Tuesday May 22, 2018

Saudi to consider Green Card system for expats

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Saudi to consider greencard system for expats
Saudi to consider greencard system for expats
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By Yajush Gupta

  • Saudi to consider permanent residence for immigrants
  • Expatriate community welcomes the green card system with open arms
  • Estimated an extra $100 billion to be generated yearly till 2020 as non-oil revenue
  • Dramatic step to encourage foreign skilled workers

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the Second Deputy Prime Minister and the youngest Minister of Defense in the world,has announced for its millions of expatriates to introduce a “green card” like system.

Green card is an informal term for the US Permanent Resident Card, that allows individuals to live and work in the country on a permanent basis.With over 9 million foreigners residing in this massive kingdom,the new system would benefit both the immigrants and the government,who aims to double its non-oil revenues and raise at least $ 100 billion each year by 2020.

“The Green Card-like program and a plan to allow employers to hire more foreign workers above their official quotas for a fee could generate $10 billion a year each,” the deputy crown prince told the global news agency,Bloomberg in an 5-hour interview.

In an ambitious attempt to move away from its dependency on oil reserves, the proposed measure is among other programs that aims to overhaul the revenue generation model and ease the burden of lower crude prices.
“It’s a large package of programs that aims to restructure some revenue-generating sectors,” Prince Mohammad told Bloomberg.This initiative has already won an enormous support from immigrants.
“It’s excellent news for expatriates. This will give confidence to them that they belong to this country,” said Karimuddin,
a well-known pediatrician and a recipient of India’s Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (Indian Diaspora Award).“It is a positive move and a visionary initiative,” said Zulqarnain Ali Khan,a Pakistani national who is chairman and CEO of Zultec Group.

“This is actually in recognition of the universal human rights of residency. We are glad to see the host government extending such a privilege to deserving expats,” said John Monterona, convener of the new OFW Forces Worldwide.

With such startling plunge of crude oil prices and instability in the crude oil market,the GCC (Gulf cooperation council) countries have been looking at alternatives to diversify its economy.With this drastic measure, sure is a huge step to stabilize the economy of the gulf kingdom, who have been heavily dependent on their huge oil reserves.

 

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US Was Temporary Stop for Many Venezuelans; Now it’s Home

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Venezuelans
Helene Villalonga speaks during an interview at AMAVEX INC., an organization she founded that helps reunify migrant families and victims of domestic violence find shelter, in Doral, Fla., March 12, 2018. VOA

Helene Villalonga decided she had to get out of Venezuela for a while when two men, one brandishing a gun, showed up at her party rental business and told her to stop working for local politicians opposed to then-President Hugo Chavez.

Villalonga put a sign in the window of her business that said “closed for vacation” and set off with her two youngest children to the U.S., figuring she would be gone a few weeks.

But it hasn’t worked out like she expected. The weeks turned into months and then years. As Venezuela started a massive downward spiral, she and many other Venezuelans put down deeper roots in the U.S.

In a demographic trend that has political and economic implications back in their South American country, a growing number say they may never return.

“I would like to return to Venezuela like it was, but that place doesn’t exist anymore,” said Villalonga, a Florida resident who has helped organize voting among her fellow exiles. “I’ll never see it now.”

This is a profound shift. Venezuelans used to typically come to the U.S. to visit or study. Their country offered its more fortunate citizens a lifestyle and economy that was better than virtually anywhere else in Latin America. Its people visited Florida to go shopping and see Disneyworld like tourists from Europe, and then they went home.

But more recent arrivals are starting to acknowledge a bitter reality: Conditions in the South American country have forced many to conclude that their future is overseas. “It is beyond what anyone ever imagined,” said Veronica Huerta, a 57-year-old in Miami who fled in 2003. “To go back now would be very hard.”

For Villalonga, it was gradual process. The men came into her business in Valencia in 2000, asking for her by name and making sure she could see one was armed. After she left the country, her husband was attacked in the street and soon joined her in South Florida with their third child.

Venezuelans
A woman holds a placard that reads “No more hunger. Stop. Change. Out Maduro Out” — a reference to President Nicolas Maduro — during a gathering of opposition supporters in Caracas, Venezuela, March 17, 2018. VOA

The situation in Venezuela, meanwhile, only got worse. Chavez died and was replaced by his hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro. The government grew increasingly authoritarian, the economy spiraled downward, and crime rose, with one of the highest homicide rates in the world. It’s gotten so bad that hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing across the borders of neighboring Brazil and Colombia, some saying they barely had enough to eat in Venezuela.

A fearful Villalonga never went back, even for important family milestones like the death of her brother.

People who study immigrant trends in the United States say the Venezuelans harken back to the Cubans who fled the 1959 revolution and the upheaval that followed.

Venezuelans
In this Aug. 27, 1994 file photo, U.S. Coast Guard crew from the cutter Staten Island are hindered by rough seas in the Florida Straits as they attempt to rescue Cuban refugees. VOA

“The initial wave of Cubans that came to the United States when Fidel Castro came to power had hopes to return to Cuba soon at some point when Fidel Castro was no longer in power,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research at Pew Research Center. The Venezuelan story “is an echo” of their experience.

Unlike those fleeing to other South American countries, the Venezuelans who have come to the U.S. tend to be from the middle and upper classes, and their departures have had economic repercussions in their homeland. Many homes in Venezuela are empty and