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Britain's Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) scheme officially ended 29 June 2008. From 30 June 2008, highly skilled immigration into the United Kingdom comes under the Tier 1 (General) category. The UK Border Agency has also launched the other Tier 1 sub-categories: Tier 1 (Investors), Tier 1 (Entrepreneurs), and Tier 1 (Post-Study Work).
People coming under Tier 1 (General) will see few differences in the requirements, compared to the old HSMP scheme. Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) is for people starting a new business, or who are taking over an existing one. Tier 1 (Investor) is for wealthy individuals who make a substantial investment in the UK economy.
Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) replaces the previous International Graduates Scheme, allowing non-European Union graduates of British universities (and other eligible educational institutions) to stay in the UK for up to 2 years while gaining valuable UK work experience.
The current British government is proposing several changes to the United Kingdom's visa system, in addition to the new points-based Tier system. Under the proposals, people in the UK will be required to obtain a license to sponsor family members visiting from abroad, and visitors will be limited to a maximum of 6 months.
Sponsors will be required to ensure that visiting family members leave Britain before their visa expires, or face severe penalties. Sponsors falling afoul of the proposed rules could be banned from bringing anyone else into Britain in the future, face penalties of up to GBP 5,000, or even be jailed.
The UK Home Office has announced 2 new visitor visas for sportspeople and entertainers. People under these categories may visit the United Kingdom for up to 6 months and take part in relevant activities during their visit. The UK Minister for Sport welcomed the announcement, stating that the UK needs to make sure that talented people can enter the country and take part in the many festivals and shows that Britain has to offer.
Tourism visas are also likely to see some changes. To encourage even more tourists to come to the UK, the government will set up a new 3-month "group visa," which may have a reduced price of GBP 44. The Home Office also announced its intention to limit the maximum amount of time for tourists in most cases to 6 months.
Sweden has implemented a European Union directive designed to create easier work permit access across the 27-member bloc for visiting non-EU scientists and researchers. Swedish immigration law now incorporates the directive from 01 July 2008, removing the requirement for researchers to have a work permit while undertaking their duties in Sweden.
In most cases, researchers and scientists will still need a residence permit to live in Sweden, which must be issued before entering the country. A person must have a university degree or college education which qualifies for post-graduate studies to take advantage of the new "visiting researchers category." Researchers taking up work in Sweden for less than three months will need neither a work permit nor a residence permit, although nationals of certain countries will still need entry visas.
New Zealand's Immigration Minister announced a new strategy to attract and retain skilled migrants to the Wellington region. He said that this is needed for the future growth and prosperity of the Wellington region. The Wellington Regional Settlement Strategy aims to assist new immigrants in a number of ways.
The strategy will lead to the establishment of a regional employment service to connect employers with unemployed newcomers. The Strategy will also focus on the needs of migrant spouses and partners who are left at home; and lead to easy access to English language support.
Some people under Australian Working Holiday visas will now be allowed to stay longer. Beginning from 01 July 2008, Working Holiday visa holders who have worked in the construction industry in regional Australia for at least 3 months are eligible to apply for a second Working Holiday visa.
Previously, second Working Holiday visas were only available to individuals who have worked for farmers in regional Australia for a period of 3 months. The number of Working Holiday makers has more than doubled in the past decade.
About 3,000 new immigrants in Nova Scotia, Canada will benefit from new federal funding, according to Peter MacKay, who is the Minister of National Defense, the Minister of Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and Member of Parliament for Central Nova. More than an additional CAD $10.3 million over the next 3 years will go to several agencies in the Halifax Regional Municipality. These agencies will provide settlement services such as language training, counseling, and employment assistance.
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