Expat Visas Go Online

Expats and visitors to Bahrain from more than 100 countries will be able to apply for their visas online from October 1.

The new visa platform will simplify applications and allow visitors to print their own travel documents.

The new platform will also let diplomats at Bahrain’s foreign embassies issue visas.

A pilot scheme embracing 38 countries has proved a success and the Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (NPRA) has decided to expand the platform.

“The technology will speed up visa services for visitors to Bahrain for tourism or business,” said e-Exits Division head Thabit Al Shoroqi.

Chinese investors in visa scam

Chinese investors were tricked out of nearly £100 million in a sophisticated scam looking for funding for a conference centre near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

Anshoo Sethi, 30, swindled 290 Chinese investors over two years with his elaborate fraud.

Sethi told his victims that their investment would also buy them US visas.

He obtained the visas by making fraudulent applications to the US government.

Sethi charged the investors £300,000 each plus an administration fee of £25,000 for his services.

He was trapped by a government review of visa applications that picked up his lies.

Sethi was arrested and charged and is now in custody awaiting trial.

US closes door on wealthy expats

The US government has closed the EB-5 investment visa program to Chinese expats after a flood of applications.

Chinese applicants switched their requests to the US after Canada closed a similar program earlier in the year.

Now, no more places are available until after October 1, 2014.

The US government says 85% of applications were from Chinese nationals – the first time the program threshold was breached since Washington started offering investment visas in 1990.

Canada citizenship boost

Canada has sworn in more than 150,000 expats as citizens so far this year – twice the number of new citizens welcomed to the country during 2013.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander cites measures to improve processing of visas and clear backlogs of applications for the jump in numbers.

Tourist visas scrapped

Vietnam is scrapping tourist visas for visitors staying for up to 30 days from France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, India and Canada.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Transport wants to encourage more visitors to the country from these nations as they have the biggest tourist spend per head.

Waiving tourist visas should make visits to the country easier and cheaper for tourists, who, says the ministry, spend an average of $1,500 a head on their trips.

Vietnam already allows 30-day visa exemptions for visitors from Asia Pacific countries and 15-day waivers for those from Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Japan, South Korea and Russia.