Author: Johnson Mackenzie Ltd

Working Holiday Maker visa program

The Australian Government has announced changes to the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa program to support regional and rural communities.

Changes to the WHM visa program include:

– Expanding the regional areas where subclass 462-visa holders can work in agriculture (plant and animal cultivation) to qualify for a second year of stay in Australia. Currently only those who work in Northern Australia are eligible.
– Increasing the period in which subclass 417 and 462 visa holders can stay with the same agricultural (plant and animal cultivation) employer, from 6 to 12 months.
– The option of a third-year for subclass 417 and 462 visa holders who, after 1 July 2019, undertake 6-months of specified work in a specified regional area during their second year.
– Over the coming weeks, offering an increase in the annual caps to a number of countries that participate in the subclass 462 visa program.
– Increase the eligible age for subclass 417 visa applicants from Canada and Ireland to 35.

How will these changes address regional workforce shortages

The key focus is on providing farmers with immediate access to workers in key parts of regional Australia. The changes aim to increase the number of Working Holiday Makers available for seasonal work needs.

Employers will be able to retain trained and experienced employees doing agricultural (plant and animal cultivation) work for up to 12-months, rather than the previous 6-months.

The availability of a third-year visa will attract working holiday makers to work for longer in regional Australia.

Minister Stanton announces extended funding for female refugee employment projects

Mr David Stanton T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration has announced extended funding, worth almost €500,000 under the Dormant Accounts Fund, for 7 projects working on the labour market integration of female refugees.

These projects provide a platform for intensive, tailored interventions that address the specific barriers to employment for female refugees. The focus is on improving their employability through skills development, education and training and supports to access the labour market. The funding will allow the projects to progress their work for a second year.

Minister Stanton said:

“Employment is a powerful driver of integration. Getting a job is key to social inclusion and a sense of belonging. These programmes support their participants in taking that vital step and enabling them to contribute to Irish life.”

Canada skilled worker visas made easier to obtain as US visas hit delays

In the wake of tighter US immigration controls, for political and bureaucratic reasons, the Canadian federal government is looking to capitalize by launching a new scheme as part of its temporary foreign worker program, with a view to attracting more highly skilled workers to Canada. The new ‘Global Talent’ pilot scheme was made public on Thursday, March 9.

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, and Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, who announced the new pilot program in Toronto, said that it’s due to launch on June 12 and will make Canada’s skilled worker visas easier to obtain.

The federal government, along with Canadian tech companies, have hailed the scheme as a chance to bring in overseas staff to fast-track innovation, enabling the country to compete on a global level, while stimulating economic development and generating more jobs for Canadians.

UK Tier 1 investor visa was not suspended as planned

The Tier 1 Investor Visa scheme was not suspended despite the Home Office saying it would be. Even before the decision to suspend the Tier 1 Investor visa scheme a number of investment related companies had decided that they did not wish to continue to be involved in the scheme. It may be worth looking at other Tier 1 visa schemes such as the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa and the Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and Tier 2 visa scheme. Birmingham-based wealth management firm, Quilter Cheviot, scrapped its Tier 1 investor visa services recently, amid concerns over competitors offering open investment accounts to wealthy foreign investors, prior to the completion of due diligence checks. The firm’s decision has once again shed light on attempts to abuse the Tier 1 investor visa programme.

UKVI Customer Enquiry Service Changes

From 1 June, all customer enquiries will be handled by a new commercial partner Sitel UK.

The new contract will see a number of changes for customers. These changes help the government reduce costs and ensure those who benefit directly from the UK immigration system make an appropriate contribution.

The main changes for customers applying from outside the UK are:

  • all phone numbers and opening hours will change
  • the number of languages offered is reducing to 8 including English
  • customers who contact UK Visas and Immigration by email will be charged £5.48

You will need to pay using a credit or debit card for contacting us by email. The charge includes the first email enquiry you send and any follow-up emails to and from the contact centre relating to the same enquiry.

The way you pay to use the telephone service will remain the same using a credit or debit card.

If you do not have access to a credit or debit card, you may choose to use a trusted 3rd party such as an agent or sponsor.

There are no changes to services if you are contacting UK Visas and Immigration from inside the UK.

New Canadian skilled foreign worker visa policy celebrated by tech industry

In response to a shortage of global talent in Canada, the government has moved to reduce the processing time for skilled foreign worker visas to two weeks. The government’s decision has been welcomed by the country’s tech industry, which they see as improving Canada’s competitiveness by making it easier to recruit top foreign talent on Canadian visas.

Bill Morneau, Canada’s finance minister, announced the new policy as part of an economic update. He said: “Ottawa will reduce the processing time for visas and work permits to two weeks, a drop from the many months it takes now.”

The scheme, which is aimed at high-growth businesses, will also feature a temporary work permit that will enable foreign workers to work in Canada for 30 days a year. It’s expected that the new initiative will begin in early 2017.

Employing overseas nationals on Canadian Visas creates Labour market benefits
Under the terms of the scheme, companies will be required to demonstrate how recruiting foreign talent on Canadian work visas will lead to labour market benefits like investment, training and Canadian job creation for Canadian companies and global corporations investing large amounts of money in Canada.

Alexandra Clark, the head of government relations at one of Canada’s biggest tech industry success stories, Shopify said: “One of the big things that this now creates is certainty. This is a direct response of this government hearing from Canadian companies that labour and access to talent has been a major barrier for us to be competitive.”

According to sources, the Canadian government has identified the tech industry as a way of attracting investment and jobs that could lead the economy out of a ‘slow growth environment.’

It’s long been known that failure to attract the necessary talent stifles tech companies to scale up their businesses and they argue that access to global talent is key to taking their companies to the next level.

CEO of Cambridge-based cybersecurity company eSentire, J. Paul Haynes, said: “This has been a conversation for 10 years and we’re just so happy the government is acting. The changes make Canada one of the most accommodating countries in the world for foreign tech talent.”

President Trump and what Americans really think about Immigrants on US visas

President Trump won the elections despite what many people may be surprised to hear is a pro immigrant bias amongst the electorate. A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center – a non-partisan American ‘fact tank’ (as referred to by them) – has found that Americans are ‘more positive about US immigration than they have been in decades.’ Equally, US citizens are concerned about discrimination toward Muslims. Many survey participants also said they want an America that’s ‘engaged with the world.’

The study’s findings, which are based on telephone interviews with 1,502 adults across the country between November 30 and December 5, 2016, are a far cry from President Donald Trump’s apparent stance on US immigration, who has promised an ‘America First’ approach to the world.

Trump has said he will to get tough on illegal immigration and terrorists, even if that means taking unconstitutional actions like mass deportations and Muslim registries.  As reported by he has also at times taken a liberal attitude towards immigrants.

There remain concerns that he may also bring in tougher immigration controls on L1 intra-company transfer visas and H1B specialty worker visas mainly used by Indians.   Hopefully, other visas such as the E2 treaty investor visa, E1 treaty trader visa and B1 in lieu of H1B visa will remain unchanged.

The Pew Center report focused on the public perception surrounding Trump’s transition into power and provides a fascinating insight into how Americans view his cabinet appointments, the numerous concerns about his conflict of interests, opinions on the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), and much more.

UK Visa post-Brexit Regional Visa Schemes reviewed and rejected by Government

Despite pressure from a host of MPs, at the end of October 2016 the UK government rejected proposals for London-only and Scotland only visa schemes. An official report signed by newly installed UK immigration minister, Robert Goodwill, determined that ‘such a system would not be conducive for UK employers.’

However MPs have not given up and are still pushing for regional UK visa schemes.  This year the all-party group on social integration has renewed calls for a regional UK visa scheme.  They feel that local quotas would help increase confidence in the UK immigration system.

Following the result of June’s referendum, the push for post-Brexit regional visa schemes gathered pace. London Mayor Sadiq Khan provided details for a London visa from the City of London and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The government’s rejection of regional visa schemes comes in response to a report produced by the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, which urged Westminster to review plans for a formal post-study work scheme for Scotland.

An official statement from Westminster said: “We do not consider a Scotland-specific visa scheme to be in the best interests of the integrity of the UK immigration system, or in the interests of UK employers and landlords who would be required to check whether a migrant’s status restricted their ability to work to Scotland.”

“Such a scheme would not be practicable, for example, for employers who are headquartered in Scotland but need the flexibility to deploy their staff to other parts of the UK to engage in employment activity,” the statement added.

British-Irish visa scheme

Chinese and Indian nationals can visit the UK and Ireland using a single visa when travelling on certain short stay and visitor visas.

Under the British-Irish visa scheme, some Irish short stay visas will allow onward travel to the UK and some UK visitor visas will allow onward travel to Ireland. For example, under the scheme an Indian or Chinese visitor in Dublin will be able to make a short trip to London or Belfast without needing a separate visa. Alternatively an Indian or Chinese visitor in London could travel to Dublin or Cork.

Only eligible Irish short stay visas applied for after the scheme starts are covered by the scheme.

All Indian and Chinese nationals who hold an eligible UK visitor visa (except ‘visitor in transit’ and ‘visitor for marriage or civil partnership’) are covered by the scheme.

Currently the scheme only applies to Indian and Chinese nationals.