-- January 2012 ~ Travel and Immigration 101

Friday, January 27, 2012

More Countries Added as Eligible Applicants for H-2A and H-2B Visas

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced last week that there have been five more countries added to the list of eligible nationals who can participate in the H-2A and H-2B programs in 2012. This brings the lists total to 58 countries. The list of Countries will be reviewed again one year from the date of publication.
The H-2A and H-2B programs allow US employers to bring foreign workers to the US in order to fill temporary agricultural jobs and temporary non-agricultural jobs. USCIS generally may only approve H-2A and H-2B petitions for nationals of countries that are designated as eligible to participate in the programs. USCIS may also approve H-2A and H-2B petitions for nationals of countries not on the list if it is determined to be in the interest of the US; this is taken on a case by case basis. In addition to the 53 countries currently on the list, the following five countries were added for 2012: Haiti, Iceland, Montenegro, Spain and Switzerland.

Effective 18 January 2012, nationals of the following 58 countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B programs: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Nauru, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Vanuatu.

Philippine Special Visas available to Alien Traders

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has resumed granting Philippine special visas to foreign businessmen who put up businesses that employ at least 10 Filipinos. Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. said the special visa for employment generation (SVEG) would allow the foreigners to remain in the country indefinitely along with their wives and children under 18.
The visas were resumed two weeks ago after the BI issued the SVEG’s revised implementing rules and regulations that were approved by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. The SVEG was first introduced in November 2008 pursuant to Executive Order No. 758 issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to attract more foreign investors and create more jobs for Filipinos.

But the BI suspended the program last July pending revision of its rules to make it more responsive and relevant to the purpose of the law. The visa is still subject to restrictions imposed by the Constitution and existing laws on foreign investments. SVEG applications may be filed at the BI main office or any field office. A P10,000 application fee, P1,000 clearance fee, P20 legal research fee and P1,000 express lane fee shall be charged each applicant. Cris Villalobos, head of the BI-SVEG one-stop facility, said the new rules provide for the outright issuance of an indefinite visa to a qualified foreign applicant, instead of the initial probationary one-year visa provided in the old rules.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Liberal Immigration Critic Calls Conservatives’ “Super Visa” A Sham!

There has been a lot of discussion about the Conservative government’s new “Super Visa” in the community recently, but unfortunately it has turned out to be an insult to families desperate to bring their parents here. The Super Visa was supposed to bring families closer together by allowing parents and grandparents to visit their children in Canada for up to two years at a time over a decade.
But the reality is that most families won’t be able to afford the high-costs involved with the Visa, including meeting minimum salary levels and paying thousands for private health insurance. All of this is assuming the application is even approved, and we all know how difficult that has become under the Conservatives. Worse, the Super Visa controversy is distracting attention from the Conservatives’ decision to freeze parental sponsorship applications for two years – breaking a promise to new Canadians. For some, having the right to sponsor their parents is the reason why they chose to come to Canada. What the Conservatives have done – no matter what their excuse – is not right.

With a majority, the Conservatives have begun their Reform Party agenda, known for its anti-immigrant policies.  They have chosen to ignore all the hard-working new Canadians who elected them based on empty promises. In contrast, the Liberal Party of Canada believes in reuniting families. In government, Liberals worked closely with immigrant communities leading to a fair and flexible immigration system. Indeed, more immigrants have been welcomed in by Liberals than by any other Party in Canada.

Only with a Liberal government in Ottawa will Canada have an immigration policy that puts the concerns and needs of immigrants first.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Processing Waivers for Family Members Reduced from Years to Months

Last Jan. 6, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted a notice of intent in the Federal Register outlining its plan to reduce the time that U.S. citizens are separated from their spouses and children under certain circumstances while those family members go through the process of becoming legal immigrants to the United States.  Currently, spouses and sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who have accrued a certain period of unlawful presence in the United States, and have to leave the country as part of the legal immigration process, are barred from returning to their families for as long as 3 or 10 years.  They can receive a waiver to allow them to return to their families by showing that their U.S. citizen family member would face extreme hardship as a result of the separation.  This proposal would streamline the processing of these individuals’ waiver applications based on unlawful presence; USCIS proposes to process their waiver applications in the United States before any American family faces separation.  The process would only apply to immigrants who are eligible for a US visa.
Under the proposed process, the spouses and children of U.S. citizens who are eligible for a visa to immigrate legally to the United States, but who need a waiver of inadmissibility for unlawful presence in order to obtain that visa expeditiously, would apply for a provisional waiver before leaving the United States to have their immigrant visa application processed at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad (as they must pursuant to law).  The notice limits the streamlined process to those individuals who are inadmissible based solely on having accrued a period of unlawful presence and – pursuant to statutory requirements – who can demonstrate extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen relative.  All individuals affected by this streamlined process would need to meet all legal requirements for admission to the United States, including the requirement that they process their visa application at a U.S. consulate abroad.

With the change outlined in the notice, individuals who currently qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility under the existing eligibility standards, and who can demonstrate that separation from their U.S. citizen spouse or parent would cause extreme hardship to that relative, would be allowed to apply for a waiver while still in the U.S.  By allowing these individuals to apply for waivers in the U.S. and making a provisional determination of waiver eligibility before the individuals must depart the country for visa processing, USCIS would provide a more predictable and transparent process and improved processing times, minimizing the separation of U.S. citizens from their families. The change would also streamline the process for both USCIS and the Department of State (DOS) when handling requests for these waivers.  As a result, this change would encourage individuals who may be eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility to seek lawful readmission to the United States by limiting the amount of time they would need to spend away from their U.S. citizen spouse or parent.

Following publication of this notice, USCIS will undertake further analysis and collaborate with the Department of State to develop the streamlined process in greater detail.  USCIS plans to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the coming months that will provide additional details and allow the opportunity for public comment.  A final rule will then be published to implement the streamlined process.  The rule will not modify the underlying standard for assessing whether denial of the waiver would result in extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen spouse or parent of such individuals.  It would modify only the process by which these applications may be filed and accepted by USCIS for processing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Canada Immigration Opportunities for Biologists and Related Scientists

Canada has a large demand for biologists and other scientists; Those looking to emigrate can apply under the Canada immigration Federal Skilled Worker program. This skilled immigration program is for people in a range of different occupations including for biologists, zoologists, pharmacologists, and geneticists. If you have skills in occupations listed on the Priority Occupation List under the Canadian skilled worker visa category you will not need sponsorship by an employer.
Canada Immigration uses a Priority Occupation List which is a list of occupations deemed in demand by the Canadian Government; There is an ongoing national skills shortage in a number of areas. Skilled workers are people who are selected as permanent residents based on their points score and ability to become economically established in Canada.

Skilled workers who meet the visa program's requirements which includes the requirement that you have at least one year of continuous full-time or equivalent part-time paid work experience within the last ten years can apply for a visa under the Federal Skilled Worker program. Applicants also need to pass the official language proficiency test in order to apply.

If your occupation is listed on the Priority Occupation List, you are eligible for skilled migration to Canada without needing to have a job offer from a Canadian employer. In addition, processing times are quite quick; You may be able to gain entry to Canada within months of beginning the application process.

Here is a list of Biologist and some similar priority occupations that are in demand in Canada. If you come under one of these occupations and gain enough points under the skilled worker visa category you should be able to emigrate to Canada.
  • Biologist
  • Botanist
  • Geneticist
  • Marine biologist
  • Pharmacologist
  • Toxicologist
  • Zoologist
In order to qualify, applicants must have a bachelor's degree in biology or in a related discipline. A master's or doctoral degree in biology or a related discipline is required for employment as a research scientist in biology. Post-doctoral research experience is usually required before employment in academic departments or research institutions.

Once your application is submitted to Canadian Immigration and Citizenship, it will be processed according to the six selection factors in the skilled worker points grid, which are:
  • your education
  • your abilities in English and/or French
  • your work experience
  • your age
  • whether you have arranged employment in Canada, and
  • your adaptability
There are many ways to immigrate to Canada. If you don't meet the criteria to apply under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you may qualify under another category.

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