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Los Angeles Immigration Raids Detain Illegal Immigrants


Recent reports show that over 100 people have been detained by federal immigration agents in the Los Angeles area. The ongoing sweeps in the area aim to discover people who live in the US illegally. The operations for immigration enforcements began on the 11th of February. The press in Los Angeles reported that around 400 people across seven Southern California counties are targeted by immigration authorities. Danielle Bennett sent an e-mail to the NPR. He said that ICE targets individuals posing as a “threat to national security, public safety and border security”. Danielle Bennett is the spokesperson for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Uncooperative jurisdictions”, like Los Angeles, have been criticized by Bennett. They have been blamed for making ICE use “additional resources to conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and the aliens at risk and increasing the incidents of collateral arrests”. Los Angeles limits cooperation with federal agents Cooperation with federal agents in enforcing immigration laws and conducting raids has been limited by the Los Angeles Police Department. Charlie Beck wrote that the LAPD “is neither authorized nor responsible for the enforcement of civil immigration laws or regulations”. City officials and local police say undocumented immigrants may avoid helping with unrelated police investigations. The reason behind this situation would be their fear of being targeted for deportation by coming forward. Charlie Beck is the Police Chief. His statement was written in December. In the statement, Bennett said that ICE would “ideally” work “with local police and county jails”. This would help “identify public safety threats in their custody who are also in the country illegally, for deportation”. She added that “sanctuary cities are not immune from federal law”. Eric Garcetti has minimized the use of the term “sanctuary city”. However, he told NPR last year: “We absolutely are a city that not only does provide sanctuary to immigrants, but we defend them”. Eric Garcetti is the mayor of Los Angeles. The San Francisco press said ICE agents demanded proof of legal status for employees at 77 businesses in Northern California. The information was published earlier in February. It was also reported that ICE raided 7-Eleven stores around the US a few weeks before that. The action was reported as the largest one against an employer since President Trump took office. Los Angeles immigrants helped by bill making California a “sanctuary state” In October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to make California a “sanctuary state”. Thus, the whole state of California began limiting cooperation with federal immigration officials this year. Ben Adler reported: “It bans state and local agencies, excluding the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, from enforcing 'holds' on people in custody. It blocks the deputization of police as immigration agents and bars state and local law enforcement agencies from inquiring into an individual's immigration status”. Ben Adler is a representative of the Capital Public Radio. The presidential administration in the US has made a lot of efforts to increase deportation. It also attempted to punish cities refusing to cooperate by withholding federal funding. However, a court ruled against the policy in November. Between late January and August 2017, ICE arrests have increased by over 43%, compared with the same period in 2016.

Passport History Facts


Throughout its history, the US passport went through a series of changes. These changes made it one of the most powerful passports in the world. A US passport holder should know certain facts about the document and how it managed to become this powerful. The current document has evolved very much from its power and appearance in the past. For thousands of years, passports have been used with different purposes around the world. In order to fit and comply with the applied laws, passports have suffered changes regularly. First appearance of the passport The first appearances of documents that have been used as the modern passports date back to around 450 BC. One of the earliest reports of passport-like documents appears in the book of Nehemiah in the Hebrew Bible. An official who served the king of Persia requested permission to travel to Judea. As a response, the king offers him a letter showing who he is and requesting safe passage. What many consider the first true passport appears about 1,800 years later. King Henry V of England created a passport-like document helping his subjects prove who they were in foreign countries. The documents have been created following a 1414 Act of Parliament. However, the term “passport” wasn’t used until 1540, also in England. Passport requirement It is worth mentioning that, until World War I, passports weren’t that important. During the war, European governments started introducing certain requirements at international borders for security reasons. They also wanted to control the emigration of citizens from different nations. After the war, passports were still required and the measure remained in place. This annoyed a big part of the European population. US passport design now and in the past The US document hasn’t looked like this since its first appearance. At the moment, the document measures around 4 7/8″ x 3 3/8″. It is considered to be the perfect size to fit in a pocket. This also allows it to be kept with other important travel documents. Before the First World War, US passports measured 11″ x 17″. This made it hard to carry around in a foreign country. Passport security features The first country to introduce machine-readable passports was the US. Since 1981, customs officers have been able to scan passports from the US. RFID technology started being used back 2006 by holders of new US passports. Basically, if someone received such a document in the US since 2006, it had a chip embedded in the cover. That made it harder for thieves to use the passport. US passport colours The majority of people in the US own standard navy blue US passports. However, that is not the only colour of the document. For example, US diplomats carry passports with black covers. Military personnel conducting official government business own maroon passports. For a while, US citizens had the option of getting a green one. The colour commemorates the 200th anniversary of the US Consular Service. However, the vast majority of US citizens own the traditional blue document. Power of the US passport At the moment, the US passport is the 5th most powerful in the world. It has a visa-free score of 173, which means that its holders can enter 173 countries without a visa. The US passport shares the position with passports of Portugal, South Korea and Ireland.

Oman and India Tighten Relations by Signing New Agreements


Eight agreements have been signed by authorities from India and Oman to tighten relations between the two countries. The agreements include cooperation in the field of defense, health and tourism. They have been reached as Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with the Sultan of the country. Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister of India. On the 11th of February, Modi led delegation-level talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said. The Indian Prime Minister arrived in Muscat from Dubai on the last leg of his three-nation tour. Raveesh Kumar published on a social media account, mentioning that Modi led delegation-level talks with Sultan Qaboos of Oman. This charted out new frontiers in the countries’ bilateral relationship. He added that the two strategic partners had discussions in order to improve cooperation on different domains. Trade, investment, energy, defense and security, food security and regional issues are the main domains involved. Raveesh Kumar is the spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs. The contribution of “honest and hard working” Indian nationals in the development of Oman was appreciated by Sultan Qaboos. Details of agreements between Oman and India The two sides signed eight agreements after finishing their talks. The agreements include an MoU on legal and judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters. Also, they signed an agreement that targets mutual visa exemption for holders of diplomatic, special, service and official passports. Another MoU was signed to improve cooperation in the field of health, tourism and peaceful uses of outer space. Cooperation between different institutions from the two countries made a step forward for improvement. An agreement on cooperation between Foreign Service Institute, Ministry of External Affairs, India and Oman's Diplomatic Institute was signed. An MoU signed by the two sides targeted academic and scholarly cooperation between other institutions from the countries. Thus, cooperation between National Defence College, Sultanate of Oman and the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses was improved. An annexure to the MoU on military cooperation was signed by the two sides and added to the document The Indian Prime Minister’s visit in Oman Modi also had a meeting with Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said and Sayyid Asa'ad bin Tariq Al Said. Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said is the Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers. Sayyid Asa'ad bin Tariq Al Said is the Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Affairs. The Indian Prime Minister’s visit only took two days. Modi said that relations between India and Oman have always remained strong. This is despite the ups and downs in the political environment in both countries. Modi made the declaration while addressing the Indian diaspora at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Oman's capital. He added that Indian diaspora has had an essential role in strengthening the relations According to Modi, India and Oman have thriving links rooted in centuries old people-to-people exchanges. Over nine million Indian citizens work and live in the Gulf region. In Oman, they even constitute the largest expatriate community. Modi had travelled to Ramallah on the first leg of his trip. This way, he became the first Indian prime minister to visit Palestine as an official. After that, he visited the UAE, followed by his visit to Oman.

Citizenship Fees Criticized in the UK


Income from citizenship fees received by the Home Office has been criticized by the public in the UK. The office has been criticized for making over £800m over the past six years from nationality services. To officially register as citizens, young people with citizenship rights are requested to pay up to £1,000. This includes the thousands of youngsters who were born in the UK. According to campaigners, the fees are a “terrible injustice” and “nothing short of a scandal”. They say that many youngsters cannot afford to pay that amount of money. On the other hand, the Home Office claims that the fees are fair and fund the wider immigration system. UK citizenship fees and procedure The office’s nationality services include naturalization fees, registration fees among other nationality-related payments. As a definition, naturalization represents the process of applying to become a British citizen. Also, registration represents the process where someone owning an existing right to British citizenship, but does not currently hold citizenship, applies to obtain it. As an example, people can have the right to British citizenship through residency, parentage, or birth. In case a youngster does not register and does not gain settled status otherwise, they could risk immigration controls. Immigration control risks appear even if the youngster grew up British. Since 2011, fees have increased. Due to fee increases and the second child discounts’ abolition, the cost of registering two children has more than tripled. According to other freedom of information response, registrations cost the Home Office £264 to complete. In the 2016-17 financial year, applicants have been charged £936. Nigerian applicant displeased with citizenship fees To pay his fees last year, 18-year old Samson Adeola, from Walthamstow, had to borrow the money. He said he felt angry that the Home Office was making so much money. Mr. Adeola was born in Nigeria. He moved to London with his family when he was five and did not hold citizenship, despite having the right. He said that without citizenship, he would have to pay more if going to university. As an international student, he would have to pay significantly higher tuition fees. Also, he mentioned missing out on the chance to perform in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. He couldn’t participate because he did not have citizenship at the time. Mr. Adeola declared: “It was very difficult for my mum, going around finding the money [for the Home Office fees]”. He added that the family borrowed a “substantial amount” from their local church. His family hasn’t paid back all the money, he said. To contribute, he said he had taken a job as a pizza delivery boy. Mr. Adeola claimed that the high fees are “really upsetting”. He added that this especially affects “people who can't scrimp and save the money together, and can't put forward an application because of the cost”. Adeola’s family will also be required to pay for each of his siblings to register if they want citizenship. The two are aged 10 and 15. The fees must be paid, despite the fact that the ten-year-old was born in the UK. Officials about the citizenship fees Solange Valdez-Symonds declared: “For the Home Office to be exploiting this to make vast sums of money to spend on its immigration responsibilities is nothing short of a scandal and an especially terrible injustice to those children who cannot afford the Home Office's fees”. Solange Valdez-Symonds is the director of the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens. On the other hand, Home Office spokesperson said: “When setting fees, we also consider the benefits that a successful applicant is likely to gain and believe that it is right that those who use and benefit directly from the system make an appropriate contribution towards meeting associated costs. British nationality applications are not mandatory and many individuals decide not to apply”.

Good Conduct Certificate Issuance Mechanism Set Up in Indian State


The state of Kerala is the first Indian state to set up a mechanism to issue Good Conduct Certificate. The certificate was mandated by the UAE to issue a work visa to job aspirants. A senior UAE official said district police chiefs can give a ‘police clearance certificate’ to job seekers from the state. The certificate can be submitted in the UAE to obtain a work visa. Jamal Hussain Al Za’abi said on phone: “We received official letters today [Tuesday] from the [Kerala] government and [Kerala] Police headquarters [in this regard]”. Jamal Hussain Al Za’abi is the Consul General at the UAE Consulate General in Thiruvananthapuram. The letters said the district police chiefs would issue ‘police clearance certificate’ in an expeditious procedure, according to Al Za’abi. He added that four other south governments from India are expected to adopt the same procedure. Al Za’abi declared: “This is my understanding … from my informal interactions with the officials of the other states. However, we have to wait for official announcements from them”. The states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are covered by the Consulate General in Thiruvananthapuram. In the meantime, it was confirmed that the police clearance certificate would meet the requirement for a UAE visa. The confirmation was made by the UAE’s top diplomat in India. UAE Ambassador to India about the Good Conduct Certificate Dr Ahmad Al Banna declared: “Prospective job seekers from countries such as India, where there is no existing procedure to obtain a federal good conduct certificate, can get the nearest equivalent document. For UAE job seekers from India, you can obtain the police clearance certificate — it would be similar to a good conduct certificate required to get a job in the UAE”. Ahmad Al Banna is the UAE Ambassador to India. Directive about the Good Conduct Certificate issued to all district police chiefs A directive in this regard was issued on February 1 to all district police chiefs in Kerala. The information was confirmed by the office of the Director General of Police of Kerala. He said that the system is in place and applications can be submitted. The official declared: “The job seekers can submit their applications at the office of the district police chief [Superintendent of Police (SP) in rural districts and City Police Commissioner in the cities], along with Rs1,000 [Dh57] fee”. The DGP’s office will issue the certificates after due inquiries about the applicant. The same official said that applicants who have clean record could receive the certificate within a few days. He explained: “This won’t be a problem for a person who is not involved in a criminal case. If the database of the district police chief does not show any criminal case against the applicant, the certificate will be issued without any delay. However, if there is any criminal record, the matter will be referred to the special branch [the intelligence wing of the state police] and respective police stations, which have to give the clearance in this regard. This may take a few days more”. According to the official, the state police would make an official announcement on the matter on February 14.

Undocumented Immigrants Arrests Increased in 2017


According to recent reports, the number of undocumented immigrants arrested in the US rose to a three-year high in 2017. This reversed several years of decline. A US-based research center said that, totally, 143,470 people were held by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in 2017. Compared to 2016, the figures increased by 30%. They have been published on the 8th of February. Federal immigration laws are enforced inside the US by ICE. The agency is also empowered to detain and even deport undocumented immigrants. In a statement, the research center said: “The surge began after President Donald Trump took office in late January [2017]”. The center analyzed ICE statistics on administrative arrests. The term that describes the arrest of undocumented immigrants in civil violation of US immigration laws is “administrative arrest”. It was reported that Florida, northern Texas and Oklahoma witnessed the largest increase in arrests. In the Dallas area of Texas alone, over 16,500 arrests were recorded. In the areas around New Orleans, Atlanta, Boston and Detroit, arrest figures have increased by over 50%. In 2009, arrests performed by ICE across the country were twice as high. Barack Obama, Trump's predecessor and former US President, came into the office that year. Almost 298,000 undocumented immigrants have been arrested by ICE officers in 2009. But the research center reported that “this total generally declined in subsequent years”. Undocumented immigrants affected by US policy Donald Trump signed an executive order that bolsters “interior enforcement” of US immigration laws. It also gives local and state law enforcement agencies the power to act in the capacity of immigration enforcement officers. The order was signed in January 2017. On the other hand, arrests made by US Customs and Border Protection declined by 25% between 2016 and 2017. The decline was reported by the research center. CBP enforces US immigration laws at the country's borders. The “interior” arrests performed by ICE are justified by the agency. It is described as the agency’s “continued commitment to identifying, arresting, and removing aliens who are in violation of US law, particularly those posing a public safety or national security threat”.  Controversial arrests of undocumented immigrants Figures of 2017 come amid several controversial arrests. Some say they demonstrate the arbitrary nature and destructive effect of US immigration detention and deportation policies. As an example, a Kansas professor who has lived in the US for three decades was arrested by ICE officers. The arrest was carried out in late January. Syed Ahmed Jamal was arrested by ICE at his house as he was about to take his daughter to school. Jamal is originally from Bangladesh and has three children. All of his children hold US citizenship. Currently, the man faces deportation. In January 2018, Amer Othman Adi was arrested and deported by ICE. Adi is a Palestinian man who has lived in Ohio for almost 40 years. Tim Ryan said that Adi was “ripped from his four daughters, his wife, and the country that he has called home for over 30 years”. Tim Ryan is a Representative of Ohio, who fought against Adi’s deportation. In the meantime, Trump has sought to withhold federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities. However, the attempt was blocked by a California court in April last year. Generally, sanctuary cities allow all residents to access municipal services, without taking immigration status into consideration. Also, city officials do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officers when it comes to detaining and deporting undocumented residents. In recent years, hundreds of US cities and states have declared sanctuary policies.

Illegal Immigration Figures On the Rise Again


New figures from the US government have shown that illegal immigration via the US-Mexico border started upturning unexpectedly last spring. The illegal crossings declined in early 2017 and have started receding recently. The report shows the up-and-down nature of illegal immigration. It reminds that multiple factors have an influence on who tries to come to the United States and when. Such factors can go from politics to weather or conditions in home countries. A month before the presidential election, in October 2016, apprehensions on the southern border topped 66,000. Following Trump's victory, the number of migrants who try to enter the US illegally reached a 17-year low. Illegal immigration figures for 2017 From the begging of 2017, monthly apprehensions carried on until April. Then, the figures hit 15,766 and have been followed by the reversal of the downward trend. In each month, apprehensions rose, hitting 40,513 in December. According to migrant advocates, the “Trump effect” that discourages illegal immigration might be wearing off. In January, apprehensions started decreasing again. It is unclear if the post-holiday decrease is seasonal, or if it will carry on. Figures released by US Customs and Border Protection show that 35,822 migrants were apprehended on the southern border in January. This is not as many as in December. However, it is more than how many were apprehended each month from February to October 2017. The figures showing families and unaccompanied children caught crossing the border also dropped slightly in January hitting 25,980. These figures rose almost every month since last spring. Despite the January decrease, the figures remained more than twice April's total, 11,127. Illegal immigration figures for children and families still high Tyler Houlton noted that the apprehension figures for children and families were still high. Tyler Houlton is the Homeland Security spokesman. He declared: “Front-line personnel are required to release tens of thousands of unaccompanied alien children and illegal family units into the United States each year due to current loopholes in our immigration laws. This month we saw an unacceptable number of UACs [unaccompanied children] and family units flood our border because of these catch and release loopholes. To secure our borders and make America safer, Congress must act to close these legal loopholes that have created incentives for illegal immigrants”. Dealing with illegal immigration Volunteers at a local shelter in Texas' Rio Grande Valley set up a play area in the corner. This is because many migrant families with small children arrive daily. So far this fiscal year, over 15,500 family members have arrived. Less than 1,000 unaccompanied migrant children caught crossing were apprehended monthly when their number started increasing in April. By January, the number reached 3,227. During that time, the number of family members caught crossing grew even faster. It went from 1,118 in April to 5,656 in January. Last month, Elvis Antonio Muniya Mendez arrived at the shelter from Honduras with his 15-year-old son. Then, the playpen was packed with the children of 100 fellow Central American migrants caught crossing the border illegally. They were released that day. Muniya, 36, had fled a gang that killed his 26-year-old brother the month before. He has another brother who he was hoping to join in Indiana. Muniya and his son were released with a notice to appear in immigration court, which he planned to attend.

Dubai International Airport Installed Smart Gates


The new and enhanced smart gates have been successfully installed at Dubai International (DXB) Terminal 1. The completion of the installation has been marked by Dubai Airports, the GDRFA and Emaratech. GDRFA is the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. A senior official said that the new smart gates provide quicker passport control services for passengers. At the moment, 20 new smart gates are fully operational in the arrivals area of Terminal 1. The new gates add to the 10 installed last year in departures. Totally, around 127 smart gates are available across the entire airport. This reduces average transaction times from minutes to under 10-15 seconds. Officials about the smart gates at Dubai International Michael Ibbitson declared: “Dubai Airports is always looking at opportunities for innovation that makes the journey smoother and more comfortable for our customers. Smart Gates do just that by slashing transaction times to just 10-15 seconds and shortening queues. What’s surprising is that only 17 per cent of our passengers take advantage of the service. If you have a UAE residency card, don’t wait in line, use it. If you have a machine-readable passport, register it with immigration authorities. It will save you time and make your journey even more enjoyable”. Michael Ibbitson is the executive vice-president, Technology and Infrastructure at Dubai Airports. On the other hand, brigadier-General Talal Al Shanqiti said: “The installation of the new smart gates in Terminal 1 arrivals area is part of an integrated development project to provide passengers with facilities and services that make their travel through Dubai International quick and easy. Passport control is a critical process as part of which maintaining a high level of security is our top priority. This new system helps us strike a balance between achieving that objective while also ensuring a better experience for the passengers through speed and efficiency”. Talal Al Shanqiti is also the assistant director-general for Ports Affairs at GDRFA in Dubai. Technology at Dubai International as a result of research and coordination Thani Al Zafein considers that the technology resulted from continuous research and close coordination with the GDRFA and Dubai Airports. He added: “We are proud that the end result is a smart technology that now eases the journeys of millions of passengers travelling through DXB. And that number will continue to grow”. Thani Al Zafein is the director-general and board member of Emaratech, the technology provider behind the project. Dedicated cards are not required by the smart gates. Travellers can be identified by either passports, Emirates ID, e-gate card or a QR bar code. The code is generated via the GDRFA smartphone app. UAE citizens and residents and GCC nationals can use the smart gates. They can also be used by passport holders from certain countries that are eligible for visa on arrival. Totally, over 5.5 million travellers used the smart gates at DXB during 2017. UAE residents overt the age of 15 can use their Emirates ID to go through the smart gates. This measure was adopted in 2017, when the new service was launched. Queuing times at DXB have been reduced due to the new facility. Dubai International was the region’s first airport that introduced automated immigration gates. It was also among the first globally to adopt such a measure.

Passport Fee Increased by US Government


The official website of the US Government said the execution fee for a US passport will be increased with $10.  This way, the execution fee will go from $25 to $35.  The new passport fee will be put into application starting the 2nd of April 2018. According to the US State Department, the passport fee is being increased in order to cover costs of processing applications. The increase of the execution fee will be applied only to US passport applicants who use the DS-11 form. First-time applicants over 16 and children under 16 will be affected by the passport fee increase. Applicants who re-apply after reporting their previous passport lost or stolen will also have to pay the additional $10. On the other hand, the increase does not affect adults eligible for passport renewal by mail using the DS-82 form. Citizens requesting passport renewal can mail their application and supporting documentation to the Department of State. They should not apply at a passport acceptance facility or pay an execution fee. After the passport fee increase, first-time adult passport books will cost $145 and first-time child passport books will cost $115. Less expensive passport cards are good for border crossings and travel by sea to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. However, they are not valid for international air travel. The cost for these passports will be increased to $65 for adults and $50 for children. Passport acceptance facilities and another passport fee US citizens who want to apply with the DS-11 form must pay two separate fees. The first one is an application fee to the US Department of State. The second one is the execution fee that must be paid at the passport acceptance facility. Certain passport acceptance facilities are designated to accept passport applications on behalf of the US Department of State. Facilities like post offices, clerks of court, or public libraries can accept such passport applications. There are more than 7,600 acceptance facility locations. This means that customers who apply for the first time can find a convenient location to apply for a passport. There are acceptance facilities that have a working schedule to include nights and weekends and take passport photos on-site. The Acceptance Facility Search Tool allows applicants to find the closest location. It is available on the government’s website. Generally, the Department of State sets consular fees at a certain amount. That amount is calculated to achieve recovery of the costs to the US government of providing the consular service. According to the latest Cost of Service Model, the passport execution costs were higher than the current $25 fee. The suggested change of the passport fee appeared in the Federal Register as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Public comments were accepted until November 18, 2016, 60 days after the Notice’s publication. The Final Rule implements the change. It includes the Department’s response to relevant comments received.

Ukraine Requests Visa-Free Access to the Philippines


Authorities in Ukraine have requested the Philippine government to allow a visa-free access to their citizens. They said that this would help promote the country as a major tourist destination in the region. In a recent interview, Olexander Nechytaylo declared: “My idea is to help simplify the travel procedures between Ukraine and the Philippines. So far, Ukrainians require visas to visit the Philippines, unlike (in) Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand”. Olexander Nechytaylo is the newly designated Ukraine Ambassador. According to Olexander Nechytaylo, the discrepancy in the number of tourists visiting the country as compared to some of its neighbors in Southeast Asia is “tremendous”. Nechytaylo is a nonresident envoy to the Philippines with jurisdiction over Malaysia and Timor Leste. The Ukrainian Official added: “That is also reflected in the numbers. The number of those visiting Malaysia, where I am based for the past year, was 15,000. The number of Ukrainians who visited the Philippines for the same period is only 200. It’s a tremendous difference”. Nechytaylo highlighted the fact that the Philippines is a bit an “underdiscovered” territory for Ukrainian tourists. He sees an increasing trend in the number of Ukrainians visiting the Philippines. However, he would like to see more of their people coming here to experience what the country can offer. The ambassador said: “The country (Philippines) is absolutely amazing. You have something that other destinations in Asia don’t have”. Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia offered visa-free travel to Ukraine Ukrainians currently have visa-free access in several key ASEAN destinations such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. A “visa-upon-arrival” scheme was suggested by Nechytaylo as an option for Ukrainians tourists to come and explore the Philippines. In the interview, the ambassador expressed his admiration for the Filipinos. He described them as “happy people”, when he was asked about his first impression of the Filipinos. He mentioned that a small Filipino community in Kiev has always been very active in church and social gatherings. Nechytaylo declared: “Every time there is an event, like an international day where people from different nationalities, they bring their national dish. The Filipino community has been very active not only by coming with their national dishes but also they dress up in ‘barong’ or in national dress. They’re enjoying life and a happy people. That’s how we look at the Philippines”. He even said that Filipinos are “very hardworking, very reliable people”. He added that this Filipino character is obvious in the United Nations. Many Filipinos are working in the UN Secretariat. Nechytaylo mentioned: “Everybody knows that if you have a job to do, (Filipinos) are somebody who really doesn’t mind working for extra hours”. Close relationship between Ukraine and the Philippines The Ukrainian official considers the Philippines to be a “very special country”. He was a member of the first Ukrainian high-level delegation that came to Manila in April 1997. This happened five years after diplomatic relations have been established between the two countries. The Philippines was incidentally the first country in Southeast Asia that recognized Ukraine’s independence in 1991. Nechytaylo said his appointment as envoy to the Philippines indicates that Ukraine wants to improve the relationship between the countries. Currently, trading between Manila and Kiev is insignificant. However, the envoy said they see the potential of opening their markets for Philippine products. He added that he is requested to allow the export of tropical fruits, including dried mangoes to Ukraine. Nechytaylo explained that bringing a Ukrainian business delegation for a dialogue, matchmaking and networking session with the Philippines is a step. Ukraine and the Philippines share common boundries The ambassador claims that the two countries have something in common, hardworking people. Also, Ukraine has its own overseas workers. Their remittances contribute to their national gross domestic product (GDP) and helps develop Ukrainian economy. However, “not as much as in the Philippines” he added. In terms of providing seafarers, Ukraine is currently third in the world. Philippines ranks first with India in second place. The Ukrainian representative was in Manila for the presentation of his credentials to President Duterte.

Passport Colours Around the World And Their Meaning


Australian passport holders have to know the significance of the colour that their document travel has. The Commonwealth Coat of Arms is stamped on the document’s cover. The printing means that it is an official Australian government document. For extremely obvious reasons, it also bears the clear word “passport”. All Australian passports now also show a small rectangle with a circle inside. This does not represent a colourless Australian Aboriginal flag, but a symbol denoting it as an ePassport. All these symbols are embossed onto a very smart, navy blue background. However, every colour has its own meaning. Every country has its own symbolic code for travel documents. Overall, there aren’t many colour options. No official rule has been adopted to choose a certain colour for a certain passport. At the same time, every passport in the world is either blue, red, green or black. Also, it doesn’t matter what shade of those colours are used.  Darker shades like navy blue, burgundy or forest green seem to be the most popular options. Strong geographical, political and even religious reasons stand behind the countries’ decision to choose a certain colour for such documents. According to Hrant Boghossian, this is mainly because passports reflect national identity. Hrant Boghossian is the vice president of marketing at a financial advisory firm, which runs the Passport Index website. Blue passport Just like the United States, Canada and Hong Kong, Australia has a blue passport. The same colour has been adopted by a whole series of countries across Africa and Central and South America. Island nations in the Pacific have adopted blue as well. Mr. Boghossian said to the British press that the colour may symbolize the New World countries in those regions. Also, he noted that there were huge variations of the colour, based on national preference. Most countries with a blue passport have adopted a dark shade. On the other hand, countries like Fiji, have adopted a lighter, brighter sky blue. In 1976, the US switched the colour of its passport. The document went from green to a shade of blue similar to the blue on the national flag.  Red passport Shades of red also vary across the countries that have adopted this passport colour. These shades go from the orange-red of Singapore to the rosier red of Cyprus. A popular choice across Europe is the deep burgundy shade. Mr. Boghossian said: “Some could argue that the burgundy red is due to a past communist history”. Currently, burgundy is linked with the European Union. All member countries have adopted the colour, except Croatia.  Its passport has a very dark, almost black, shade of blue. In December, the UK announced that it would change its burgundy passport back to the blue one. This would symbolize its exit from the European Union. Theresa May said the switch back to “iconic” blue was an “expression of independence and sovereignty” away from the union. Theresa May is the Prime Minister of the UK. Mr Boghossian conversely said Turkey changed its passport from black to burgundy “as it hopes to join the EU”. Germany, with the most powerful passport in the world, has also chosen red. Green passport Green has been adopted by countries like Egypt, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and the Ivory Coast. For countries like Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Pakistan and Burkina Faso, green has a religiously significant meaning. Hrant Boghossian declared: “Most Islamic states use green passports because of the importance of the colour in their religion”. It is believed that green is one of Prophet Mohammed’s favourite colours. In the Koran, green is associated with paradise. Also, it features prominently on the national flags of many Islamic countries, such as Afghanistan and Iran. Black passport Black is not very popular within passports. The colour was adopted for passports in a handful of countries like the Palestinian Territories and New Zealand. Here black has a national significance. Speaking about colours, Mr. Boghossian said: “Governments around the world have the freedom to choose the colour and design. Unfortunately, only few have understood the importance of this document on their country’s brand identity”. The colour is also commonly used for diplomatic passports. Even some older generation Australian passports appeared black. Few white passports have also been issued, but they aren’t ordinary passports. Special white passports are issued for Indian government officials. The US has a white passport allowing citizens to re-enter the country after they’ve been living abroad over one year. Countries are allowed to choose a passport colour. However, there are some specifications that all passports must adhere to. These specifications are set by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). For example, passport booklets must be 125mm by 88mm. Also, the ICAO sets standards for machine-readable passports and countries that have adopted biometric passports, or ePassports, like Australia. Most of the world’s passports are machine-readable.

Indian Passport Plans Suspended


On the 30th of January, the Indian government suspended the plan of changing the colour of the Indian passport. Under it, citizens would have passports based on their socioeconomic background. The government also suspended the plan to give up on the last page of the Indian passport. That page serves as an address proof. Indian nationals living in the UAE were against the decision of changing the colour of the Indian passport. The plan was for the document to go from navy blue to orange for people with Emigration Clearance Required status. Only applicants who have not managed to pass matriculation (grade 10) and who don't pay income tax obtain ECR status. The passport plan’s suspension comes after a Dubai-based lawyer filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Kerala High Court. The litigation issued a notice to the Indian Government which seeks clarification on the issue. The plan was charged by petitioners. They argued that changing passport colours based on socioeconomic background and education represents a violation of privacy and equality rights. Old plans for the Indian passport to be kept According to the foreign ministry, it would carry on with printing the passport’s last page. Also, a passport with an orange jacket for ECR passport holders will not be issued. At the moment, the Indian passport can be issued in three colours. White is for government officers, red is for diplomats and blue is for other citizens. In a statement, Raveesh Kumar said: “”After comprehensive discussions with various stakeholders, the Foreign Ministry has decided to continue with the current practice of printing of the last page of the passport and not to issue a separate passport with orange colour jacket to ECR passport holders. Raveesh Kumar is the spokesperson for the Indian Foreign Ministry. Petition filed against Indian passport plans Shamsuddeen Karunagappally and Shajahan filed the petition on the 25th of January. Shamsuddeen Karunagappally is a lawyer based in Dubai. Shajahan is a resident of Kollam district of the south Indian state of Kerala, who couldn’t complete his Grade 10. Before the decision, the government proposed issuing orange passport jackets to citizens with an incomplete high school education [Grade 10]. This way, orange Indian passport holders would require emigration clearance to be employed overseas. Karunagappally spoke to the press on January 30th. He said that the government’s decision was against the constitution, violates privacy and is discriminatory. He declared: “The central government’s decision will lead to segregation of people on the basis of their academic qualifications and economic status”. The lawyer also declared: “The Kerala High Court admitted the case on Monday and issued a notice to the central government”. In the week before the decision, Karunagappally visited India to file the PIL. He appeared in the Kerala High Court on January 29th. Karunagappally added: “I believe people shouldn’t be divided on basis of their qualification and their wealth. It means if you have money you will get a superior passport of blue colour. This a segregation and discrimination of people. It’s also against the Article 14 and Article 20 of the Indian Constitution, which give a person the right to equality and the right to the privacy of an individual”.
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