-- 2013 ~ Travel and Immigration 101

Monday, December 9, 2013

Same-sex couple gets fiancé visa from US embassy

The United States Embassy in Manila on Friday said it had issued its first fiancé visa to a same-sex couple, a Filipino and an American soldier serving in Afghanistan who will get married next month. In a statement, the embassy said the fiancé visas were issued to Noel “Aeinghel” Amaro and Robert Cotterman on Dec. 2.
The two met via Facebook two years ago and will be married next month in California. “He proposed to me at the airport. I was so happy, and the people were clapping their hands for us,” Amaro said in an interview on Facebook. They applied for a fiancé visa “around June 2012.”

Amaro said he would spend Christmas in the United States with Cotterman and his parents. “They are happy for us. They are excited to see me,” Amaro said of his future parents-in-law. Amaro, who is unemployed, said he was born and raised in Taguig City. He said they have had a “union” solemnized by Myke Abaya Sotero of the Holy Union Church in Baguio City.

“Although same-sex marriage is not yet recognized in the Philippines, gay Americans are now able to petition for family-based visas on behalf of their Filipino spouses, fiancés and their children,” the embassy said in a statement. Amaro, a resident of Taguig City, posted a picture of a portion of his visa on his Facebook account; he said he was interviewed at the embassy on Nov. 5. His account also showed public pictures of him and Cotterman together in a religious ceremony and visiting tourist spots in the Philippines.

On his own Facebook account, Cotterman listed his occupation as a “Chinook repairer.” He is a resident of Sumter, South Carolina, and a member of the South Caroline Air National Guard currently detailed with the US Army. The embassy said the change came months after a momentous decision by the US Supreme Court, which struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma) that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
“Overturning Doma signifies that the US federal government must extend all federal rights and privileges of marriage to any married couple, regardless of sexual orientation. Currently, gay couples can marry in 16 of 50 American states, and the nation’s capital,” the embassy said.

This extension of rights includes immigration benefits, it added. Another couple, Maria Cecilia Limson Gahuman and Maria Carla Antonio, were also the next to be given fiancé visas. The embassy said the two met through a mutual friend over a decade ago. They will get married on Dec. 30 in California.

The embassy said advancing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality has been one of US President Barack Obama’s top priorities. It quoted US Secretary of State John Kerry saying that the “most important export, by far, is America’s belief in the equality of all people.”

Kerry noted that “the State Department, which has always been at the forefront of equality in the federal government …, is tearing down an unjust and an unfair barrier that for too long stood in the way of same-sex families being able to travel as a family to the US.” The embassy said it wanted to educated gay Filipinos about new visa opportunities. Filipinos in same-sex relationships with Americans are encouraged to view the visa section of the embassy’s website for more information.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Canada to Introduce New Skilled Visa Application Process for 2015

Canada is to introduce a new visa application process in 2015 with the aim of attracting the best and brightest immigrants.
The process, provisionally entitled Expression of Interest (EOI,) is being described as a move from a passive economic immigration system to one that actively recruits skilled people to move to Canada to work.

‘We are getting ready to treat most immigration applications in a revolutionary new way. Having a job is the best path to economic integration and EOI will select immigrants based on their skills,’ said a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC.)

‘EOI will select immigrants based on the skills Canadian employers need and they will be encouraged to pursue citizenship and be welcomed as equal members of the Canadian family,’ he added.

Planning for the change will be undertaken next year with the full system ready for launch in January 2015. There will also be a concerted effort to reduce backlogs in the current system.

‘As of January 2015, the EOI system will help switch from passive processing of applications in the order we get them to a prioritised system that gets in-demand people with the skills to succeed to Canada faster than ever before,’ the spokesman explained.

The 2014 Immigration Levels Plan is to make way for Citizenship and Immigration Canada to transition to the new system in January 2015.  EOI will operate in two steps. Prospective immigrants would indicate their interest in coming to Canada by providing information electronically about their skills, work experience and other attributes.

Individuals who meet certain eligibility criteria will then have their ‘expressions of interest’ placed in a pool and ranked against others already in the pool. CIC would only invite the best candidates, including those with in-demand skills or with job offers, to apply for a visa. Expressions of interest that are not chosen after a period of time may be removed from the pool. As a result, application backlogs would not accumulate and processing times will be kept to a minimum.

‘We will also assess applicants on a variety of other factors such as education, work experience and language ability with a greater emphasis on the ever changing needs of the Canadian labour market,’ the spokesman added.

The Canadian government is to work with provincial and territorial partners to make EOI a success and partnering with Canadian employers so they will be ready to find candidates in the EOI pool that meet their skills requirements when the domestic labour force cannot.

Further details about EOI will be released by Citizenship and Immigration Canada in due course and as they become 

South Korea to Tighten Visa Rules for Marriage Immigrants

In an effort to root out illegal international matchmaking agencies, South Korea will tighten its visa issuance procedures for foreigners coming to live in the country after marrying locals, the Ministry of Justice said Wednesday.
The move is a follow-up to the revision in August last year of a marriage broker law requiring the marriage brokers to have more than 100 million won (US$94,000) in paid-in capital.

The revision, which effectively came into force a year later after a one-year grace period, however, prompted concerns that unregistered agencies, which do not meet the requirement, would provide illegal matchmaking services without the government permit, the ministry said.

The ministry said it will cooperate with consular offices and immigration offices to reinforce the screening of F-6 visa applicants and find those who falsify documents of their dating history.

A South Korean national or any marriage broker who fabricates such documents will be jailed for up to three years or receive a fine of up to 20 million won if found guilty, it said.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Brian Grubb Wakeskates Eighth Wonder of the World - Banaue Rice Terraces

The world famous Banaue rice terraces of the Philippines have proven to be the ultimate playground for an epic wakeskate winch session!
BANAUE (Philippines), October 24th, 2013. Professional wakeskaters Brian Grubb (USA) and Dominik Preisner (GER) traveled to the Philippines for an epic winch session at one of the most beautiful spots in the world. The famous rice terraces of Banaue are considered to be the Eighth Wonder of the World and were the perfect playground for a unique wakeskate session!
Even for one of the world’s best wakeskate pros like Brian Grubb this spot proved to be a real challenge: “This was my seventh trip to the Philippines, and my biggest project ever! Since I first saw the drawing of these huge rice terraces on the back of the 1000 Peso bill, the idea of having a session there wouldn't let me go. It was only a drawing but it looked like a perfect winch spot and probably a super scenic location. And it was! The whole project was a real adventure for us and the team. It is still incredible that we were wakeskating at such a fascinating place!” 
The spot covered four pools with a total length of 80 meters. To keep the scenery’s natural look, the setup was kept as simple as possible: the only man-made obstacles being a wooden log slider and the custom winch setup. Both riders had a blast performing a whole bunch of tricks, such as Brian ́s stylish FS and BS Lipslide Shuvit Outs.
Respect for the environment was a priority from the beginning of this project! The team made certain that the plants and wildlife were neither damaged nor disturbed at any time during the event. All aspects were agreed with the locals, taking into consideration their traditions and culture. Watch the video below;

Thursday, September 19, 2013

PAL's Manila-London Flights Announced Their Introductory Fares to London

Legacy carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has announced the introductory fares for its direct 13-hour Manila-London flights starting November 4. On its website, PAL priced its one-way Manila-London economy flights at US$442, equivalent to about P19,385. It includes taxes, surcharges and other fees.
Business class seats start at $1,292, or about P56,655, also all-in. PAL president Ramon Ang had said their fare structure will be competitive against other airlines that service routes between different points in Asia and London.
"Whenever you start a new destination, you should expect a strong competition from any airline that servicing those destinations at the moment. For example, I think one of them had already reacted and lowered the price of tickets already, but it's ok, we foresee that and definitely, we are here to stay and we will compete with them," he told reporters no Tuesday, September 17.

He was referring to the airlines from the Middle East that are heavily subsidized and know for slashing fares. PAL's return to London after 15 years will be via a wide-bodied Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which can seat up to 370.

"Leave Manila in the morning, make it to London in time for afternoon tea," its website ads stress. The flights are between Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and Heathrow International Airport in London.

Both airports are main gateways and are congested. PAL will mount the direct flights 5x a week to and from the world's busiest airport, Heathrow. PAL's London flights marks the first direct link between the Philippines and Europe after KLM stopped its direct Manila-Amsterdam flights in 2012.

This also highlights the first time a Philippine carrier is mounting flight to Europe after the European Union lifted its safety ban on Philippine carriers in July after the local aviation regulator met the safety standards of the 27-member economic bloc.

The Philippines and the UK government has an existing bilateral air agreement for up to 7x a week flights.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

House Bill 23 Filed to Protect Airline Passengers

A proposed bill aimed at protecting the rights of airline passengers has recently been filed in Congress by Reps. Francisco Ashley Acedillo and Gary Alejano (Party-list, MAGDALO).
House Bill 23 seeks to address the problem of airline passengers ranging from poor quality of service, delay and cancellation of flights and disappearance of reservations, among others. Alejano said under the bill to be known as the "Airline Passenger Bill of Rights Act," an air carrier would establish and implement procedures for handling complaints from passengers.

The bill will provide passengers on board an aircraft or in the airport timely, reasonable and truthful information regarding delays, cancellations or diversion affecting the customer's flight including its cause. The air carrier will use airport overhead announcements, on aircraft announcements and postings on airport television monitors.

Under the measure, air carriers would establish and implement procedures allowing passengers to exit the aircraft in case of departure and arrival delays. Airline passengers will be provided with the essential needs at all times during which the aircraft is on the ground, in the event of a departure delay, including the needs for food, water, sanitary facilities, medical access, adequate ventilation and comfortable cabin temperatures.

In cases of chronically delayed flights, air carriers will publish and update monthly on its Internet website a list of chronically delayed flights. The same will be disclosed to customers when purchasing tickets. The proposed bill will also ensure the prominent display of information outlining the consumer rights of passengers. It will also penalize erring carriers with a fine of P10,000 but not more than P30,000 depending on the severity of the offense caused. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Skyscanner Reveals Filipinos’ Favorite European Destinations

Leading flight search engine, Skyscanner has recently reported an increase by 53% in flight search to European destinations this year. Following the decision to lift the ban on Philippine Airlines by unanimous votes among the European Commission’s 28 member states, Skyscanner also revealed top destinations of choice among Filipinos.
Topping the list of most searched destination is the United Kingdom.  With an estimated Filipino population of 200,000 in 2007, UK has been a favorite destination not only for its rich culture and castles but also for the visiting families of Filipinos working there.

Coming in second is Germany, famous for its rich culture, mouth-watering cuisine and people who know and love a good party. In fact, Filipinos travelling this great country date back to the 19th century and our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal is one of them.

Filipino’s penchant for fashion, food and discovering interesting spots made Italy the third on the list. 
“We Pinoys love to shop, eat and go sight-seeing. So a country that offers all these definitely plays a part when we decide to travel,” Janet Ranola, Skyscanner Philippines Manager explains. “Plus the fact that a lot of Filipinos are working and are scattered in Europe, flying at cheaper rates is great news indeed,” Ranola added. 

“Now that Filipino travellers can fly to Europe without having to catch connecting flights and such, I think online search and inquiries to more European destinations will increase” Ranola concluded. 
Other destinations that made the top 10 list are France, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Switzerland. 

  • United Kingdom (UK)
  • Germany (DE)
  • Italy (IT)
  • France (FR)
  • Spain (ES)
  • Netherlands (NL)
  • Norway (NO)
  • Denmark (DK)
  • Ireland (IE)
  • Switzerland (CH)

For more information on cheap flights, deals and where to go in Europe visit www.skyscanner.com.ph.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

China and Taiwan Excluded in New Philippine Visa Privilege

When the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) extended the visa-free privilege of foreigners last Monday, Chinese nationals criticized the move for excluding them.
Zhuang Guotu, dean of the Research School of Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University claimed that the visa requirement for Chinese is Philippines' way to get even on the South China Sea territorial row.

"Both the Chinese mainland and Taiwan are embroiled in disputes with the country. Its decision to exclude people from the two regions is a retaliatory move, especially, against Taiwan," Godu told The Global Times on Wednesday.

DFA extended the 21-day visa-free privilege of 151 countries to 30 days--a list which has not included China and Taiwan since 2010. The Philippines is also barring Taiwanese from the privilege as Taiwan already sanctioned a red travel alert against Manila over the May 9 shooting incident of a Taiwanese fisherman off Batanes.

"This is a tit-for-tat response to Taiwan's sanctions and Manila wanted to show they would not give in to pressure," Zhuang said.

However, China mainland residents with Australian, Japanese, Canadian, Schengen or US visas coming to the country for tourism purposes can stay without a visa for seven days. The Global Times reported that Chinese netizens reacted negatively to the latest move by the country, which they say is likening itself to the US."

"This has also angered Chinese social media Net users, with many even calling for a boycott on visiting the Philippines," the article says.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Most Expensive Cities for Business Travelers

International business travel is often a necessary part of remaining globally competitive, but paying for transportation, lodging, dining and entertainment can be expensive for companies. A recent report has revealed the top 10 world’s most expensive cities for business travel.

Concur, a provider of travel and expense solutions for businesses recently released the report which looks at the habits of business travelers. To determine how businesses are spending money on travel they processed$50 billion in expense reports last year. Note – costs are all in American dollars and are based off the average spend of business travelers. 

To determine how businesses are spending money on travel, Concur processed $50 billion in expense reports last year. Here are the  10 most expensive international cities for business travelers:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Canada Opens New Visa Centers in Manila and Cebu

Hoping to attract more immigrants, visitors and students, the Canada Immigration opened new visa application centers (VACs) in Manila and Cebu to make it easier and more convenient for Filipinos who wish to enter Canada.
"The Government of Canada plans to create new jobs and stimulate economic growth by attracting an increasing number of visitors as well as the world’s best and brightest talent to Canada," the Canadian Embassy said in a press statement Monday.

In an effort to speed up the application process for visas and permits, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is expanding their global network of VACs, which provides administrative support to applicants before, during and after their temporary resident application is assessed by a CIC immigration officer.

"Anyone wishing to apply for a visitor visa, study permit, work permit or permanent resident travel document is encouraged to use the new VACs," the Canadian Embassy said. 

Applicants may contact VAC service agents by phone, email or in person. The service agents are able to answer questions in local languages and to make sure that applications are complete. "This helps avoid unnecessary delays or refusals due to incomplete applications," the Canadian Embassy said.

However, the embassy noted that VACs are not involved in the decision making process and are not authorized to provide applicants with advice about their visas.

For an additional fee, VACs also offer other services, including photocopies, application photographs and self-service computer terminals for those wishing to take advantage of the new online applications. 

The new VACs are located at:

  • Manila:  6F Unit 608, Ecoplaza Building, 2305 Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati City
  • Cebu:    9th Floor Keppel Center, Unit 905, Samar Loop cor. Cardinal Rosales Ave., Cebu Business Park, Cebu City

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Europe Union Lifts Ban on Philippine Airlines (PAL)

A Philippine carrier may again fly into European skies after more than three years of being banned. This, as the European Commission on Wednesday partially lifted restrictions which have kept Philippine airlines from flying to European Union (EU) states. Lucio Tan-controlled Philippine Airlines may now resume flights to EU territories, after having been removed from the “EU air safety list.”
The Commission in March 2010 included all carriers from the Philippines in the list, following poor results from an audit by the International Civil Aviation Authority. “Today we confirmed our willingness to remove Philippines airlines from the list as they show real commitment and capacity to implement international safety standards in a sustainable manner,” the Commission said.

The decision was based on “improvements in the safety situation in the Philippines” as observed by experts’ on-site safety assessment visit in June. It takes into account better oversight by state aviation authorities and PAL’s ability to ensure “effective compliance with relevant aviation safety regulations,” the Commission said.

All other Philippine air carriers in the list however remain in the list, with EU stressing the need for further progress to reach compliance with safety rules. Ambassador Guy Ledoux of the EU Delegation to the Philippines welcomed the new development, congratulating the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

“This is a confirmation of the great work performed by our Filipino partners, especially CAAP and Philippines Airlines, in addressing air safety issues,” he noted.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Countries that Filipinos Can Visit Without a Visa

It’s more fun in the Philippines, but amid good economic news, many Filipinos are traveling abroad both for business and leisure. Japan has recently allowed multiple-entry visas for Filipino citizens. South Korea is also reportedly mulling improving visa requirements for Filipinos.
But did you know that as of June 30, 2013, Filipinos can go to at least 25 other countries without having to worry about visas?

According to data compiled by the DFA's Office of Consular Affairs, the following countries fall in the visa-free category, followed by the length of allowable stay by Filipinos:
  • Bolivia - 60 days
  • Brazil - 90 days (for holders of diplomatic, official, and service passports, visa-free for (a) duration of tour of duty or (b) 180 days for official business or tourism)
  • Brunei - 14 days
  • Cambodia - 21 days
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica - 30 days
  • Ecuador - 90 days
  • Hong Kong SAR - 14 days
  • India - Visa upon arrival valid for 30 days (limited only to New Delhi and Mumbai airports)
  • Indonesia - 30 days
  • Israel - visa-free for tourists (no. of days of stay will depend on Immigration); visa-free for holders of diplomatic and official passports; visa required for business)
  • Laos - 30 days
  • Malaysia - 30 days
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique - Visa upon arrival valid for 30 days
  • Palau - 30 days, visa upon arrival (provided that the Filipino national has a return/onward plane ticket)
  • Peru - 60 days
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Singapore - 30 days
  • Sri Lanka - 30 days, visa upon arrival (provided that the Filipino national has a return/onward plane ticket)
  • Suriname
  • Thailand - 30 days
  • Tuvalu - 30 days, visa upon arrival (provided that the Filipino national has a return /onward plane ticket)
  • Vanuatu - 30 days, visa upon arrival (provided that the Filipino national has a return / onward plane ticket)
  • Vietnam - 21 days
  • Zambia - visa upon arrival; 3 months for tourism, 1 month for business
The DFA is still gathering visa information for the following countries:
  • Guam
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Mongolia

Monday, July 1, 2013

South Korea To Simplify the Tourist Visa Requirements

The South Korean Immigration is looking into easing visa requirements for Filipino tourists, according to an official of the Korean Tourism Organization (KTO).
Chang Wook Jung, senior deputy director of the Incentive and Exhibition team of KTO, said the KTO head office in Seoul and the KTO satellite office in Manila have been working on convincing the South Korean government to ease up the visa application process in the Philippines.

''There is a process going on at the moment and our government is looking at the arrangements we have in place for the visa requirements. We're hoping that in two or three years, these arrangements will finally be approved,'' Jung said during the Korea MICE Mart held at a hotel in Pasay City.

Jung added that the move follows the increasing number of Filipino tourist going to Korea, the rapid growth in the Philippine economy and the strong diplomatic ties of South Korea and the Philippines.

According to the recent tourism statistics between the Philippines and Korea, during the first quarter of 2013, 81,540 Filipinos visited the country, an 11.5 percent increase from the same period last year. In 2012, a total of 331,346 Filipinos traveled to Korea.

Meanwhile, for the MICE demand from the Philippines, Korea is now emerging as a corporate incentive tourism destination offering diverse tailor-made tourism programs.

Jung said this increase is attributed to the staunch effort of KTO Manila, which has recently celebrated its first anniversary of operations in the Philippines, to promote Korean tourism in the country.

''KTO Manila is doing great job promoting our country to Filipinos and local travel agencies. But until we address the obstacle of visa application, the Philippine market cannot reach its full potential. Over one million Koreans visited the Philippines last year. We're confident that someday, the Filipino market will match this demand for Korea,'' Jung said.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Japan Immigration Lifts Visa Requirement for ASEAN Countries

Japan has lifted visa requirements for a number of ASEAN countries including Thailand and Malaysia to help spur the nation's tourism industry and to develop relationships with Southeast Asian countries.
According to Foreign Ministry’s pronouncement, visa exemption will be effective for Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Viet Nam after July, 1. Ministry underlined the decision is adopted to celebrate “40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.” Visa exemption is valid for short time visit no longer than 15 days. Japan cautioned those travelers who want to stay longer must still need a visa.

The territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing lowered the Chinese travelers. Japan’s move to nationalize disputed islands at the East China Sea drew a harsh critic from Chinese’s officials and triggered a boycott from Chinese’s consumers and tourists. With no end in sight to the dispute, the Japanese government turned its eye to lucrative Southeast Asian market. Tokyo wants to attract 1 million Southeast Asian tourists this year, and 2 million in 2016. The number was 780,000 last year.

On the political side, the Japanese governments want to have a closer relationship with ASEAN countries. Nationalist leader Shinzo Abe who visited Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia after becoming prime minister is expected to tour Malaysia and the Philippines. During his visit, Japanese Prime Minister will try to develop relations with Southeast Asian countries to obstruct Beijing’s regional ambition, reports say. Malaysia and the Philippines have a territorial dispute with Beijing likewise Japan. Japanese PM Abe is due to host a special meeting of ASEAN leaders in Tokyo in December.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Philippines’ AirAsia’s 1st Birthday Blowout: “Piso” Fare for All Destinations

To celebrate its 1st birthday, Philippines’ AirAsia is offering a one peso base fare promo for all destinations starting today, April 15, 2013.  
"It is hard to believe, it has been a year already since we launched our operations. We had many challenges but the potential for growth is tremendous and we aim to play a big role in growing the market. The passenger traffic in Clark has grown tremendously last year and we have consistently remained committed in providing our guest with the highest standards in safety, efficiency and quality service,” Freddy Herrera, AirAsia Inc. Commercial Head said.  

Amanpulo getaway - Power Plant Mall’s Summer Shopping Raffle Prize

The heat is on, with a sizzling summer sale and fab raffle prizes to be won at Power Plant MallFrom April 11 to 14, participating tenants at the Power Plant will have their items discounted, and they've taken it up to 80% off on selected items. 
How about a relaxing vacation to complete your summer? Starting on April 11, shoppers get a chance to win a complete travel package to Aman Resorts, Amanpulo. The 3-day/2-night package includes a round-trip airfare, accommodation, massage, yoga class, snorkeling and other relaxing activities at the island. Make it a super summer as Power Plant Mall also raffles off two SUPER sunglasses care of L.S. Pascual. 

Every single receipt purchase worth a minimum of Php 2,000 from shops at the Power Plant Mall, One Rockwell, Manansala and Joya Residences, or Php 3,000 minimum single receipt purchase from Rustan’s Supermarket earns a raffle ticket. Receipts can be exchanged for raffle stubs at the redemption booth near the R1 level escalator, North Wing of Power Plant Mall.

Start shopping now at the Rockwell Power Plant Mall to get a chance to show off the cool sunglasses or go on an amazing beach getaway. The raffle promo winner of the vacation package must be at least 18 years old with a proof of Philippine residency. The Great Summer Getaway Promo ends on April 30, 2013 and the raffle draw is on May 2, 2013. Per DTI-NCR Permit No.A2-0321, Series of 2013. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/PowerPlantMall.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

UK Immigration Minister Announces Changes to Tier 2 visa system

Mark Harper, the UK immigration minister announced a series of proposed changes to the UK immigration system on Thursday 14th March 2013. He told the House of Commons that the changes will be introduced on April 6th 2013. The most significant changes will be made to the Tier 2 visa scheme, the tier visa of the UK's five tier points-based immigration system that is for skilled workers with a job offer.
Mr Harper announced a series of changes including

  • Cap for Tier 2 (General) visas fixed at 20,700 per year until further notice
  • An update of the Shortage Occupation List. Some medical occupations are removed from the list. Some engineering occupations are added
  • Amendments to the Code of Practice for Employers
  • Changes to salary thresholds and minimum appropriate salaries for individual occupations
  • A series of changes designed to 'further improve flexibility for Intra-Company Transferees and for employers carrying out the Resident Labour Market Test'
  • A rise in the level of fees
  • The Tier 2 visa system was established in 2008 by the then Labour government. Skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area who have a job offer in the UK can apply for a Tier 2 visa. In order to apply, they must have a valid job offer from a UK employer which has a valid Tier 2 sponsorship licence from the UK Border Agency.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Filing H-1B Visa Petitions

As of April 1, 2013, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY2014). Petitions for FY2014 will allow foreign nationals to work for petitioning employers as of October 1, 2013. USCIS will continue to accept new H-1B petitions after April 1, 2013, until the H-1B cap has been reached. At this time we encourage you to identify any employees who may require H-1B sponsorship so that a petition may be filed well before the H-1B visas for the next fiscal year are exhausted.
Congress has placed a numerical limit, or “cap,” on H-1B visas. For FY2014, the limit is 65,000, with an additional 20,000 visas available for foreign nationals who have earned a U.S. Master’s degree or higher. In past years, the cap has been reached in the first few days of April. Last year’s cap was reached in June 2012. With continuing signs of an economic recovery, there is a significant likelihood that the cap may be reached well before June of this year and perhaps as early as the first week of April. As there is no way to predict when this year’s H-1B quota will be exhausted, it is advisable to prepare H-1B petitions for filing on March 29, 2013, to ensure receipt on April 1, 2013, in order to improve your chances of securing visas for H-1B candidates.

Although Congress is currently considering comprehensive immigration reform as well as separate measures specifically concerning H-1B workers and the STEM occupations (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), no changes have yet been made and H-1B cap processing will continue as in years past.

If you have responsibility for your firm’s immigration planning and processing and you have already identified H-1B candidates, please initiate the H-1B petition process as soon as possible, keeping in mind that each H-1B petition requires certification by the Department of Labor (DOL) of a Labor Condition Application (LCA), which can take up to seven business days to be certified.

As always, we are prepared to strategize with clients regarding those potential employees who either do not qualify for H-1B status or who may have a gap in employment authorization prior to the start of the next fiscal year. Please keep in mind that certain foreign nationals may not be subject to the cap on account of having prior employment in H-1B status or working for certain cap-exempt employers. Please contact an attorney with Mintz Levin’s Immigration Practice to discuss any questions you may have about H-1B sponsorship. If you have identified a candidate who might require sponsorship, now is the time to begin the H-1B process.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Philippines’ AirAsia Introduces New Hotline and Cash Payment Partners

Philippines’ AirAsia, the low cost carrier with the youngest fleet, today announced significant changes in its customer call center. Starting February 25, Philippines’ AirAsia’s new customer hotline number will be 742ASIA or 742.27.42.
“To provide optimum customer care service for our guest, AirAsia is launching two new significant innovations. We have a new customer hotline that is easy to remember and we are also rolling out our cash payment partner with 7-Eleven store for our passengers who want to avail of our online promo and other privileges but would like to pay in cash instead of using their credit cards,” AirAsia Inc. Commercial head Freddy Herrera said.

AirAsia’s payment partner service provides the convenience of using cash when paying for AirAsia promo fares and other online purchases at www.airasia.com. “Filipinos will embrace this new concept of paying cash for airline tickets via our payment partners option because of its simplicity and convenience,” Herrera added.

The payment partner service covers all Philippines’ AirAsia flights from its hub in Clark International Airport to Taipei, Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur including domestic flights to Davao and Kalibo (Boracay). “We are expanding our payment partners service to include other outlets in the coming weeks so that more and more people will benefit from AirAsia’s awesome low fares and extensive route network covering 80 destinations in 20 countries,” Herrera said.

More than 800 7-Eleven stores nationwide will start accepting cash payments for AirAsia on February 28. AirAsia’s new Philippine hotline number, +632.742.2742, meanwhile, will start on February 25. It will be open daily, from Monday to Sunday, at 8:00AM – 9:00PM.

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