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On 27 November 2008 the United Kingdom launched Tiers 2 and 5 of its "five-tier" points based immigration system.
Employers are reminded that in order to offer employment to overseas skilled workers qualifying for entry to the UK under the provisions of Tier 2 or to temporary workers entering under Tier 5 they must first register with the UK Border Agency.
To date, only 1,900 companies have registered with the agency out of thousands that currently employ foreign workers.
To recruit skilled workers from overseas, licensed companies must first comply with the terms of the resident labour market test, which requires that the job be advertised at an appropriate market rate of pay for a minimum of two weeks in Britain. Only if they are unable to fill it are they allowed to employ a worker from outside the European Economic Area.
If the job appears on the shortage occupation list then an overseas worker can be sought from the outset.
An overseas worker must be in possession of a job offer and a certificate of sponsorship from his or her sponsoring employer and will need to have set minimum qualifications, the skills needed for the vacancy, and good English language ability. They must also meet the maintenance requirement or their application will be refused.
To qualify at this stage, a migrant must be able to show personal savings equivalent to £800 at the time the application is made or have written confirmation from their sponsor that the sponsor will maintain and accommodate them until the end of the first month of their work in the United Kingdom.
From the end of March 2009 the savings option will change to a requirement for an applicant to demonstrate an amount of £800 at all times during the preceding 3 month period.
The UK Home Office has started the process of issuing compulsory identity cards to foreigners living in Britain.
In a move that signals the first significant phase of the Government's £4.7billion identity card scheme, foreign students and people applying for a visa on the basis of marrying a British citizen will be the first to receive ID cards in the UK since the 1950s.
The cards will be issued to people at one of seven special immigration offices in the UK where they will first be photographed and subjected to finger-printing, so as lock them to one identity. The card will bear various personal and permit-specific data as well as showing if the person is eligible for work and whether or not they have access to publicly-funded state benefits and some other services.
Laws to prevent forced marriages and protect those who have already fallen victim have been introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Under these new laws which are the first to specifically target the problem, a victim, friend or the police can apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order, a court-issued injunction which would forbid families from actions such as taking people abroad for marriage, seizing passports or intimidating victims. It would also force family members to reveal a person’s whereabouts.
Penalties for breaching an order include up to two years' imprisonment.
The Irish Government is to consider the introduction of new visa requirements for visitors from 11 non-EU countries, a move which would reflect the possible stance of the UK authorities.
A ‘visa-waiver’ test looked at the level of risk posed by citizens of all non-EU countries and was based on factors such as passport integrity, known levels of illegal immigration, crime and security threats posed and the level of co-operation of an offender’s home country in addressing these threats and dealing with any deportations.
The British Home Office concluded last summer that there was ‘a strong case’ for imposing a tighter visa regime on the 11 named countries, with a new 6 month visa becoming mandatory if the risk situation did not improve. A review will be conducted in December when a final decision will be taken.
Jason Kenney, Canadian Minister of Immigration has confirmed that Canada will maintain its positive stance on immigration by setting a target of 240 000 to 265 000 new permanent residents for 2009.
‘Whilst countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia are talking about taking fewer immigrants, our planned numbers for 2009 are on a par with last year and are among the highest for this country over the past 15 years,’ said Minister Kenney.
The minister also announced the introduction of an ‘Action Plan for Faster Immigration’ aimed at those applicants qualified in 38 high-demand occupations.
Under this plan, relevant skilled worker applications, those already having an offer of employment or those living legally in Canada for one year as an international student or as a temporary foreign worker will have their applications fast-tracked. All other federal skilled worker applications will not be processed and the application fee will be fully refunded.
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