numbers showing the new system, known as Arrima — launched by the former Liberal government in September 2018 — is running and ready to handle applicants.
  • Described as the Tinder of immigration, the online system is supposed to marry a person’s skills with an available job.
  • Once the invitation process is underway, Quebec promises a candidate will know, one way or another, whether they have been granted a Quebec selection certificate within six months.
  • The data reveals that 23,080 people applied within the first month in which the system was operating, and the influx has been steady ever since. Of the total, 5,260 people applied for work in administrative fields, 2,160 for a nursing job and 720 in the field of mechanical engineering. None of the 91,000 applicants have gone beyond the initial sign-up stage, so it is impossible to say how many have actually been processed, officials said.




  1. IMF Official Says Dominica Cooperative in Dealing with CBI Challenges”, TV6 TNT, February 12, 2019
  • “There are now several projects in Dominica in the tourism sector, some at an advanced stage that will generate income and jobs in the economy because of CBI. However, some countries are concerned about erosion of their tax revenue base through evasion, and also about the misutilization of citizenship programmes,” said the IMF Deputy Managing Director, Tao Zhang,
  • He told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the concern is not about legitimate citizenship by investment programmes that are fully transparent and designed to minimize these risks.
  • “The government of Dominica has been cooperative, responding in a timely fashion to recommendations that help address possible loopholes in international taxation,” he added.


United States


  1. Robert Y. Maples, "Congress Prepares Action to Avoid Government Shutdown and Fund Vital Programs Such as EB-5", The National Law Review, February 14, 2019

-     Late on Feb. 13, 2019, House and Senate Committees on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations announced an agreement on DHS Appropriations for FY 2019 and the remaining six other outstanding FY 2019 Appropriations measures.

-     Of particular importance to our readers, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is extended until Sept. 30, 2019 [...].


  1. Sarah E. Amendola, “USCIS Reports Increased Processing Times”, The National Law Review, February 15, 2019
  • While the normal pendency period for almost every type of case has increased since 2014, there have been significant delays for certain types of petitions. Foreign nationals seeking green cards have experienced longer wait times than foreign nationals benefitting from a non-immigrant visa petition. The numbers show that the change in the length of adjudication period has been especially significant over the past two years.
  • [I]n its annually mandated report to Congress last year, USCIS cited an inability to reconcile its fee structure with an increase in the complexity of cases. USCIS names new statutory and policy decisions in addition to extra security screenings as some of the reasons why cases are taking longer for the agency to adjudicate.






  1. Tokyo mulls visa-free short-term travel for Russians”, TASS, February 15, 2019
  • The Japanese government is studying the possibility of scrapping visa requirements for Russians paying short-term visits to the country, the Sankei newspaper said on Friday citing own sources.
  • According to the paper’s sources, no visas will be required for Russians visiting Japan for the period of less than 90 days if they submit data from their foreign passports to a Japanese diplomatic mission beforehand. Multiple visa-free entry within a certain timeframe can also be permitted.
  • According to the paper, the timeframe for introducing this system is yet to be determined. The matter could be raised during a meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia and Japan, which is expected to take place on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on February 16.




  1. Schengen waiver bid tops Kuwaiti-Italian lawmakers discussions”, Kuwait News Agency, February 14, 2019
  • The Schengen visa waiver was on top of the issues discussed during the meeting with members of the Italian Chamber of Deputies’ Foreign and European Affairs Committee, Kuwaiti lawmaker Usama Al-Shaheen told KUNA following the meeting.
  • He noted that they urged Italian peers to accelerate the procedures to approve Kuwait’s bid and give Kuwaitis a visa waiver on a par with that given citizenry of other Arabian Gulf Countries.




  1. Choo Yun Ting, “Singapore and New Zealand mutually extend automated immigration clearance facilities from Feb 12”, The Straits Times, February 11, 2019
  • In a statement on Monday, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said that New Zealand passport holders aged six and above with a travel document with more than six months' validity and have visited Singapore at least twice in the last two years are eligible to apply for Singapore's Frequent Traveller Programme (FTP). Eligible Singaporeans will also be able to make use of New Zealand's eGate passport control facilities.
  • Users of these eGate facilities have to be 12 years old and above and have an ePassport. Entry to the FTP is voluntary and free for New Zealand nationals. They can apply for the FTP at the enrolment centres at Changi Airport Terminal 3, the Visitor Services Centre at the ICA Building, as well as at Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints.




  1. Thailand rolls out eVOA”, TTR Weekly, February 18, 2019
  • Thailand’s new eVisa On Arrival (eVOA) service went live, 14 February, potentially offering an online service to visitors from 21 nations including China, India. Thailand’s Immigration Bureau chief, Surachate Hakpal, confirmed at a launch event, last Friday, that the eVOA service was up and running at four airports — Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi, and Don Mueang as well as Chiang Mai and Phuket.
  • Technically, the eVOA service is open to nationals from 21 nations: Andorra; Bulgaria, Bhutan; China; Cyprus; Ethiopia; Fiji; India; Kazakhstan; Latvia; Lithuania; Maldives; Malta; Mauritius; Papua New Guinea; Romania; San Marino; Saudi Arabia; Taiwan; Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
  • The visa processing is completed online with an approval letter, but final approval to enter the country remains within the jurisdiction of immigration officials at the checkpoint. Tourists can apply from 30 days up to 24 hours before they are due to arrive in the country and an express eVOA for passengers who may urgently need to travel to Thailand.


United Arab Emirates


  1. New 24-hour passport renewal service launched in UAE”, Khaleej Times, February 14, 2019
  • A new office has been opened at the Sharjah International Airport where UAE citizens can renew their passports. The office that functions round-the-clock will help Emirati travellers and airport employees to renew their passports in a short time.
  • Brigadier Arif Al Shamsi, executive director of the GDRFA-Sharjah, said Emirati citizens can renew their passports at the airport if they find that their passports have expired on their arrival at the Sharjah airport.
  • Brig Al Shamsi said Emiratis can renew their passports in a few minutes by submitting a photograph and paying the renewal fees. He also urged people to ensure that the validity of the passport is not less than six months as per international regulations before travelling.


  1. Now, visa-free entry to Russia for Emiratis”, Khaleej Times, February 17, 2019
  • UAE announced visa-free entry for Emiratis to Russia, starting from Sunday (February 17), Wam reported. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced that as of Sunday, UAE nationals will be able to travel to the Russian Federation without prior visas.
  • The exemption was issued in accordance with the agreement signed in Kazan in the presence of HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Denis Manturov, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Russian Federation, in July, 2018, according to which all passports of visa requirements for citizens of the United Arab Emirates and citizens of the Russian.




  1. Steve Creedy, “FAA Safety Approval Opens Up U.S. to Vietnamese Carriers”, Airline Ratings, February 16, 2019
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted Vietnam a category 1 safety rating, opening the way for Vietnamese carriers to fly to the US for the first time. The FAA, which had not previously assessed Vietnamese authorities, said the decision to award the category 1 status under its International Aviation Safety Assessment program was based on an August 2018 examination of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam.
  • The FAA uses its IASA program to determine whether a country’s oversight of its airlines complies with International Civil Aviation Organization safety standards.






  1. Bulgaria Plans to End Passport-for-Sale Scheme”, Reuters, January 22, 2019
  • Bulgaria plans to stop allowing wealthy foreigners to buy citizenship against investment, the justice ministry said on Tuesday, saying the scheme had failed to bring any significant economic benefits for the European Union country.
  • “The data shows that the aim to increase real foreign investment and economic development has not been achieved. As a result new jobs have not been created or economic growth been boosted,” the ministry said in a statement. “In some cases it has been established that at a later stage the investment did not actually materialize due to the sale of the purchased treasury papers or other reasons,” it added.
  • The Justice Ministry said only 50 foreigners - from Russia, Egypt, Israel and Pakistan - had been sold a passport against investment since 2013.




  1. Changes to Citizenship scheme approved”, Cyprus Property News, February 14, 2019
  • The Cabinet approved new criteria which will see a Cyprus passport being granted in exchange for an investment of €2.5 million, raising it from €2 million, including the purchase of a residency. Provision were also made for a mandatory donation of €75,000 to the Research and Innovation Foundation and a second €75,000 contribution to the Cyprus Land Development Corporation to be used for affordable housing.
  • [Finance Minister Harris Georgiades] said, stricter criteria have also been adopted to ensure due diligence procedures are more stringent and effective, such as the measure of thorough scrutiny of each applicant carried out by an independent international house, the obligation for investors to obtain a Schengen visa and the exclusion of applicants who have been rejected by others Member States with similar schemes.




  1. Sorcha Pollak, “London embassy ‘stretched’ by passport demand ahead of Brexit”, Irish Times, February 18, 2019
  • The passport division of the Irish embassy in London has warned that it is “stretched and working under pressure” and that staffing levels “are not sufficient” to meet the rising number of applications ahead of Brexit.
  • Correspondence between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the embassy, released under the Freedom of Information Act, indicates that there has been rising pressure on officials at the embassy despite assertions from the Dublin passport office that a new online system is speeding up the system.
  • The number of passport applications received by the embassy has almost doubled in recent years, rising from 46,229 in 2015 to 91,623 in the 11 months to the end of last November. It is estimated that one in six people in




  1. Luxembourg Issued 6 ‘Golden’ Visas”, Delano, February 13, 2019 (http://delano.lu/d/detail/news/luxembourg-issued-6-golden-visas/203060)
  • While Luxembourg’s investor scheme does not grant a fast-track to Luxembourg nationality, it does offer residency opening the door for making a nationality claim after five years of residence. The parliamentary question probed the stringency of the criteria for the Luxembourg scheme.
  • Immigration minister Jean Asselborn (LSAP) wrote that the scheme aimed to “encourage entrepreneurship and develop the Luxembourg financial centre”. The procedure for applying requires an assessment by the economy ministry to check the project is in one of the target sectors.
  • Asselborn said the finance ministry had yet to approve an investor visa, while the economy ministry approved just 6. “These figures show the rigour with which the law is applied in Luxembourg,” Asselborn wrote.




  1. Eytan Halon, “Citizenship for Sephardic Jews ‘Connects Past, Present, and Future’”, The Jerusalem Post, February 12, 2019
  • Portugal’s decision to grant citizenship to the descendants of Sephardi Jews exiled in the 15th century serves to “connect the country’s past with the present and future,” according to the Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism.
  • While only about 1,000 Jews live in Portugal today, some 26,000 people claiming Portuguese heritage have applied for citizenship. Approximately 8,000 passports have already been issued to eligible applicants.
  • “Today, every Portuguese citizen believes there was someone Jewish in their family and we feel this Jewish heritage as part of our history,” she added, citing the discovery of Brazil by Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500. “The most important moments of Portuguese history are associated with the presence of Jewish communities.”


  1. Ben Zehavi, “US crypto-Jews race to reclaim heritage before Spanish citizenship offer ends”, The Times of Israel, February 17, 2019
  • Today, descendants of Jews who were expelled from Spain have tangible incentive to examine the roots of their family trees: Citizenship is now being offered in Spain and Portugal for those who fit the countries’ legal criteria — for a limited time only.
  • According to scholars, crypto-Jews converted to Catholicism under threat of death during the Spanish Inquisition, but secretly remained practicing Jews. To escape suspicion and persecution at home, they disproportionately settled in far-flung parts of the Spanish empire such as the Caribbean and Mexico. By the 16th and 17th century, many of these so-called “Conversos” had migrated into the Rio Grande valley, all the way up through modern-day New Mexico.
  • If the descendants of Conversos decide to pursue Spanish citizenship, they’d better hurry. The program expires this year at the end of September. For Sephardi Jews with close ties to a current community, however, Portugal has an open-ended program allowing Jews with genealogical ties to the Iberian peninsula to apply for citizenship.




  1. Vusala Abbasova, “Russia To Simplify Visa Requirements For Turkish Citizens”, Caspian News, February 12, 2019
  • Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order last week that expands the list of Turkish citizens eligible for visa-free entry into the country, more than one million residents from Turkey will have a chance to visit Russia in a simplified manner.
  • Under the Russian presidential order, Turkish citizens with special passports that are on short-term business trips, including diplomatic missions and consular affairs, as well as professional drivers engaged in international road haulage, are not required to procure a visa before entering Russia. The order is stipulated on the condition that Turkey adopts similar measures for Russian citizens.
  • The measure may seem like a small one, but for two countries that have experienced high tensions in recent years, last week’s move by President Putin carries diplomatic significance.





  1. Ukraine, Uruguay launch visa-free travel”, Xinhua, February 16, 2019
  • The visa-free regime between Ukraine and Uruguay started to work on Friday, the Ukrainian government-run Ukrinform news agency said. From now on, citizens of Ukraine can stay in Uruguay for 90 days with an extension option of another 90 days, according to an agreement signed between the countries in September 2018.
  • Citizens of Uruguay can travel to Ukraine for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period in line with the deal.





New Zealand


  1. Anton Crace, “NZ: First-time study visas hold steady”, The PIE News, February 13, 2019
  • New Zealand’s first time student visa data for the first half of the 2018/19 financial year has maintained its level to break a two-year trend of losses according to Immigration New Zealand, but full-year visas are anticipated to lose ground.
  • “2018 was a year of change for New Zealand international education,” Education New Zealand chief executive Grant McPherson told The PIE News. “A milestone for the international education sector was the launch of the New Zealand International Education Strategy, outlining our country’s vision for a sustainable sector through until 2030, with a fresh focus on delivering an excellent student experience and achieving sustainable growth.”
  • The statistics continue New Zealand’s trend towards rebalancing, with the overall number of first-time visas maintaining their level despite the largest source market China dipping by almost 500. “While enrolment in lower level qualifications are down, university enrolments are still up from China,” explained McPherson.




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