Canadian Immigration announces plan to reduce backlog of family visa applications

Canadian immigration will be accepting an additional 10,000 parents and grandparents into Canada next year as part of a comprehensive approach to speeding up family reunification and reducing an ever-increasing backlog.

The plan, announced Friday by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, introduced the Canadian “Parent and Grandparent Super Visa” which is valid for up to 10 years. The multiple-entry visa will allow parents and grandparents to remain in Canada for up to 24 months at a time without the need for renewal of their status. Currently visas are only good for six months.

Part of the plan requires up to a two-year pause on new applications so the department can clear the backlog. The pause comes into effect on 5 November 2011.

Presently, more than 165,000 parents and grandparents who have applied to become permanent residents of Canada are still waiting for a final decision on their visa. Under the new plan, the government hopes to eliminate the backlog within five years.

The super visa will be open to individuals already in the queue for permanent residency who have demonstrated they have financial support while in Canada, private health insurance, and, have undergone an immigration medical examination (unless exempted).

Overall, the government will accept 25,000 parents and grandparents into Canada next year, up from 15,000 this year. The government receives nearly 40,000 applications under the family reunification stream every year with a current wait time of about seven years.

“Wait times for Family Class sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents now exceed seven years, and without taking action, those times will continue to grow, and that is unacceptable,” said Kenney. “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.”

“Through this balanced series of measures, we will be able to dramatically reduce the backlog and wait times, while the new Parent and Grandparent Super Visa will allow more family members to pay extended visits to their loved ones,” added the Minister.

The super visa will become available as of 1 December 2011; The Canadian immigration department aims to issue visas within eight weeks of receiving an application.

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Source: Workpermit

Taiwan to sponsor youth applying for UK Youth Mobility Visas

Following last month’s announcement of Taiwan’s participation in the UK‘s Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme, the Taiwanese Government has announced how they will administer certificates of sponsorship to its young citizens for participation in the scheme.

Last month UK immigration officials announced they would offer the opportunity for young Taiwanese to obtain a two-year UK visa to live and work in the UK. The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa enables young people from participating countries to come and experience life in the UK.

The agreement on the scheme was reached in September and will allow a total of 1,000 Taiwanese people to work, travel or study in the U.K. on a multiple-entry visa, while also allowing the same number of young people from the UK to live, study and work in Taiwan. If the demand exceeds the allotted number of visas available, applicants will be randomly selected electronically.

To apply for a certificate of sponsorship, you will need to meet the eligibility criteria and register through the National Youth Commission’s website between 1 December and 20 December 2011.

The Taiwanese government will grant certificates of sponsorship to youth between 18 and 30 years old who meet the UK Border Agency criteria. Upon receiving a certificate of sponsorship, applicants must then apply to the UK visa application centre in Taiwan for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa.

National Youth Commission Minister Lee Yun-jie noted 2012 was an especially good time to work and travel to the UK, due to the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne and the Olympic Games. He also praised the program as being a milestone in foreign relations.

“The agreement is significant for Taiwan because it is the sixth country to be eligible for the U.K. Youth Mobility Scheme,” Lee said. Taiwan is the only country in the scheme to have Chinese-speaking applicants. Other participating countries include Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Monaco.

UK immigration officials expect applicants will be able to apply for the visa from January 2012.

Source: Workpermit

Quebec, Canada to accept record number of immigrants in 2012

Quebec unveiled their immigration plan for 2012 this week, stating the province will continue to grant a record numbers of visas to immigrants, despite complaints that it’s not doing enough to integrate newcomers, many of whom don’t speak French.

Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil announced Tuesday that Quebec would let in between 51,200 and 53,800 new arrivals in 2012 with the same number of immigrants expected in 2013 and 2014.

“The idea is to seek diversity,” she told reporters, adding Quebec companies can gain a competitive edge by attracting people with different backgrounds speaking different languages.

About 18,900 of those arriving next year are expected to be unable to speak French.

A study released last month, conducted by Montreal’s Institute for Research on Public Policy, shows that Canadian citizens still welcome newcomers immigrating to Canada. According to the report, about 58 percent of people questioned in Canada support the current levels of immigration. Additionally, Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the Prairies surpassed the rest of Canada with their support for immigration and are above the country average with more than 62 percent support.

Opponents of the immigration increase believe they should stop admitting large numbers of immigrants until they can be better integrated into the French majority.

Weil disagreed with capping immigration numbers and noted that having people with a diversity of backgrounds speaking different languages can give Quebec companies a competitive edge.

According to the 2012 Immigration Plan, immigrants with skilled worker visas will also take jobs left vacant; Canada’s aging population means fewer Canadians in the workforce. Additionally, the government will work to increase the level of knowledge of French among applicants for skilled worker visa category.

Under the Canada-Quebec Accord on Immigration, Quebec establishes its own immigration requirements. However, Citizenship and Immigration Canada make the final decision on whether or not to grant the visa.

Weil said that the government will continue to seek immigrants who speak French already and make an effort to teach those who do not while integrating them into Quebec. She aims to have 65 percent who can already speak French when they arrive.

Source: Workpermit

UK population increase due to immigration

Official projections predict the UK population will hit nearly 75 million by 2043, surpassing Germany as the largest EU nation. This it is said will be largely due to immigration.

Currently the UK population is the third largest in Europe at 62.3 million, behind Germany and France.

The Office for National Statistics claims two thirds of the growth – the equivalent of adding 438,000 people, or a city the size of Bristol, every year – is due to UK immigration.

“We have made sweeping changes to get a grip on immigration, closing down routes subject to abuse and taking action against those with no right to be here,” said Immigration Minister Damian Green. “Much has been done but there is more to do to bring down net migration to the order of tens of thousands a year and ensure migration which benefits the UK.”

Matt Cavanagh, Associate Director at the Institute for Public Policy Research commented on the release of the statistical report stating, “If we are to take seriously the talk about “crowding”, focusing on national populations and densities is misleading, since it is really London and the South East which is crowded, rather than our island as a whole. Some towns and cities, particularly in the north, are struggling with the opposite problem.”

Addressing Green’s claims that net UK immigration will be reduced to the “tens of thousands”, Cavanagh noted the ambiguity of the statement; The claim could mean 40,000 or 95,000 migrants a year.

“Zero net migration would require us to leave the EU, stop British nationals marrying foreigners, and turn all working migrants into guest workers,” he added.

Source: Workpermit

Canadian immigration easier for international PhD students

Canada is making it easier for foreign PhD students with two years completed PhD study to become permanent residents, Minister of State of Science and Technology Gary Goodyear announced yesterday.

The Department of Immigration aims to accept up to 1,000 international PhD students per year as permanent residents through the federal skilled worker visa program.

According to Goodyear, the Canadian immigration department is encouraging immigration of PhD students as the country needs more people with knowledge in the field of science, technology, engineering and maths.

“Research in these fields contributes greatly to our overall national competitiveness in the global market,” Goodyear said.

“Attracting and retaining immigrants with high levels of skill will help Canada compete in the knowledge-based world economy,” he added. “With this initiative, we are telling the innovators of tomorrow that Canada is ready to welcome them and their ideas.”

Beginning 5, November 2011, international PhD students will be eligible to submit applications for processing and receive federal skilled worker visas. To be eligible, students must have completed at least two years of study toward a PhD and remain in good academic standing at a provincially recognized post-secondary educational institution in Canada.

Canadian immigration selects visa applicants under the skilled worker visa category based on their education, work experience, knowledge of English or French, and other criteria that they say have been shown to allow in skilled immigrants most likely to become economically active and find suitable work in Canada.

Recent graduates from Canadian PhD programs will also be eligible to apply, so long as they apply within 12 months of their graduation.

“This initiative will provide Canadian universities with one more competitive edge in attracting and retaining top international talent to pursue their doctoral studies in Canada,” said Paul Davidson, President of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “We welcome this announcement.”

International students account for about one-quarter of the students enrolled in Canadian PhD programs.

Source: Workpermit

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