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We would like to extend a welcome to the two new member states, Bulgaria and Romania, to the European Union. Both nations started off their membership in style with historic New Years celebrations. 22 million Romanians and 8 million Bulgarians now formally increase the European population to nearly half a billion people.
Situated on the Black Sea, Romania has a rich history dating back to its formation as a nation in 1859. Romania played a significant role in both World Wars and was later controlled by the Soviet Union.
The government of today is a semi-presidential democracy in which power is shared by three branches of government: the executive, legislative, and an independent judicial branch. Following a period of economic instability after the fall of communism, Romania's economy has stabilized significantly since 2000. There is low unemployment and high growth, but there is a large trade deficit, currently importing 37% more goods than it exports.
From January 2008, only Bulgarians and Romanians will be able to come under Britain's Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS). The scheme had been scheduled to be shut down from January 2007, but the Home Office has now extended the program for citizens of both nations. The changes to the scheme are causing controversy.
The United Kingdom has changed the Sectors Based Scheme (SBS). The program was due to end by December 31st, 2006, but the Home Office decided to extend it for Bulgarians and Romanians. 3500 permits have been agreed upon, subdivided into three sectors of the Food Manufacturing Industry. The new quotas went into effect from January 2007.
Finland is experiencing a labor shortage and needs workers. A recent survey indicated that people with lower education levels tend to perceive immigrants less favorably. Highly educated professionals in the Helsinki region are the most likely to accept and to understand the need for immigrants to help alleviate labor shortages. Depending on the region, up to 25% of Finns answered that they did not know if there was a labor shortage.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has warned that they are falling behind in processing applications for immigration. The agency cites three primary reasons. More people than ever before are applying for immigration every year. Due to increased number of checks and increased documentation requirements, applications are now taking longer to process than a few years ago. Many planned upgrades that could improve efficiencies in the system have not been implemented.
A 33-year-old man who has lived in Australia almost his entire life has been deported to Sweden. He was born in Sweden and spent less than the first month of his life there. His Australian mother had been delayed in Sweden for medical reasons. Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone cancelled his permanent residency and ordered his deportation to his birth country, over-ruling a determination by the courts.
Australia's Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Amanda Vanstone, has been talking about the benefits of Australia's skilled worker visa, the subclass 457 scheme. The recent hit film Happy Feet which was produced by an Australian company in Australia made extensive use of the 457 program to bring in animators, digital artists, technical directors and software developers to create the movie.
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