EU blue card update

The European Union Blue Card allows entry of highly skilled migrants to work in an EU Country. The Blue Card is the EU’s bid to attract highly skilled workers; The EU hopes that the EU Blue Card scheme will enable the EU to compete effectively against the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for skilled migrants. It is an EU-wide work permit scheme allowing highly-skilled non-EU citizens the right to work and live theoretically in any of the EU countries apart from Denmark, Ireland, and the UK.

In order to be eligible to apply for a Blue Card, you must have the following:

  • Professional level qualifications,
  • a work contract or job offer from an EU employer with a salary at least 1.5 times the average gross salary,
  • a valid travel document
  • sickness insurance

This is a great way to sidestep what can be complicated work and resident visas requirements in many EU Countries. It is a one-track process to obtain your visa and, and in some cases, can even lead to permanent residency. Member States determine the number of third-country nationals they admit.

The EU Blue Card is an Immigration Visa which legally entitles the holder to work and live in the EU for a period of between one and four years. It may also be possible to renew the EU Blue Card. EU Blue Card holders may apply for permanent residence after:

  • five years of legal and continuous residency within the EU as an Blue Card holder, and
  • legal and continuous residency for two years immediately prior to the submission of the application within the Member State where the application for the long-term resident’s EC residence permit is lodged

Successful Blue Card applicants will receive a special residence and work permit. In a Press Release on 25 May 2009 the EU had the following to say:

“…The Blue Card will facilitate access to the labour market to their holders and will entitle them to a series of socio-economic rights and favourable conditions for family reunification and movement across the EU….”

After eighteen months of legal residence in the first member state as an EU Blue Card holder, the Blue Card holder and his/her family may move, under certain conditions, to a member state other than the first member state for the purpose of highly-skilled employment.

Workers on the Blue Card will receive equal treatment as nationals of the EU Country issuing the Blue Card including the same access to education and training, and welfare benefits.

Source: Workpermit

Hundreds of UK colleges banned amidst visa reform

Hundreds of colleges have been banned from bringing foreign students into the UK under the government’s plans to clamp down on immigration and visa abuse.

Tough new rules and enforcement to stop abuse of the Tier 4 student visa system has led to over 450 education providers having their right to sponsor overseas students revoked.

The Tier 4 student visa system is the most common way for migrants from outside the EU to enter the country and has been subject to widespread abuse, according to Immigration Minister Damian Green.

The institutions that have now been banned may have brought more than 11,000 people into the UK each year, according to a press release from UK Border Agency.

“Too many institutions were offering international students an immigration service rather than an education and too many students have come to the UK with the aim of getting work and bringing over family members,” said Green. “Only first-class education providers should be given licences to sponsor international students.”

The press release stated, one college advertised classes even though the website said it was shut for maintenance, while another could not even produce a list of students enrolled or a timetable of classes. On inspection, others could not produce any records of student attendance, or evidence of checking student qualifications.

“Widespread abuse of the student visa system has gone on for too long and the changes we have made are beginning to bite,” said Green.

In addition to more rigorous inspections, colleges that want to keep bringing in international students must also meet new higher sponsorship standards to ensure they are fulfilling their immigration responsibilities. If they do not meet these standards, they will be removed from the sponsorship register.

This news comes shortly after the UK Border Agency announced more than 2,000 banks and financial institutions who can no longer provide evidence to verify a student has sufficient funds for their course. If a bank is on the list, the student citing that institution will not be granted a Tier 4 visa.

The changes to the student route is part of the government’s attempt to substantially reduce levels of immigration to the UK.

Source: Workpermit

Australia extends 457 visa period for accredited sponsors

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen announced on Wednesday, the government is doubling the period of time a skilled worker can stay in Australia to work for accredited businesses to six years; There will also be priority processing for applications for certain employers under changes to the 457 visa system.

The changes will come into effect Monday, 7 November, and will allow the accredited businesses to bring in skilled workers for six years rather than three and also have priority processing for all future visa applications.

In order to become accredited, businesses must have been an active 457 visa sponsor over the past three years, employing at least 30 overseas workers over the past 12 months and guarantee that their local workforce is at least 75 percent Australian.

“This will continue to ensure that the 457 program is responsive to the economic cycle and provides a flexible avenue for employers to fill immediate and short-term skill vacancies, while maintaining opportunities and conditions for Australian workers,” said Bowen.

“While employers should first look to Australians to fill skill vacancies, the subclass 457 visa provides a fast and flexible process for the entry of overseas workers where they are needed to fill skill vacancies,” he added.

Bowen noted that there had already been improvement to the system with shorter processing times.

“Average processing times for 457 visa applications are also 30 per cent lower than they were in 2006-07 – down from 31 to 22 days,” he said.

Currently it takes the department an average of 22 days to process 457 visa applications. Bowen said the department aims to process 457 visas within 10 days.

More information will be available on 7 November once the changes go into effect.

Source: Workpermit

Canada tackles marriage fraud

Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced this week Canada‘s plans to target marriage fraud among immigrants.

According to newly released documents, Canada’s border agency has opened more than three dozen criminal investigations related to marriage fraud in the last few years.

“The most effective tool is to stop fraudulent marriages from being approved in the first place because they are so hard to deal with once the person is admitted into Canada. We will continue to be very vigilant. It’s difficult, we want to let the legitimate married couples in but keep the fake ones out and that’s what our officers are trained to do,” said Kenney.

According to Kenney some overseas spouses have married Canadians simply to gain immigration benefits to Canada. Once in Canada some foreign spouses leave their Canadian spouse. There have even been cases of mistreatment of Canadian spouses by overseas spouses.

According to the government, new laws to curb immigration through fraudulent marriages will go into effect next year. The new regulation will impose a two year period of conditional residency on foreign sponsored spouse. Spouses who have emigrated to Canada will not be able to themselves sponsor an overseas spouse for five years.

“If you come in as a sponsored spouse and become a permanent resident and then divorce your Canadian husband or wife, you will not be able to turn around and sponsor someone from overseas,” Kenney said.

It is believed that a large number of these ‘fake’ spousal sponsorship visa applications come from China and India. Recently, a large number of applications from China were rejected.

“Canadians were being paid up to $60,000 by criminal organizations, to sponsor Chinese citizens they had never met and we started interviewing these applicants and we found out they knew nothing about the spouse and they had no consistent story or proof of relationship,” said Kenney.

While it is common in South Asian countries for marriages to be arranged by families and a couple may not know very much about each other until after the marriage, Kenney noted that officials are specially trained to make an assessment of such situations.

“We know that in many cultures and religions it’s conventional to have an arranged marriage, and our officers approve bona fide arranged marriages all the time. But if it looks like the marriage was not arranged for family, for the purpose of living together, then we will reject the application. So the test is whether the marriage is legitimate or whether it is just done for immigration purposes,” he said.

Source: Workpermit