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The United Kingdom has finished a review of its visa system -- called the Visa Waiver Test -- and will possibly implement visa regimes for 11 additional countries. Review criteria included passport security and integrity, the level of cooperation in dealing with deportations of a country's nationals from the UK, levels of crime and terrorism risk posed to the UK, the number of illegal workers in the UK and other "immigration abuse." The review covered all non-European Union countries and concluded that there is a "strong case" for implementing visa regimes in the countries.
After a decisive win in court against the UK's Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) by an advocacy group called the HSMP Forum, some Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) visa holders will have easier rules for extending their stay in Britain. Immigrants granted an HSMP approval letter before 07 November 2006 will be allowed to renew under the old requirements when applying for an extension to their HSMP visa.
Under changes introduced on 05 December 2006, HSMP visa holders seeking an extension were required to pass a points test using some stricter rules. On 08 April this year, a UK High Court ruled that migrants had a "legitimate expectation" that they would be tested with the same criteria under which they first entered the UK.
New Zealand has finished its annual review to determine the number of places available for immigration into the country under the New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP). For the 2008-2009 financial year, the will remain unchanged at 45,000 to 50,000 places.
About 60% of available places under the NZRP are expected to be filled by skilled and business immigrants, in keeping with the New Zealand government's emphasis on skilled migration. 30% of the remaining places will be set aside for reuniting families under family categories, and 10% are reserved for humanitarian purposes and international commitments.
Three new Australian 'Centres of Excellence' have been set up in Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne to speed up processing of temporary 457 visa applications. The centers were set up in response to increasing demand by Australian employers for skilled workers from overseas.
A panel of experts commissioned by the government to help improve the efficiency of the 457 visa program had also recommended the Centres of Excellence. According to the Immigration Minister, 457 visa processing times are already showing improvement.
World Youth Day 2008, an international Catholic event being held in Australia, has drawn an estimated 100,000 people to the country this week, including Pope Benedict XVI. Australian immigration authorities have been busy dealing with the upsurge in visitors.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship estimates that the number of travelers arriving for World Youth Day will rival the record 110,000 foreign visitors who attended the Sydney Olympics in 2000. According to Immigration Minister Chris Evans, Australia granted about 70,000 visas in the months leading up to World Youth Day.
Canada and Poland have signed a "Youth Mobility Agreement" that will allow people between the ages of 18 and 35 in each country to travel and work in the other country for up to a year. The stated intent is to give people an opportunity to benefit from discovering other cultures, help them obtain international contacts, and let them gain valuable skills and work experience.
Canada is in the process of opening ties with Eastern European countries that have recently joined the European Union. In addition to signing Youth Mobility agreements with newer EU member states, Canada has dropped visa requirements for travelers from a number of EU nations that joined in 2004.
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