Archive for February, 2013

A US visa interview will now be a two-day affair instead of just one, the US consulate announced on Wednesday evening.

Officials said spreading out the process over two days would make it smoother and faster.

The changes in the visa proceedings have been brought to effect from Wednesday.

Photographs will be clicked and fingerprints collected on the first day. The second day will be reserved for the interview.

“On the first day, a person applying for the visa will have to visit the offsite facilitation centre to get the photograph clicked and give his fingerprints,” said Lauren B. Armenise, vice-consul, Consulate General of the US, in Calcutta. “The second visit will be made to the consulate for the interview.”

Spliting the process will make it less cumbersome for a visa-seeker, who would not have to spend more than an hour on each of the two days, said officials.

The US embassies and consulates in India, which introduced the new system, said visa-seekers under the old system had to spend the entire day at the consulate because taking the photograph, giving fingerprints and the visa interview all happened on the same day.

“People will now be able to make appointments by calling up the call centres. They will be able to telephone and get dates according to their convenience. The two dates could be between a day and 10 days apart,” said Wendy Kennedy, consular section chief of the Consulate General of the United States of America.

“A call centre has come up at Hyderabad, apart from the one at Noida,” she added.

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Canada is similar to the United States in that it is a melting pot of different cultures and religions. Canada is a country without an official religion. Although about seventy-five percent of Canadian citizens claim to be practitioners of Christianity, religious pluralism is a valued part of Canada’s culture. Unfortunately, many believe Canada has entered a depressing “post-religious”period. This is a fancy why of saying that people have become cynical and stopped openly displaying their Christianity.

However, other religions still seem to be en vogue. The stark increase in immigration from areas such as Asia, Africa, and the Middle East has contributed to the expansive growth of Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, and Hindu communities within the country of Canada. More exclusive religious cultures also call Canada home. These include the Bahá’í Faith, Unitarian Universalists, Judaism, Pagans, First Nations religions.

The Musli. Religion is very popular in Canada. The first mosque was built in Edmonton, a fashionable Canadian area, way back in the year 1936. In fact, the first Canadian census found thirteen Muslims already living in the country. With a long history like that, it is no wonder that Canada hosts such a large population of Muslim devotees.

Sikhism is another of the more popular religions in the Great White North. With Canadian origins dating all the way back to the year of 1897, Sikhs were o­ne of the rare Asian cultures that were actually loyal to the Queen of England. However, this did not help them gain good rights or immigration laws for the first half of the last century. After a large wave of Sikhs came to Canada at the beginning of the nineteenth century, immigration laws were soon tightened o­n them, and they were denied the right to vote for quite some time. Since immigration laws were liberalized in the 1960s, the Sikh population has exploded.

Canada has many diverse and wonderful religious cultures, which make it a fun place to live or visit.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced today that it will launch a new program on April 1st, 2013, aimed at bringing the world’s best and brightest entrepreneurs to Canada. According to CIC, the program will be the first of its kind in any country. Its unique partnership model is intended to “position [Canada] as a destination of choice for start-ups”.

The Start-Up Visa Program will connect immigrant entrepreneurs to Canadian organizations with start-up expertise. These organizations will provide important guidance and resources for the new arrivals. It is anticipated that through these partnerships, immigrant entrepreneurs will maximize their business potential, as well as their positive impact on Canada’s labour market.

Our new Start-Up Visa will help make Canada the destination of choice for the world’s best and brightest to launch their companies,” said Minister Kenney. “Recruiting dynamic entrepreneurs from around the world will help Canada remain competitive in the global economy.”

Prospective applicants to the program will have to first secure the support of a designated Canadian investor group or venture capital fund before they can apply to the Start-Up Visa Program. CIC has already targeted two groups for this role: Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association, and the National Angel Capital Organization. Each organization will determine which of their members may participate in the Start-Up Visa Program. In addition, CIC has begun working with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation to find businesses incubators that will be added to their list of designated organizations.

Rudraksh Group:India relaxes tourist visa rules

In a boost to the tourism industry, India has relaxed its tourist visa rules by lifting restrictions imposed on foreign visitors to have a two-month cooling off period between subsequent visits.

However, citizens of Pakistan, China, Iran, Iraq, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sudan and people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin and “stateless persons” will continue to come under the 60day gap rule.

The restriction was imposed in 2009 after the Mumbai terror attack when it was found that Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David Headley had “grossly misused” his multiple-entry visa with which he made nine trips to India and prepared footage of 26/11 targets for the Pakistan-based terror group.

The Home Ministry, however, made it clear that any applicant for an Indian visa who has any sort of Pakistan lineage, even if it is two generations back, must be referred to Delhi by the Indian missions for prior clearance.

In its November 23 order, the Home Ministry said, “The provision relating to the two-month gap between two visits of a foreign national to India on a tourist visa has been reviewed by the Government. It has now been decided to lift the restriction of two-month gap on re-entry of foreign nationals coming to India.”

The move to review the visa restriction was initiated by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in January after concerns were raised by the Tourism Ministry that the negative perception following the move had affected flow of tourists.

The PMO had asked the ministries of Home and External Affairs to review the restrictions, including the possibility of bringing in more countries under the visa-on-arrival scheme and improving conditions at major airports.

TTS is the specialist company contracted by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) as a collection agent for visa applications. From 16 January 2012, TTS will charge a fee for their services of 625 rupees (INR) per application submitted.

TTS currently provides INZ with Visa Application Centres (VACs) in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad and Cochin. The VACs manage administrative tasks related to INZ visa applications submitted both in person and by mail.

The VACs provide visa acceptance services only. They cannot provide immigration advice and have no influence on the outcome of an application for a New Zealand visa, which can only be decided by INZ. INZ will retain responsibility for accepting applications from all diplomatic and official delegations from India.

Some of the key services offered by TTS and covered by their visa acceptance fee include:

  • receiving and checking application forms and supporting documentation
  • data entry of all applications
  • banking of application fees
  • dedicated call centre support to handle telephone and email inquiries relating to the application process
  • provision of visa application forms and guides
  • delivery and collection to and from the INZ branch in a secure manner as per INZ’s requirements
  • the return of passports and documents to applicants.

Maori legend says that Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud, was fished from the sea. History however, credits Polynesian navigator Kupe with the discovery of New Zealand around AD 800. This makes it the last landmass on earth to have been discovered and the youngest country on earth. Continuous settlement dates from about 1200, after which a fairly steady migration of people came from Kupe’s homeland of Hawaiki (Ra’iatea, near Tahiti in modern-day French Polynesia) who, according to tradition, followed Kupe’s own navigational instructions. Their culture, essentially Polynesian but developed over centuries of only limited contact with ‘the home lands’, was hierarchical and, over time and under increasing pressure for land, became more warlike and many tribes were wiped out by processes of conquest and enslavement. Cannibalism became prevalent at this time, as did the development of pa (forts) for protection against warring tribes. You can still see the remains of these forts in various parts of the country.

In 1642, the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European to sight the islands as he sailed briefly along the west coast; any thoughts of a longer stay were thwarted when his attempt to land resulted in several of his crew being killed and eaten! In 1769, Captain James Cook circumnavigated the two main islands aboard his famous ship, the Endeavour. Botanists and other experts onboard his ship gained considerable information about the country’s flora and fauna, and the native Maori inhabitants. Initial contact proved violent but Cook, impressed with the Maoris’ bravery and spirit, and recognizing the potential of this newfound land, grabbed it for the British crown before setting sail for Australia.

Later on, when the British began their antipodean colonizing, New Zealand was originally only seen as an offshoot of Australian enterprises in whaling and sealing. In fact, from 1839 to 1841 the country was under the jurisdiction of New South Wales. However, increased European settlement soon proved problematic: a policy was urgently required regarding land deals between the settlers (pakeha) and the Maori.

INTERESTING FACT

New Zealand is often nicknamed “The Shaky Isles” due to the regularity of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

In 1840, French navy captain Charles Lavaud’s plans to claim the land for France, were hurriedly intercepted with the signing of the British-initiated Treaty of Waitangi. The Maori ceded governorship of their country to Britain in exchange for protection and guaranteed possession of their lands. But relations between the Maori and pakeha, although harmonious in some regions, soured in others. Causes were varied and complex, but the most common feature was disagreement over land. A total of five wars were sparked off between Maori and colonial forces in the Maori strongholds of Taranaki, Waikato and the East Coast. Fighting eventually died down and though there was no formal resolution to any of the skirmishes, the pakehas certainly claimed victory.

By the late 19th century the situation had calmed down and the discovery of gold started to bring much prosperity to the land. This and the introduction of wide-scale sheep farming meant that New Zealand became an efficient and mostly self-reliant country. Sweeping social changes such as women’s suffrage, social security, the encouragement of trade unions and the introduction of childcare services, cemented New Zealand’s reputation as a country committed to egalitarian reform.

New Zealand was given dominion status in the British Empire in 1907 and granted autonomy by Britain in 1931; independence, however, was not formally proclaimed until 1947. Internationally, New Zealand was hailed during the mid-1980s for its anti-nuclear stance. This included a ban on nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed vessels from its waters, putting it at odds with the US, and its opposition to French nuclear testing in the Pacific. France controversially tried to counter this, to much outrage but little penalty, by blowing up the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior as it sat in Auckland Harbour.

Today agriculture and tourism are the economic mainstays and there is also a growing film industry. The Maori population is now increasing faster than the pakeha and resurgence in Maoritanga (Maori culture) has had a major and lasting impact on New Zealand society. In spite of concerted efforts towards cultural integration between the Maori and pakeha, the New Zealand government’s clumsy attempt to offer financial reparations has resulted in an upsurge of militant Maori protests over land rights. The issue of reconciliation remains at the top of the political agenda.

Of New Zealand’s population around 4 million, 76% are NZ European (pakeha) mainly of British descent, 14% are NZ indigenous Maori, 5.5% are Pacific Island Polynesians and about 4.5% are Asian.

Many Pacific islands are experiencing a rapid population shift from remote and undeveloped islands to the ‘big city’. Auckland is very much the big city of the South Pacific, with the greatest concentration of Polynesians on earth. Asian migration is also increasing due to recent immigration incentives and there are also sizable Indian and East Asian communities in Auckland.

With only about 14 people per sq km, NZ is lightly populated by most countries’ standards, except perhaps its bigger, emptier neighbor Australia with just 2.3 people per sq km. Although it once had a greater population than the North Island, the South Island is now the place to go for elbow-room – its has barely more inhabitants than Auckland. In fact, despite its rural base, 70% of New Zealanders live in urban areas – Auckland alone has 29% of the entire population.

We would like to draw your attention to several recent changes to the rules governing the grant of Tier 2 visas by the UK government. The rules were introduced on December 13th 2012.

Perhaps the change that will affect the most people is a new rule allowing skilled workers who hold Tier 2 visas to travel abroad, whether for work or pleasure, for up to 180 days per year without compromising their right to apply to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) for indefinite leave to remain at a later date.

There will also be a change to the rules for those applying for a Tier 2 visa after already having worked in the UK with a similar visa in the past.

Under the old rules, someone who had worked in the UK on a Tier 2 visa would be obliged to leave the country and would not be entitled to apply for a second Tier 2 visa until one year after the original visa had expired.

The UKBA has now changed the rules so that the one year exclusion period runs not from the point at which the previous visa expires but from the date on which the worker actually left the UK.

The change has been made to help people who left the country before their first visa expired. A Tier 2 visa lasts for a maximum of three years and one month. If someone was granted a Tier 2 visa and then came to work in the UK but then left the country after two years, (after, say, being made redundant) they would, under the old rules, have had to wait for two years and one month before applying for a second visa. (The remaining one year and one month of the original visa and one year exclusion). Under the new rules, they will be entitled to return one year after they left the country.

There is also a change to the length of time for which a worker who comes to the UK on a Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) visa and earns more than £150,000 a year can remain in the country. Until the rules were changed, these workers were only allowed to stay for five years. Workers applying after 22nd November 2012 are able to stay for nine years.

The UK government said that it was responding to the requests of international businesses when introducing these minor changes. The UK immigration minister, Mark Harper, said that the changes would ‘ensure that Britain remain[s] an attractive destination for global talent’ but he also said that the government remains committed to cutting annual net immigration to below 100,000 per year.

Work permit.com is a specialist visa consultancy with nearly twenty-five years of experience dealing with visa applications. We are OISC registered. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to the UK or your country of choice. Please feel free to contact us for further details.