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Biden overturns Trump visa ban, reopening US to thousands of legal immigrants and their families - INDEPENDENT

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

On rescinding the year-long ban on certain green card applicants, US president said it ‘harms the United States’

BY  Gino Spocchia

Joe Biden has rescinded a ban on thousands of illegal immigrants and their families from entering the United States though the visa application process.

The ban was originally introduced by the Trump administration last year, and blocked a number of green card applicants and their immediate families from entering the country.

The US president, rescinding the ban on Wednesday, said he believed his predecessor’s reasoning was wrong and that the ban on certain visa applicants was preventing families from reuniting in the United States and harmed businesses.

"To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here," Mr Biden wrote. "It also harms industries in the United States that utilise talent from around the world."

The Biden administration had come under increasing pressure to rescind the Trump-era ban and issue a proclamation to reverse the changes, which were introduced by the former US president amid the cornavirus pandemic in April 2020, and were extended for almost a year.

The restrictions, were due to expire on 31 March 2021, included bans on prospective immigrants whose applications to permanently move to the US were sponsored by family members or prospective employers.

As was the US’s diversity visa lottery program allowing immigrants from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the US, many of which are African, to gain entry via green cards.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, roughly one million green cards are issued a year, and the Trump administration's restrictions targeted around 316,000 visas, based on 2019’s numbers.

Mr Trump argued at the time that the restrictions were necessary to support the integrity of the US labour market, which came under pressure during the pandemic.

The ban has long been criticised despite spouses and the children of US citizens not being subject to the restrictions — as were some health care workers fighting the pandemic, and wealthy immigrants who agreed to invest more than $1 million (£700 million) in the US, according to CBS News.

Mr Biden left in place another ban on most foreign temporary workers, according to Reuters.

Canada on track to meet 2021 immigration targets, Bloomberg reports - PCI

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

By 

Immigration minister says 26,600 new permanent residents were admitted in January 2021.

The minister of immigration suggested that Canada is on track to meet the ambitious immigration targets for 2021.

Marco Mendicino said 26,600 new permanent residents were admitted in January, in a video interview with Bloomberg news. That translates to a roughly 10 per cent increase from January 2020, before Canada went into lockdown.

Mendicino said that with new admission in February, the government is almost 40 per cent ahead of the pace needed to meet the 2021 immigration targets of 401,000 new permanent residents.

On February 13, the federal government invited 27,332 immigration candidates to apply for permanent residence through the popular Express Entry system, about five times more than the previous record-breaking draw. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) invited every single candidate who was eligible for the Canadian Experience Class. An estimated 90 per cent of these candidates were already in Canada at the time of the draw.

Canada’s borders are still closed for non-essential travel. After travel restrictions went into place in March 2020, the number of permanent residents fell about 50 per cent. The year ended with Canada admitting just 184,370 new permanent residents compared with 341,175 in 2019.

This low number of new immigrants means Canada’s population growth slowed to a standstill in 2020. In an average  year, immigrants make up about 80 per cent of Canada’s population growth.

In an effort to make up for the low number of new immigrants, Canada upped the immigration targets over the next three years. Increasing from 401,000 this year to 421,000 in 2023.

Canada is prioritizing immigration candidates who are already in the country, while travel restrictions are still in place.

The federal government has not released any details on when or how travel restrictions will be lifted. For now, Canadian citizens, permanent residents, their families, essential workers, and international students are among the key groups exempt from travel restrictions.

Foreigners now allowed to renew reentry permits at airport: Immigration bureau - ABS CBN

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

MANILA - Foreigners with valid Philippine visas may renew their expired reentry permits (RP) and special return certificates (SRC) upon arrival at the country's airports nationwide, the Bureau of Immigration said Sunday.

An RP is issued to a holder of an immigrant visa, who is a permanent resident in the Philippines, while the SRC is obtained by a non-immigrant such as holders of working visa and student visa, according to the bureau. 

Many foreign nationals have expired RPs and SRCs due to the pandemic, it said.

"The new procedure will allow them to renew this at the airport upon arrival,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.

The BI chief said the move it will facilitate the unhampered entry of foreigners with existing valid visas who were not permitted to enter the Philippines when the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year.

Earlier this month, the government allowed more foreigners to enter the country by including those with visas issued as of March 20, 2020, just days after the Philippines went on strict lockdown to contain the virus.

The Philippines has started to relax its pandemic rules as it anticipates the arrival of its first official supply of COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday.

As of Saturday, the country's confirmed coronavirus infections climbed to 574,247, including 37,093 active cases.

U.S. EB-5 Investor Immigration Needs Renewal And Overhaul - FORBES

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

BY  Andy J. Semotiuk

A key problem that has been plaguing the EB-5 investor immigration program is how long it takes to get a green card. Caps imposed by Congress on the number of applicants that can come from each country have caused long delays that have significantly eroded confidence and predictability in the U.S. immigration system. Backlogs in processing applications, such as those for applicants born in China or Vietnam for example, have resulted in wait times of many years. Obviously, more EB-5 immigrant visas need to be issued. But how?

First Things First

Before that question can even be addressed, however, a more urgent issue has to be dealt with, namely the automatic expiry of the entire EB-5 program by June 30th, 2021. One good way to deal with that question is to support the Grassley-Leahy bill that includes a five year extension of the program being considered on Capitol Hill at the moment. Congress and the EB-5 community will then have more time to further refine the priorities for the program including addressing the backlogs. Until the Grassley-Leahy bill is passed, however, nothing else can realistically be expected to be implemented.

Assuming The Program Is Renewed

Assuming the June 30th deadline is met, President Biden’s Citizenship Act of 2021 offers some creative proposals to access more visas for EB-5 investors. In Biden’s bill he proposes to change the numbers count pertaining to the 10,000 yearly immigrant visas allocated to investors, reclaim lost visas from prior years and eliminate the country cap on employment-based immigrant visas issued each year. Each one of these proposals is worth separate consideration.


Numbers Count

In regard to the numbers, the bill proposes to change the count to include only the principal investors. Family derivative members would be excluded from the count of 10,000 immigrant visas issued annually. Assuming each family on average consists of four people and that three would therefore be excluded from the count, that would open up 7500 more visas for principal investors each year. They could bring their families, it is just that the family members would not be counted as part of the 10,000 maximum as they are now.

Reclaiming Lost Visas

In regard to reclaiming lost visas from previous years, with the exception of 2014, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has failed to reach the 10,000 maximum cap on the number of visas issued to EB-5 applicants per year. The further back one goes, the fewer visas there were issued to applicants. The Biden bill proposes to count unused visas back to 1992 when the regional center program was introduced. This is particularly significant in terms of counting unused visas from 1992 to 2010 since the program was significantly under subscribed in those years. You almost have to be an Einstein to calculate what the lost numbers are in the Biden bill and in the system as it is. As a very rough calculation, however, from 1992 to 2010 on average there were less than 2000 EB-5 immigrant visas issued. This count of visas included not only principal investors but also their derivative family members. So there was about an 8000 visa shortfall each year for 18 years. That would mean a recovery of at least 145,000 visas for principal applicants due to a miscount over the years.

Eliminating Country Caps

As for Biden’s bill and other proposals to eliminate country caps in employment-based immigrant visas, this is a work in progress. The basic goal is to eliminate the unfair backlogs faced by Chinese and Indian workers, for example, while not overly impinging on access to such visas by nationals other countries. The successful formula may involve a staged introduction with a visa pool set aside to shelter nationals from countries. This would help them from being overly disadvantaged by the reorganization of employment immigrant visa priorities.

Remaking America

Such small steps could drastically alter the landscape and success of the EB-5 investor immigration program. As Congress moves forward on its legislative agenda, other areas of economic recovery and focus will be considered. These other areas offer the EB-5 community a chance to participate in the remaking of America and to offer the EB-5 program as a tool for future prosperity. The projected Congressional consideration of the state of America’s infrastructure for example, provides such an opportunity.

Using EB-5 For The Infrastructure Deficit Challenge

Congress and money

Where is Congress going to find the money to address America's crumbling infrastructure? The answer ... [+]

 GETTY

Let’s face it. If we have learned anything from the huge winter storm that just swept across the U.S., it’s that America needs to repair its failing infrastructure. How bad is it? Well, 58 people died, over four million people lost power and millions more went without drinking water. Indeed, an excellent TikTok presentation quickly summarizes the salient facts here. And that’s not the half of it. Experts say that U.S. infrastructure is dangerously overstretched, with a funding gap of more than $2 trillion needed by 2025. Where are we going to get that kind of money? Part of the answer is the U.S. EB-5 investor immigrant program.

America needs a reorientation of at least part of the EB-5 investor immigration program to use foreign investor dollars to undertake locally approved infrastructure projects, like building and maintaining roads, bridges and power plants. It is not necessary to reorient the entire EB-5 program to address infrastructure. But it would be possible to reshape the program to offer investors and regional centers an extra incentive if they chose to undertake infrastructure projects. A menu of such projects could be published by governments and regional centers could be invited to bid on the work. Successful bidders could then be chosen, and as an extra carrot, be approved for raising funds through the EB-5 program. Such awarded contracts could include an expedited processing element to benefit those investors interested in supporting such work. This kind of creative thinking could be used to address other American problems as well.

The EB-5 Program Deserves Support From All Quarters

In short, the EB-5 investor immigration program is an excellent tool that can be used to address many of America’s most difficult problems. It is a program that is self funded and can bring billions of dollars to the United States while creating thousands of jobs for American workers. It is a program that has found support from Republicans and Democrats. And it is worthwhile for America as well as for investor immigrants.

Heathrow imposes passenger charges to cover Covid-19 costs - BLOOMBERG

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - London's Heathrow airport will charge departing passengers an extra £8.90 (S$16.50) in an effort to claw back costs as the coronavirus crisis depresses air travel.

The tariff is permitted by the UK's aviation regulator under a protocol that allows the hub to cover costs for utilities, baggage and check-in services. Heathrow makes "zero profit" from such activities, with the fees covering operating and maintenance expenses, it said in a statement Sunday (Feb 28).

Heathrow has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic since it relies on long-haul markets that have been all-but wiped out. The airport last week posted a £2 billion loss for 2020 after passenger numbers tumbled 73 per cent, a decline it says has left it unable to cover the costs of providing some services.

The new per-passenger levy, or Airport Cost Recovery Charge, is due to be imposed for the rest of this year and was agreed with airlines as the preferred way for Heathrow to recover its costs, according to the so-called general notice dated Feb 4 that details the price increases.

Heathrow, controlled by interests including Spanish builder Ferrovial SA, the Qatar Investment Authority, private-equity firm Alinda Capital Partners and China Investment Corp, will also charge a £4.44 tariff for each item of passenger luggage.

That sum is lower than one flagged on Dec 16 as a result of some baggage-related costs having been included in the passenger levy, according to the general notice.

The Civil Aviation Authority is separately considering whether Heathrow should be allowed to raise the fees it charges airlines on a limited basis prior to a longer-term regulatory settlement that starts next year. Heathrow has been seeking an adjustment it says would lift fares by £1.20 per passenger.

Canadian Dual Citizenship: All You Need To Know - CANADA IMMIGRATION NEWS

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

By Colin Singer

Dual citizenship is very common in Canada with nearly one in 20 Canadians holding more than one passport – but it’s perhaps not as well understood as it should be.

After all, there is no certificate or official recognition of dual citizenship by the Canadian government. Foreign nationals who become Canadian citizens can simply keep their citizenship in their home country in many cases.

Throughout the world, 49 countries allow dual citizenship. Including Canada, those countries are:  

  • Albania;
  • Australia;
  • Barbados;
  • Bangladesh;
  • Belgium;
  • Bulgaria;
  • Chile;
  • Costa Rica;
  • Croatia;
  • Cyprus;
  • Czech Republic;
  • Denmark;
  • Dominican Republic;
  • Egypt;
  • Finland;
  • France;
  • Germany;
  • Greece;
  • Hungary;
  • Iceland;
  • Ireland;
  • Israel;
  • Italy;
  • Jamaica;
  • Kosovo;
  • Latvia;
  • Malta;
  • Mexico;
  • Nigeria;
  • Pakistan;
  • Panama;
  • Peru;
  • Philippines;
  • Portugal;
  • Romania;
  • St Kitts & Nevis
  • Serbia;
  • Slovenia;
  • South Africa;
  • South Korea;
  • Spain;
  • Sweden;
  • Switzerland;
  • Syria;
  • Turkey;
  • United Kingdom;
  • United States, and;
  • Venezuela.

Criteria For Dual Citizenship Vary Wildly

In some cases, a person looking to get dual citizenship doesn’t even have to move to the other country to get it. Ireland and Italy, for example, allow anyone with ancestors from those countries to get citizenship. Italy offers an ancestral passport.

In other cases, the person seeking dual citizenship has to alert the proper authorities in his or her country of this intent to become a citizen of another country and may even be prohibited from certain occupations in his or her home country because of it. Egyptians, for example, need to inform the government they want to retain their Egyptian citizenship within the first year after obtaining Canadian citizenship. Afterwards, they will be unable to serve in the Egyptian military or police – or serve in the Egyptian Parliament.

Pakistanis who become Canadian citizens and retain their citizenship in Pakistan have a similar deal. They lose some of their voting rights, can no longer serve in the Pakistani military, and are barred from public office and working in the bureaucracy. 

Those holding dual citizenship in the United States need to declare “other allegiances” to get their U.S. passport and applying for government programs.

The Good

Hanging onto one’s original citizenship can be a real asset in many cases, including travelling. When a Canadian also has citizenship in the other country to which he or she is travelling, the need to get a visitor’s visa disappears. So, too, do the fees that come with getting that visa. 

A Canadian with dual citizenship can visit his or her other country with spending the weeks or months trying to get a visa. 

It’s a nice perk. 

One thing to note, though, is that even dual Canadian citizens need to present their Canadian passport when they board a flight to Canada. The only exception to that rule is U.S.-Canada dual citizenship.

Prior to November, 2016, there were many dual citizens from visa-exempt countries who could just enter Canada without presenting their passport. That’s changed. 

As part of the new Electronic Travel Authorization (Canada eTA) requirements, Canadian dual citizens must use a Canadian passport to fly into Canada. Previously, they could use the passport of their other country of citizenship.

Even with a valid Canadian passport, dual citizens still, of course, need to meet the basic requirements: being in good health, having enough money to travel, and having no criminal convictions, and proper identification.

Being a citizen of another country also allows the Canadian with dual citizenship to stay in that country for as long as he or she wants and even work there, open a bank account, buy real estate, have access to the country’s public education and public health insurance plans.

Dual citizenship can also be a lifesaver during emergencies due to civil unrest or other serious matters, allowing the Canadian citizen to have a choice of embassies to get help.

And if the other passport is for the European Union, then the Canadian travelling in Europe enjoys even more benefits. He or she will be able to go to the usually-shorter line for locals at check-points while travelling in Europe instead of the longer line-ups for foreigners. The dual Canadian citizen will also be able to stay in any of the European Union nations and do so for as long as they want.

The Bad

It’s not all roses and sunshine, though.

Dual citizenship comes with a legal requirement to obey all laws with regards to military service, providing for the public education system, and paying taxes.

Being a citizen of more than one country can also be a problem for those who want to work for the government of either country in a capacity that requires a high-level security clearance.

And then, there’s a bit of a Catch-22 for those in one of their countries who suddenly find themselves in need of help from their other country. A Canadian who finds him or herself in trouble in the other country in which they are also a citizen may suddenly find Canada less capable of helping them out. 

“If you are a dual citizen and travel to the other country where you hold citizenship, local authorities could refuse to give you access to Canadian consular services,” warns Ottawa on the travel portion of its website. “This could prevent Canadian consular officers from providing them to you.”

Immigrants who decided to take the citizenship oath in Canada need to be aware that, while many countries allow dual citizenship, there are many who do not. The best route is always to ask the embassy or consulate about dual citizenship first, including what special conditions may apply. 

Among the countries that do not allow dual citizenship are these 24 nations:

  • Andorra;
  • Austria;
  • Bahrain;
  • China;
  • El Salvador;
  • Estonia;
  • Germany;
  • India;
  • Indonesia;
  • Japan;
  • Lithuania;
  • Luxembourg;
  • Malaysia;
  • Montenegro;
  • Saudi Arabia;
  • The Netherlands;
  • Norway;
  • Poland;
  • Singapore;
  • Sri Lanka;
  • Tanzania;
  • Thailand;
  • Ukraine, and the;
  • United Arab Emirates.

Tips Before You Travel

Canadians with dual citizenship are urged by Ottawa to contact the embassy or consulate of that country to find out if they are required to meet any specific requirements.

Country-specific information about dual citizenship is also available on Ottawa’s Travel Advice and Advisories website.

When booking a flight, travelers with dual citizenship should always buy their flights with the passport to be used on entering the country. 

When arriving in a country in which the traveler has citizenship, the best option is to always present the passport from that country to avoid being treated as a visitor – and being granted a visa and possibly overstaying that visa.

Then, when it comes time to leave that country, always use the passport used to enter it. 

It’s important for dual citizens to carry both passports when they travel.

Air passengers paid more for flights in January - NBS - PUNCH

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

BY  Joseph Olaoluwa

The average fare paid by air passengers for specified routes on a single journey increased by 0.02 per cent month-on-month and 18.27 per cent year-on-year to N36,463.65 in January 2021 from N36,454.59 in December 2020, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

States with the highest airfare were Anambra (N38,600); Cross River/Jigawa/Lagos (N38,500) and Bauchi (N38,400); while states with the lowest airfare were Akwa Ibom (N32,450); Sokoto (N33,700); and Gombe N35,000.

The NBS, in its Transport Fare Watch report for January, said the average fare paid by commuters for bus journey within the city decreased by 0.66 per cent month-on-month and increased by 74.75 per cent year-on-year to N352.15 in January from N354.49 in December.

It said the average fare paid by commuters in intercity buses decreased by 0.25 per cent month-on-month and increased by 39.55 per cent year-on-year to N2,346.41 in January from N2,352.19 in December.

The statistics office said the states with the highest bus journey fare within the city were Zamfara (N600), Bauchi (N522.75), and Ekiti (N458.77), while states with the lowest bus journey fares within the city were Oyo (N189.46), Abia (N205.22), and Borno (N240.79).

It said the Federal Capital Territory (N4,482.24), Lagos (N3,300.23), and Sokoto (N3,300) had the highest bus journey fare intercity; while states with lowest bus journey fare within city were Bayelsa (N1,600.45), Bauchi (N1,640.20), and Enugu (N1,687.45).

The NBS said the average fare paid by commuters for journey by motorcycle per drop decreased by 11.60 per cent month-on-month and increased by 95.22 per cent year-on-year to N259.33 in January from N293.36 in December.

It said the average fare paid by passengers for waterway passenger transport also increased by 3.68 per cent month-on-month and by 38.58 per cent year-on-year to N786.19 in January from N758.27 in December.

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