Do You Understand Your Visa Requirements?
With each new calendar comes visa regime changes that may surprise unsuspecting travellers. Here are some of the most significant visa changes that will affect travellers in 2015:
For those looking for investment opportunities, Australia is introducing a 'Premium Investor Visa' in summer 2015, giving permanent residency to applicants who can invest over $15 million in Australia. This is in addition to the 2012 'Significant Investor Program' for investments over $5 million which has generated an estimated $2.1 billion into the Australian economy.
Neighbouring New Zealand also plans to implement an improved version of the current regime in order to attract and keep highly-skilled workers – who add $1.9 billion each year to New Zealand's GDP – as well as to draw more tourism dollars to the small nation's two islands. The changes include most visa applications being available online from anywhere in the world and a greater focus on marketing New Zealand as a destination for experts.
In a similar vein, a late 2014 change to United Kingdom visa regulations moved the rate for a 'Tier 1 Investor Visa' from 1 million to 2 million pounds.
Travellers to Canada have good news for 2015: in January, the Canadian government will unveil the new Express Entry system, which will manage applications electronically.
Those aiming slightly to the south should be aware of visa fee changes in the United States which came into effect at the tail end of 2014. All visas – both immigrant and non-immigrant visas – have significantly higher prices going into the new year.
Those travellers looking for relaxation in a warm country should be aware that Turkey will no longer offer visas upon arrival. After December 31st, all visitors to Turkey must prepay for visas before departure.
UK residents looking to make a visit to Russia in 2015 will be required to take a scan of their fingers for biometric visas. This will require a visit to application centres which will be available in several cities throughout the UK. EU and US citizens still aren't required to appear for fingerprints but this could change before the end of 2015.
Always be sure to check current information on official sites before applying for a visa, even if you've done it before. There's no guarantee that the process or fees associated with the visa haven't changed in the interim.
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