-- March 2011 ~ Travel and Immigration 101

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Travel News : Egypt Tourism Revival

Just weeks after the Egyptian revolution sent Western holidaymakers running for their lives, tour operators are hoping to turn the heart of the uprising into a money-spinner to rival the Pyramids.

Tahrir Square, the giant traffic-clogged roundabout, which hundreds of thousands of Egyptians turned into the focus of their uprising to bring down Hosni Mubarak, has leapt from obscurity to being global brand-name.

 Cars may still belch exhaust fumes and horns still deafen the senses, but it's the name on everyone's lips as the latest must-see place inCairo.

National carrier Egyptair posted "The Egyptian Revolution Wings of Freedom" -- a stirring montage of the uprising, followed by glimpses of tantalising beaches, Pyramides and Sphinxes -- on its website and on YouTube.

Images are interlaced with soundbites. Such as US President Barack Obama: "The Egyptians have changed the world and the world took note" and novelist Paul Coelho: "The world only gets better because people risk something to make it better. Thanks to the Egyptians!!"

No advertising agency could have done better.

Aladin Morsy certainly thinks so. As manager of El Wedian Tours on the square, he is re-working his website, commissioning similar photos and videos in a drive to win back tourists.

"It's good we're in Tahrir Square. It means we'll have good business in the future," he jokes.

"Tourism in Egypt will never die. It can be sick, but it'll never die," he says. But he admits that business was never as bad as during the revolution, as 80 clients fled in January and not a single one came in February.

Hotels are empty. Souvenir shops are deserted. Travel agents are twiddling their thumbs behind sales counters. Westerners are not yet ready to flock back to Egypt.

"You're only the second tourist since the revolution," one travel agent told an AFP reporter who walked into her office on Tahrir Square.

For now, Morsy is content to welcome 25 Americans in May for a 19-day tour of the Pyramids, LuxorAswan, the churches and mosques of Cairo.

"Many people ask for Tahrir Square, they say 'are we going to pass by?' The day they come to the Egyptian Musem, they'll be in the square."

Highly public walkabouts in the square have been crammed into the schedules of visiting dignitaries.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described it as "thrilling".

US Senator John Kerry was cheered by delighted American ladies and Egyptians eager to press his flesh.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was less fortunate -- mobbed by Libyan protesters -- he had to be bundled into a waiting vehicle.

Egyptian operator flyingcarpettours.com has gone further than Morsy and already features Tahrir Square prominently on its website.

Manager Zia Gamal says Greeks have been the first to snap up the guided tour and introductions to protesters next month.

It was as a protester himself, overjoyed after Mubarak stepped down, that he first dreamt up the idea.

"All the emotions, people from all classes, rich, poor and the middle class, that made me realise it's one of the most important monuments now," he said.

He first thought about marketing Mubarak's bolthole mansion in Sharm el-Sheikh but his wife told him that was terrible idea. What did she think of the Tahrir idea? "Excellent," he grinned.

Competition is fierce. "I hope we're the only one to get all the foreigners. I think we're the only ones to make a programme because when I checked the websites of our colleagues, they didn't mention it," said Gamal.

Edna Wilson, a frequent visitor from Atlanta, Georgia, and in Cairo en route to the Red Sea, said she was "very proud" of the uprising and had made it a priority to visit Tahrir.

"Because of the lives that were lost and because of the young people I saw there. But I think a lot of Americans are going to have mixed feelings."

Manzar Foroohar, a history professor at California Polytechnic State University, worries that with US missiles raining down on Libya, and with Syria and Yemen in turmoil, few Americans will feelEgypt is safe enough.

"I think it's going to be very popular with American intellectuals, university students and professors, asking a lot of questions about what's happening in Egypt and they'd want to see it," she said.

Others will want to "take a few pictures but won't understand the draw".
Morsy is also circumspect.

"For thousands of years we've been earning money out of the Pyramids. I'm not sure how much we'll get out of Tahrir Square."

Source: Yahoo! News

Monday, March 28, 2011

Immigration and Travel Ban to Libya, Yemen and Bahrain

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday ordered its personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and other airports to strictly enforce a ban on the departure of overseas Filipino workers for Libya, Yemen and Bahrain, which are experiencing civil unrest.

MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday ordered its personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and other airports to strictly enforce a ban on the departure of overseas Filipino workers for Libya, Yemen and Bahrain, which are experiencing civil unrest.

Immigration Chief Ronaldo Ledesma said the Immigration was on the lookout for travelers who might be bound for those countries.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier issued a travel advisory urging Filipinos to defer non-essential and non-urgent travels to Libya, Yemen and Bahrain until the security situations in those countries have stabilized.

Source: Inquirer

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Learn how to get a United StatesStudent Visa

All of us wanted to study abroad especially in the US. So have you ever asked yourself how you can obtain a US Student Visa? read the following article so you can understand the things you need to know for you to obtain a US Student Visa.

Q: What are the basic requirements for a visa that would allow me to study at a university in the United States?

A: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) applies a number of criteria in determining whether a prospective international student is eligible for an F-1 student visa. The most basic requirement is acceptance for enrollment in an “academic” education program, not a vocational-type program. Enrollment in an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, or language training program qualifies as academic study. An academic student can be seeking a Bachelor’s, Master’s, Ph.D., or other graduate-level degree, or can be engaged in post-doctoral studies. Programs not considered to be “academic”, such as those offered by technical and vocational schools, would require the issuance of an M-1 visa instead of an F-1 visa. The M-1 visa requirements are similar but not identical to those for the F-1 visa.

Once you have been accepted by an accredited school, the institution will issue appropriate documentation for you to include in your visa application at the U.S. Embassy.

In addition:

The applicant must intend to enroll in a school approved by the U.S. Attorney General for attendance by foreign students.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) put into place after the September 11, 2001 attacks introduced a number of changes in the process by which the Department of Homeland Security ensures that a school is eligible to participate in the F-1 process. Schools must demonstrate that they are legitimate educational institutions and appoint a designated school official (DSO) who will sign all necessary forms.

The international student must be intending to enroll in a “full course of study” at the school, which generally means at least 12 credit hours each semester.

The international student must provide proof of proficiency in English or be enrolled in English language courses leading to proficiency.

The international student must have sufficient funds available for full support during the entire proposed course of study.

The international student must maintain a residence abroad that he or she has no intention of abandoning and must intend to leave the U.S. upon completion of the course of study.

One of the most important issues in obtaining a student visa involves “non-immigrant intent.” This is probably the most closely scrutinized element of the application process. USCIS and the U.S. Embassy in your home country will need to be satisfied that you do not have the intention of immigrating to the U.S., of failing to maintain full-time student status, or of overstaying your student visa. To prove non-immigrant intent, you will need to show ongoing ties to your home country. These could include having immediate relatives, home ownership, apartment leases, ongoing affiliation with community/church groups, or an offer of employment or plans for further academic study or training upon your return home.

Another major issue in obtaining a student visa involves finances. You need to be prepared to prove that you have the means to support yourself and pay tuition and fees while studying in the U.S. Some U.S. colleges are very expensive (including even public colleges with respect to the tuition charged to “out-of-state” residents), and you would need to be able to demonstrate access to considerable funds to apply for a visa to attend them.

Once you enter the USA on the F-1 visa: Be aware that at the end of your course of study it may be possible to apply for a period of Optional Practical Training (OPT) in the U.S. employing the skills that you have acquired, and allowing you to be paid during the training. This maximum time allowed usually is one year, with some exceptions, but if you work full-time during school vacations, that time will be subtracted from the one year available to you at the end of your course of study.

Study on a J-1 Visa: A J-1 exchange visa for academic study (administered by the U.S. State Department rather than USCIS) may be appropriate in some situations instead of an F-1 visa. Many of the requirements are comparable, but there are differences depending on the circumstances of each individual case.

International Student Advisors may assist you: U.S. colleges and universities that admit international students typically have advisers and files of information to assist you in your application, including determining whether the F-1 or J-1 visa is a better fit for you. All colleges have web sites, and typically they contain a section with very detailed information for prospective international students.

For a free, confidential consultation on this or any other immigration issue, visit one of our weekly legal clinics advertised in The Irish Emigrant.

Disclaimer: These articles are published to inform generally, not to advise in individual cases. Areas of law are rapidly changing. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Department of State regularly amend regulations and alter processing and filing procedures. For legal advice seek the assistance of an IIC immigration specialist or an immigration lawyer.

Source: The Irish Emigrant

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Use Google for Your Travel Needs

The Internet offers vast resources for travelers, but don't overlook one of the most basic sources of information: Google.

The search box on the Google home page puts all sorts of information at your fingertips without requiring you to go to separate websites.

Wondering about the weather where you're going? Type the name of any city or zip code in the search box with the word "weather." You'll get the current temperature and conditions, plus a four-day forecast.

If you simply type "weather" with no city, you'll get the weather for wherever you are — for example, outside your hotel room if you're already in your destination.

Google also offers instant currency conversions. In the main Google search box, simply type the amount and type of currency and you'll get an instant conversion to dollars, unless you specify some other currency. So, type in "200 euros," and you'll get a conversion to $280.16 (depending on the day's rates), without having to go to a currency conversion website.

You can track flights through Google searches too, again without going to another website. Type "AF 22" in the search box and the following result pops up: "Track status of AF 22 from Paris (CDG) to New York (JFK)," with information about Air France flight number 22's departure and arrival time.

World time can be instantly accessed as well. Type "time Athens" or "Athens time" into the search box and the current time for Athens, Greece, appears.

Google Maps offers a wealth of information. Type a place name into the Google Maps search box, click on the result that matches your destination, and you'll get a map on the right hand side of the page and photos on the left. You can click for directions or, under "More," get the mesmerizing "Street View." Street View is available in 25 countries, but there are still some places where you'll have to stick with still photos, like Darwin, Australia.

Click "Search nearby" in Google Maps and you can find just about anything in the destination. Type in "museum" or "pizza" and listings pop up. Type in "hotels" and you'll get options for lodgings, check-in and check-out dates, along with a small photo, the hotel's address and phone number, a price, and reviews.

Using My Maps, you can also map out your walking tour and see how long it is in miles; add your favorite hotels and eateries as a guide for someone else; and after the trip, turn that map into a scrapbook with text, photos and videos you collected along the way. There's a tutorial to get you started.

Google Translate is a good resource for help with foreign languages. You can find a word, a phrase or have an entire document, Web page or message translated. It's instantaneous and includes some lesser-known languages such as Maltese and Galician.

So bring your web-ready device on your next trip, try some of these basic Google searches, and you'll be well-prepared for last-minute changes of plans, surprise thunderstorms — and even conversations with the locals.

Source: Yahoo! News

Friday, March 18, 2011

America in 3D: US Embassy Philippines Job Fair

MANILA, Philippines - From March 18 through 20 at SM City North EDSA in Quezon City, the US Embassy will hold a job fair featuring with over 6,000 vacant positions in American companies as part of a three-day program called “America in 3D.”

In addition, the U.S. Embassy will provide FREE musical performances, food tastings, sports clinics, film screenings, cooking demonstrations, a digital video dialogue with Fil-Am White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford, information sessions about applying for visas and studying in the United States, and so much more!

Members of the public will have the opportunity to meet representatives of various Embassy sections and agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Visa Section, and the United States Agency for International Development, the Peace Corps, the U.S. Commercial Service, the Foreign Agricultural Service, and the Philippine-American Educational Foundation (Fulbright Commission). They will provide you with valuable information to help you connect with the Embassy.

Source: Manila Bulletin

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wedding Themes in Philippines

There is an unwritten rule that weddings should be perfect since it symbolizes the union between two individuals brought together by love. It is the event that marks the beginning of a lifetime of togetherness so it must be both beautiful and memorable.

Prenuptial is important in Philippines

If you're about to get married, a prenuptial agreement can protect your assets. And God can protect your marriage.

How to Enter prenup in Philippines?

Prenuptials are not the norm in the Philippines, but only for those few who are aware they can have such a side contract. Prenups seem to fly in the face of the family code that says" Marriage is for life," and in a country where there is no divorce.

Philippine Marriage Registration

If you are a foreigner contemplating on marrying your Filipina fiancĂ© in the Philippines, it’s good to be familiar with the marriage requirements according the laws of the country to ensure a smooth and hassle free marriage registration.

Philippine Family Laws

In the Philippine setting, pre-nuptial agreements are entered into by newly-wed couples in order to better determine the ownership of all the properties acquired before and after the marriage.

The Philippine Social Security System

The Social Security System of the Philippines was established by virtue of Republic Act 8282, also known as the Social Security Act of 1997. It aims to “establish a provident fund for the members which will consist of voluntary contributions of employers and/or employees, self-employed and voluntary members and their earnings, for the payment of benefits to such members or their beneficiaries, subject to such rules and regulations as it may promulgate and approved by the President of the Philippines.

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