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The government of Australia has announced a "suite of reforms" to its immigration detention system. The previous policy of automatically detaining asylum seekers has now ended; the government will now only detain "unlawful non-citizens" who are deemed a security threat.
Detention centers will only be used as a "last resort" and for the "shortest practical time" for people arriving in Australia under unlawful circumstances, according to Immigration Minister Chris Evans. Prior to this change, the rules enacted by the previous government under John Howard required automatic detention, sometimes for years, even when no threat was posed to the Australian community.
Some people will still be subject to detention under the reforms. Unlawful non-citizens who present an unacceptable risk to the community and people who have repeatedly refused to comply with their visa conditions will still be detained. People arriving by boat to areas such as Christmas Island and Ashmore Reef will still be detained and subject to mandatory health, identity, and security checks.
The Australian government has approved AUD $6.45 million for international aid projects to help thousands of people who have fled their home countries due to war, persecution, or political strife. The funding will help fund humanitarian projects for displaced people from Iraq, Syria, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Africa, and Pakistan, according to Immigration Minister Chris Evans.
The funding is provided under the government's Displaced Persons Program for projects administered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Austcare. The money will fund various projects in each country, as well as in Australia. Immigration Minister Chris Evans stated that the Displaced Persons Program underlined Australia's commitment to assisting people in need.
United Kingdom employers and educational institutions can now apply for a license to act as a sponsor for migrant workers and foreign students ahead of implementation of Tiers 2, 4 and 5. Sponsorship by an authorized agent is essential for immigrants coming into Britain under these three tiers.
Joining the register of sponsors is mandatory for employers and educational institutions who wish to bring non-European Union/European Economic Area workers and students to Britain under tiers 2, 4, and 5. Tier 2 for skilled workers and Tier 5 for youth mobility workers are expected to go into effect in November of 2008, followed by Tier 4 for students in spring of 2009.
Employers and universtities should register now for a sponsorship license if they wish to bring people into the UK when the new tiers go into effect. The authorities will need to be satisfied that an organization is not a threat to UK immigration controls, and that the organization will comply with its obligations as a sponsor.
At least 3,000 blank passports and blank visa stickers intended for distribution to British embassies and consulates abroad were stolen in northern England on Monday morning. Thieves hijacked a van transporting the blank documents, with an estimated street value of about 2.5 million GBP.
The Greater Manchester Police are investigating, and the Home Office and Identity and Passport Service (IPS) have taken "preventative action" to guard against forgeries. A government spokesman was quick to characterize the stolen blanks as "useless," but numerous security experts pointed out many possible ways in which the documents could be used to help facilitate illicit activities.
On March 14th of this year the Government of Canada introduced changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act with the stated objective of reducing the waiting time for applicants who have skills needed in the Canadian economy. Approved by Parliament on June 18th, the changes give Canada's immigration minister the authority to fast-track certain skilled migration applicants that the federal government determines will benefit Canada.
Immigration Minister Diane Finley is currently holding consultations with provinces, territories and other key stakeholders about the types of occupations of greatest interest. The 'Regional Lists of Occupations under Pressure' shows that health occupations are in shortage throughout all Canadian provinces and territories, with a particular need for Registered Nurses.
Research by Human Resource Social Development Canada (HRSDC) found that the health sector had the largest number of occupations showing signs of shortages at the national level. Shortage occupations in particular demand include physicians, therapy and assessment professionals, head nurses and nurse's aides. Other health occupations, such as registered nursing assistants, audiology technicians, physiotherapy technicians and medical radiation technologists, are also experiencing shortages.
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