UN Advises Australia to Relax Visa Norms

The UN World Tourism Organisation has suggested that Australia relax visa norms for tourists from developing nations.

The organisation said that Australia could attract more tourists from emerging and developing nations, especially China and India, if it relaxes its visa norms. According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, Australia has a strict visa regime that is discouraging tourists from emerging nations.

Referring to Australia’s security concerns, the UN organisation’s secretary-general, Taleb Rifai, said that tough entry conditions did not always ensure security. He said that Australia and other developed countries should ease their tough visa regimes to attract more tourists.

According to ‘The Australian’, while speaking at a tourism conference in Melbourne, Rifai said, ‘Visas are becoming a real nightmare. It is not reasonable to still see long lines, very cumbersome, uneasy, complicated, lengthy, overpriced entry formalities all over the world, particularly facing nationals from countries that are rising and countries that are providing the base for future incoming tourists. There is no evidence to establish that there are close and very strong links between visas and security issues.’

He also observed that even though Chinese and Indian visitors have been contributing the most to the annual growth in tourism in the nation over the past decade, they had to face a number of bureaucratic hurdles. He said that those travelling to Australia for the first time had to provide bank statements or other financial information, as well as a letter from their employer, authenticating their identity and purpose of visit. If first timers were visiting relatives or friends, a copy of an invitation from the relative or friend in Australia may also be required.

 

British holidaymakers warned of ‘visa traps’

British families travelling to long-haul destinations this half term have been warned that they could face substantial extra costs on arrival or departure from their destination. Costs they hadn’t bargained for, according to a new survey.

 

New research from the Post Office has revealed that compulsory tourist visas and taxes can set a family of four back as much as £145.

 

The US requires UK visitors to pay $14 (£9.27) for each ESTA visa, which needs to be purchased before travelling, allowing families to factor this into their holiday budget.

 

However some popular winter destinations collect payable visa and tourist tax charges on arrival or departure from the country.

 

Tourists in Antigua must pay £20 each in either Eastern Caribbean or US dollars before leaving the country. This means a family of four with children 12 and over must hand over £77.76 in foreign cash at the end of a holiday, when spending money may be limited.

 

Travellers have also been warned to be aware of hidden visa charges in holiday hotspots: Kenya, Turkey, Egypt and Mexico.

 

Families of four could be set back as much as £145 when visiting Mexico; the country charges tourists 700 pesos (£36.28) when leaving the country.

 

Sarah Munro, Head of Travel Money at the Post Office has said “families looking for a low-priced half-term holiday may get a nasty surprise if they have to pay tourist taxes on top”.

 

She added “This is likely to be particularly problematic for people who are on an all inclusive package, as they may not have budgeted to take foreign cash to cover the charge”.

 

“Unfortunately the issue of visas and tourist taxes is a confusing one and it can be difficult to find out what the charges are and how these have to be paid”.

 

Recommending that holidaymakers get in touch with their tour operator or airline to check whether their destination has tourist taxes, who must pay them and in what currency they need to be paid in.

 

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Student visa requirements change to stop abuse and shrink migration

Damian Green today explained reforms the government is making to the student visa system to stop abuse and bring net migration down to sustainable levels.

These reforms include an announcement last month that the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) will inspect and review educational standards in private institutions which are offering further education.

Speaking at the QAA’s educational oversight conference, the minister said that it was the primary motivation of too many so-called students to come to the UK in order to work, rather than study, and that too many institutions were providing an immigration service rather than an educational one.

Legitimate students only

Mr Green said: ‘Abuse of the student visa system has gone on for too long. Students should come to the UK to study, not to work or settle.  We want legitimate students only, to study at legitimate colleges and universities.

‘QAA has an excellent reputation protecting the standards of the UK higher education system and I am pleased they are providing their expertise to support our efforts to ensure only high quality institutions can sponsor students to come to the UK.’

Explaining that it was now only those institutions with the best track record that would be able to recruit and retain legitimate students, the minister went on to highlight other changes to the student route.

These include:

  • students coming to study degree-level courses must be able to prove they can speak English at an upper intermediate level, and others studying below degree-level will have to speak English at an intermediate level
  • students at universities and publicly funded further education colleges will retain current work rights but all other students will have no right to work
  • there will be more rigorous checks to ensure that the funds students are using to support themselves are invested in – and available from – a trustworthy financial institution
  • only postgraduate students at universities and government sponsored students to be will be able to bring their family members with them

£9 USA ‘Entry Fee’ Attracts Criticism from European Travellers

For the last few years, the United States has been trialling an electronic visa system designed to eliminate excess paperwork and simplify the immigration process. The system, which is currently essential for those travelling from the UK or Europe, has been largely successful, saving time for those with specific travel plans and eliminating lengthy wait times in United States airports.

It’s also been, up until now, a completely free system. The economic and cultural ties between the United States and most of the European Union have made immigration between the two countries virtually seamless, helping the economies of all involved and ensuring simple travel. However, a new £9 ‘entry fee’ could bring the entire process to the ground, starting with UK-US immigration.

Starting from the 8th of September, United States authorities will levy a £9 charge against travellers entering the country from a United Kingdom airport. The move is targeted primarily at UK citizens and residents who use a compulsory Esta online booking system, and it’s been subject to immense criticism from residents of Britain and other European Union countries who travel frequently.

The fee is payable online and lasts for two years, giving UK residents unlimited entry to the United States within its period of validity. While several media outlets have reported that the fee is required before every entry to the United States, official releases have suggested that it is a one-off cost to be applied before every twenty-four months of entry into the country.

Will it cause an inconvenience for UK-based travellers? Undoubtedly. Will it be the major disaster that many are predicting? Unlikely. With a sustained tradition of USA-UK travel and cultural ties, it seems highly unlikely that a small regulatory change will cut down on EU-US travel. Registrations made before September 8th are not subject to the fee, and are recommended for frequent travellers.