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EIG Week in Review (Nov 7, 2014)

November 7, 2014

Highlights

  • UPDATE: President Obama Promises Executive Action on U.S. Immigration Reform
  • U.S. Tightens Screening Measures for Visa Exempt Visitors
  • UPDATE: Canada Increases Planned Level of Admissions for Permanent Residents in 2015
  • New Immigration Study Shows that EU Migrants Have Made a Net Contribution to the British Economy

UPDATE: President Obama Promises Executive Action on U.S. Immigration Reform

President Barack Obama declared in a press conference on Wednesday, November 5th, that he will take lawful, executive action on immigration reform before the end of the year. Reflecting on Congress’ stalled efforts to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, President Obama announced that he will not wait on Congress to improve the functioning of the U.S. immigration system. President Obama went on to state that he would deliver on his commitment to act on immigration reform by means of executive power.  He advised that Congressional action would supplant any executive action.

Of particular relevance to the business immigration community, President Obama hinted that a key area of reform would be “streamlin[ing] our legal immigration system so that it works better and we attract the best and brightest from around the world.” He emphasized the need for changes to the U.S. immigration system to improve the economy and business conditions in the United States.

U.S. Tightens Screening Measures for Visa Exempt Visitors

Erickson Immigration Group closely monitors all relevant news and will provide timely updates, should President Obama implement executive action on immigration.

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced Monday that it would increase the security measures for visitors coming from countries whose citizens are not required to obtain visas prior to entering the U.S.  Affected travelers will include visitors coming from the thirty-eight countries who are participants in the visa-waiver program, which includes many European countries, as well as Japan, Taiwan, and Chile.

A Senior DHS official stated that these increased security measures are being implemented due to concerns that foreign nationals fighting in Syria will enter the United States, bypassing security checks that might otherwise be performed for foreign nationals when applying for a visa.  Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson says that the increased measures will include questions beyond the already utilized Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), regarding whether the visa-holder has multiple visas or alternate names and aliases to better search the visitor’s travel history.

For more information click here.

UPDATE: Canada Increases Planned Level of Admissions for Permanent Residents in 2015

As an update to our previous report, the Canadian government announced its plan to admit up to 285,000 new permanent residents in 2015, the highest planned level of admissions in Canada’s recent immigration history. The increase in admissions reflects the government’s effort to attract immigrants to enhance Canada’s economy. Comprising the largest segment of admissions, at almost 65 percent of overall admissions, is the economic class of immigrants.  The remaining 35 percent of admissions is allocated for family class and humanitarian and compassionate cases.

The planned increase of admissions coincides with the launch of Express Entry program, the Canadian government’s new application management system.  Effective January 2015, Express Entry will fast-track permanent residence applications for certain skilled foreign workers and will enable Canada’s immigration system to better accommodate the needs of employers. Increased permanent residence admissions, coupled with the Express Entry program, are expected to help reduce wait times and backlogs for immigrants in the economic class.

New Immigration Study Shows that EU Migrants Have Made a Net Contribution to the British Economy

In the wake of political pressure to curb EU immigration to Great Britain, the University College of London (“UCL”) published a study reporting that European immigrants increased Britain’s public finances by more than 20 billion pounds between 2001 and 2011. The study comes in the midst of a highly charged political debate and public concern regarding migration to Britain from within the EU, due to high unemployment rates for UK-born workers. The UCL report has been met with backlash from the UK Independence Party, a political party that has gained public support for advocating that Britain leave the EU.

The UCL report adds to the debate by highlighting the economics benefits of EU migration for Great Britain’s labor market.  Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s membership of the EU, before holding a referendum in 2017 on whether the country should stay in the EU bloc, if he is re-elected. Imposing quotas on migration, however, would arguably infringe on one of the treaty’s basic tenants by allowing free movement of people.

For more information on Britain’s EU debate, click here.