Saturday, August 30, 2008


The Impact From An Immigration Law Perspective On Non-Union Nationals Of The Implementation In Italy Of Directive 2004/38/Ec Of April 29, 2004 (On The Right Of Citizens Of The Union And Their Family Members To Move And Reside Freely Within The Territory Of The Member States)

1. Introduction

Italy has implemented Directive 2004/38/EC of April 29, 2004, on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States, by enacting Legislative Decree No. 30 of February 6, 2007 (hereinafter, the “Decree”).

The provisions of the Decree are important from an immigration law perspective for two reasons:

- firstly, because they apply to family members of a Union citizen (i.e. any person having the nationality of a Member State of the European Union), irrespective of the nationality of such family members: this means that non-Union citizens may enjoy a right of entry and a right of residence in Italy substantially different from, and much broader in scope than, the one ordinarily applicable to non-Union citizens;
- secondly, because the enactment of the Decree has represented the occasion to repeal certain provisions of Italian law concerning family members – not having Italian or Union citizenship - of an Italian citizen, wishing to join the Italian citizen in Italy: the Decree, in fact, applies also to the (foreign) family members of an Italian citizen, thus harmonising the provisions valid for all other Union citizens.

For purposes of this paper, in the following the notion of “family member/s” always assumes: (a) that the family member does not have Italian or any other Union Member States nationality; and (b) that the family member has a family tie to either a Union citizen or to an Italian citizen.

2. The status of family members

Pursuant to Article 2 of the Decree, family members are:

- the spouse;
- the direct descendants of the Italian or Union citizen who are under the age of 21, or are dependants on this latter;
- the direct descendants of the spouse who are under the age of 21, or are dependants on this latter;
- the dependent direct relatives in the ascending line of the Italian or Union citizen, and those of the spouse.

3. Right of entry
Family members are granted leave to enter the Italian territory provided they have a valid passport and, where required, a valid entry visa. In such latter respect it must be noted that the citizens of Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, South Corea, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Japan, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Malaysia, Macau, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Syngapore, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela are exempted from an entry visa if the intended duration of their stay in Italy does not exceed 90 days (for purposes other than that of carrying out subordinated or self-employment work activities, whereas these latter cases always require an ad hoc visa).
Citizens of Switzerland, San Marino Republic and Vatican State are always exempted from any visas.

4. Right of residence for up to 3 months

Family members accompanying or joining a Union citizen or an Italian citizen have the right of residence in Italy for a period of up to three months, without any further formalities other than those required at the time of entry.

5. Right of residence for more than 3 months

Family members have the right of residence in Italy when they join an Italian citizen or when they accompany or join a Union citizen who:

- is an employee or self-employed person in Italy; or
- is enrolled at an accredited private or public establishment for the principal purpose of following a course of study or of vocational training; and
- has sufficient resources for himself and the family members not to become a burden on the social assistance system and has sickness insurance cover or other kind of coverage encompassing all risks in Italy.

In such case, family members shall register themselves with the General Registry Office (Ufficio dell’Anagrafe), by providing evidence of their status of family members.

6. Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen

Following 3 months as of the entry in the Italian territory, family members shall apply for the so-called “Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen” with the local Police Office (Questura), by exhibiting a valid passport, a valid entry visa – where required – evidence of the status of family member, evidence of the registration with the General Registry Office.

The residence card of a family member of a Union citizen has a validity of 5 years and exempts the holder to apply for any further visas in case of exit and re-entry to Italy.

Most important, the residence card entitles the holder to take up employment or self-employment in Italy (excluding only those activities that Italian law reserves to Italian nationals).

The validity of the residence card is not affected by temporary absences of the card holder not exceeding six months per year, or by absences of a longer duration for compulsory military service or by absences of a maximum of twelve consecutive months for important reasons such as pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training, or a posting for work purposes in another State.

7. Permanent residence

Family members who have resided legally in Italy for a continuous period of five years (together with the Italian or Union citizen) accrue the right of permanent residence. Once acquired, the right of permanent residence is lost only through absence for a period exceeding two consecutive years.

Permanent residence is evidenced through a “Permanent residence card of a family member of a Union citizen”, which shall be applied for with the local Police Office (Questura) prior to the expiration of the Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen.

The permanent residence card, of course, entitles the card holder to take up employment or self-employment in Italy (excluding only those activities that Italian law reserves to Italian nationals).

Corrado Scivoletto
Corrado is a lawyer with Studio Legale Associato Simonetti Persico Scivoletto - an Italian law firm with offices in Rome

Friday, August 29, 2008


“The scandal of secret swiss bank account” - so was the title of an article in the very honourable Time Magazine in March 1970. Since then the myth of the Swiss banking secrecy has never lost its attraction and topicality. After fighting Switzerland's banking secrecy laws for decades Europe is about to receive support from the United States. They are trying to ratchet up pressure against the system.

Around the Swiss banking secrecy entwine a lot of myths especially abroad but as well in Switzerland itself. Legends are often built of facts, half-truths and fictions which partly deviate from the truth. This article will give a general view over the content and scale of banking secrecy and the actual events.

Banking secrecy refers in Switzerland as well as in most of the other countries basically to the professional discretion of the banks, their representatives and their employees in the business affairs of their clients. It is regulated on the one hand under civil law, in particular from the contractual obligation of the banker to uphold the confidentiality of his clients' personal situation. Furthermore the client's privacy is also protected under the general provisions pertaining to protection of the individual as well as under data protection law. A banker who reveals the secrets of his client may face a jail sentence or be fined. But a series of legally defined limitations to banking secrecy exist. Exceptions to banking secrecy are provided for in civil law, debt collection and bankruptcy law, criminal law, administrative law and in cases of mutual assistance in legal matters.

But the last-mentioned case is seen by most of the other countries as performing only lip-service and as a thorn in their side. The crux of the matter is the principle of equivalence. That means that the duty to give evidence and information to foreign authorities must not go beyond the corresponding duty to the Swiss authorities. Since the domestic duty of evidence and information is highly constricted the principle of equivalence matters a lot. Art. 3 paragraph 3 IRSG (Swiss law with regard to the judicial assistance) regulates that no judicial assistance is to be given in case of an evasion of taxes. But the Swiss authorities have the right to obtain bank information in case of a tax fraud (tax evasion combined with falsification of documents). This relies on the fact that contrary to other laws (for example, German law) Swiss law does not prosecute a simple tax evasion. The taxpayer is given a leap of faith when they hand in tax documents. If tax evasion is revealed he just has to pay the taxes he “forgot” and will be fined.

This gives foreign taxpayer whose countries have a stricter law the opportunity to “park” amounts of money into trusts, offshore companies and bank accounts, protected by the bank secrecy. If this can be assessed as criminal support of tax evasion or even of tax fraud is judged controversial the last decades. New is the significance of the reproaches brought in action by the USA against the Swiss bank UBS. Nearly everybody heard the names Bradley Birkenfeld and Igor Olenicoff the last months. This hits the UBS in its current weak position and unhinges the bank secrecy system.

For years, the US Senate has been conducting its own detailed inquiries into the issue of tax evasion. Senators have summoned key representatives of the industry, including tax advisors, accountants, lawyers and bankers, to the Capitol in Washington for lengthy hearings. These hearings have produced reports, some of them hundreds of pages long, on the "tax shelter industry" and "its tools, methods of obfuscation and those pulling the strings." UBS was mentioned early in the Senate documents as an offender. With relish, the senators cited a letter written by an insider to UBS management. According to the letter, the bank offers "US taxpayers illegal tax evasion models," part of a system that costs American tax authorities "several hundred million dollars a year."

Three US authorities are now conducting investigations against the Swiss portfolio managers: tax investigators from the US Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), headed by Christopher Cox, and New York Attorney General Michael Garcia. All are now hunting down the Swiss.

Political conflict is also on the horizon. An aggressive bill to combat tax evasion, the "Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act," was introduced in the US Congress last year. The legislation provides for tough measures against 34 tax havens, including Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The bill has stood little chance of becoming law until now. But that could quickly change after the presidential election in November. One of the bill's three sponsors is Senator Barack Obama, who is currently favored to win the White House.

But: generally Swiss bank secrecy is an expression of an historically developed state system which treats the citizen as sovereign and provides a direct insight into the financial circumstances of the tax payers only by probable cause. The state's interests are preserved by a withholding tax which punishes tax evasion without revealing the names of those involved. But the advantages are badly communicated and it is for sure that abuse has to be prevented.

Caterina Naegeli
Grossmuensterplatz 9,
CH-8001 Zurich, Switzerland

Sunday, August 24, 2008


The European Commission has adopted its fourth report on visa waiver non-reciprocity with third countries. The European Commission has adopted its fourth report on certain third countries' maintenance of visa requirements in breach of the principle of reciprocity. The report shows that further progress towards full visa reciprocity has
been achieved.

Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security underlined the usefulness of the reciprocity mechanism: "This Report clearlydemonstrates that the dialogue with third countries under the new visa-reciprocity mechanism has once again proven effective, resulting in visa free travel for all our citizens to another 3 countries. The Report however also proposes retaliatory measures where insufficient progress has been achieved. It is unacceptable that nationals from some third countries can benefit from visa free travel to the EU whilst some of our fellow EU citizens can't travel visa free to those countries. This is at the heart of our visa reciprocity mechanism and I am committed to ensuring that that principle is fully respected ".

The main conclusions of the report show that full visa reciprocity has now been accomplished with Israel, Malaysia and Paraguay. The Commission has achieved significant progress in the dialogue with Canada, which lifted the visa requirement for six Member States over the last ten months. In the dialogue with Australia the Commission has achieved access for nationals of all Member States to the "autogrant facility" and ensured equal treatment for the nationals of all Member States from October 2008 onwards once the Australian eVisitors system is in place. The implementation of the Australian eVisitors system will be carefully monitored. With regard to Brazil, negotiations for a short-stay visa waiver agreement between the European Community and Brazil have started.

No progress has been achieved with Japan, Panama, Singapore and the United States of America (USA). The Commission notes that Japan is currently examining an extension of the short-stay visa waiver to Romanian nationals but reiterates its request for full visa waiver reciprocity for the citizens of all EU Member States. The Commission will monitor Panama's intention to waive the visa requirement for citizens of Bulgaria and Romania.

With regard to Singapore, the Commission suggests that retaliatory measures should be considered if within a reasonable time full reciprocity is not achieved.

No tangible progress has been made regarding the USA despite all efforts of the Commission and individual Member States. Citizens of twelve EU Member States continue to require a visa when travelling to the USA. The USA committed at the June 2008 EU-USA Summit to include additional EU Member States into its Visa Waiver Program (VWP) this year. Therefore, the Commission will propose retaliatory measures –
e.g. temporary restoration of the visa requirement for USA nationals holding diplomatic and service/official passports – as from 1 January 2009 if no progress is achieved. The Commission will submit its next report before 30 June 2009.

JLS web-site:

Corporate and Immigration Lawyer.
Valencia- SPAIN


1. Right to Freely Travel and Maintain the same rights within the European Union.

2. Right to Vote and be Eligible to Run for Office in the European Parliament.

3. Right to Vote and be Eligible to Run for Office in Municipal Elections.

4. Right to have an Efficient Governmental Services.

5. Right to Review Documents.

6. Access to European Ombudsman.

7. Right to Petition.

8. Right to Diplomatic and Consular Protection

Corporate and Immigration Lawyer.
Valencia- SPAIN


If you are a Foreigner and seek to have Spain accept Tourist or Personal Relatives for residence in Spain, an Invitation Letter is necessary. Spain, a member of the European Union and signatory to the Schengen Agreement of June 1985, has an obligation to uphold the Schengen Border Code by controlling foreigners who wish to enter into other countries who are party to this Agreement.

Individually carried out, our Country in accord with the Schengen Agreement, implements the Rules Governing Invitations effecting both Spanish Nationals as well as legal foreign residents of Spain.

Who can submit a letter in favour of a foreigner/ traveller, assuming that there is an agreement to pay housing for the foreigner for the duration of the stay?

- A Spanish citizen
- A Citizen of a Country who is a member of the European Union or beneficiary of the
Community Regime

- A Spanish Legal Foreign resident

In the letter of invitation, the Sponsor must affirm their understanding of the information contained in Art. 318 of the Penal Code listing illegal trafficking of people as a crime punishable by prison for infractions in article 54.1 b), 55.2 c), and 57.1 of the LO 4/2000, there is a fine with a minimum of 6001 and maximum of 60,000 Euros or banishment from Spanish territory for a period of 3 to 10 years and finally all Personal Information such as Passport Number, Nationality and Residence will be flagged to alert both the Police and Civil Guard.

Corporate and Immigration Lawyer.
Valencia- SPAIN

Saturday, August 23, 2008


The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the new online travel system for air and sea travelers on the Visa Waiver Program[1] (VWP). This new system, called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), became accessible for voluntary completion on August 1, 2008. Under the new system, travelers for business or pleasure who plan on entering the US on the VWP will be required to log on to the ESTA website and obtain a clearance for travel to the US. Although the program is voluntary at this time, ESTA will become mandatory for VWP travelers on January 12, 2009.

ESTA Travel Authorization

Once ESTA becomes mandatory, visitors to the US who are entering visa-free under the VWP will be required to visit the ESTA website and complete an on-line application. Individuals entering the US with a visa will not be required to complete an ESTA application. DHS recommends that the on-line application be completed no later than 72 hours prior to travel. The application contains questions similar to the I-94W, such as name, date of birth, duration of trip and address in the US, and whether the applicant has been convicted of a crime. Once a traveler completes the application, they will usually receive a response within seconds. The response will be one of the following:

Authorization Approved – travel authorized
Travel Not Authorized – applicant must apply for a visa at an Embassy or Consulate prior to travel to the US
Authorization Pending – traveler will need to check the ESTA website within 72 hours to receive a final response

ESTA approvals will be valid multiple entries to the US for two years or until the applicant’s passport expires. The applicant should log on to the website to change destination addresses and itineraries for future trips.

Failure to complete ESTA and admission to the US

Once ESTA becomes mandatory, failure to complete the on-line application and obtain travel authorization may result in the traveler being denied boarding, experiencing significant delays on entry to the US or being refused admission at the port of entry. Similarly, travelers who complete an ESTA application and receive an Authorization Approved message are not guaranteed entry to the US – the approval only authorizes the traveler to board the aircraft.

VWP travelers may complete their ESTA application and find more information on ESTA at

[1] Citizens or nationals of the following countries are currently eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP: Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

Contributed by Christi Hufford, Siskind Susser PC.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Despite the slowdown in the US economy, the major temporary and permanent visa categories for high skilled workers remains serious oversubscribed and backlogged.

The H-1B Crisis

The H-1B is the major visa temporary visa category available in the US for professional workers. It is available to those with bachelors degrees filling positions with employer that require degrees. In 1990, Congress for the first time set a limit of 65,000 on the number of H-1B visa and within a few years it was becoming clear that the annual quota was inadequate.

Begin in the late 1990s, Congress temporarily raised the annual H-1B quota. Those temporary increases expired in 2003 and the annual cap returned to 65,000 from 190,000. Congress did establish several important exemption categories beginning in the late 1990s including employees of colleges and universities, certain physicians working in underserved areas and employees of non-profit research institutions.

For the last several years, Congress has provided for a bonus quota of 20,000 extra H-1Bs for graduates of US masters and higher degree programs.

For the past two years, demand for H-1Bs has been so strong that the entire annual allotment has been drawn immediately after the numbers became available. Visas can be claimed up to 180 days before the beginning of a the government fiscal year that annually starts on October 1st. That means applications must be filed on April 1st to have a reasonable chance of being selected. In 2007, US Citizenship and Immigration Services received more than twice as many applications on the first day available as slots available under the basic 65,000 cap. In 2008, a similar number of applications were received on the first day and the bonus pool of 20,000 visas for advanced degree professionals was used up within a week. In short, the H-1B process has become a lottery.

H-2B problems

A temporary visa category available for short term and seasonal workers, the H-2B, has similar problems as the H-1B. The H-2B cap is set at 66,000 and can be used for any type of worker whether professional, skilled or unskilled. Up until September 30, 2007, returning seasonal workers were not counted against the annual 66,000 limit if they had previously been counted in the annual quota. Congress has not extended that provision which has led to the H-2B quota being used up rapidly. While demand is not quite as strong as in the H-1B category, the H-2B quota is now only available for brief periods of time during the fiscal year.

Green card backlogs

The situation for employment-based permanent residency visas (“green cards”) is no better. Waits in the popular EB-3 green card category for skilled and professional workers are now estimated at five to seven years. The wait in the EB-2 category for workers with masters degrees or higher is not backlogged for most workers. However, nationals of China and India are facing additional waits of two to four years. Why? Because US immigration law limits admissions in the various green card categories to no more than 7% from any one country. Given the large populations of Indian and Chinese highly educated professionals seeking positions in the US, this backlog is hardly a surprise. The waits will likely only grow as the additional H-1B workers who benefited from larger quotas earlier in the decade seek to convert to permanent residency.


Followers of US politics know that immigration has been a very heated issue for the past few years. Attempts to pass major immigration reform legislation have failed and members of Congress have been extremely reticent to push forward any immigration legislation, whether controversial or not. Furthermore, some members of Congress who are pro-immigration have made the strategic choice to block small, pro-immigration bills – such as bills lifting H-1B and green card caps or restoring the H-2B returning worker provision – in order to force reconsider of a massive comprehensive immigration reform package. So while there is general support in Congress for addressing the lack of non-immigrant and immigrant visas for needed workers, political considerations are getting in the way.

The odds are increasing that nothing will happen until after the election. Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are each considered to be pro-immigration and are likely to support measures to increase visa availability. The problem will likely be in Congress where a small minority can block legislation. Democrats are generally viewed as the more pro-immigration party and there is optimism that if they increase their numbers substantially (as is widely expected), this will bode well for addressing immigration in the next session of Congress.

In the mean time, there are alternative strategies that companies and workers can consider.

First, there are other visa categories that frequently are available, some of which have no numerical limits. The L-1 visa is available for employers that first employ key workers abroad with the company for a year prior to seeking entry. The J-1 visa for trainees and interns is available for up to 18 months for junior level workers seeking to gain experience in their fields. Foreign-owned corporations with qualifying commercial treaties with the US can sometimes bring in key employees.

Second, President Bush recently stepped in as well to with a new rule that allows students in the US in certain science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields to work for up to 27 months after they complete their degrees. The previous rule limited such work to 12 months. Aside from having to work in a qualifying field, the employer must participate in the controversial new E-Verify electronic employment verification system which documents that workers are authorized to work in the United States. E-Verify is largely targeted at employers hiring illegally present lesser skilled workers.

Finally, for advance degree workers who qualify in the EB-2 green card category and who are not from countries with per country limits (currently just India and China), bypassing the non-immigrant visa and going directly for the green card may be a possibility. An employer would need to be prepared to wait a number of months – likely one to two years – before the worker could enter with permanent residency.


Ultimately, the US Congress will need to step in if the US is to remain an attractive location for top global talent. More visas will need to be made available both at the temporary level and at the permanent level. Unfortunately, the odds of this happening in 2008 are slim and it may be well in to 2009 before there is any progress to report.

Gregory SiskindMemphis800-343-4890 /


The British Government is getting increasingly concerned at the small number of UK companies who have so far applied for the Employers Licences which will need to be obtained in order for them to recruit many foreign workers once the new Tier 2 Skilled Worker category comes into effect in late November.

As of 1st August 2008, less than 350 companies had applied for Licences from throughout the United Kingdom, with only approximately 125 applications completed. The UK Border Agency has advised companies that, if their Licence applications are not lodged by 1st October 2008, the applications will not be completed in time for the starting of the new Tier 2. An exciting TV campaign to encourage participation is anticipated.

At the present rate of progress, it appears inconceivable that the UK Border Agency will be to meet its timetable if there are a flood of applications just prior to 1st October 2008, without compromising on its procedures.

UK employers needing Employers Licences are strongly recommended to take urgent action.

Contributed by Graeme Kirk of Gross & Co London. Graeme is the senior partner and head of the immigration department of the firm. Contact him at


In accordance with Mexican Law, foreigners may enter Mexico, either to perform an activity or to live in Mexico as residents, under the following regulations:

1. Non-immigrant: A foreigner who enters the country with authorization from the Ministry of the Interior. The person has plans to live in Mexico temporarily, for no more than five years. The foreigner only enters for a specific period of time.

2. Immigrant: A foreigner who enters the country with authorization from the Ministry of the Interior. The person plans to live in Mexico indefinitely, normally more than five years, and may engage in legal activities.

3. Long-term immigrant: A foreigner who enters the country as an immigrant and has acquired the rights to reside permanently in Mexico.

Contributed by Enrique Arellano of Enrique Arellano Rincón Abogados, S.C.
Moliere No. 39 - 9, Col. Chapultepec Polanco,11560 México D.F. Tel : 5280-1233 Fax : 5280-3067:


The Brazilian economy is going through a period of intense prosperity. Brazil has been nominated by reputed institutions as a reliable country to invest in and the São Paulo Stock Exchange (BOVESPA) has surpassed historical barriers. The Real is becoming stronger each day against the American dollar. Even thought are some world crises going on, this is the ideal moment for investment in the country.

Brazil obtained in April an investment grading by the rating agency, Standard & Poors. Also the Canadian agency of risk classification DBRS, announced in May that upgraded
Brazil's investment grading from BB+ to BBB-. This
changes the perspective of the Brazilian economy from stable to positive. Also in May, the Fitch converted the country evaluation from BB+ to BBB-, following the trend of other agencies, aforementioned, and of the Japanese’s JCR and R&I. The country stepped into the group of nations considered to have a small possibility of insolvency and low risk for foreigner’s financial applications. A series of factors led these institutions to modify the country’s rate, among them, the stability of macro economical politics, well-conduced monetary and cambial politics, stronger public administration, availability of bank credit, improvement of the dimension and structure of public debt, increase of the market liquidity and recent discoveries of oil fields by Petrobrás.

As a consequence of the economical stability and in the days after the announcement of Standard and Poors assessment, the Ibovespa, main rate of the Brazilian stock market, surpassed the historical barrier of 70.000 points. Stocks of Brazilian companies, for example Petrobrás, had its papers validated which helped to push the rises of the stock exchange of São Paulo.

On the other hand, the dollar is losing ground around the world when compared to other currencies due to the cut of interest rate made by the Federal Reserve between September of the last year and April this year. The interest rate fell as part of the Fed’s action to stimulate the credit and to promote the American economy. Since the beginning of the government of Lula da Silva, the dollar lost 52% of its value against the Real. This year, it accumulated 5.12% of depreciation. In 2007, the fall in the value of the American currency was in 16.85%.

The consequence of this scenery is record investment and growth of the economy. The Brazilian PIB grew 5.8% in the first trimester of this year in comparison with the same period of last year. The expansion in twelve months is the greatest since 1996. Investment grew 15.2% from January to March, when compared to the same period of last year.

When Brazil's rating was enhanced to investment grade, the expectation of economists was that more foreigners would invest in Brazilian assets. This perspective proved to be correct and is expected to continue for some time yet.

Contributed by Daniela Lima who Is a lawyer and partner of EMDOC MRS, a 20-year old firm, specializing in providing services in the immigration market, transferring employees to Brazil and from Brazil to other countries.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Ottawa to ease immigration rules for workers, students


From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

August 12, 2008 at 9:54 PM EDT

OTTAWA — The Harper government is creating a new fast-track immigration route for skilled foreign workers and students who've already proved employable in Canada: an effort to prevent an erosion of talent as global competition heats up for higher-value labour.

Unlike existing programs, the Canadian Experience Class immigration stream will make work experience in this country a key criterion for vetting applicants. It will also allow temporary foreign workers and students living here to apply from within Canada rather than having to leave first.

It's expected to grant permanent resident status to 12,000 to 18,000 economic immigrants in the first year, a figure that's forecast to rise to 25,000 annually over time. But it's not expected to increase the number of economic immigrants, which last year totalled 50,000.

The goal is to improve the quality of immigrants and retain the most valuable workers and educated students: arrivals who've already proven they can integrate into society and meet labour market needs.

“If we're going to compete internationally for the best and for the brightest, we need to improve the way that we attract and retain those who want to work in their fields and contribute to Canadian society,” federal Immigration Minister Diane Finley explained at a Waterloo, Ont., news conference.

Immigrants granted permanent resident status can eventually apply for citizenship.

Canada is revamping its approach because rival destinations such as Australia and the United Kingdom already have similar programs, Citizenship and Immigration spokeswoman Danielle Norris said.

“We're stepping up to the plate,” she said. “We're becoming as competitive as other countries.”

Canada is suffering from a major immigration approval backlog and the new program is part of Ottawa's solution. The concern is that skilled foreign workers and highly educated students who've been trained and educated in Canada will leave permanently if more effort isn't made to keep them.

To be eligible, foreign workers must have two years of legal work experience in Canada. Foreign students must have completed a program of study lasting at least two years at a Canadian university or college and have one year of work experience.

NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow said the new program is elitist and unfair to unskilled or lower-skilled labourers who comprise the vast bulk of foreigners in Canada on temporary work permits.

“They're good enough to work here, but we don't want them to become Canadian citizens,” she said. “That's 90 per cent of the 165,000 temporary foreign workers who are working in Canada right now.”

A Citizenship and Immigration official said lower-skilled foreign labourers can apply for permanent resident status if the province they're working in recommends them under what's called the Provincial Nominee Program.

Ottawa believes the new program will increase Canada's economic competitiveness.

“With nearly full employment, an aging population and skill shortages, there is an immediate need to ensure Canadian employers can access the skills they need,” Ottawa said in a statement on the changes.

It predicts that selecting immigrants who've already got a proven track record here will yield workers with higher incomes later. Ottawa estimates that the average annual income of people selected under this new program will be $60,000 after 10 years, compared with $42,000 for someone who hadn't worked or studied in Canada first.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

EU Blue Card to come? - update from Europe

On July 24, 2008 the responsible minsters of the EU member states have discussed the commission’s guideline proposal regarding immigration law which is dated October 23, 2007. Amongst other things the Commission has proposed to the Council to facilitate the immigration of highly-qualified staff from third countries by implementing a so called “Blue Card” in order to make Europe attractive for skilled employees, cf. Throughout Europe standard requirements shall be implemented with view to the immigration of skilled employees. Besides a recognised diploma for the blue card it is also required to furnish proof of a minimum professional experience of three years and a one-year contract in the European Union with salary amounting to not less than triple the minimum salary. Then the applicant and his/her family are granted a residence permit of up to two years which can be extended. At the same time the regulations providing for facilitations of entry as currently applied in the member states shall be retained. With view to this fact the implementation of a blue card will in the first instance have no factual influence on the legal situation in Germany. In Germany numerous special rules have already been enacted with view to the entry of highly-qualified. The proposal shall even have been accepted by the member states French EU Council Presidency by the end of the year 2008. Therefore the unanimity of the European Council is required.