No, that’s not US President Donald Trump speaking, but the number of Filipinos—4 million— already in the US as permanent residents, plus about 300,000 more applying for temporary visas yearly (at the rate of 1,100 a day) and an average of 50,000 issued immigrant visa annually in the various family and employment-preference categories.
To these kababayan, relatives and close friends, America is the first choice to migrate – temporarily or otherwise.
Yet as in love, there should be reciprocity.
Given a choice, Filipino immigrant visa applicants want America. But does America want you?
US President Trump and the ruling Republican Party want to cut legal migration to half, citing chain migration as a scourge that brings low-skilled, potential benefit-and-job-stealing immigrants who can come to the US simply because they are family members of US citizens or lawful permanent residents.
Merits-based migration is the way to go; chain migration must stop, so Trump and the Republicans claim. And Trump supporters have started the ball rolling.
Fox News, President Trump’s favorite network, reported on December 15, 2017, the groundwork that the Republican Party base had initiated:
“The Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, which advocates for lower immigration levels, among other changes, recently began a national radio campaign warning of what it sees as the dangers of chain migration and the diversity visa lottery program. The group has spent close to $1 million over the last month and a half on its campaign.”
“Numbers USA, another group that advocates for lower immigration levels, launched a national six-figure ad campaign Thursday “to educate on chain migration categories.”
Two bills in both houses of the US Congress have been introduced by Republican legislators, with the House version (HR 4760) as the most popular, with 95 Republican as co-sponsors.
HR 4760 intends to reduce the number of legal immigrants by more than 420,000, or 38 percent, in 2019. While the Senate counterpart (S 1720) would reduce legal migration to 470,000, both bills would drastically cut legal immigration by 38 percent and 43 percent, respectively.
Both bills would end the diversity green card lottery and ban the entry of all legal immigrants sponsored by US family members, except for spouses and minor children of US citizens.
The RAISE Act would also reduce the age at which US citizens can sponsor minor children from 21 to 18, and parents of US citizens will no longer be able to apply as immediate relatives not subject to quota.
How about the other four countries with permanent migration programs: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK? Since we have dealt more on Canada migration than the other countries, we will focus this time on the other two Commonwealth nations, Australia and New Zealand.
Occupation and skill-specific migration
The US apparently emulates the skilled-based migration of Australia, Canada and New Zealand. As indicated in last week’s column, Australia and New Zealand have each a list of occupations eligible for permanent residency.
The UK and most European nations require an applicant for long-term residency to be working for at least five years before being eligible to apply. So, for Filipinos wishing to be European immigrants, getting a job offer and being employed legally for five years is the only way. To get employer-sponsors, others go through the student visa route since international students are authorized to work. Also, students could immediately apply for and be face to face with an employer as opposed to those who would need to submit their permanent residency applications through the immigrant-selection system in place.
Canada has abandoned its occupations-list selection. Instead, applicants may qualify for permanent residency (regardless of occupation) based on points, primarily on age, English or language proficiency. In fact, Canada provides bonus points for applicants with high scores in the English and French languages by combining the language scores with an applicant’s minimum work experience and qualifications.
SkillSelect is Australia’s online selection system. An intending immigrant may complete an “expression of interest” and submit the documents upon invitation to apply. Eligible candidates are selected in a regular draw (2 to 3 weeks). To be selected, an applicant’s occupation must be on Australia’s occupations list.
The current list of occupations eligible for permanent migration – whether independently or nomination by any state or territory – is available on Australia’s official Home Office page – https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/work/work/skills-assessment-and-assessing-authorities/skilled-occupations-lists/combined-stsol-mltssl.
Each state and territory of Australia also has its own list of occupations available for sponsorship. A skilled migrant nominated by a state gets an additional 5 points towards the minimum 60 points required. There is a quota for occupations hence it would be good to check out whether your occupation is still open for nomination or sponsorship at the state, territory or federal level. To check the current ceiling allocation, you may log on to this official page – https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/work/skil#tab-content-3
Last week, we showed the profile of a successful permanent resident applicant to Canada. The same 29-year-old, with a bachelor’s degree, two-year work experience in an occupation that is on New Zealand’s Long-Term Skills Shortage List (LTSSL) may apply as a skilled migrant by completing an “expression of interest” letter, even without a job offer in New Zealand. The minimum points required is 100. To be invited, an applicant must have 160 points.
The same applicant with a job offer for an occupation that is on the LTSSL for an employer outside Auckland would get 190 points.
To check whether you may get 160 points, log on to the official New Zealand government website – https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/tools-and-information/tools/points-indicator-smc-28aug
Permanent resident, visa allocation
All the four countries with permanent migration programs have a set number of permanent resident/immigrant visas per year. This would include essentially the family and occupation-specific or employment-based categories,
Canada’s published immigration plan intends to increase total immigrant visas by 360,000 in 2020.
New Zealand figures based on the New Zealand Residence Program (NZRP), running from July 1, 2014 until June 30, 2016, implemented a planning range of 90,000 to 100,000 residence places available across three streams.
New Zealand has been historically a gateway to Australia and the other countries with migration programs. The country loses most of its skilled migrants to Australia. The reason is because NZ and Australia share the same standards for occupational classification through the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZCO).
An accountant or IT professional who meets the standard to practice in New Zealand may practice in Australia, making movement to a bigger pasture easier. Even native New Zealanders (Kiwis) look to Australia for better opportunities. Remember, there are more animals e.g., sheep, cows, goats, etc. than people in NZ.
After practicing one’s profession or occupation in Australia or Canada, NZ becomes attractive again as a retirement destination because of its spectacular, natural beauty.