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Introduction

This report describes the different legal approaches taken by thirteen countries with regard to immigration, citizenship, and border control, and the European Union (EU) border control and visa regime for the Schengen area.  The individual reports cover laws and regulations dealing with pathways to citizenship for immigrants, border management and security measures, and penalties for unlawful entry and overstays by aliens.  The surveyed countries are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Spain, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom (UK), and South Africa. 

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Overview of Immigration Laws

Australia

In Australia, the law provides for two main types of visas, temporary and permanent, which are further divided into classes and subclasses.  The criteria for each visa subclass are defined by regulation and the government is able to limit the number of visas made available each year.  A short-term visit to the country is possible under a tourist or other types of visa.  Student visas are available for various levels and types of study.  Special ”working holiday” visas are available to young people (aged eighteen to thirty years) from specific countries, with holders able to stay in Australia for one year and work for limited periods.  Work visas prioritize skilled workers, and the process for temporary skilled workers to obtain permanent residency has recently been simplified.  A program for seasonal workers enabling foreigners from selected jurisdictions to come to Australia and work for a certain period of time has recently been implemented.  New Zealand citizens are able to live, work, and study in the country indefinitely due to special arrangements between the two countries.

Brazil

In the absence of an international agreement between Brazil and a foreign country waiving the visa requirement, an alien must first obtain a visa to enter into the country.  The types of visa available include transit, tourist, temporary, permanent, courtesy, official, and diplomatic.  To obtain a visa, a person must be at least eighteen years old and cannot be considered harmful to the public order or national interests; have been previously expelled from Brazil, except when the expulsion has been revoked; have been sentenced or prosecuted abroad for crimes conducive to extradition under domestic law; or fail to meet the health standards established by the Ministry of Health.  Aliens must have specific authorization to work, and the bearers of tourist, transit, or temporary visas, as well as their dependents, cannot work.  An employer of unauthorized aliens is subject to fines.

Canada

In general, a valid passport and visa are required to enter Canada.  Visas available for foreigners include, business, tourist, student, immediate relatives (parents and grandparents of citizens or permanent residents), and work-related visas.  Reforms to the immigration system designed to boost the economy with skilled workers were recently introduced as well as a stricter immigration policy driven by the needs of the labor market.  Biometric identity screening of nationals of selected jurisdictions is expected to be implemented in 2013.

China

In China there are four categories of visas currently available to foreigners:  diplomatic, courtesy, service, and ordinary.  Ordinary visas are further subdivided into eight different types, which consist of permanent resident, work, student, short-term business, private purposes, transit, crew member, and foreign journalist visas.  An ordinary visa may also be issued for the purpose of attracting high-skilled workers to the country after a new exit and entry law takes effect on July 1, 2013. 

The new exit and entry law, enacted on June 30, 2012, unifies two previously existing laws that managed the border crossing of Chinese citizens and foreigners, respectively.  The new law will regulate the exit and entry of Chinese citizens and foreigners, a foreigner’s stay in China, and inspection of vehicles crossing the border.

Germany

Any entry into Germany requires a visa or residence permit.   A Schengen visa is issued by one Member State of the Schengen Agreement and entitles the holder to travel throughout the Schengen area (most of the European Union).  A Schengen visa entitles the holder to remain in the Schengen area for three months within a six-month period.  Tourist visas are generally Schengen visas.  German residence permits can be granted for a variety of statutorily specified purposes, which include study, research, family reunification, employment, and entrepreneurial activity.

Germany is a Member State of the European Union (EU) and its immigration system applies to citizens from third (non-EU) countries.  Citizens and long-term residents of EU countries have the right to reside and work in Germany.  Since 2011 this freedom of movement has applied to East European countries.  Immigration from non-EU countries is limited to skilled workers, who are admitted for a certain period of time.  However, it is possible for such workers to renew their work permits provided that they have a job, comply with German laws, and are not a burden on the country’s social services.  Permanent residence can be obtained after five years of work and residence in the country and requires the ability to be self-supporting and integration into the German way of life.  For highly-skilled workers, the path to permanency is shorter.

India

India offers several types of visas, including tourist, employment, business, student, entry, research, journalist, medical, return, project, conference, and transit visas.  All foreigners, including foreigners of Indian origin, visiting India for more than 180 days on a student, medical, research, or employment visa are required to register, within fourteen days, with the concerned jurisdictional Foreigners Regional Registration Officer.

Italy

To enter Italy, an alien needs a valid passport and a valid visa.  Residence permits may also be used to gain access to the country in cases where there is an international agreement in place.  The duration of the permit varies according to each category available, which includes business or tourism, temporary work, study, certified training, autonomous work, or family reunification.  The maximum number of work visas, however, is limited by the authorities on an annual basis.

Japan

A foreigner needs a valid passport along with a transit, temporary visitor, working, general, specified official, or diplomatic visa to enter Japan.  Once the requirements to enter the country are verified at airports and seaports, landing permission is stamped on the alien’s passport showing the person’s status of residence.  An alien can only perform activities that conform to his status of residence.  Several statuses of residence are available, including for employment, training, and permanent residence.

Under a specific status, second- and third-generation Japanese descendants are allowed to stay and work in the country for five years, which can be extended, provided that the alien can obtain a police certificate showing no criminal activity in the country where the alien previously lived.

Mexico

To enter Mexico an alien usually needs a valid passport and a visa.  Several types of visas are available, including visitor (with or without work permit), adoption purposes, temporary resident, student, and permanent resident visas.  The government may deny a visa to an alien with a criminal record or who presents a threat to national security or public safety.  International agreements or unilateral decisions of the Mexican government may exempt a foreigner from the visa requirement.  Nationals of certain countries are eligible for a special immigration status that allows them to visit Mexico’s border regions for up to three days or work for up to one year in certain Mexican states.

Russia

Constitutional principles coupled with federal regulations regulate the admission of aliens into Russia and their employment in the domestic labor market.  Federal law determines that a valid passport and a valid visa issued by a Russian consular office outside the country are the main documents needed by an alien to enter the country.  Five categories of visas are available: ordinary, official, transit, diplomatic, and temporary residence.  Subtypes of ordinary visas include business, tourist, work, student, humanitarian, private, or political asylum visas.  Single- or double-entry visas are usually issued for periods of up to three months, while multi-entry visas are available for periods exceeding three months.  Specific visas valid for one-year periods may be issued to students or journalists.  In exceptional circumstances, and as a matter of reciprocity, business and humanitarian visas can be issued for a five-year term.

Assistance to returning countrymen in their relocation to Russia from abroad, protection of minorities, better integration of refugees and asylum seekers, and the creation of more efficient mechanisms for regulating labor migration are the main purposes of a recently adopted migration policy.  To implement this policy, several measures have been proposed, including, inter alia, changes in legislation and in the system of state oversight of migration processes.

The federal government defines the number of work visas that are made available annually.  A foreign national who does not need a visa to enter the country can stay for ninety days or for the duration of the person’s work authorization.

South Africa

To be admitted to South Africa, an alien is required, among other things, to obtain one of thirteen different types of temporary residence permits.  At the port of entry, immigration authorities determine whether the person should be granted entry and for how long.  Work permits are available to aliens, but on a limited basis.  The issuance of a work permit is conditioned on the lack of qualified South African citizens and is issued for a specific amount of time.  Permanent residency is possible if an alien meets certain requirements.

Spain

Transit, short-stay, residence, residence and work, seasonal residence and work, and study and research are the types of visas available to foreigners seeking to enter Spain.  The visa system in the country is tailored to curb illegal immigration and to attend to the needs of the labor market.  Nationals of countries with which Spain has a bilateral agreement or from EU Member States do not need a visa.  In addition to a visa, an alien must present at an authorized port of entry a valid passport or travel document, the reasons for and conditions under which he or she is entering the country, and evidence of financial support for the period of stay in the country or the ability to procure such funds legally.  Humanitarian needs, public interest, or commitments undertaken by Spain are also grounds for admission into the country.

United Kingdom

Citizenship and nationality fall under the responsibility of the Parliament at Westminster in London despite the existence of separate legislatures in the countries that comprise the United Kingdom.  Under current law, nationals of several countries must obtain pre-entry clearance and a visa at a British Embassy, Consulate, or Commission in the individual’s country of residence.  Nationals who are not required to obtain pre-entry clearance may obtain a visa to enter the United Kingdom at a port of entry if their visit is for less than six months and the purpose of the visit is not for employment or study on a course that requires a work placement.  Nationals of Member States of the European Economic Area (EU Members plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) are not required to obtain a visa to enter the country. 

For economic purposes, the country’s migration policy currently focuses on skilled workers.  To that effect, a points-based program, which was inspired by the Australian method, has been implemented.  The program was designed to provide a simplified immigration system and attract migrants who will contribute to the country.

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Unlawful Entry and Overstays

Australia

An alien who does not have a valid visa must leave the country, otherwise detention and removal procedures may be applicable.  Bridging visas are available to overstayers, which allow them to remain in the country while their immigration status is resolved.  Federal agencies monitor illegal employment and improper welfare claims.  Employers of illegal aliens are subject to sanctions.  A government operated system allows employers to check a person’s work rights and a service provided by the immigration authority enables the general public to report illegal aliens.

Brazil

An alien who illegally enters or irregularly stays in Brazil and does not depart voluntarily is subject to deportation.  At the request of the Minister of Justice, the alien may be imprisoned for up to sixty days pending deportation.  The Federal Police is the competent agency that arrests and deports aliens.  Current legislation does not establish any criminal sanctions against aliens who illegally enter or illegally stay in Brazil.

In the past, Brazil has granted amnesty to immigrants who were in an illegal situation in the country.  The last amnesty program occurred on July 2, 2009, when Brazil issued a new law allowing immigrants who were in an irregular migratory situation and who entered the country before February 1, 2009, to request provisional residency.  The law considered being in an irregular migratory situation to include those aliens who had entered the country illegally; those for whom the period of stay had expired following legal entry; or the beneficiary of the provisions of the earlier amnesty program of 1998 who had yet to complete the necessary procedures to obtain permanent resident status.

Once approved, the provisional residency was valid for two years.  Within ninety days prior to the expiration of the provisional residency, an alien could request its conversion into permanent status upon establishing that he practiced a profession or employment, or lawfully owned sufficient assets to maintain himself and his family; had no tax debts and no criminal record in Brazil and abroad; and had not been out of the country for a period exceeding ninety consecutive days during the period of provisional residence.

Canada

Unlawful entry and overstay are not specifically criminalized in Canada, but may fall within general offenses.  Usually, such offenses are sanctioned with a fine.  However, depending on the seriousness of the violation, including the foreigner’s intention and prior record, such offenses may also lead to imprisonment for six months.  In practice, violators of the country’s immigration laws are either ordered to leave Canada or deported.  Hiring undocumented aliens is also punished with a fine, which can be excused if the employer shows due diligence during the hiring process. 

Using forged documents for immigration purposes and withholding material facts, providing misleading information, and refusing to answer questions during legal proceedings are considered crimes under immigration regulations and punishable with fines and jail time. 

China

The increasing interest in China has forced the country to adopt a new entry and exit law.  According to the new law, the sanctions for an alien who illegally enters, stays, or works in China can include a warning, fine, order to leave China within a specified time, or expulsion.  Depending on the seriousness of the violation, detention may also be imposed.  Chinese citizens who help foreigners gain illegal access to the country or who harbor them are subject to a fine, confiscation of illegal gains, and detention.  Fines and confiscation of illegal gains are also imposed on Chinese employers who hire illegal aliens.

Germany

Any entry into Germany without a visa or residence permit, and any overstaying of the period permitted by the visa or permit is a criminal offense and may lead to deportation.  Germany has no special programs for allowing illegal immigrants to become legal. 

India

Unlawful entry and overstay are considered crimes in India.  A person who unlawfully enters, overstays, or attempts to enter the country on a forged passport or visa is subject to imprisonment and/or a fine.  In addition, the criminal alien may need to obtain a clearance issued by the appropriate authority to leave the country.

Italy

Noncompliance with legal requirements and posing a threat to national security or international relations are grounds for barring an alien’s entry into Italy.  Foreigner who enter the country illegally are subject to expulsion, as are holders of a residence permit who do not register their presence in Italian territory within sixty days of entry, overstay their permit, or remain after their permit has been revoked or annulled.  Once expulsion has been ordered, the person must leave the country within fifteen days from the date of the order.  Conviction for certain crimes, especially those considered socially dangerous, constitute grounds for deportation.  In order to reenter Italy after being expelled from the country, an alien needs to either wait for the end of the prohibition period or obtain a special authorization for this purpose.  Violations are punishable with two to six months in prison and deportation.

Japan

Violations to immigration law give cause to criminal prosecution and deportation, which may also be imposed on aliens who illegally enter the country, overstay, or commit document fraud.  In specific situations, instead of imposing deportation procedures on an illegal alien, a departure order to leave Japan within fifteen days may be issued, provided that certain conditions are met.  In exceptional cases, under very specific circumstances, an illegal immigrant may be able to stay in the country if the person is able to secure a special permission issued by the Ministry of Justice.

Mexico

Aliens who enter Mexico without authorization may be subject to deportation.  Foreigners who overstay their visas or who violate their visas by performing unauthorized activities may obtain legal status after paying a fine and fulfilling other legal requirements.

Russia

Aliens who unlawfully enter the country by either using false documents or avoiding border control points and who overstay or violate the purpose of their visas are considered illegal immigrants.  Such individuals are subject to fines, forceful deportation, and a five-year ban.  Illegal entry is criminally punished with up to four years in prison.  A Russian employer who hires an illegal alien is subject to fines and may have its authorization to employ foreigners revoked.

The government’s approach to resolve the issue of illegal immigration relies on the development of a specific legal framework encompassing regulation of the labor market, migration legislation, increased cooperation with neighboring states, development of the border control infrastructure, and better control of the country’s borders with former Soviet republics.

South Africa

Aliens present in South Africa who are in violation of immigration regulations are subject to deportation.  However, certain aliens who overstay their visas have the option, before being deported, to ask for an authorization to remain in the country while applying for adjustment of status.  If the application is denied, the alien must leave South Africa within fourteen days.  If the alien fails to leave within the specified period of time, the person is then subject to deportation.  With humanitarian aid exceptions, individuals and institutions are prohibited from aiding and abetting illegal aliens.  Fines and imprisonment are imposed on violators.

Spain

The sanctions imposed on aliens who either enter Spain illegally or overstay their visas include an administrative fine or expulsion from the country.  If an illegal alien is not deported within seventy-two hours after his apprehension, he or she is detained in a Foreigner Detention Facility.

United Kingdom

Illegally entering the country, entering the country by deception, overstaying visas, and violating the terms of a visa such as by working without authorization are considered criminal offenses in the United Kingdom.  To assist aliens to illegally enter the country is also considered an offense.  Administrative actions or criminal proceedings and deportation are likely to be imposed on the illegal alien and he or she may also be barred from entering the country again.   

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Citizenship

Australia

A child born in Australia automatically acquires Australian citizenship if one of the parents is an Australian national or a permanent resident.  Citizenship is also acquired if the person is born in Australia and spends the first ten years of his or her life in the country, regardless of the immigration status of the parents.  A child born outside of Australia to an Australian citizen parent may apply for Australian citizenship by descent.

A person is required to legally live in the country for four years, including one year as a permanent resident, and to pass a citizenship test before obtaining Australian citizenship.  Citizenship may be obtained in a shorter period of time if the applicant performs certain works that require citizenship and are of benefit to Australia.  A defense service requirement in place of the general residence requirement provides recruits in Australian defense forces and their family members a pathway to citizenship.

Brazil

A child born in Brazil to foreign nationals is considered a Brazilian citizen, provided that the parents are not in Brazil in the service of their home country.  A child born abroad to a Brazilian father or to a Brazilian mother is considered a Brazilian citizen provided that either of them is in the service of the Federative Republic of Brazil.  In addition, a child born abroad to a Brazilian father or to a Brazilian mother is considered a Brazilian citizen provided that he comes to reside in Brazil and opts for Brazilian nationality at any time.

Several conditions must be satisfied before a permanent resident can apply for citizenship, including civil capacity according to Brazilian law; registration as a permanent alien; continuous residence for at least four years immediately preceding the application for citizenship; the ability to read and write the Portuguese language; the practice of a profession or holding enough possessions to guarantee his and his family’s maintenance; proof of good behavior; no record of indictment or conviction in Brazil or abroad for a felony; and good health.  The residence requirement may be reduced to three years if the alien possesses real estate or an enterprise in Brazil; two years due to the alien’s professional, scientific, or artistic abilities; and one year if the alien has a Brazilian spouse, a Brazilian child, a Brazilian parent, or has performed a relevant service for Brazil. 

In exceptional circumstances, Brazilian citizenship can also be obtained upon request if a person has continuously resided for more than fifteen years in the country and does not have any criminal conviction.  An alien admitted to Brazil before the age of five who permanently lives in the country may, within two years after reaching adulthood, apply for naturalization.  A foreigner who came to reside in Brazil before reaching the age of majority and has obtained a degree from a national institution of higher education may, within one year after graduation, apply for naturalization.

Canada

With the exception of children born to foreign diplomats working in Canada, all persons born in the country are generally granted Canadian citizenship.  Recent changes in the citizenship law grant a person who was born abroad the right to obtain citizenship if at least one parent is a Canadian citizen who was either born or naturalized in Canada.  However, the acquisition of citizenship by descent to children born or adopted outside Canada is limited to one generation only.

Naturalization is available to aliens who meet several requirements, including a minimum age of eighteen years, no violations of permanent residency status, a specific period of residence in the country, adequate language knowledge of either French or English, no recent criminal history, and knowledge of Canada.  A parent or guardian may also apply for a permanent resident child under the age of eighteen years to be naturalized.

China

Citizenship by birth is acquired when a child is born in China to at least one Chinese parent or if the parents are settled in China and are stateless or their nationalities cannot be determined.  Children born outside the country to at least one Chinese parent are considered citizens provided that the parents did not settle in a foreign country and the child did not acquire foreign citizenship at birth.  Acquisition of citizenship through naturalization is possible, normally through marriage or a great contribution to the country.  By law, foreign and stateless persons may acquire citizenship if they are close relatives of Chinese nationals, have settled in China, or have other legitimate reasons.

Germany

Birthright citizenship applies to a child who was born in Germany to alien parents, provided that one parent has been a lawful resident of Germany for at least eight years and also has a permanent residence permit.  However, German citizenship is granted conditionally if the child acquires another nationality at birth.  To retain German citizenship, the child is required to relinquish the other citizenship within five years after reaching eighteen years of age.

German citizenship can also be acquired after an alien lawfully resides for eight years in the country.  The person is required to be a permanent resident at the time of the application, be law abiding, integrated, not a dual citizen, and financially self-sufficient.  During the alien’s residence period in Germany, the person could not have been a burden to society or endangered the country and its population; in addition he must be socially and linguistically integrated.  For naturalization purposes, the law defines financial self-sufficiency as the applicant’s ability to support himself and his dependents without requiring unemployment or welfare benefits.

India

In India, citizenship can be acquired by birth, descent, registration, or naturalization.  The date the person was born determines whether Indian citizenship is automatically acquired or whether it instead depends on a myriad of factors, such as whether the person was born outside of India, whether either of the parents was an Indian citizen at the time of the birth of the child, whether the newborn acquired other nationality abroad, or whether the birth was registered at an Indian Consulate within a certain period of time.  Citizenship by registration is available to persons of Indian origin, provided that they fall under one of several regulatory categories.  A foreigner may acquire Indian citizenship after residing in the country for twelve years.  The applicant must meet specific requirements, which can be waived if, in the opinion of the Central Government, the applicant is a person who has rendered distinguished services to the country.

Italy

Descendants of Italian citizens automatically acquire citizenship, as well as minor children living with their parents at the time the parents acquire or reacquire Italian citizenship.  Children born in Italian territory whose parents are unknown or stateless, persons whose filiation is judicially recognized, and adopted persons may also acquire Italian citizenship.

Italian descendants within the second degree who perform military services, obtain public employment (with limitations), or reside in Italy for two years after reaching the age of majority may also obtain citizenship.  Foreigners born in Italian territory may obtain citizenship after legally and continuously residing in the country until reaching the age of majority.  Italian spouses may also acquire citizenship provided that they meet specific requirements.

Citizenship can also be obtained by certain individuals through naturalization, who must reside in the country for a specific period of time.  In exceptional cases, foreigners who have rendered services considered to be of national interest can also acquire Italian citizenship.  Special laws grant nationals of specific countries Italian citizenship, provided that certain criteria are met.

Japan

A child born to a Japanese father or mother is considered a Japanese citizen.  Foreigners may acquire Japanese citizenship if they are legally domiciled for five consecutive years or more in the country, are twenty years of age or older and have full capacity pursuant to the domestic laws of their country of origin, have good conduct, are able to financially support themselves, agree to relinquish their original nationality, and are not a threat to the country.  Under certain circumstances, some of these requirements may be waived or relaxed.  Some of these conditions include, but are is not limited to, having a Japanese spouse or relative, or cases where an alien cannot relinquish his current nationality because the country of origin does not allow it.  Relevant services to Japan may lead to naturalization without compliance with the general requirements

Mexico

Constitutional principles determine that a child born in Mexico automatically acquires citizenship, regardless of the nationality of the parents.  A child born abroad to a Mexican parent and a child born aboard a Mexican vessel or aircraft also acquires Mexican citizenship by birth.

Naturalization is available for an alien who legally resides for five years in the country, speaks Spanish, knows the history of Mexico, is integrated into the country’s culture, takes an oath of allegiance, renounces any other nationality, and submits a naturalization application to Mexico’s Department of Foreign Affairs.  The residence requirement may be reduced to either two years or one year if certain conditions are met.

Russia

Russian citizenship can be acquired by birth, descent, registration, or naturalization.  A minimum age of eighteen years, five years of residence in the country, language proficiency, and knowledge of the Constitution are the requirements that a foreigner must meet in order to obtain citizenship through naturalization.  The residence period requirement may be reduced for refugees; former citizens of the Soviet Union or Russia; individuals of high achievement in science, technology, and culture; and those who have rendered services to the Russian Federation.  Individuals who pose a threat to the country and convicted felons may have their applications for naturalization refused.

South Africa

A child born in the national territory or abroad to a South African parent is considered a citizen.  A stateless child born in the country is considered a citizen provided that the birth is registered with the appropriate authorities.  The child of a permanent resident who was born in South Africa and had his birth registered according to the applicable law may obtain citizenship after living in the country upon attaining majority.  Persons adopted by South African citizens are also considered citizens.  Citizenship may also be acquired through naturalization, which is conditioned on several requirements, including permanent residency and language skills. 

Children born in the national territory to non-South African parents or non-permanent residents may apply for naturalization upon reaching the age of majority.  To qualify, the person must have lived in the country until attaining the age of majority and the birth have been properly registered in South Africa. 

Spain

Children born in Spain acquire Spanish citizenship after living in the country for one year.  Children born abroad to a Spanish mother or father also acquire Spanish citizenship.  Foreigners and refugees may acquire Spanish citizenship after legally and permanently living for specific periods of time in the country.  Citizenship may also be acquired through marriage to a Spaniard as well as by being a widow or widower of a Spanish citizen.  In addition to the residence period, statutory requirements must be fulfilled, including good civic character and an acceptable degree of integration into Spanish society.

United Kingdom

Persons born on or after January 1, 1983, in the country or in a former colony of the United Kingdom to British parents or to parents who have settled in the United Kingdom are entitled to British citizenship.  Adoption, descent, naturalization, and registration may also lead to British citizenship.

Citizenship is only granted to children born in the country if one of the parents is a British citizen or has settled in the United Kingdom.  A child born in the country to non-British citizens may become a citizen if either parent becomes a British citizen or an application is made to register the minor as a British citizen while the child is still a minor.  Children born outside the country are considered British citizens if at the time of birth one of the parents is a British citizen.  Several requirements must be met before an individual can become a British citizen through naturalization, including, inter alia, that a person be over eighteen years of age; have legally resided in the United Kingdom for a period of five years; be able to communicate effectively in either English, or Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic; and have sufficient knowledge of life in the country.

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Border Management and Security

Australia

In January 2013, Australia launched a National Security Strategy for the purpose of, inter alia, meeting current and future border protection and security challenges.  Essential elements of the response to the security outlook were defined in the Strategy, including increasing the use of risk-based systems to target threats; enhancing cooperation across border security, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies; and cooperation with regional partners to counter people smuggling.  As people smuggling has become a major concern in the country, the government has passed more severe laws to stop human smugglers and established several mechanisms designed to repress smuggling and other unauthorized entrances.  For border management, Australia has many systems designed to verify that people are authorized to travel across Australia’s borders and to deter or prevent those who are not.  The layers of the system include, but are not limited to, advance passenger processing, the continuous checking of visa applicants against a watch list prepared by security and law enforcement agencies, the maintenance of arrival and departure records in a database, and increasing use of biometric technology at borders.

Brazil

Brazil has borders with ten neighboring nations (Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela).  In 2011, Brazil created a Strategic Border Plan for the purpose of strengthening the prevention, control, inspection, and repression of cross-border crimes and offenses committed in Brazilian border areas, which include coordination of the activities of public safety agencies, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Armed Forces, and coordination with neighboring countries.

Canada

To ensure Canada’s security and prosperity, the agency in charge of border management and security controls the access of people and goods into the country.  To this effect, the agency’s duties include, but are not limited to, the enforcement of laws that regulate the admission of people, goods, plants, and animals into and out of Canada; detention and removal of people; execution of trade laws and trade agreements; enforcement of trade remedies against dumped and subsidized imported goods; and collection of taxes on imported goods.

China

A foreigner entering or leaving China is required to go through an inspection performed by officials at the country’s border inspection stations, who, among other formalities, check the passport and the validity of the visa or travel document.  The stations are located at major Chinese airports, seaports, and land borders.

Armed police are charged with the duty of border, coastal, and maritime public security administration; entry-exit frontier inspection at ports; preventing of illegal and criminal acts in border and coastal areas; and the organization of and participation in counterterrorist and emergency management operations in border and coastal areas. 

Germany

As a member of the Schengen regime, Germany has no border controls at the internal borders within the Schengen area and relies largely on the border controls carried out by the Schengen members having an external border.  The only external border for which Germany is responsible is the maritime border on the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, and border control at international airports.  Despite the absence of systematic border checks at the borders with neighboring countries, Germany still maintains a Federal Police Force whose mission includes the protection of German borders against the illegal entry of aliens, in cases where such aliens circumvent the border controls of another Schengen member country.

India

The activities performed by the authority in charge of managing borders and coastal borders include, among other things, the construction of fencing, floodlighting and roads along the Indo-Pakistan and Indo-Bangladesh borders; development of integrated checkpoints at various locations on the borders of the country; and construction of strategic roads along the Indo-China, Indo-Nepal, and Indo-Bhutan borders.

The socioeconomic development of border areas also plays a role in the strategy to secure the country’s borders.  To prevent transnational crime, paramilitary forces, law enforcement agencies, and military forces secure the borders with several different countries.  However, the interaction of different forces under different commands is a challenge.

Italy

Italy is part of the Schengen Agreement, which provides a common visa policy to the Member States designed to facilitate movement across shared borders.  The Minister of Interior is in charge of issuing the necessary measures for the unified coordination for the control of maritime and land borders in the country. 

The protection of borders also encompasses the inspection of vessels that can be utilized by aliens to gain access to or leave the country.  Several forces under the command of a central service are responsible for combating illegal immigration, either on land, air, or sea.  Immigration enforcement is also regulated by a law that establishes as its main purpose the cooperation with other States.  Organized crime, human trafficking, and several other subjects are the dominant areas of cooperation.   

Japan

Coastal security in Japan, an island nation, is performed by the Japan Coast Guard.  The duties of the Guard involve, inter alia, suppressing smuggling and illegal immigration practiced by criminal organizations and enforcement operations, including inspection of incoming vessels.

Mexico

Mexico’s border security policy revolves around the protection of its borders as well as the protection of the human rights of the population, including local inhabitants and immigrants who live in border regions.  The strategy developed by the government to implement such policy included the creation of federal and regional police units assisted by military forces for the purpose of protecting the country’s borders and its inhabitants and the creation of communication channels with neighboring countries designed to control immigration flows, protect the rights of migrants, and combat international crime and terrorism.  A new national force is expected to be created for the purpose of strengthening the control of borders, ports, and airports.

Russia

Federal law regulates border control in Russia and determines, inter alia, border crossing procedures.  A federal agency is in charge of the protection of the national borders, which consists of ensuring the security of the ground, air, and maritime borders.  Intelligence and counterintelligence services as well as the protection of the existing government system are also part of the main duties of the federal agency.  Review of documents and the performance of law enforcement functions are some of the border control procedures carried out at designated crossing points by the federal agency.  Admission to the country is made by border control officers, who take into account several factors related to the country’s national and public security.

South Africa

South Africa shares borders with six countries (Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, and Swaziland).  Until not long ago, border protection was also used as a means of racial segregation.  A transitional period, marked by the end of a political regime, decreased the presence of defense forces at the borders.  Recently, border security has been reinforced with the deployment of soldiers and engineers throughout the country’s borders to rebuild damaged fences, and an advanced system to monitor the movement of citizens and visitors in and out of the country has been installed.

Spain

Spain makes use of personnel and technology at entry points to control its borders.  In the technology arena, the country has adopted the system used by the United States that provides authorities with information regarding passengers who are about to arrive at Spanish ports and airports from outside the Schengen area of the EU.  American technology was also applied in the construction and enhancement of the country’s fences located at specific border areas.  An advance surveillance system installed in two coastal areas provides information obtained through sensor stations that detect seacraft from a long distance (close to six miles).  The system transmits a televised signal to two Central Commands, which then perform rescue and interception operations.  As a matter of strategy to control illegal immigration, Spain has adopted the visa system as a pre-entry control to be applied to nationals of countries with high numbers of immigrants coming to Spain.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom makes use of several means to protect its borders, including technical measures, intelligence services, checks at ports of entry, passport inspections and visa requirements.  The country checks the fingerprints of visa applicants to prevent persons with a criminal background from entering the country and to check for fraudulent visa applications.

Applications to enter the country are refused if the applicant is subject to a deportation order or if a previous leave (permission) to enter or remain was obtained by deception.  Conviction of an offense punishable with imprisonment for twelve months or more is another ground used to deny entry.

EU Schengen Area

The Schengen area is composed of twenty-six European countries with no internal borders; free movement of EU citizens, their families, and qualified third-country nationals; and a common external border.  A Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement was signed in 1990, and in 1999 it was incorporated into the legal framework of the EU.  The main purpose of the Agreement was to gradually eliminate the border controls between the signatory countries and at the same time establish more secure external borders.  

A key feature of the Schengen area is the Schengen Information System (SIS), a large database used by competent national authorities to maintain public safety and security within the Schengen areaand provide effective management of the external border. 

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Eduardo Soares
Senior Foreign Law Specialist and Project Coordinator
March 2013

 

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Last Updated: 09/16/2014