-- November 2011 ~ Travel and Immigration 101

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Visa Rules on Foreign Students Tightens by Immigration Bureau

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has tightened its rules on the screening of applications for foreign student visas and permits following reports of “fake” foreign students in the country. In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. on Wednesday said he has issued new guidelines on the issuance of student visas and special study permits (SSP) to foreigners enrolled in various schools of the country. Under a new memorandum, the school’s designated liaison officer or representative, who must be an employee of the school, should represent or assist the foreign student in applying for a Philippine Visa. The commissioner said the new rule was imposed after reports reached him that unscrupulous travel agents have been conniving with foreigners in submitting fake or fraudulent transcripts of school records for student visa applications. “We have to make sure that only foreigners actually studying in the Philippines are given these visas.  This anomaly should be stopped because these fake foreign students are blatantly violating our laws,” the BI chief said.
David said he has already instructed Lawyers Ma. Antonette Bucasas-Mangrobang, BI acting intelligence chief, and Anna Katrina Sy-Gil, BI student desk head, to investigate and identify the “fake” alien students so their visas can be canceled and they can be arrested and deported. The new rules also state that only schools accredited by the BI, Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and Federation of Accrediting Agencies are authorized to accept foreign students.
A student visa is issued to a foreigner, at least 18 years old, who will be taking up a course at a university, seminary, college, or school duly authorized to admit foreign students. On the other hand, an SSP is issued to a foreign student below 18, who will be studying in the elementary, secondary or special tertiary course of less than one year. Schools are now required to establish a foreign student unit and submit to the BI a periodic report on foreigners enrolled in their school. Each school will designate its representative who will deal with the BI for the issuance or renewal of study visas or SSPs of foreign students. BI alien control officers in the areas where the schools are situated were also required to submit to the bureau’s main office a monthly report on study visas and permits processed by their respective offices.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gail Kerr: US Immigration Needs to Open Doors to Foreign Tech Workers

A pro-business group that landed in Nashville this week is spreading a unique message: “Immigrant” is not a dirty word. At a time when there are 1,000 technology jobs open and waiting for good candidates in Nashville-area businesses, this group is realizing America has thrown up barriers that stop some of the brightest minds in foreign companies from even attempting to relocate here.
The Partnership for a New American Economy, led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and backed by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, came to town this week to persuade other Nashville leaders to get on board. It’s not a new message at all: It used to be that coming to America was a dream come true, particularly for the world’s smartest high-tech workers. But then the trend of hating all immigrants spread rapidly through the country, and the message became that we didn't want any foreigners touching our soil.

Thank goodness this group is singing a different tune. It is pushing Congress to steer clear of hot-button fights over amnesty and border patrols and, instead, focus on real, practical immigration law reform. It favors laws making it easier for high-tech workers to get visas to move here and to keep international students here once they graduate. It comes just a few weeks after news broke that Nashville job recruiters are taking extraordinary steps to find people to fill high-tech jobs. Technology talent needs to be home-grown, but it isn’t right now. Chamber officials are working with 18 universities to entice students to enter tech programs. Local companies also are trying to train the existing pool of unemployed workers who are already here. And, recruiters are turning to places like Silicon Valley to hire and attract technology companies.

Still, 1,000 empty tech jobs is a slew of opportunity. The trend to look at immigrants as a source for filling these jobs is a natural next step. The Partnership for a New American Economy is a year-old group that focuses on loosening federal law to attract more scientists and engineers from foreign countries. For example, it wants to create an entrepreneur visa to draw high-tech talent from countries including China, India and Canada who want to start their own businesses.

Right now, America to those people “is more foreboding than it should be,” Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said at a Nashville panel discussion. One of the business people backing the effort is Colin Reed, chairman and chief executive of Gaylord Entertainment Co. He would like to see it become easier to get a tourism visa to visit American cities. The waits for those now are lengthy, and the process requires an interview with the State Department. Why bother, when it’s easier to vacation in other countries?

“We’ve got to have stronger leadership in both branches of government to tackle these issues and not dance around the outside,” Reed said. He’s right on the money. People have become so paranoid about “illegal immigrants” that America has shot itself in the foot when it comes to attracting smart workers, new business owners and tourists.

How refreshing to see a group like this step up and confront those who want to make legal immigration a prickly, emotional issue.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Family Super Visa Introduced by Canada

Canada Immigration officials on Friday announced a new two-year, multi-entry "super visa" for parents and grandparents of immigrants settled in Canada.
The move came after wait times for sponsorship of "family class" applications had grown to an unwieldy seven years or longer.
"Without taking action, those times will continue to grow, and that is unacceptable," said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney in announcing the move.
"Action must be taken to cut the backlog, reduce the wait times, and ensure that the parents and grandparents program is sustainable over the long run," Kenney said.
The multiple-entry "Parent and Grandparent Super Visa" will be valid for up to 10 years, officials said, and allow applicants to remain in Canada for 24 months before needing seek visa renewal.
The new visas will begin on December 1 and the will be issued, "on average, within eight weeks of the application," officials said.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Philippine Workers Banned from 41 Countries

The Philippines said Wednesday it had banned Filipinos from traveling to work in 41 countries and territories that had allegedly failed to provide enough safeguards to protect them from abuse. The Department of Labour and Employment in a board resolution posted on its website said the blacklisted countries failed to sign international conventions protecting foreign workers. Neither have these countries signed agreements with the Philippines "on the protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers," the resolution said.
They also do not have their own laws protecting foreign workers, it added. Included in the list were strife-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Chad and Pakistan. Carlos Cao, head of the government's overseas employment agency, said the 41 countries did not receive too many Filipino workers so a ban would not have a very large effect. "These are the smaller countries with small markets. The negative impact is not going to be very big," he told AFP.

The ban will also not affect Filipino workers who are already in those countries so they will not have to come home until their contracts expire, Cao added. There are an estimated nine million Filipino overseas workers, or about 10 percent of the country's population, official statistics show. Many of them work as maids, labourers or seamen in areas where they are vulnerable to abuse although many Filipinos also work in higher positions in Western nations.

Their dollar remittances have traditionally kept the Philippine economy afloat, although reports of abuse are common. While Manila has in the past banned deployment to some areas locked in conflict, many Filipinos still leave through illegal means rather than take low-paying jobs at home.
Edited: 05 December 2011

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed the list of 41 countries where overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) cannot be deployed.

The list includes prohibited prime destinations like Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Libya.

Aside from these three major OFW destinations, other non-compliant countries included Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Cambodia, Cayman Islands, Chad, Croatia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or North Korea, Dominica, East Timor or Timor Leste, Eritrea, Haiti, India, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan or Kyrgyz Republic, and Lesotho.

It also included Mali, Mauritania, Montenegro, Mozambique, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Palestine, Serbia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turks and Caicos, Tuvalu, US Virgin Islands, Vanuatu, and Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, POEA also issued the list of 49 compliant countries on Wednesday, which included Armenia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bermuda, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo Republic, Cook Islands, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and Guyana.

It also included Iceland, Ivory Coast or Cote d’Ivoire, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Norway, Puerto Rico, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, and Ukraine.

This brings the total number of compliant countries to 125.

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