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New US Visit Visa requirements to go into place
Those wishing to enter the US under the visa waiver scheme will from 12 January 2009 need to apply electronically for travel authorization. They will need to apply online under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
According to the Customs and Borders Protection Office at the US Embassy the number of British tourists applying for authorization is only about 3,700 a day. In January 2008 eight thousand British tourists travelled to the US every day. Therefore, it seems likely that many British tourists will face difficulties when entering the US.
UK Border Agency and Points System
On 5 January 2008 the UKBA announced that 4,875 businesses had registered as sponsors under the Points System. This still means that huge number of businesses that need to bring in overseas workers are not registered as sponsors.
The requirement that the British business becomes a registered sponsor is in many ways tougher than under the previous work permit scheme. However, this does bring in additional delays which could cause serious problems for employers and may cause long term damage to the UK economy. In the long term as more and more employers become registered this is less of an issue.
The end of the Working Holidaymaker scheme for young Commonwealth Citizens and it’s partial replacement by Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme may not be in the best interests of the UK. Only nationals from three Commonwealth Countries and Japanese nationals can come under the new Tier 5 scheme.
Reminder for UK educational institutions sponsoring international students
On 19 December 2008 the UKBA made a further announcement regarding the Student Tier 4 of the points system to be introduced in March 2009. Under the new points based system educational institutions will have to be licensed to sponsor students.
UKBA in their announcement said that they have already begun issuing licences for sponsors under tier 4 and would encourage all potential sponsors who have not yet applied for their licence to do so as soon as possible.
UK work restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians to continue
On 18 December 2008 the Government announced that for the time being Bulgarians and Romanians will not get free access to the British labour market. It is interesting to note that Bulgarians and Romanians can enter the UK under an European Community Association Agreement on a self employed basis to do almost any type of work.
Skilled and Highly Skilled workers from Bulgaria and Romania will probably come under Tier 1, Tier 2 or the European Community Association Agreement; Lower skilled workers can come under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) and the Sector Based Scheme (SBS) for food processing or in some circumstances under the EC Association Agreement.
In 2009 the number of Bulgarians and Romanians admitted under the scheme goes up from 16,250 places to 21,250. The quota for the Sector Based Scheme for food processing currently only for Romanian and Bulgarian workers will stay at 3,500.
UK immigration system and childrens welfare
The welfare of children in Britain's immigration system is a top priority, according to new UK Border Agency guidelines introduced on 6 January 2009.
The new code of practice deals with how youngsters should be treated during any stay in detention or while being transferred into local authority care. UKBA will then be in line with other Government organisations that take care of children.
The UKBA says that the vast majority of children are detained for less than a week, and during that stay they are committed to treating them fairly and with compassion.
Obama and US immigration Reform
President-Elect Obama is under increasing pressure to reform US immigration. Latinos voted for Barack Obama in big numbers in the US. They are now expecting Obama to keep his promise on immigration reform.
It is expected that Obama will stop immigration raids in future. Further immigration reform for the benefit of the largely Hispanic illegal immigrant population could be more difficult. Obama will have the greatest influence in Congress during the start of his presidency; This may be the best time to push for immigration reform.
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