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We would like to remind our readers that there has been a major revision to the schedule of fees for most United Kingdom immigration-related services. The current, detailed schedule, effective from April 2nd, has been posted on our website.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is about to release a report showing that the United Kingdom is losing valuable skilled workers. At the same time, the number of low-skilled foreign workers immigrating into the country is rising. Many Britons vacating professional and managerial positions are going to countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The UK national identity card scheme is still on track, but there is a lot of controversy associated with the program. Citizens and long-term residents will be required to obtain a card by 2014 at the latest. According to the government, the scheme will result in reduced levels of social services fraud, increased border security and help in the fight against terrorism. Those opposing the scheme criticize the expense of the program and potential abuse of the system by the government.
The European Union signed new visa agreements with Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina at a summit in Croatia last week. The agreements are designed to simplify the process for nationals of the three Balkan countries to be able travel to and work within the EU. Serbia and Macedonia are in the closing stages of negotiations. The effort is intended to make it easier and cheaper to obtain visas, especially for students, business people, journalists, and researchers.
The United States has fulfilled the H-1B visa quota by computer lottery. More than 150,000 petitions were received in the first two days, about 124,000 of which were accepted for entry into the lottery. Recently the U.S. H-1B visa has in effect become an "outsourcing visa," with nearly eight of every ten granted to Indian-based outsourcing companies. High technology companies and the Indian government have been pressuring the U.S. government to increase the annual quota.
Last week a $140 million contract was announced by the Australian government to conduct health screening of potential immigrants before they are allowed into the country. Foreigners already in Australia will still be able to obtain medical examinations from inside the country. Prime Minister John Howard ignited controversy a few days later when he stated that HIV-positive foreigners should be denied entry to Australia. He compared being HIV-positive to having tuberculosis. This ignores the fact that it is much easier to catch TB than to become infected with the HIV virus.
The Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) published a survey recently showing that 6.5% of the population of Johannesburg is not native to the city, and the figure is steadily rising. Johannesburg is setting up more services to help foreigners, with the hope of making immigration more attractive to the city and to the country. South Africa is currently struggling to attract skilled workers. Many South Africans with the best education leave. Unfortunately insufficient immigrants are coming into the Country to replace these people.
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