HLG – Weekly Newsletter – 03.03.2019

AFRICA

 

Zimbabwe

 

  1. Dual citizenship for Zimbabweans”, ZBC, February 26, 2019
  • Zimbabweans will now be allowed to hold dual citizenship once the Zimbabwe Citizenship Act is aligned with the Constitution and Cabinet also received updates on the rescue operations at Battlefields Mines in Mashonaland West Province.
  • Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Cde Monica Mutsvangwa announced this to the media after today’s cabinet sitting at Munhumutapa offices in Harare.

 

AMERICA

 

Canada

 

  1. Allison Lampert, “Quebec must process immigrant applications amid system overhaul: judge”, Reuters, February 26, 2019
  • The Quebec government must continue processing suspended applications from skilled immigrants, a judge ordered on Monday, in a win for thousands of new arrivals who had been left in limbo by a program overhaul in the Canadian province.
  • Quebec Superior Court Justice Frederic Bachand awarded a 10-day injunction that would oblige the province’s center-right government to continue processing applications. “There is no doubt that these candidates would be subjected to” prejudice if the injunction were not granted, Bachand wrote in a decision.

 

Grenada

 

  1. Grenada Issues Warning Regarding CBI Use”, TV6 TNT, February 25, 2019
  • Grenada has warned that it would not allow its passport to be used by persons to escape justice. “We have extradition treaties with lots of countries, we have an extradition treaty with Russia and if Russia requests you for anything illegal, we will send you back, we will hand you over,” International Business Minister Nikolas Steele has said.
  • Steele said Grenada would also revoke the citizenship and passport from anyone who is extradited, adding that there have been persons whose passports were revoked after receiving Grenadian citizenship under the initiative,

 

United States

 

  1. Robert W. Wood, “Want To Travel? IRS Warns U.S. Passports In Jeopardy If You Owe $52K In Taxes”, Forbes, February 27, 2019
  • The IRS has reiterated its warning that taxpayers may not be able to renew their passports or get a new one if they owe $52,000 or more in federal taxes.
  • The change in the law came in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The IRS must notify the State Department of taxpayers the IRS has certified as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt. What is a “seriously delinquent tax debt?” It generally means you owe the IRS more than $52,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest for which the IRS has filed a Notice of Federal Tax Lien, and the period to challenge it has expired or the IRS has issued a levy.
  • The law requires State to deny a passport application or renewal from those on the IRS list. If a taxpayer currently has a valid passport, the State Department can revoke the passport or limit his or her ability to travel outside the United States.

 

  1. Shane McGinley, “Six-fold surge in GCC approvals for US scheme offering citizenship”, Arabian Business, March 3, 2019
  • The number of Gulf residents approved to take part in an American scheme offering the chance to earn citizenship in return for a minimum investment of $500,000 surged nearly six-fold last year, according to official data. The EB-5 visa for Immigrant Investors was created by the US Immigration Act of 1990 as a way of encouraging foreign investment in projects across the United States.
  • While China dominated the list, with 4,642 approvals issued – or 48.3 percent of the total – 54 residents from the United Arab Emirates were approved, a 350 percent increase year-on-year compared to 2017.
  • Approvals from Saudi Arabia rose 1,400 percent from a single approval in 2017 to 15 in 2018. Qatar’s approvals rose from one in 2017 to 16 in 2018. The other three Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states had no approvals in 2017, while in 2018 Bahrain and Oman had two each and Kuwait had four. Overall, the six GCC states recorded 93 approvals last year, a 564 percent rise compared to 2017.

 

ASIA

 

Southeast Asia

 

  1. Kentaro Iwamoto, “Southeast Asia eases visa rules to counter fall in Chinese tourists”, Nikkei Asian Review, March 1, 2019
  • Southeast Asia is responding to a drop in tourism from China, its largest source of arrivals, by offering easier visa procedures to visitors from countries in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere in Asia.
  • Tourism is important to Southeast Asia’s economy, contributing 12% to gross domestic product in Thailand, 6% in Malaysia in 2018 and 16% in Cambodia in 2017.
  • “China’s growth slowdown, a weaker yuan and waning consumer confidence may be hurting outbound travel,” according to a recent report by Maybank Kim Eng. Maybank’s report also expresses optimism, saying that only 9% of Chinese have passports, indicating a lot of room for growth. And it said Southeast Asia can attract visitors from markets such as India. “In the longer term, [the region] will likely diversify its tourism base and reduce its reliance on China.”

 

Oman

 

  1. Indian passport services to go online from next week”, Times of Oman, February 27, 2019
  • Indian citizens in Oman who wish to renew or apply for new passports will only be able to do so online from next month onwards, the Embassy of India here announced.
  • From March 3, 2019, the Global Passport Seva Programme will come into effect, enabling people to apply for their passports through the portal https://embassy.passportindia.gov.in. The current process of passport renewal will last until March 10.
  • Initiated by the Ministry of External Affairs at all Indian Embassies and Consulates around the world, the programme is in accordance with the Government of India’s digitalisation policy, according to the Embassy.

 

Turkey

 

  1. Turkey Seeks To Totally Abolish Visas With Russia – Foreign Minister”, Urdu Point, March 1, 2019
  • Turkey makes every effort toward fully restoring visa-free travel to Russia for Turkish citizens, which was suspended four years ago, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday.
  • “We are committed to the prompt and complete abolition of visas with Russia, making every possible effort in this regard,” Cavusoglu said, speaking in the Turkish city of Eskisehir, as quoted by the Anadolu news agency.
  • Russia’s travel rules for Turkish citizens was partially eased in 2017, a year after Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan penned a letter of apology to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the downed jet.

 

  1. Carlotta Gall, “Want a Castle in Turkey? You May Find a Bargain”, New York Times, March 3, 2019
  • The Yerdelen brothers, construction entrepreneurs from Istanbul riding a real estate boom, had plans to build more than 700 minicastles, with turrets and breezy rooftop terraces overlooking the forest, aiming to draw in Arabs from the Gulf countries who love to come to Turkey for its lush nature and Mediterranean climate.
  • Mr. Erdogan made sure that foreigners could buy property relatively easily and dangled citizenship, if the investment in real estate was above $250,000. Developers began all manner of schemes to meet the burgeoning demand.
  • According to figures published by the Association of Real Estate Investment Companies in Turkey, foreign buyers have been returning since 2018. Roughly a third are from Arab Gulf countries.

 

  1. UAE- Turkish citizenship demand in Middle East soars after Ankara slashes investment by 75%”, MENA FN, March 3, 2019
  • Following the announcement, applications for Turkish passport has increased, receiving an unprecedented number of UAE applications. There is a surge of 55% in number of applications as compared to two years ago
  • Hundreds of foreigners are looking to buy Turkish citizenship after Ankara sharply reduced the cost in an effort to boost the country’s FDI flow. Price cut from $1 million to $250,000, which is 75 per cent decided last December by the Turkish government has boosted interest in the programme.
  • Over 115 countries allow visa-free travel for Turkish passport holders. Turkey is seen as a gateway to Europe for the modern Silk Road, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative, which covers China, Kazakhstan, Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Turkey is sought after for quality education, world-class healthcare facilities and beautiful lifestyle.

 

EUROPE

 

Belarus

 

  1. Positive effects of visa-free travel program in Belarus noted”, Belarusian Telegraph Agency, February 27, 2019
  • According to the State Border Committee of Belarus, in 2018 Belarus welcomed 4,791,951 foreign citizens, nearly 500,000 more than in 2017.
  • Over 100,000 foreigners availed themselves of the opportunity to visit Belarus without visas in 2018. This year’s number is expected to grow larger since Minsk will host the 2nd European Games in June and a Europe vs United States athletics match in September.

 

Cyprus

 

  1. CYPRUS: Greek firm to own EUR 190 mln real estate investment fund”, Financial Mirror, March 1, 2019
  • Greek company NBG PANGAEA will become the owner of 21 large commercial properties on the island after a deal with Bank of Cyprus to buy a Real Estate Investment Fund established by the bank.
  • Cyreit Variable Investment Company PLC – a EUR 190 mln worth Alternative Investment Fund set up by BoC last May – had acquired large properties, aiming to offer investors a rental yield return. According to reports, the 21 buildings are expected to bring in revenues of EUR 96 mln by 2028 for their new owner.
  • Investment fund industry sources told the Financial Mirror that a number of foreign institutional investors are eyeing prime properties in Cyprus, especially from the Middle East.

 

  1. Umer Jamshaid, “Cyprus Sees Foreign Investments Influx Amid Stricter ‘Golden Passport’ Rules – Minister Harris Georgiades”, Urdu Point, March 1, 2019
  • Earlier in February, the island nation introduced stricter eligibility rules for their “golden passport” program, depriving investors whose applications were rejected earlier by other EU countries of citizenship opportunities.
  • “On the contrary, what we are seeing is the influx of investments, which are real investments…So no more shell companies with only registered offices. So real investments with real presence. This is what we are aiming for. And this is what we are seeing,” Georgiades said, asked if new rules affected investment in the country.

 

Luxembourg

 

  1. Simon Gray, “Foreign residents queue up to obtain Luxembourg passports”, Financial Times, March 2, 2019
  • According to figures provided by justice minister Félix Braz, a total of 13,185 people acquired Luxembourg passports in 2018, up from 10,095 the previous year and just 2,796 in 2016 — the year before the introduction of legislation that eased the requirements significantly.
  • The nationality law, which took effect in April 2017, reduced the number of years of residence required from seven to five. Applicants must also pass a Luxembourgish language test, although those with 20 years’ residence or more only have to attend classes. They must also either take a course or pass an exam on “living together in the grand duchy” — a subject that encompasses citizens’ rights, Luxembourg institutions and history, and European integration.

 

Netherlands

 

  1. Cara Skikne, “Netherlands Visa Creates Job Opportunities For International Students”, Business Because, February 26, 2019
  • While many countries clamp down on immigration—or, at least, make a lot of noise about clamping down on immigration—the Netherlands is actively seeking highly skilled talent.
  • The Zoekjaar visa is another way that the government is working to attract highly skilled people. The Zoekjaar, or ‘orientation year’, visa is available for master’s students who have studied at top 200 universities worldwide, whether in the general ranking lists, or ranking lists by subject.
  • Lists that are accepted include the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the QS World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

 

Russia

 

  1. Russia Welcomed 10% More Tourists in 2018, FSB Says”, The Moscow Times, February 27, 2019
  • Russia saw a 10 percent surge in international tourist arrivals last year, dominated by visitors from China, Germany and South Korea, state media cited the authorities as saying.
  • Russia has introduced visa-free travel for Chinese tour groups and hired Chinese-speaking staff at airports and train stations to accommodate growing tourist numbers from the country of 1.4 billion.
  • Officials say they expect an influx of 15 percent more tourists in 2019 after Russia hosted the FIFA World Cup last summer.

 

Serbia

 

  1. Serbia planning for easier travel to Iran: envoy”, Tehran Times, March 3, 2019
  • Although it’s easier for our tourists to travel to Turkey, we want to do practices that make trips to Iran easier, Todorovic said. Talking on travel interactions with Iran, the ambassador noted that there was no need to obtain a visa for traveling to Serbia [by Iranian nationals] in the past year, but now it requires a visa. But this is certainly not a problem for Iranians traveling to Serbia. They can easily get visas, he explained.
  • In August 2017, Serbia abolished visas for Iranians in a move to boost tourism, improve growth and reach out to non-European markets. The Balkan country received over 15,000 Iranian nationals since the visa-waiver program came into effect.
  • However, it scrapped visa-free entry for Iranians out of concerns that some may “abuse the system” as an avenue to enter other European states.

 

Spain

 

  1. Ana Garcia Valdivia, “Spain Is Ready To Launch Its Contingency Plan For A No-Deal Brexit”, Forbes, February 28, 2019
  • Now that the Labour Party’s plan to implement a ‘soft’ Brexit has failed and the possibility of an extension of Article 50 and a second referendum have been brought to the table, uncertainty prevails again.
  • Last Wednesday the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, responded to the announcement of the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, about a possible extension of Article 50. Although Sánchez has always positioned himself in favor of a withdrawal agreement, in this case, the President pointed out that “prolonging the uncertainty by postponing deadlines is not a reasonable or desirable alternative.”
  • Ever since, the Spanish Executive has been working on a decree-law of contingency measures that will finally be approved on Friday, March 1, in the council of ministers.

 

Ukraine

 

  1. Ukraine, Georgia citizens may use ID cards to freely visit both countries as of March 1”, UNIAN, March 1, 2019
  • Citizens of Ukraine and Georgia may freely visit both countries, using new internal biometric passports (ID cards).
  • “An updated agreement between the governments of Ukraine and Georgia on the mutual abolition of visa requirements came into force on March 1, 2019. In addition to the existing visa-free travel, mutual trips of citizens of both countries are possible with the use of contactless ID cards,” Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

 

Disclaimer

The material contained in this Publication is solely intended to inform readers of general legal information and/or developments. It is not intended, and should not be relied upon, as a legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Harvey Law Group (“HLG”) is not liable and in any way responsible for any harm or damages resulting from the use of the information contained on this Publication for legal or any other purposes. All rights reserved.

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