Home » Expat Focus International Finance Update 23 March 2017

Expat Focus International Finance Update 23 March 2017

What are expat employers looking for?

With growing numbers of expats heading overseas to exploit work opportunities, a survey has revealed the most in-demand jobs in each country.

Currency exchange specialists World First has looked at the occupational skills shortages list for countries including Germany, Canada, the US, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

In the UK, the survey reveals there is strong demand for engineers, IT specialists, teachers, graphic designers and paramedics.In Australia, employers are looking for medical professionals, engineers and tradespeople, while in Canada expats will find work in finance, marketing, HR, computer programming as well as construction and hospitality.

In Hong Kong, expats are needed in finance, marketing and sales, while in Germany there is a need for IT and software specialists, scientists, plumbing specialists, health professionals and engineers.

Expats in Singapore will find opportunities in finance, construction and engineering, while in the UAE there’s also demand for work in construction, HR, legal and hospitality.

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For expats thinking of moving to the USA, the skills shortage list highlights the need for scientists, computer specialists, engineers, auditors, education professionals and veterinarians.

A spokesman for the firm said: “For expats moving to a new country, it can be daunting experience but before making the leap it is important they know they can get a job when they go.”

He added that expats should look at their skills to see which of them is most likely to develop their career overseas and the expat should also understand their new country’s working environment including average rates of pay, rent costs and holiday entitlement.

Saudi Arabia considers self-sponsorship visas

In a bid to boost entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia, the country is considering offering expats the opportunity of self-sponsorship.

The Kingdom says that foreigners could register as being self-employed and pay tax of 20% every year.

The proposal means expats would no longer need a Saudi national to sponsor their visa application.

Currently, a Saudi national can register a business under their name while the expat runs it and pays a percentage to the owner.
Saudi Arabia says the result of this is that money that could go to the state is instead being diverted to individual owners, which is costing the economy billions of riyals.

One economist told a newspaper that around 30% of Saudi Arabia’s expat labour force is essentially working for themselves while under a commercial banner.

The Kingdom is also looking at changing the rules on enabling foreigners to invest in the country and pay taxes there.

Kuwait urged not to tax expat remittances

The vice president of Kuwait’s Exchange Association is urging the country not to tax expat remittances, saying the result would have a negative impact on the economy.

Talal Bahman says the discussions in Parliament to impose a tax on remittances to generate a new revenue stream in the face of falling oil prices should not be realised.

Lawmakers say that expats should pay 2% on remittances of less than KD100 (£264 /$328), 4% on remittances between KD100 and KD499 (£1,318/$1,637)and 5% on sums larger than that.

Mr Bahman says the move will not bring in huge revenues but will deter foreign investment, and he urged the government to create jobs for Kuwaitis to help generate tax revenue.

He added that should the country introduce the tax, expats would utilise other methods of sending money home instead.

Expat rental costs around the world

A survey has revealed how much expats are paying to rent around the world for accommodation, with some figures causing a surprise.

The findings from Barratt London reveal how much expats will need to spend on rent as a proportion of their earnings.

San Francisco is the most expensive for workers, who are paying 47% of their salary in accommodation costs, followed by London where workers spend 45% of their take-home pay on rent.

While renting costs are more expensive in cities like New York and Sydney, the average wage being earned there is higher so people spend a lower proportion of their income on accommodation.

The survey reveals that New Yorkers are paying 40% of their salary to their landlord, with the average one bed flat costing around $3,100 (£2,500) every month.

In Sydney the cost is £1,558 per month, but this is just 28% of the worker’s take home pay.

The cheapest cities for expats to rent a home are Prague and Cape Town.

Meanwhile, US firm RentCafe has revealed its survey of rents in the world’s leading financial centres and found that New York tops its list with rents of $3,680 (£2,964).

The city is followed by San Francisco $3,360, Boston on $2930 and Hong Kong with $2,740 and Geneva is in fifth place with $2,320 to be paid in rent every month.

Flexible visas for 'restless millennials' mooted

An expert is calling for a new immigration system to cover the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) which would see flexible visas being introduced for ‘restless millennials’.

The call comes from the managing director of an immigration services firm who says that the region could be boosted by welcoming the growing number of millennials who are looking to carve a professional career.

They do not want to be tied to one location or company so a visa covering a region is worth exploring.

In addition, the GCC governments should consider introducing secondment visas for expats who want to relocate to a company for a set period in the region.

The most expensive EU countries

Statistics published by the European Union have revealed which are the most expensive countries for citizens and expats living there.

Denmark is the EU’s most expensive country where prices are 37% higher than the average, the UK is the second most expensive, followed by Ireland and then Sweden.

The cheapest country in the EU is Bulgaria, where prices are 47% lower than the EU average.

Tax-free salaries no longer attract teachers

A teacher recruitment firm in the United Arab Emirates says the offering of tax-free salaries is no longer enough to attract or retain the best teachers to the country.

Instead, the firm says head teachers should deliver better career opportunities.

They say that while private schools in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are offering higher salaries than many expat regions, including Hong Kong and Singapore, they do suffer with a high turnover of teaching staff.

They say employers offering short-term contracts, usually of around two years, do little for job security and financial packages that include tuition fees for children and accommodation are no longer sufficient.

In other financial news…

British expats can access a new service from Weatherby’s Private Bank for cross-currency mortgages and cross-border private banking. The bank is offering loans ranging from £500,000 to £5 million at an LTV of up to 65%.

Expats living in the United Arab Emirates may be surprised when they apply for car insurance since premiums there have risen by up to 40% over the past year. One comparison website says costs have risen after the government made changes to premiums in 2016.

An outcome from the recent Budget will see the relatives of British expats paying 40% inheritance tax from 6 April. The tax will be on the total amount of property assets and include those who bought property in the UK through an offshore company.

Qatar has unveiled plans to punish and fine sponsors who fail to renew a resident’s ID or Muqeem cards for expat employees on time. The announcement from the Directorate General of Passports says part of the punishment being imposed will include suspending the sponsor’s access to electronic services.

South African expats working in no or low income tax countries, such as the UAE, will be paying tax in their home country on their salary, according to a draft law published by the government. The current situation is ‘too generous’, say those behind the Bill.

It has been revealed that governments in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) have been slow to pay fees to contractors of around $2.5 billion (£2.02 billion). The result is growing numbers of expats struggling to be paid on time and, according to the news agency Reuters, 53% of locally-based contracting firms are now facing a cash shortage. Along with firms being put out of business, one representative group says the situation ‘will get worse’ with a downturn in construction activity and public spending continuing for some time yet.

News outlets in Nigeria are reporting that redundancies are sweeping across the expat community as recession strikes the country. Those most affected are expats working for multinational employers with expats from India, the US, UK and China being particularly affected across the country’s oil and gas sector as well as the food and beverage sector.

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