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The British embassy in Moscow is currently receiving an average of about 100 visa applications per hour. Embassy officials attribute the 25% increase, in part, to a combination of June's traditional high demand and up to a 50% reduction in cost for certain types of visas. Part of the surge in applications is comprised of a 37% increase in international students trying to come into the UK.
French Immigration Minister, Brice Hortefeux, introduced a new immigration bill in Parliament. It proposes a number of changes in policy that French President Nicolas Sarkozy would like to see implemented. These would result in stronger French language and cultural integration standards for immigrants. The bill is scheduled for debate in the Parliament in September.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted a national immigration summit on 12 July to address integration issues for Germany's immigrants. One previous summit was held last July, and another is now planned for 2008. German immigration laws are currently undergoing major reform.
Last week's summit focused on integrating newcomers into German society. A minimum age limit and a language requirement have been added for spouses to obtain a visa, and there are education initiatives to help immigrants learn the German language and culture. "Tolerated" status asylum seekers are now eligible for residency.
A 27 year-old suspect in the recently failed UK bombing attempts at the end of June has been detained by Australian immigration authorities. His Australian visa was cancelled on 'character grounds.' Dr. Mohammed Haneef, an Indian national, was employed as a hospital registrar, legally working in Brisbane under Australia's 457 visa program. He was detained as he was leaving Australia for India using a one-way ticket.
He was to be detained at the Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney until his next court date on 31 August. A Brisbane judge has granted a AUD$10,000 bail, citing a lack of concrete evidence linking him to the bombing attempt. His lawyer is preparing a legal challenge to the revocation of his visa.
The requirement for air travelers to have a passport when entering or leaving the United States is causing an uproar among Americans trying to go on their summer vacations. Only about 25% of Americans had obtained a passport by late 2006, and now there are delays for U.S. citizens to get them during the summer rush. Congress has responded by passing legislation for emergency hiring of people to process applications. The State Department temporarily eased the new rules in June. However passports are still not being processed fast enough, with many Americans not receiving their passports in time for overseas trips.
Last week we posted a sample test of questions being used to develop a new version of the United States citizenship test. The official version is due out sometime during 2008, so many of the current questions may change before then. A score of 85-100% is needed to be eligible for U.S. citizenship, in addition to meeting all other requirements.
The 20 questions selected for examples on our website were considered some of the harder ones on the test. Historical information and knowledge of the U.S. Constitution are prominent in the current version.
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