-- May 2010 ~ Travel and Immigration 101

Friday, May 28, 2010

Beware of Bogus UK Visa and Job Offers

The UK Border Agency has issued a warning to would-be working UK Visa applicants, urging them to be on their guard for scammers offering them jobs that do not exist.

A number of incidents have been reported which involve bogus job offers being made to foreign nationals who want to work in the UK. The scam, which appears to be email based, frequently cites the names and titles of real UK Border Agency officials, presumably to add authenticity to the offers of “work”.

The purpose of the scam has not yet been established, although it is possible the scammers intend to issue fake UK work visas in exchange for payment. 

UK Visa Philippines

Rob Yeldham, director of communications at the UK Border Agency, has issued the following warning to foreign nationals wanting to work in the UK: “My name has been used in several apparent attempts to scam foreign professionals looking for work in the UK. We have referred cases to our security unit, but at this stage it is unclear what the nature of the scam is, or where in the world it is based. The best advice is to be careful of any unsolicited offers.”

Mr. Yeldham confirmed that UK Border Agency staff do not act on behalf of employers, so any job offer that claims to be endorsed by the agency should be treated as suspect. The other warning sign is incorrect UK Border Agency email addresses, such as those ending in .co.uk and .com.

Source: GlobalVisas

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Philippine Embassy and Consulate in Bangkok Remains Open for Service

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday assured Filipinos working or studying in Bangkok that the Philippine Embassy in Thailand will remain open to serve them despite the clashes between the Thai military and ‘Red Shirt’ protesters in the capital city of Bangkok.

DFA spokesman J. Eduardo Malaya said there are no plans to close the embassy due to the increasing violence in central Bangkok, adding that public service will continue for the benefit of the Filipinos in Thailand.

Some embassies such as those of the US and Australia had been temporarily closed due to the increased violence near their area.

The Philippine Consulate in Thailand is located along SukhumvitRoad, which is some appreciable distance from the commercial business district, where the clashes are taking place,” Malaya said.

He stressed that no Filipino has been affected in the latest incidence of violence which started last week.

Philippine Ambassador (to Thailand)Antonio Rodriguez reported to the DFA that embassy officers and staff and the members of their family are safe, and that the embassy has not received any report on Filipinos hurt during the latest disturbances,” Malaya said.
Malaya, however, reiterated that the DFA had re-issued a travel advisory to Thailand to prevent any Filipino from getting hurt in the clash.

Philippine Consulate
The DFA re-issued last Saturday (May 15) a travel advisory strongly urging Filipinos not to proceed with non-essential travel to Bangkok in view of increased incidents of violence, and for those who are already there, to avoid the areas where anti-government protests and clashes are taking place. It’s not safe to visit Bangkok for sight-seeing at this time,” Malaya said.

News reports revealed that at least 39 were killed and 279 others were wounded in the latest clash between Thai military and protesters that started last Thursday as gunfire ensued from both parties, with the protesters using homemade weapons.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo has issued a recall order on all political ambassadors effective June 30.

Based on documents obtained by the Manila Bulletin, Romulo issued Assignment Order 207-10, which stated that “effective June 30, 2010, the following Ambassadors are hereby recalled to the Home Office.”

According to a high-ranking diplomatic source, the next ranking officer in their respective posts shall act as the Charge d’ Affaires until the assumption of office of the new ambassador when the political ambassadors vacate their posts come June 30, 2010.

The source added that career ambassadors are not affected by the recall as they have a six-year tour of duty in their respective posts.

It will be recalled that Romulo himself had said he will focus on being the DFA Secretary until June 30.

I have only focused up to June 30. All non-career [ambassadors] and political appointees are co-terminus with the President, therefore, they cease to hold office by June 30,” he said. “There are many career officers who can take over.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

US visa Services fees to increase on June 4

MANILA, Philippines – The fees for the processing of US visas will increase on June 4, 2010, the US Department of State announced.

The US embassy in Manila will immediately begin collecting the new fees for appointments made for June 4 or later,” the US Department of State said.

The department said the increase for the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) will ensure sufficient resources to meet the increasing cost of processing non-immigrant visas.

It added that the new fee for US Tourist Visa (B1/B2 category), seafarer/crew visas (C1/D), student visas (F), and exchange visitor visas (J) will be $140 or the equivalent in pesos. The new MRV fee for work visas (H, L, O, P, Q, and R categories) will be $150. Trader/investor visas (E) will rise to $390. US K1 visa and US K3 Visa will be $350. All other non-immigrant categories will be $140.

US Visa Services

Applicants with appointment interview dates on or after June 4 will be required to pay the new fees. Those who are scheduled before June 4 will pay visa fees at the current rate of $131.

All applicants with an interview date of June 4 or later must pay the full MRV fee, even if they have already made an appointment and paid at the old rate of $131.

The embassy requests that visa applicants who have already paid the MRV fee of $131 for an appointment scheduled after June 4 pay for the difference in fees at the same bank branch where they made the initial $131 payment,” it stated.

It further stated that applicants will not be allowed to enter the embassy for their scheduled interview unless the full MRV fee has been paid.

Source: ABS-CBN News

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Philippines Immigrations and Tourism up 7.9 percent in 2010

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine tourism department reported a 7.89 percent growth in foreign tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2010.

Renowned for beautiful beaches, spectacular scuba diving and small, intimate and affordable beach bungalow resorts, Puerto Galera, Cebu, Bohol and Boracay continue to attract recession-wary travelers looking for the best available bargains.

Services in the Philippines

Visitors from Korea, Taiwan, China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Europe, Australia and the United States all increased.

Tourism and Services in the Philippines officials said the Lunar New Year in February was a major factor contributing to the growth in the arrivals.

Another factor was recent civil unrest and violence in Thailand, which experienced a sharp decline in tourist arrivals.

Philippines tourist arrivals from January to the end of March was 2.2 million including domestic and foreign tourists.

Source: CDNN

Friday, May 21, 2010

US increase US Visa Validity for Serbs to 10 years

The United States has increased the length of US Visa validity for Serbia's citizens to ten years in a sign of improving ties with the Balkan country.
Ambassador Mary Warlick says the increase applies to business and tourism visas. Visas in other categories will still be issued to a maximum three years.

US Visa

Warlick described the move Thursday as "an important milestone in relations between the United States and Serbia, and a symbol of our deepening friendship."
Relations between Washington and Belgrade were tense in the past because of U.S.-led NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, and America's support for the independence of Kosovo.
Warlick cited "significant progress" in relations in the past year.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tips for Starting a Business: Investors stand by the economy

With shooting in the streets of Bangkok, grenades exploding and the stock exchange on fire, Thailand might seem to be the last place for investors for Starting Up A Business.

But the turmoil, which has seen more than 50 people killed and about 1,600 injured, has had a remarkably limited impact on financial markets. Investors have judged that the disturbances - largely restricted to a high-profile but compact district of central Bangkok - represent only a modest threat to Thailand's economic stability.

Starting Up a business
Investors do not wish to pull out of one of the most open and investor-friendly of east Asia's fast-growing economies, where the government has, within the past month, raised its 2010 GDP increase forecast from a range of 3.3-5.3 per cent to 4.3-5.8 per cent.

The Financial Times's emerging markets hub, Standard Chartered Bank said the baht had been "remarkably stable during the political turmoil", because the market had largely factored in the unrest, and economic fundamentals were "relatively solid" in view of Thailand's big foreign exchange reserves, substantial current account surplus and economic growth.

Korn Chatikavanij, the finance minister, said this month that the official forecast of 4.5 per cent growth in 2010 would be achieved in spite of the turmoil. That may prove optimistic, with top officials saying this week the crisis might cost the country 0.5 of percentage point in GDP growth.

The disruption has hit tourism but, at about 5 per cent of GDP, its role is not as large as it might appear from the pages of glossy magazines. Other sectors outside central Bangkok, such as electronics, are largely unaffected.

Foreign investors have been taking money out of Thai equities. But the total net withdrawal of about $1bn is still short of the $1.2bn that came into Thailand in the first four months. By comparison, nearly $5bn net was taken out during 2008 as the global financial crisis struck.

Kevin Grice, of Capital Economics, a UK research group, says: "A complex political situation is taken as a given in Thailand; the economy has been able to go its own way. While there have been increased capital outflows, we haven't seen a massive wholesale capital flight. Foreign investors have taken a calibrated approach to the situation."

The currency has appreciated since the beginning of the year to around 32.5 baht to the US dollar, and the stock market is still up, in spite of the recent sell-off in emerging markets.

What could upset the foreign investors' views?

First, any spread of the turmoil from Bangkok to other regions could change perceptions. There has been sporadic violence in the north-east, where the anti-government protesters have strong support. But, so far, there has been little else. Signs of splits in either the government or the military could drastically alter the outlook. The Thai army has a long history of political intervention.

Finally, the long illness of 82-year-old King Bhumibol, who has been in hospital since last September, raises questions of the monarchy's future role. While Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn's succession seems assured, he does not command the same reverence as his father. A powerful unifying force in Thai life could be lost.

If the transition comes before the political crisis is settled, that could trigger disturbances a long way from central Bangkok.

Source: FT.com

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Canadian Immigration Remained at High Levels in 2009

The rate of immigration and Visa for Canada applications remains high with more than 500,000 new permanent and temporary residents in 2009. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney had the following to say:

"Momentum toward a full economic recovery continued throughout 2009, and immigration will continue to support that momentum."Immigration Minister Kenney went onto say that "The Government of Canada is maintaining immigration levels to meet Canada's short-, medium- and long-term economic needs, help offset our aging population and low birthrate, and sustain our workforce."
Canadian immigration released the following immigration statistics:
  • There were 252,124 new immigrants in 2009. Canadian immigration had a target of between 240,000 and 265,000 new permanent residents. 
  • The immigration levels are 30,000 higher than the average annual intake of permanent residents in the 1990s. 
  • Sixty percent of new Canadian immigrants were economic migrants bringing must needed skills and experience to Canada. 
  • There were 178,640 temporary foreign workers and 85,131 foreign students who came to Canada in 2009.
Visa for Canada

Canadian immigration also mentioned that overseas workers and students who graduate in Canada can remain through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and through a provincial nominee program. In 2009 Canadian immigration accepted 2,544 CEC applicants. Immigration Minister Kenney had the following comments to make:
"The number of foreign students who came to Canada by means of Canada Sudent Visa grew by seven percent last year, resulting in the highest number of foreign students ever admitted to Canada." He went onto say "To be a more innovative society able to compete and prosper in a global, knowledge-based economy, Canada needs people with an international outlook, skills and experience. Attracting more international students is a priority for our government."
Canadian immigration also provided further details of refugee statistics:
  • 22,844 refugees emigrated to Canada. This included resettling 7,425 government-assisted refugees and 5,036 privately sponsored refugees.
  • There were also 10,383 refugees in Canada who had made successful asylum claims plus their dependants.
  • Further immigration reforms will if they go ahead result in an increase in twenty percent in the number of government-assisted and privately sponsored refugees resettled in Canada.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) also released the most requested statistics from the last quarter of 2009 (September to December).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

US Visa Services Closed This Week

The United States embassy in Bangkok has suspended US Visa Services at its Wireless Road consulate until at least Friday for security reason.
The embassy said it is not safe for officials of the consular section to travel to work at their office on Witthayu Road and it has only a limited number of officials to work for emergency cases.

US Visa Services

Visa applicants who have appointments for an interview will be informed of the service suspension by telephone or e-mail.
The Bangkok office of the United Nations has also announced to close on Monday and Tuesday during which its officials are allowed to work at home.

Source: Bangkok Post

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sarah Palin Takes Aim at Obama, Immigration, and Border Security

Former Vice-Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin teamed up with Arizona Govenor Jan Brewer over the weekend in a heated debate over Arizona’s border security and the immigration law requiring all immigrants to present Immigration Consultants and registration documents to police upon request.

Palin and Brewer appeared together in a press conference to promote a website that aims to help educate Americans on the Arizona SB1070.

Immigration Consultants
This state has enacted a law. It mirrors the federal law, which allows police to ask those they otherwise have stopped to provide a driver’s license or other verification of legal presence. I think for most American people, there reaction to this would be, 'Oh, why haven’t the police already been doing that?'"

Palin’s appearance with Gov. Brewer was a move she took straight to the White House and President Obama.

And, while Mexico’s president has begun to crack down on the violent drug cartels and corruption in his own country, it’s time for the United States government to enforce the rule of law as well… In unity we say, 'Mr. President, do your job. Secure our border,'" she added.

President Obama has stood firm in his criticism and condemnation of the law, which only applies to the state of Arizona, saying that it could lead to racial profiling of lawful U.S. citizens.

In late April, Obama said the state law threatens “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

The Arizona law has also been denounced by many Americans who are calling for a boycott of Arizona in terms of goods, immigration services, and travel.

Arizona SB1070, which goes into effect on July 29th, requires all immigrants to carry and present alien registration to police. Police can make a request to any individual they see a "reasonable suspicion" of being an illegal immigrant.

While President Obama has spoken regarding federal immigration reform, the lack of support from across the aisle for a bill introduced by the Obama and the Democrats leads to speculation that it will be some time before any reform is put forward and into effect.

The last time a piece of federal immigration reform was introduced was in 2005.

Source: The Epoch Times

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