Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco hail US immigration bill

CEOs representing top American technology companies including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco has hailed the passage of the comprehensive immigration reform bill by US Senate, arguing that this would give a big oost to the economic growth and attract high skilled workers.

"In passing this legislation on a strong bipartisan basis, the Senate broke the logjam on immigration and high-skilled worker reforms," said John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco and co-chair of TechNet, the coalition of CEOs of US tech companies.

"America's economic success stems from our culture of innovation and the constant infusion of new ideas from a skilled and talented workforce. Now - as the House of

Representatives takes up the issue - Cisco will continue to work with our legislative leaders to ensure that the reforms help attract the best, the brightest and the most ambitious minds from around the world to our shores," he said yesterday.

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft said by passing the comprehensive immigration reform, US Senate took a significant step toward reforming the nation's outdated immigration policies.

"If enacted, these changes will strengthen our economic security, foster innovation and enable continued job growth in the US. Equally important, the legislation makes critical investments in our workforce by strengthening STEM education in the United States, including instruction focused on computer science," Ballmer said.

"Microsoft applauds the Senate's bipartisan collaboration and leadership in addressing this issue. As the House of Representatives moves forward, we will continue working on a bipartisan basis to enact much-needed reforms to immigration and education policies that will promote American competitiveness and opportunity," the Microsoft CEO said.

"Comprehensive changes to our outdated immigration system are important for the US economy to remain the global leader in innovation," said Safra Catz, Co-President & CFO, Oracle and a member of TechNet's executive council.

"With approval of this bill, the Senate is sending a powerful signal that America is open for business, strengthening our economy and providing new opportunities for our workers," he said.

"The passage of this monumental, bipartisan legislation is a terrific victory for our country," said John Doerr, General Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and co-chair of TechNet.

"America's economic success has always been based upon its ability to attract the best talent, no matter where they were born. We applaud the broad, bipartisan support for this measure in the Senate," Doerr said.

US Senate passes landmark immigration bill

Washington: The United States Senate has passed the landmark comprehensive immigration reform bill that will provide a pathway to citizenship to some 11 million illegal immigrants, including over 240,000 Indians.

The landmark legislation of the Obama administration received bipartisan support as it passed Thursday with 88 votes for and 32 votes against it. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives before it can be sent to US President Barack Obama to sign it into law.

However, the bill retained killer provisions when it comes to H-1B Visas that would badly hit Indian companies in the United States.

"Today with a strong bipartisan vote, the United States Senate delivered for the American people, bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all," Obama said in a statement.

"If enacted, the Senate bill would establish the most aggressive border security plan in our history," he said.

"It would offer a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, and then going to the back of the line behind everyone who's playing by the rules and trying to come here legally," Obama said.

"It would modernise the legal immigration system so that it once again reflects our values as a nation and addresses the urgent needs of our time. And it would provide a big boost to our recovery, by shrinking our deficits and growing our economy," he said.

However, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, said Thursday that any immigration legislation must win the support of a majority of his conference to move forward.

"For any legislation, including a conference report, to pass the House, its going to have to be a bill that has the support of a majority of our members," he said.

Boehner's comments cast doubt on the chances legislation will quickly reach Obama's desk.
Yesterday's meeting of the Senate was presided over by Vice President Joe Biden.

"According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, modernising our immigration system and bringing these hard working immigrants out of the shadows and into our economy will improve our nation's balance sheet by nearly a trillion dollars over the next 20 years," said Biden.

Senator Ben Cardin called Senate passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernisation Act (S. 744) an important step in the effort to return balance and fairness to the US immigration system, and essential to economic growth and security of the country.

"Make no mistake about it, the support this bill has generated here in the Senate will be impossible to ignore. I believe the support this bill will receive today in the Senate will propel it to pass the House and be placed for signature on the president's desk by the end of the year," said Senator Charles Schumer, one of the key member of the bipartisan group of eight Senators behind the legislation, popularly known as Gang of Eight.

"The bill will provide legal channels to connect workers with the jobs our economy needs. It will make it much harder for people without work authorisation to find jobs by implementing a mandatory employment verification system. It will also crack down on employers who knowingly hire and take advantage of undocumented workers by dramatically increasing the penalties they face, including significant jail time for repeat offenders," said Senator Tom Carper, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"Today we are one step closer to the biggest overhaul of our immigration laws in a generation. This bill will allow us to attract the talented and hard-working people who want to come and stay here to work and start businesses and help our economy grow," said the Partnership for a New America led by the New York Mayor Michele Bloomberg.

The Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said the bill marks a very significant step towards re-imagining the broken immigration system into one that stimulates the economy and ensures that everyone plays by the same set of rules.

"I applaud the hard work and consensus building demonstrated by the team of Senators who found common ground for the good of the country. And I'm happy the Senate has outlined a fair and achievable pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows," he said.

With the Senate passing the bill, Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi said now it is the House's turn to act.
"The bipartisan taskforce of seven has been hard at work on legislation that echoes the spirit of the Senate bill and upholds our basic principles: to secure our borders, protect our workers, unite families, and offer an earned pathway to citizenship," she said.

"The House must bring up for a vote a bipartisan bill that embodies these principles so we can then work with the Senate in making comprehensive immigration reform the law of the land," Pelosi said.

Iimmigration bill to reduce deficit by $175 bn in 10 years

The US immigration bill, which is awaiting passage by the Senate, will reduce the American budgetary deficit by USD 175 billion in 10 years, an independent Congressional report has said. The Congressional Budget Office, in its report, said the bill, if passed by the Congress in its present form and signed into a law, will save USD 197 billion in 10 years.
The report subtracts implementation cost of the bill, which is expected to stand around USD 22 billion. The bill, the CBO report says, will decrease the deficit by an additional USD 700 billion in another ten years. "This report is a huge momentum boost for immigration reforms.

This debunks the idea that immigration reform is anything other than a boon to our economy, and robs the bill's opponents of one of their last remaining arguments," said Senator Chuck Schumer. "We have more proof that bipartisan commonsense immigration reform will be good for economic growth and deficit reduction, this time in the form of a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimate," White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, said in a statement The CBO estimates come close on the heels of a recent analysis by the independent Social Security Administration's Chief Actuary last month that the immigration bill will strengthen the long-term solvency of social security for future generations, Carney noted.

"The Congressional Budget Office also made clear that passage of the bill would not only reduce the deficit, it would increase economic growth for years to come. By fixing our broken immigration system - and making sure that every worker in America is playing by the same set of rules and paying taxes like everyone else - we can grow the economy, strengthen middle class, improve our fiscal outlook and create new opportunity for Americans everywhere," he said.

"The bipartisan immigration reform legislation before the Senate will spur economy and reduce our deficit, and CBO's positive report is a green light to passage if Senators really believe in deficit reduction," said Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said the CBO has further confirmed what most conservative economists have found, that reforming the immigration system is a net benefit for economy, American workers and taxpayers. There remain some key areas that need to be tightened up to prevent those who have violated our immigration laws from accessing federal benefit programs. But overall, the CBO report offers encouraging evidence that the status quo is unacceptable and we can end it without burdening our already burdened taxpayers and, in fact, reduce the deficit over the next 20 years," Rubio said.

Kuwait may scrap sponsorship system soon

Dubai (June 20, 2013): Kuwait is likely to scrap the sponsorship system for hiring labour force in the private sector, including the recruitment of expatriate workers, to fight visa trafficking, a media report said on Thursday.

The new system would help efforts to fight visa trafficking by preventing job providers from issuing work permits they can sell to workers, a Kuwait Times report quoting insiders in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour (MSAL) said.

According to the report, MSAL is expected to establish the Public Authority for Labour Affairs as a first step towards cancelling the sponsorship system for private sector labour force.

After the system is abolished, the new authority will handle all matters pertaining to private sector employees, including recruitment of expatriate labour forces and management of their relationship with their employers.

“The sponsorship system will be replaced with an alternative system that allows the MSAL to be responsible for expatriate labour forces,” the report quoted an unnamed official as saying.

The sponsorship or kafala system contains loopholes that are often used by visa traffickers to issue work permits through fake companies or nonexistent job openings before selling them to unskilled labourers seeking work opportunities in the Gulf.

The Kuwaiti parliament had last month passed a bill to set up the authority, two years after the enforcement of the private sector's labour law in 2010.

“The delay was caused by political circumstances, as well as the fact that the law needed amendments with regard to the authority being affiliated to the ministry instead of being independent,” the unnamed official added.

Discussions are also on to change some terminology as per international standards. For instance, the word 'sponsor' needed to be replaced with 'employer', and the term 'expatriate labour' needed to be changed to 'foreign workers'.

There are nearly 90,000 people living illegally in Kuwait, the report said. The 2.6 million expatriates in Kuwait account for 68 per cent of the country's total population of 3.8 million.

To Be A Refugee (UNHCR)

Uploaded on Mar 16, 2010 - Copyright UNHCR 1998, Produced by Leigh Foster.

In this video, three young refugee children vividly show viewers the conditions in which they live and the experiences they've had leaving home. 

To see the whole video, please visit:


World Refugee Day: 20 June

For years, many countries and regions have been holding their own Refugee Days and even Weeks. One of the most widespread is Africa Refugee Day, which is celebrated on 20 June in several countries.
The UN General Assembly, on 4 December 2000, adopted resolution 55/76 where it noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June.
The General Assembly therefore decided that 20 June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day.
This year the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, continues its award-winning "1" campaign with its first ever personal fundraising site, which asks us to Take 1 minute to support a family forced to flee.

European Union Has Gloomy Employment Figures, Middling Inflation Rate

Employment in the first three months of 2013 fell 1 percent from the same period last year for the 17 countries that use the euro, but it fell only 0.4 percent for the wider EU, which includes 27 countries.

In the short term, euro zone countries saw a 0.5 percent decline in unemployment from the previous quarter, while the EU saw a 0.2 percent decline.

Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Spain reported the worst increases in unemployment for the year, with Greece employing 6.5 percent less people than it did in the first quarter of 2013. By far the quickest climb in employment came from Latvia, which saw 4.8 percent employment growth.

The latest U.S. unemployment rate is 7.6 percent as of May, a 0.6 percent decrease from last year.

Inflation figures from Eurostat also pegged the EU’s inflation rate at 1.6 percent, up 0.2 percent from April, but down from last year’s rate of 2.6 percent.

More expensive fruits, vegetables and electricity pushed the inflation rate up.

According to Reuters, the European Central Bank wants to bring inflation down to just under 2 percent, and it is mulling its policy options if the euro zone economy fails to emerge from recession by the end of 2013.

“The euro zone continues to face major headwinds and still has its work cut out to return to sustainable growth,” HIS Global Insight economist Howard Archer told Reuters in a note.

Can I apply for a Graduate Job Search Work visa in New Zealand?

To be eligible for a Graduate Job Search visa you must have successfully completed in New Zealand an acceptable qualification.

A job offer is not required, but a graduation certificate is mandatory.

There are some further requirements you will need to meet for this category of work visa, before you can apply.

If you decide to apply after your student visa expires, you have 3 months to do so (or 6 months if you have obtained a PhD).

Please note if you completed your qualification on a Limited Purpose Visa and left NZ, you will not be eligible for a Graduate Job Search Visa.

This is because our policy WD2 specifically requires people to be on a Student Visa to be eligible for Graduate Job Search Visa.

Can I get more a Graduate Job Search Work Visa more than once?

If, after obtaining your first Graduate Job Search Work Visa, you have completed a second and higher qualification, that is either a New Zealand bachelor degree or post-graduate qualification and you studied that qualification for at least one year, you may be eligible for a second graduate job search visa.

Alternatively, if you completed a second and higher qualification that is a New Zealand level 7 qualification and you studied that qualification for at least one academic year and you commenced that programme of study on or before 29th November 2012, you may also be eligible for the subsequent graduate job search visa.

Your qualification must also qualify for points under the Skilled Migrant Category of the resident visa instructions (SM14.10).

You must also meet our health (A4.15) and character (A5.45) requirements, and have at least NZ$4,200 available to maintain yourself while in NZ.

If you are successful you will normally be granted another 12 month work visa that lets you work in NZ for any employer in any occupation.

Immigration bill: US Senate votes for a debate on the controversial legislation

The US Senate has voted overwhelmingly for a debate on a landmark immigration bill, which if signed into law would pave the way to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants.

"A permanent, common-sense solution to our dysfunctional system is in sight. This bipartisan legislation is the solution our economy needs. It is the solution immigrant families need," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

Acknowledging that this bill isn't perfect and "compromise" is necessary and inevitable, the Democrat leader said this measure takes important steps to reform the broken legal immigration system, strengthen border security and hold unscrupulous employers accountable.

"Over the next three weeks Senators will propose many ideas to make this legislation better. But those changes must preserve the heart of the bill, a pathway to earned citizenship that begins by going to the back of the line, paying taxes and fines, learning English and getting right with the law," Reid said.

As the Senate voted 84-15 to move ahead with the discussions, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy moved three amendments to Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

It includes an amendment to provide equal protection to lawfully married bi-national same sex couples that other spouses receive under existing immigration law; to allow long-term temporary agricultural workers to be accompanied by a child or spouse while working in the US.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said vote shows there's strong bipartisan support for solving the immigration problem.

Rubio also introduced an amendment to strengthen the requirement that immigrants demonstrate English proficiency before receiving permanent legal status.

Ahead of the voting, President Barack Obama yesterday called on the Congress to pass the immigration reform bill.

"Immigration isn't just part of our national character; it is a driving force in our economy that creates jobs and prosperity for all of our citizens," Obama has said.

"In recent years one in four of America's new small-business owners were immigrants. One in four high-tech startups in America were founded by immigrants. 40 per cent of Fortune 500 companies were started by a first-or second-generation American. Think about that."

Refugee Week 2013

Refugee Week is celebrated all over the world with events and activities to recognise the plight of refugees around the world and acknowledge the contribution made by government and non-government organisations in helping refugees to contribute to the society.


Refugee Week has been celebrated in Australia since the 1980s and coincides each year with World Refugee Day on 20 June.

In 2013, the department is celebrating the arrival of the 800 000th refugee and other humanitarian entrants since World War II and is launching a social media campaign, Pathway to Protection which is centred around a series of videos depicting a family’s settlement journey from a refugee camp in Nepal to their new home in Launceston, Tasmania.


Refugee Week is an annual event celebrating the contribution of refugees to the UK and encouraging people to take a more positive look at asylum. Performances and awareness-raising events take place across the UK. The event takes place every June, so why not organise a celebration in your school?

For more information, visit the Refugee Week Website - they have stories and case studies about the contributions that refugees have made to Britain over the last 60 years. (The year 2011 was the 60th anniversary of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which defines who is a refugee and sets out rights and responsibilities in the context of asylum.)

Highlights of Labour Market, First Quarter 2013 in Singapore

  • The seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate remained low at 1.9% in March 2013, compared with 1.8% in December 2012. The unemployment rate for residents rose to 2.9% from 2.7%, while the citizen unemployment rate was unchanged at 2.9%. An estimated 57,700 residents including 50,000 Singapore citizens were unemployed in March 2013. The seasonally adjusted figures were 60,600 for residents and 52,900 for citizens.
  • Long-term unemployment improved slightly over the year. 13,700 unemployed residents making up 0.6% of the resident labour force in March 2013 had been looking for work for at least 25 weeks, down from 14,000 or 0.7% a year ago. 
  • Employment creation slowed from the seasonal high in the previous quarter. Total employment grew by 28,900 in the first quarter of 2013, substantially lower than the increase of 44,000 in the last quarter of 2012, but slightly above the 27,200 in the first quarter of 2012. This brought total employment to 3,386,500 in March 2013, which was 4.0% higher than a year ago.
  • Redundancy declined, after rising in the preceding two quarters. 2,120 workers were made redundant in the first quarter of 2013. This was lower than the 3,350 workers affected in the preceding quarter and 2,600 in the first quarter of 2012. Based on CPF records, nearly one in two (49%) residents laid off in the fourth quarter of 2012 secured employment by March 2013 (i.e. within six months of redundancy), down from the 57% experienced by the previous cohort (laid off in the third quarter of 2012) in December 2012. 
  • Job openings rose, after declining in the previous quarter. The seasonally adjusted vacancies increased over the quarter by 17% in March 2013, reversing the decline of 7.0% in December 2012. With the increase in job vacancies, the seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons rose from 1.05 in December 2012 to 1.21 in March 2013, back to around the level of 1.23 in September 2012.

Read full report at

Australian visa pricing changes to drive use of online services

14-06-2013 - New visa pricing arrangements to begin soon will encourage Department of Immigration and Citizenship clients to use online services where available.

Visa pricing measures already in place include a visa evidence charge, first announced by the Australian Government in November 2011.

From 2013 July 1, a “per-person” charge will apply to each family member included in a visa application.

They will each be required to pay the visa application charge.

“This will bring Australia's visa pricing arrangements into line with comparable countries,” a Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman said today.

There will be an additional charge of AUD80 for certain visas when visa applicants choose to lodge a paper application rather than an online application through the department’s eVisa service (where this service is available).

There will also be an extra charge of AUD700 for visa applicants who seek to stay in Australia for extended periods on successive temporary visas.

“These initiatives will put Australian visa services on a sustainable financial footing in the long term, while not detracting from Australia’s global position as a destination of choice to visit, live, work or study,” the spokesman said.

“The vast majority of visitors will see no change, including those arriving on an Electronic Travel Authority and other visitors arriving in Australia who already pay on a per-person basis.”

Refugee and humanitarian visa applicants will be unaffected by the changes.

The department’s eLodgement systems will go offline from late June 28 to early July 1 so IT systems can be updated before the pricing changes come into effect.

Media enquiries: National Communications Branch 02 6264 2244

French unemployment hits 15-year high

The French state-run employment agency, Pole Emploi, faces an uphill battle. The country's unemployment rate hit a 15-year high in the first quarter of 2013, according to the latest official estimates.

The unemployment rate in France continues to climb, hitting 10.4% in the first quarter of 2013. That's the highest level the country has seen since early 1998.

Including French territories and islands, the unemployment rate was 10.8%, according the latest unemployment estimates from France's national statistics agency, INSEE.

The French government has been struggling with a sluggish economy and rising unemployment for years.
A report released last month showed French gross domestic product shrank by 0.2% in the first three months of the year, which put the country back in recession.

"There are lots of internal issues that France needs to grapple with," said London-based Tom Bewick, chief economist at the International Skills Standards Organisation. "It needs to reform its labor laws so that its labor market is far more efficient."

Unemployment rate rises in Waterloo Region, Guelph

OTTAWA -- Canada's economy pumped out a stunning 95,000 in May 2013 -- one of the biggest monthly gains in history -- as employers resumed hiring again after a four-month winter hibernation.

Historically, it was the second-biggest job creation month in 35 years -- just 100 lower than August 2002.

The number was so shocking that economists, and even Prime Minister Stephen Harper, cautioned that the Statistics Canada monthly reports are subject to wide margins of error.

Last month Canada saw the biggest month of employment growth in more than a decade.

"We don't obviously want to pay too much attention to what happens month to month, because we know this is very volatile, but the Canadian economy is now up to about a million net new jobs created since the recession," he said at a photo event in Ottawa.

"We obviously know that's one of the best records in the developed world."

Taken as reported, the massive gain was the first major improvement of 2013 and many times greater than economists had expected, dropping the unemployment rate one-tenth of a point to 7.1 per cent.

The positive figures seen in most of the country were not reflected locally. Waterloo Region's jobless rate rose from 7.1 per cent to 7.2 per cent, while Guelph's unemployment rate ballooned from 6.9 per cent to 7.5 per cent.

On a nationwide basis, there was also little to quibble about in the underlying details of the Statistics Canada report.
All the new jobs came in the private sector and in the employee class -- rather than the less desirable self-employment category -- and 76,700 of them were full-time.

Even young people had an easier time finding employment in May, with about 54,000 of the new workers in the 15 to 24 age group joining the labour force. That drove down the youth unemployment rate to 13.6 per cent, almost a full point lower than the previous month.

"There's no question this report is absolutely spectacular," said Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter. "Even some of the details were incredible ... so it doesn't look like it was a complete outlier.

"But I would add a couple of notes of caution. I would sincerely doubt we are going to see anything close to this repeated in the months ahead, and the other thing, it did follow a real period of weakness."

Canada's labour market had been seen as struggling in 2013, with the first four months producing a net loss of 13,000 jobs, attributed to the poor economy during the second half of last year.

That may explain the May blow-out. Economists note that Statistics Canada cautions the error range in the labour market survey is quite high, plus or minus of about 27,000, two-thirds of the time. For a 95 per cent confidence factor, the variation is plus or minus about 54,000 jobs.

Analysts said a more reliable measure of Canada's labour market is the three and six-month rolling average, which even out monthly volatility. Using those measures, Canada created on average between 18,000 and 19,000 jobs a month respectively, indicative of an economy growing at about or just below two per cent.

"Those are decent paces but not as dramatic of a hiring enthusiasm as the monthly estimates suggests," notes economist Jimmy Jean of Desjardins Capital Markets. "With an unemployment rate at 7.1 per cent, we can at least conclude that employment is ... doing okay in Canada."

It's certainly better than in the U.S., which posted a humble 175,000 gain. Given the difference in populations, the U.S. would have needed to create one million jobs in May to match Canada's result.

There were some head-scratchers in the Canada numbers, however, including that both hours worked and wages slid marginally, again suggesting Canadian labour conditions are not as strong as the outsized job increase suggests.

Regionally, employment rose in most provinces with Ontario realizing the lion's share, adding 50,600 workers. Employment also rose by 18,600 in Alberta and 20,100 in Quebec.

By industry, there was a big surge in construction jobs in May, rising by about 43,000, and retail and wholesale trade added about 27,000 workers. Employment in so-called other services, such as repair and maintenance, increased by 22,000, and there was a 21,000 gain in people working in business, building and other support services.

However, the battered manufacturing sector did not join in the bounty. The agency said there were 14,200 fewer factory workers in May than there had been in April, bringing the total losses in the sector in the past year to almost 100,000.

Foreign workers paying excessive fee for Australian work visa

Melbourne: Eighty Indians were among hundreds of foreign workers and students who were reportedly duped to pay excessive fee for Australian working visa by recruitment agents, raising serious concern over the misuse of a visa scheme, which allows hiring immigrants.

Foreign workers were promised long-term work or permanent residency if they paid between 5,000 and 40,000 Australian dollars to middlemen across the nation only to be given temporary work or, in a small number of cases, with little or no pay, a media report said.

Around 80 Indians were duped into paying 4,000 Australian dollars for a cleaning course in Melbourne worth only 1,300 Australian dollars after being told that it would enable them to get a work visa, the report said.

Some of those Indians were directed by their recruitment agent to work as unskilled labourers in abattoirs in an arrangement one of the abattoir owners, JBS Australia, said involved the agent misleading it and the workers, it said.

The Fairfax Media investigation reported Friday in 'The Age' that the probe can reveal the most extensive misuse of the 457 and 187 visa schemes ever to be exposed, with up to 200 cases across Australia.

As part of the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS), a subclass 187 visa allows Australian employers to sponsor foreign employees. Subclass 457 visa allows eligible employers to address skills shortages that cannot be filled from the local labour market.

The investigation also disclosed other network of companies based in Geelong, the Gold Coast and Philippines that were targeting Filipino workers seeking 457 temporary skilled worker visas.

Around 29 Filipino workers had complained to the Philippines embassy in Canberra regarding the "excessive" fees they had to pay to the agents and sought a probe.

The report also disclosed that a Melbourne-based company Clinica Internationale, owned by Radovan Laski, which was involved in such acts was able to operate despite complaints made to the Immigration Department.

Laski allegedly asked around 100 Indians to pay 40,000 Australian dollars for a 187 visa that allows a skilled worker to get Permanent residency after a regional employer sponsorship.

It was said that Laski however failed to find many of the workers the promised jobs and sponsorship and instead sent some of them to work as unskilled labourers in abattoirs.

According to 27-year-old Indian Bhawna Verma, who was temporary residential visa holder, she was pregnant and desperate to stay in Australia when Laski promised in writing in 2012 to find her employment and sponsorship if she paid an initial 5,000 Australian dollar fee.

After paying the money, she said she was sent to work for an associate of Laski in Ocean Grove, Victoria, where for two months she received no wage and did only odd jobs. "It was very upsetting. I thought how will my baby and I survive?" Verma said.

Popping tech into studies

TO advance the usage of technology in education, Microsoft, in partnership with the Education Ministry and Multimedia Development Corporation, has launched the Pop-up Classroom project.

The project, with outreach workshops for educators and government policy-makers, features a blend of localised content and technology showcase that aims to increase understanding on the impact of technology in education.

Johor Education Information Management Sector head Bahariah Temu said technology and education go hand-in-hand.

“We can’t educate tomorrow’s leaders with tools and practices from the past. We must continue to invest in the development of better learning environments that lead to better outcomes,” said Bahariah.

The Pop-up Classroom event featured panel discussions designed to help educators grasp important technology issues and opportunities impacting education today such as cyber security and online safety for students.

Further discussion was centered on helping students acquire 21st century skills such as critical thinking, communication and collaboration abilities, problem solving and awareness of the global community.

“With this project, we are reaching out directly to our local educators and policy-makers with relevant conversations and technology demonstrations,” said Microsoft Malaysia managing director Carlos Lacerda. He added that they hope to inspire more educators to use technology for effective learning experiences.

There are plans to bring the Pop-up Classroom event to more countries in the Asia Pacific region and to expand the programme to include mobile pop-up classrooms in schools.

Wage Changes in Singapore, 2012

The tight labour market continued to raise workers’ wages, but the pace of increase moderated in 2012, amid weaker economic conditions. After adjusting for inflation using Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all items, real wages dipped in 2012, but increased slightly when adjusted using CPI less imputed rentals on owner-occupied accommodation. Over the long term, real wage increases have been supported by productivity growth.

Wage Changes in Singapore, 2012
The tight labour market continued to raise workers’ wages, but the pace of increase moderated in 2012, amid weaker ...
05 June 2013
Wage Flexibility in Singapore, 2012
Large majority of private sector employees were under some form of flexible wage system in 2012, following the general uptrend ...
05 June 2013
Labour Market, 2012
Local employment rose faster in 2012, as foreign employment growth slowed amid tighter foreign manpower controls. With high employment ...
15 March 2013
Labour Force in Singapore, 2012
The resident employment rate reached a new high, reflecting the high employment creation and the rise in labour force participation ...
31 January 2013
Job Vacancies, 2012
Amid the tight labour market, job vacancies increased in 2012, with high demand for service & sales workers, associate professionals ...
28 January 2013
Conditions of Employment, 2012
This year, more employers are providing various leave benefits and work-life arrangements to help their employees cope with family and ...
20 December 2012
Labour Market, Third Quarter 2012
The labour market remained tight with high employment growth and low unemployment. Layoffs rose in the third quarter, but remained ...
14 December 2012
Labour Market, Second Quarter 2012
Employment creation increased in the second quarter, while layoffs eased for the second successive quarter. Consequently, unemployment declined, reversing the ...
14 September 2012
Wage Restructuring in Singapore, 2011
A large majority of employees in the private sector were under some form of flexible wage system in 2011, though ...
29 June 2012

Australian efforts to combat Sri Lankan irregular migration

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Brendan O’Connor, sought to strengthen ongoing cooperation with Sri Lanka on the shared challenges of irregular migration and people smuggling during his May 2-4 visit to Sri Lanka.

The visit also highlighted Australia’s keen interest in continuing to work closely with Sri Lanka on issues discussed at the recent Bali Process meeting. Mr O’Connor travelled with Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) secretary Martin Bowles who co-chaired the inaugural meeting of the Sri Lanka-Australia Joint Working Group on People Smuggling and Transnational Crime in December last year.

DIAC funds a range of activities to assist Sri Lanka to improve border management practices along with Displaced Persons Program (DPP) projects that are designed to support people’s livelihoods and future prospects in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, a further 42 Sri Lankan irregular maritime arrivals were returned home on May 1. Almost 1100 Sri Lankans have been returned home since August 13 last year, when the government accepted the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers. View Minister Brendan O'Connor: media conference grabs

Becoming an American can be bad for your health

A growing body of mortality research on immigrants has shown that the longer they live in the US, the worse their rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. And while their American-born children may have more money, they tend to live shorter lives than the parents.

The pattern goes against any notion that moving to America improves every aspect of life. "There's something about life in the United States that is not conducive to good health across generations," said Robert A Hummer, a social demographer at the University of Texas at Austin. For Hispanics, now the nation's largest immigrant group, the foreign-born live about three years longer than their American-born counterparts, several studies have found.

Why does life in the United States—despite its sophisticated health care system and high per capita wages—lead to worse health? New research is showing that the immigrant advantage wears off with the adoption of American behaviours—smoking, drinking, high-calorie diets and sedentary lifestyles.

In Brownsville, Texas, a worn border city studded with fast-food restaurants, immigrants say that happens slowly, almost imperceptibly. In America, foods like ham and bread that are not supposed to be sweet are. And children lose their taste for traditional foods.

For the recently arrived, the quantity and accessibility of food speak to the boundless promise of the United States. Esther Angeles remembers being amazed at the size of hamburgers—as big as dinner plates—when she first came to the United States from Mexico 15 years ago. "I thought this is really a country of opportunity," she said. "Look at the size of the food!" The excitement of big food eventually wore off, but the frantic pace of the modern American workplace took over. She found herself eating hamburgers more because they were convenient and she was busy in her 78-hour-a-week job as a housekeeper. What is more, she lost control over her daughter's diet because, as a single mother, she was rarely with her at mealtimes.

Robert O Valdez, a professor of family and community medicine and economics at the University of New Mexico, said, "All the things we tell people to do from a clinical perspective today—a lot of fiber and less meat—were exactly the lifestyle habits that immigrants were normally keeping."

As early as the 1970s, researchers found that immigrants lived several years longer than American-born whites even though they tended to have less education and lower income, factors usually associated with worse health. That gap has grown since 1980. Less clear, however, was what happened to immigrants and their American-born offspring after a lifetime in the US.

Evidence is mounting that the second generation does worse. Elizabeth Arias, a demographer at the US National Center for Health Statistics, has made exploratory estimates based on data from 2007 to 2009, which show that Hispanic immigrants live 2.9 years longer than American-born Hispanics. The finding, which has not yet been published, is similar to those in earlier studies. Still, Arias cautioned that subsequent generations—for example, grandchildren and great-grandchildren—may indeed improve as they rise in socio-economic status, which in the United States is strongly co-related with better health.

Other research suggests that some of the difference has to do with variation among American-born Hispanics, most of whom still do better than the rest of the American population. Puerto Ricans born in the continental United States, for example, have some of the shortest life spans and even do worse than whites born in the United States, according to research by Hummer, dragging down the numbers for American-born Hispanics. But Mexican immigrant men live about two years longer than Mexican-American men, according to the estimates by Arias. A 2006 analysis by Gopal K Singh, a researcher at the US Department of Health and Human Services, and Robert A Hiatt, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, found that immigrants had at least a 20 per cent lower overall cancer mortality rate than their American-born counterparts. Mortality rates from heart disease were about 16 per cent lower, for kidney disease 18 per cent lower, and for liver cirrhosis 24 per cent lower. Still, immigrants were worse off in the US.

The county in which Brownsville is situated, Cameron, has some of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the country. The numbers are made worse by a lack of physical activity, including walking. Immigrants said they felt so conspicuous during early attempts to walk along the shoulder of the roads that they feared people would suspect they were here illegally.

Rise of 20,500 in Republic of Ireland employment figures

The number of people employed in the Republic of Ireland has risen by 20,500 (1.1%) to the first quarter of 2013, according the figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The figures also show that unemployment rate now stands at 13.7%.

It is the first time is has fallen below 14% in over two years.

The figures show there was a fall in full-time employment of 3,700 over the year, which was offset by a rise in part-time employment of 24,200.

The number of people in work increased by 7,700 in the first quarter of this year, following on from an increase of 12,100 in the final quarter of 2012.

The number of people unemployed fell by 29,900 over the same period, bringing the number of full-time unemployed to 292,000 - the first time it has dropped below 300,000 since 2010.

The CSO said the long-term unemployment rate fell over the year from 9.5% to 8.4%.

The long-term unemployed account for 61.8% of all those out of work.