-- August 2011 ~ Travel and Immigration 101

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stricter UK Visa Rules Put Some Colleges in Bind

Less than six months after the British government announced tighter restrictions on UK student visas, at least one university has said it is being forced to close one of its campuses as a result of the new regulations. Schiller International University, which is based in Florida and has four other international campuses, is closing its London campus and will not start its autumn semester, which was to begin on Tuesday, officials said last week.
The university would not provide enrollment figures but said 80 to 85 percent of its students were from non-European Union countries, which means that they required visas to study in Britain. A person who answered the main office phone at Schiller’s London campus said about 35 students enrolled there last year. “The decision to close our London campus was directly related to the new UK immigration rules,” William Moore, executive vice president of the university, said in an e-mail.

The university, founded in 1964, offers degrees in business, economics and tourism, with the London campus located in the borough of Southwark. The other campuses are in Largo, Florida; Heidelberg, Germany; Madrid; and Paris. The new visa rules were announced in a speech to Parliament in March by Home Secretary Theresa May, in which she said the government was “cracking down on bogus colleges” and “bogus students.” The first of the changes went into effect in April, with more restrictions to be imposed through April 2012.

Reducing immigration has been a major policy issue for David Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government since it came to power in 2010. In a speech made in September of that year, Immigration Minister Damian Green said that although Britain benefited from immigration, “unsustainable levels of net migration seen in recent years must be brought down.”

But the British Home Office subsequently released a report in June saying that the British economy stood to lose £1.3 billion to £3.6 billion, or $2.1 billion to $5.8 billion, over the next four years, largely as a result of lost productivity from foreign students, graduates and their dependents. Universities also stand to lose £170 million from tuition fees, while the UK Border Agency would lose £160 million in visa processing fees, the report said.

A spokeswoman for the UK Border Agency, which is responsible for carrying out the government’s immigration policy, said in a statement that the estimate focused only on student and graduate jobs, which could be filled by British workers, and explained the need for visa reform.

“A significant proportion of the impact is due to less work being done by students, poststudy workers, and their dependants,” said the spokeswoman, who declined to give her name, following agency policy. “This is a worse-case scenario dependent on this work not being filled by the U.K. labor market.”

“The old student visa regime,” she added, “was open to widespread abuse and failed to protect legitimate students from being exploited by poor quality colleges.” Gina Hobson, chief executive of the British Accreditation Council, an independent accreditation body for independent colleges, said the changes could have an effect the institutions in the future. “We’re aware of a couple of other institutions that have decided that it’s no longer viable to run,” she said this month in a telephone interview.

“Given the impact the immigration policies will have on the sector, I expect to see further closures in the private education sector, which may include institutions with partnerships with U.K. universities,” Ms. Hobson said. Under the new, more stringent framework of “educational oversight,” all higher education institutions will be required to obtain so-called Highly Trusted Sponsor status from a much smaller list of official accreditation bodies before they can sponsor prospective foreign students for their visa applications.

Highly Trusted Sponsor status requires institutions to satisfy criteria like minimum enrollment rates and course completion rates, as well as being subject to periodic inspections by the British Home Office. The British Accreditation Council is one of several independent bodies that will lose their power to accredit higher education institutions. Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, a body representing Britain’s public universities, said the further impact would be unclear.

“It remains to be seen what long-term impact these changes will have on the numbers of international students applying to come to study at U.K. universities,” she said this month in a statement. According to the British Home Office, the education industry is worth £40 billion annually to the British economy, of which international students contribute £12.5 billion. In 2010, a total of 334,815 student visas were issued by the British government, but the British Home Office has predicted that the new measures will result in 67,000 fewer per year.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

PHILTOA Invites Everyone to Visit the 22nd Philippine Travel Mart

If you’re a travel enthusiast looking for a great vacation spot or you’re just in the mood to have a weekend getaway with your loved ones, you should definitely visit the 22nd Philippine Travel Mart (PTM) this September. Not only will it be held in a bigger venue at the SMX Convention Center in SM Mall of Asia on September 2-4, it will also feature even more tour and travel packages to the most beautiful places in the country such.

The annual event is organized by the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) and is supported by the Department of Tourism. Hundreds of exhibitors will be present at the PTM to offer tour packages that cater to the different travel preferences of companies and individuals.

“We’re always looking to make the experience at the Philippine Travel Mart better and more engaging,” says Cesar Cruz, PHILTOA president. “Aside from wanting a bigger venue so that we could accommodate more participants, we also wanted to offer something different. In line with our aim to also make the Philippines a premier destination for luxury travel, we recently awarded the Top 10 Luxe Destinations in the Philippines. We will also be offering tour packages for these destinations at the 22nd Philippine Travel Mart.”

In addition to that, this lively and engaging event will have seminars and cultural performances such as the Cultural Dance Competition the Eco-Chorale, and a memorable performance centered on the revival of the kundiman, which is a genre of traditional Filipino love songs.

Not only will there be tour packages exclusively available at the PTM, there will also be educational seminars for those who are interested in learning about the current trends in the travel industry. For the younger generation, there will be a Tourism Quiz Bee, which encourages friendly competition among its contestants as they find an engaging way to know more about the Philippines.

With its numerous activities, fun games, and great travel deals in store for everyone, the 22nd Philippine Travel Mart is a must-visit for people who are looking for a perfect vacation spot where they could unwind and have fun with their friends and relatives.

“I’d like to invite everyone to drop by the 22nd Philippine Travel Mart on September 2-4 at the SMX Convention Center in SM Mall of Asia,” Cruz says. “Aside from a variety of tour and travel packages, you also get to know more about the local culture.”

The Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), Inc. is an organization of tour operators and allied members actively involved in the advocacy of responsible tourism. Founded on 12 June 1986, non-stock and non-profit organization. The membership includes travel agencies, hotel, resorts, transportation companies, handicraft stores, and other tourism-oriented establishments and association. For more information on the 22nd Philippine Travel Mart, please visit www.philtoa.org

Friday, August 12, 2011

Things You Need to Know About Australian Immigration

Many Filipinos travel around the world, that’s why many Filipinos need to be updated on different Immigration tips. I have shared before UK Immigration tips, US Immigration tips and even Canada Immigration tips. Now I will share to you my beloved readers all about Australia immigration tips.

We all know that Australia is "as good as it gets" - and also notes that getting through the immigration system is "difficult but not impossible". Australian people are famous for their friendly and easygoing outlook on life. But anyone planning to come to Australia should understand that the Australian government is serious about "protecting the security of our borders and the integrity of our immigration system".
  • Australia has a Universal Visa system. All non-citizens (unless you are a New Zealander) must have a visa to enter Australia. All non-citizens in Australia must hold a valid visa or be liable to detention and removal as 'unlawful non-citizens'.
  • Australia's target migration intake is set yearly with a balance of different areas: skills, family, refugee/humanitarian. Of these areas, there is a strong policy emphasis on reducing family intake and boosting skills and business skills intakes.
  • Not everyone is eligible for an Australia visa. Visa matters are subject to the Migration Act and Regulations. The rules change frequently according to legislative amendments and Federal and High Court precedents.
  • Each visa subclass has its own conditions and criteria. If you apply in the wrong class, or you do not satisfy the decision-maker that you meet the conditions and criteria for the class you apply in, your application will be rejected without refund of the application fee.
  • Discrimination against race or religion or gender is illegal in Australia, including the Australian Immigration system. There is legal discrimination by the Immigration system on the basis of factors like age, medical factors, character and criminal grounds, an applicant's previous visa history, the overstay risk statistics of different countries, and so on. 'Cap and queue' setting is also a feature of some types of visa, delaying processing of those visas when the annual quota is filled.
  • Visa applications are decided strictly on the merits of the applicant vis-à-vis the relevant class and subclass. Bribery and corrupt practices are alien to Australian official culture.
  • Where a visa application is rejected and there is an Australian sponsoring interest, an appeal is available to an independent Review Tribunal in Australia. The application for review is separate from the visa application itself, with an application deadline and a separate fee, refundable if the appeal wins. Many Immigration Department decisions taken to the Review Tribunals are overturned. These cases can be considered the Immigration Department's mistakes in interpreting and applying migration law.
  • Appeals are also possible to the Federal and High Courts. These too are separate applications, which will usually require legal representation.
  • The 'migration industry' is rife with unscrupulous operators. Outside of Australia, there is no restriction on who may give Australian migration advice and charge you for it. In Australia, however, there are severe penalties including jail and heavy fines for those who offer migration advice without being registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA)
  • Migration Agents are bound by a professional Code of Conduct and subject to disciplinary sanctions if they breach it. To be registered, Migration Agents must demonstrate a sound knowledge of migration law and practice, and they must continually update their knowledge.
  • A good adviser can help your chances by selecting the best visa avenue for your case, properly preparing the visa application with all necessary evidence, and effectively representing the case during processing.
  • Registered Migration Agents are not Immigration officials. A Registered Migration Agent cannot 'guarantee' that you will get the visa.
  • For this reason, generally speaking, any migration assistance contract containing a financial 'guarantee' should be regarded with suspicion. In some markets, clients expect and demand a 'no visa, no fee' or 'money-back guarantee' offer, incorrectly believing that this is a promise that the visa may be procured. In these markets, lawyers specialise in tricky, elaborate, and confusing contracts, to deceive the client into thinking the money will be refunded after a rejection.
  • As in everything else, in professional migration advice you get what you pay for. For best value, consult and get proper advice first, before deciding whether to make a visa application and what visa to apply for. The wise will expect to pay for that advice: the money you spend could save you a fortune in wasted time, plans, hopes, trouble, and costs.

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