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The United Kingdom's Border & Immigration Agency (BIA) is urging employers to apply now for a sponsorship license ahead of the introduction of Tiers 2 and 5 in November. Britain is phasing in a new five-tier, points based system to cover all employment, student, and training-based immigration into the country. Tier 2 for skilled workers and Tier 5 for temporary workers will require Certificates of Sponsorship with applications for these visas. UK employers must be licensed by the UK government to issue Certificates of Sponsorship.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a series of proposed rule changes intended to streamline procedures for hiring foreign workers under the H-2B program. The U.S. H-2B program allows employers to hire foreign workers to fill temporary, non-agricultural occupations for which U.S. workers cannot be found. The maximum validity of an H-2B visa is usually for one year.
Among several proposed changes is a reduction in the amount of time H-2B workers must wait outside the U.S. after their visa expires before being eligible to reapply under an H or L class visa. The proposals would also eliminate the requirement for employers to show "extraordinary circumstances" to hire an H-2B worker for more than 1 year.
On 15 August 2008, the Canadian Immigration Minister met with key stakeholders from business, industry, labor and non-government organizations to discuss which industries can benefit from skilled immigration. The consultations are a result of recent legislation giving Canadian immigration authorities power to fast-track immigration applications for people who have skills that Canada needs.
The consultations focused on identifying "critical occupational shortages" throughout the nation, and the role that immigration will play in helping to reduce these shortages. Talks also focused on difficulties in having foreign credentials recognized in Canada. The information will be used to develop guidelines for immigration officers on occupations that should be targeted for priority processing.
In a recent speech before a number of special interest groups, the Immigration Minister for New Zealand covered a number of immigration topics, including the beneficial role that immigration plays in the nation's economy. He cited Department of Labour statistics showing that immigrants provided a net fiscal contribution of NZD $3.3 billion for the year ending 30 June 2006, an increase of 80% over 2003.
Immigration has been increasing across all immigration categories. Temporary migration increased by 18% per year over the past decade. Temporary work permits issued for the 2006-07 fiscal year increased by 16% over the previous year. He noted that the Skilled Migrant Category, introduced in 2003, has brought 105,000 people to New Zealand to begin their new lives.
Over one hundred non-governmental organizations from across the Pacific Islands region have written a letter to the leaders of Australia and New Zealand, urging them to change their immigration policies in response to climate change. The open letter -- addressed to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark -- calls for increased permanent immigration and resettlement services, as well as reduced carbon emissions.
Damien Lawson, of Friends of the Earth Australia, feels that Australia and New Zealand need a new immigration category for people forced to resettle because of climate change. Lawson stated that low lying nations are already facing rising seas and violent storms. He claimed that the region could expect sea levels to rise by several meters this century.
New statistics have been released by Australian immigration authorities on the number of humanitarian visas granted during the 2007-08 fiscal year; over 13,000 people were granted asylum during this time. Among the largest group of people granted humanitarian visas were Burmese refugees, at 2,961.
The second largest group to take advantage of Australia's humanitarian program were Iraqis, with 2,215 for 2007-08. 35% of humanitarian visas were granted to people from the Middle-East and southwest Asia; the rest of Asia made up 34%, and those from Africa made up 30%. Nearly 83% of humanitarian visas were granted to people applying from overseas. 1,900 initial protection visas were granted from within Australia.
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