All posts by josephinegoube

Above average cheerful French Londoner. Proud @girlsintech_UK tweeting and blogging about technology, startups & #immigration with @visa_help. Personal tweets & posts about #Politics #UrbanPlanning #Maps & #Infographics

Happy Migrants Day

Today is International Migrant’s Day! The day celebrates our human history, the story of hundreds of millions of courageous individuals who chose to overcome adversity and work at creating a better life for themselves in a foreign country.

Migration is a powerful expression of will and courage. Today, it is estimated that 250 million people have migrated to another country – making this population some sort of fifth continent.

The factors fuelling migration are 80% of the time economic reasons but one cannot confuse this consideration, for the spark by which the migration journeys started: poverty, war and environmental disasters.

Today, long-term and short-term migration is also an expression of our advancement in technology, globalisation and the reduction of costs of transports. The recent refugee crisis has highlighted how these elements have to play – mobile phones are acting as a lifeline and Facebook groups a source of information – but also stresses the need to rethink the dichotomy between economic migrants and refugees.

Many genuine asylum seekers are now trapped in a bureaucratic system that prevents them with going on with their lives: putting them in legal limbo and preventing them from starting any paid working activity. Many migrants are destitute of rights as extreme rights parties gain followers and blame foreigners for the economic crisis.

There is hope. Since the picture of the little Aylan Kurdi on the beach, civil society has woken up to the issue and responded with empathy – the spread of a Welcome Refugees movement across Europe – and with determination to help solve the problem – the coming together of tech entrepreneurs and engineers to create apps for refugees (Techfugees).

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Refugees & migrants arriving in Europe this year will define a lot of the future of Europe.

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This blog post is dedicated to Migreat staff, each of them amazing individuals (migrants themselves!) working everyday at producing information in 12 languages to migrants around the world heading to Europe.

Thank you to each one of you – for a fun and successful year of high quality and trust worthy content and events.

Tuition-Free Online degrees Offered To 500 Syrian Refugees

University of the People (UoPeople) offers tuition-free, accredited online degrees in Computer Science & Business Administration to Syrian refugees.

Free online accredited online degrees for Syrian Refugees
Generously donated in-part by the Fondation Hoffmann, this scholarship is available to all students who identify as a refugee or asylum seeker from Syria only.

The special scholarship will cover the costs of examination fees for up to 10 exams. Upon completion of the funds awarded, students may apply for another scholarship, and thus potentially cover the entire cost of a 2-year Associate or 4-year Bachelor’s degree.

Students only need to prove they have a qualified level of English, completed high school and have access to computers with internet. 

A special policy, approved by the DEAC (University’s US accrediting agency), has been established in order to admit refugees and asylum seekers even if official transcripts and documents of previous degrees cannot be obtained.

How to register for the online degree
To apply for the scholarship, refugee students from Syria must simply start their online application. The online application is divided in four steps.

Before you complete Step 4, you will receive an email from your personal Admissions Advisor.

You will need to reply to him/her and mention that you are a refugee from Syria and you are interested in the scholarship. They will be happy to help you from there onwards.

UoPeople is an accredited online university. Refugee students in camps, moving to a new country or returning home will be able to pursue higher education wherever they are.

French Tech Ticket: A Financial incentive to foreign Entrepreneurs

France wants to attract foreign entrepreneurs and startups.

Foreign entrepreneurs granted the new French Entrepreneur visa (also called French Tech Ticket) will be provided with a grant of12,500Euros which will be exempted of income tax and social taxation (CSG-CRDS) – as agreed by the French Parliament in the amendment of a law on international investment.

The French Gov and the city of Paris launched the French Tech Ticket visa this year to promote its startup eco-system worldwide. This financial incentive aims to attract and support foreign entrepreneurs starting innovative companies in France.

The French Tech Ticket acts as a comprehensive  “Welcome Pack” for foreign entrepreneurs. Successful applicants will benefit from a fast track visa process to obtain a work visa and receive  – on top of a grant of 12,500Euros per founder (maximum 3 people) –  an office space in a partner startup incubator, support on settling down and discounts on Air France flights.

The grant of 12.500Euros is renewable after 6 months if the project shows traction. Next year, the French Tech Ticket should be extended to the whole country incubators. For now, the French Tech Ticket works only with foreign entrepreneurs wanting to relocate in Paris.

Making Economic Sense

This measure to exempt the grant of taxes comes as natural as the 12,500Euros are granted by the French Government through the BPI. Indeed, a taxation on a government subsidy would not make much sense.

The successful applicants to the French Tech Ticket will be announced next January. In total, 722 startup business proposals were submitted last September by 1,372 entrepreneurial candidats. Only 50 of them will be granted the visa.

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Interested in Startup Visa Schemes? Download Migreat Report on Startup Visas programmes or read our latest blog post on the countries accepting entrepreneurs in 2015.

EU Immigration Authorities Can Only Refuse a Student Visa if a Person is a Risk to National Security

International students wishing to study in the European Union should not be denied a student visa by local authorities if they satisfy European entry requirements says the European Court of Justice (ECJ). This ruling comes with major implications for foreign students hoping to study at European universities.

The ruling
The ruling, published in September 2014 by the ECJ, concerns Mohamed Ali Ben Alaya, a Tunisian student who had been accepted to study mathematics at the Technical University of Dortmund and applied to the German authorities for a student visa.

The German immigration authorities refused his visa, saying that his grades weren’t high enough and he wouldn’t have time to learn German to an adequate standard before the course began.

Ben Alaya brought his case to the administrative court in Berlin, which in turn consulted the ECJ on the validity of the refusal. The Berlin court wanted to know if the German Immigration authorities were allowed to refuse his visa even though Mohamed Ali Ben Alaya fulfilled all the minimum requirements laid out by a 2004 European Commission directive on students from outside the EU.

Basically, the Berlin Court wanted to know if the Directive set up an exhaustive list of minimum requirements to meet or if national governments could add more requirements on top.

The applicant claimed to have proven that he met all the requirements, including the availability of financial resources; as for his proficiency in German, he claimed that he had mastered the language well enough to study mathematics, and that the entry level course was sufficient to bridge any gaps.

The ECJ concluded that the German authorities should have accepted the student visa, since the applicant appeared to meet the requirements of the EU’s current directive on non-EU students and did not pose a threat to public policy, security or health.

The Directive
The Directive was set out to promote the European Union as a “world centre of excellence for studies and vocational training.”

Requirements for non-EU students set out by the Directive are:

  • holding a valid passport or ID;
  • subscribing to an EU recognised health insurance programme;
  • to not be regarded as a threat to public policy, public security or public health;
  • have been accepted by an establishment of higher education to follow a course of study;
  • provide the evidence that during his/her stay he/she will have sufficient resources to cover his/her subsistence (amount determined by each country), study and return travel costs (i.e a paid flight/train ticket back to the country of origin);

and if the member state requires, provide evidence of

  • sufficient knowledge of the language of the course to be followed by him/her;
  • the applicant has paid the fee for processing the application;
  • the applicant has paid the fees charged by the establishment.

Implications for future foreign students
The ruling has significant implications for non-EU students looking to study in Europe.

First, it states that requirements to apply to study in Europe have been established exhaustively by the Directive, so that national government cannot add further requirements. Indeed, the aim of the directive was to harmonise access to EU Universities for non-EU students.

Secondly, the EU court confirms national authorities can only refuse a student visa if a person is a risk or a threat to public security and the rest falls into the hands of higher education establishments. So when it comes to a student’s language skills, which under the directive must be adequate before admission can be granted, it is the university’s opinion that counts.

While the right to come study in Europe is not too controversial, it is possible that EU countries will try regain more control by setting up quotas of student visa or restrain access to the local labour market. The UK, Ireland and Denmark are not concerned by the Directive.

Source: http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2014-09/cp140120en.pdf

EU Asylum Seeker Policies, Country by Country

In the past weeks and months, some EU countries have decided to change the way they accept and process asylum seekers’ applications depending on the person’s nationality and how they reached their destination country. A lot of contradictory information is being shared on social media.

Migreat, the trusted platform for information on immigration, will list (and keep updated) the actual asylum policies for most EU countries and highlight the ones with fair policies towards refugees (as well as pointing out the countries with rules that are not ideal).

We will be updating this article every month [Last update: 25th November 2015]

Germany
Germany has re-implemented checks at its border and is now sending back asylum seekers to the first EU country where they were registered. This policy went into affect on October 21st.

During the first week of November, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière declared that refugees arriving on the German border will be deported back to the first European Union country they entered. It means that Germany is now treating asylum seekers’ applications according to the Dublin Agreement. It is a reversal of the policies that were in place beginning at the end of August, 2015.

In addition, refugees from Syria are not being provided protection in accordance with the Geneva Conventions on refugees. The vast majority of Syrian refugees, who traveled through Turkey or other allegedly “safe countries of origin” during their journey, will only receive subsidiary protection. They will receive the right to reside for just one year rather than three years, and they cannot bring their family members to Germany.

The German government is striving to implement this closure, even though an interior ministry spokesman stated that there would be “no turning back at the borders,” only regulated deportations.

Sweden
Sweden has re-introduced border control checks too. Swedish police are now monitoring trains and ferries arriving from mainland Europe and stopping anyone without valid travel documents.

Anyone seeking to apply for asylum will not be turned back. This measure is implemented to create a more orderly process of arrival for refugees. The intention is to deter those hoping to cross Sweden to reach other Scandinavian countries.

Read more on Swedish reformed asylum seeking process for Syrians – dated: September, 2015.

France
France has re-introduced border control checks as a result of the Paris Terrorist Attacks of November 13th. The policy of welcoming refugees will not be changed and applicants for refugee status in France are expected to undergo tight security checks.

France will respect its commitment to helping 30,000 asylum seekers over the next several years.

Read more on France recent reform of Asylum Law and Refugee Immigration System.

Austria
Austria plans to construct barriers along its border with Slovenia to control the flow of refugees more effectively rather than stop everyone entering the country.

Austria wants to be able to carry out controls on the movement of people and it will not be a razor-wire barrier like the one in Hungary.

Hungary & Slovenia
These countries have begun building a border fence aimed at stopping refugees from both entering and using their countries to transit to more western countries in the EU.

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At Migreat, we regret that only Greece, Italy and Hungary are legally being held responsible for the vast majority of migrants due to the refugee seekers first being registered in those countries. Here the five things you can do to help refugees.

Keep up to date with the European Union’s Refugee crisis on Migreat blog by following us.

The Blue Card: an EU Visa for Software Developers?

The Blue Card is a European visa for highly-skilled people from non-EU countries.

On paper, the Blue Card has been adopted by all EU-member states (excluding the UK, Ireland and Denmark).

In reality, Germany has been its most active supporter, awarding over 85% of the total number of Blue Cards in Europe between 2012 and 2014.

Given the short supply of software developers in Europe, the Blue Card can sometimes be the only option for non-EU devs. Here an infographic by Emma Tracey from Honeypot.io, the Developer-Focused Job Platform

Blue-card-infographic

If you still need help on visa for Europe, ask www.migreat.com online visa assistant for guidance.

English Taught Bachelor Degrees Offered in Germany

Here is the list of most exciting and innovative English taught courses available at German Public institutions next year – which means that no tuition fees are required to enrol and no German is required to study them!

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Bachelor of Arts in Agribusiness at Rhine-Waal University
http://www.hochschule-rhein-waal.de/en
The BA Agribusiness trains you in business economics and management skills that will equip you to successfully manage agricultural and food supply chains in the face of these global challenges.

Admin fees: Approx. 260 EUR per semester.
Cost of Living: 700EUR per month

561c75806b.jpgInternational Business Management at Berlin School of Economics and Law
http://www.hwr-berlin.de/en/study-at-hwr-berlin/study-programmes/
The International Business Management programme combines classic business administration content with international and intercultural aspects.
This international focus is similarly evident in the language of instruction, with all lectures and seminars held in English throughout the entire programme. In addition, students have to learn German as a second language parallel to the economics and business modules.

Admin fees: Approx. 280EUR per semester.
Cost of Living: 850EUR per month

Students of the BA Ökonomie or Teacher Training International Business Ethics Seminar Winter Term 12:13 .jpg

Bachelor in International Business and Technology at Nuremberg Institute of Technology
http://www.th-nuernberg.de/ib/
An innovative combination of knowledge and experience provided and supported by the faculties of Business Administration, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and the faculty of Applied Mathematics, Physics and Humanities.

Admin fees: Approx. 42 EUR per semester.
Cost of Living: 800-1000EUR per month

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Business and Engineering at University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt
http://www.hochschule-rhein-waal.de/en/faculties/life-sciences/degree-programmes/bioengineering-bsc
With this course, you will acquire insight into the three areas of modern biotechnology, i.e. red (medicine), green (agriculture) and white (industry) biotechnology; and gain core competencies in the fields of economics, law, communication and presentation, as well as market analysis and marketing research.
Successful graduates find jobs in different areas of the chemical, pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries, in research institutes or governmental agencies, as well as with the food industry, or in agro-technology, environmental or waste management.

Admin fees: Approx. 260 EUR per semester.
Cost of Living: 800EUR approx per month

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Digital Games at Cologne University of Applied Sciences
http://www.colognegamelab.de/
You love games and are into writing, audio visual design or coding? This Bachelor is for you.
After a general introduction to the creative and technological process of game development and the academic study of digital games in the first and second semesters, students specialise in Game Arts, Game Design or Game Informatics in the following semesters.
Throughout their studies, students of all specialisations are instructed in Media and Game Studies, and they develop games in collaborative projects.
In the fourth semester, students can choose between an exchange semester at a university abroad, an internship or a self-initiated project.

Admin fees: Approx. 250 EUR per semester.
Cost of Living: 800EUR approx per month

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Communication and Information Engineering, BSc at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences
http://www.hochschule-rhein-waal.de/en
In today’s world, data acquisition, transfer and analysis are of increasing significance: temperature, air humidity, sound, air pollution, traffic density, blood sugar level, the location of people – all these data and information can be measured, collected and then transmitted across the world by sensors.
This degree course Communication and Information Engineering aims to give you the skills you need to work anywhere from data acquisition, preprocessing, transmission, distribution and collection up to automatic analysis.
You will develop your expertise in the fields of electrical engineering, signal processing and computer science, and will gain a sound understanding of the basics of business management.

Admin fees: Approx. 250 EUR per semester.
Cost of Living: 800EUR approx per month

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Bachelor of Science Textile and Clothing Management at University of Applied Sciences Niederrhein
http://www.hs-niederrhein.de/faculties/textile-and-clothing-technology/degree-programmes/textile-and-clothing-management/
This seven-semester Bachelor’s degree programme offers an impressive curriculum of subjects in textile and clothing technology and related fields such as chemistry, design and technical textiles and subjects in management and business administration like controlling, fashion retailing logistics, e-Commerce and marketing.
Under the instruction of internationally renowned professors and scientific and well-educated staff, the course guarantees a scientific education oriented on the demands of industrial branches and international business.

Admin fees: Approx. 280 EUR per semester.
Cost of Living: 600-700EUR approx per month

 

Migreat’s Upcoming December Immigration Events

Migreat is rolling out, participating or taking part in a series of immigration events this fall. Below please find the full agenda and don’t forget to grab your tickets and meet us at one! 

How to Successfully Apply to the UK Entrepreneur Visa? 
25th November – Online Webinar – See the slides or watch the webinar online

UK immigration experts, Duncan Lewis, will present the UK Entrepreneur visa requirements in detail and answer questions related to the application process as well as upcoming changes to the entrepreneur visa route. Register here to attend: free ticket to Immigration Webinar

MKS Room – Refugee Forward
26th November at 7.30pm – NewSpeak House, London – free ticket here
MakeSense London, the rapidly growing, global open-source community of passionate individuals interesting in tackling business, design and technology challenges is gathering entrepreneurs, artists, musicians and representatives of the NGO sector, to speak about the Refugee crisis. They will analyse to what extent Media today is framing the situation and how citizens can effectively take actions to help the current scenario improve in the short and long term.

Home Office Hours: What UK Visa options for non-EU working in the Tech sector? 
1st December at 4.30pmPenningtons Offices, EC2V 7AW London – register here

UKVI and Tech London Advocates are holding a panel discussion to spread the word about UK visa options and immigration rules applying for employees and employers in the tech sector. Migreat will be on the panel to discuss the new Tech Nation Visa (Tier 1 Exceptional Talent) and to explore how the inclusion of several digital jobs on the Shortage Occupation List can benefit the community.

Techfugees London 
2nd December from 9am – 5pmSkills Matters, EC2M 7EB London – Register here

Moved by the plight of refugees across Europe, a number of people from the technology industry have formed a volunteer organisation to hold a series of non-profit “Techfugees” conferences, hackathons. The goal is to enable technologists to contribute their skills and work with a global network of experts on refugees to build technical solutions that help refugees. On the 2nd of December, the team from the first conference and hackathon will reconvene with experts from the UNHCR and Refugee Council to continue the work. 

Recruiting international talent for your business: how to go around the visa & sponsorship hassle
3rd December from 6pm – 7.30pm – Adam Smith Institute, SWIP 3BL LondonRegister here

Most employers from startups and SMEs share the impression that hiring a non-EU nationals is nearly impossible for them. This presentation by Migreat, Access Tier 5 and Hendry Associates aims to change that perception. Immigration experts will provide free general advice and information on getting the sponsorship licence: the costs and paperwork, the different visa options offered to employers and employees as well as options for employers that can’t sponsor.

Starting a company in Europe: What are your visa options?
8th December from 10am at UK Lebanon TechHub – register here
Have you been looking into the visa options to start a business in Europe? Come at UK Techhub Lebanon for a morning session with Tara Mikhael from Migreat to discuss the main requirements and eligibility criteria for European countries offering a special visa for foreign entrepreneurs. This event is aimed principally at ambitious and established entrepreneurs who are looking to start or grow their business abroad.

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That’s about it for December but if you happen to be at the BDL conference in Lebanon on December 10-11th, tweet @migreat to meet the team that will be there on site there speaking and helping with the techfugees hackathon event.

Migreat’s Recommendations for Improving the UK’s Entrepreneur Visa Route Taken on board by the MAC

Migreat welcomes the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) latest recommendations to the UK government regarding changes to the UK Entrepreneur visa route for individuals seeking to set up businesses in the UK.

In the report published on Thursday the 29th of October, the government’s immigration experts have called for an overhaul of the visa system for entrepreneurs after finding substantial evidence of low-quality businesses established by applicants previously granted the visa.

The MAC advised that there should be a more thought-out process for the immigration of foreign entrepreneurs and suggested two main reforms 

  • The selection process should involve industry experts rather than case workers. It could be done by appointing a panel of experts with expertise in early-stage entrepreneurship, such as angel investors or venture capitalists; recruiting specialist immigration officers qualified to review business plans; working with other government departments such as UKTI or BIS; or outsourcing the assessment of business plans to a professional services firm.
  • The minimum amount and source of money should include business angels. In particular, the Home Office could work with UKTI and the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) to explore the feasibility of approving selected angel investor networks or syndicates (like accelerator programmes) to provide third party endorsement.

Lastly, the MAC suggested to introduce a specific visa route for talented entrepreneurs looking to establish start-up businesses in the UK similar to a startup visa scheme in order to attract more innovative entrepreneurs.

These recommendations are the exact same suggestions Migreat made last March 2014 to the UK Government in its report on the UK Entrepreneur visa.

Migreat is delighted to see its recommendations reflected in the MAC report and strongly believes that these recommendations will make a difference for many talented applicants who have been rejected for issues as minor as improperly filling out forms. It is great news in particular for foreign entrepreneurs with limited access to capital and for early stage startups.

UK Immigration Rules Changes for October 2015

Recently, we have been reporting on UK Immigration policy changes regarding international students. This time we list the changes in immigration rules that will affect other visa categories (work, highly skilled and family) and requirements for applicants to those categories.

Most of the following changes affect applications made on or after 19 November 2015.

Asylum

  • EU nationals will not be able to make asylum claims, unless exceptional circumstances apply.
  • Clarifying the circumstances in which refugee status will be withdrawn.

Settlement

Family/Private Life

  • Child’s application for entry clearance will be refused where the Secretary of State considers that the sponsor or the sponsor’s partner poses a risk to the child.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) of the Points Based System

  • Criteria through which Tech City UK endorses Exceptional Talent applicants has been amended to better reflect the skills and experience of target applicants who are most likely to add value to the UK digital technology sector.

Tiers 2 and 5 of the Points Based System

  • Four jobs in the digital technology sector (product manager, data scientist, senior developer and cyber security specialist) are being added to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), alongside nursing
  • Clarification of the charity worker rules for sponsors and applicants.
  • Setting the annual allocation of places available under the Youth Mobility Scheme for 2016.
  • Minor amendments to the list of Government Authorised Exchange Schemes.

For information visit www.gov.uk/government/collections/immigration-rules-statement-of-changes

If you need to speak to an immigration expert, do connect with Migreat online visa assistant or directly contact us via @Migreat on Twitter.