Home » Expat Focus International News Update July 2023

Expat Focus International News Update July 2023

Tokyo Residents Subject to New Flight Path

Japan has recently revised its flight regulations, causing expats in Tokyo to complain about the new 2020 flight path, which now sees jets thundering over their heads. During peak times, around 44 planes per hour now jet into Haneda Airport, resulting in unprecedented noise levels. Expats also complain about air quality and the lack of green space in the city, saying that Tokyo’s increasing Westernisation is causing the city to look increasingly unappealing.

Kuwait: Arrests Made in Residence Violations

We reported last month on the increasing crackdown on ‘residency violations’ in Kuwait, with numbers of deportations rising as a result of expats allegedly flouting the visa laws. 11,000 + expats were deported from Kuwait in the first four months of this year. Authorities cite a lack of the relevant documentation, absence from designated locations, remaining in the country on expired residency permits, or invalid entry visas as the causes of deportation. This seems to be affecting Asian expats more than Westerners, but everyone is counselled to check that they’ve got the right paperwork, as the Ministry of the Interior is stepping up its vigilance when it comes to expats in the country.

Brexit Impacts Brits in the Netherlands

British expats in the Netherlands face post Brexit changes from April 1 2023. If you have a Residence Document Withdrawal Agreement with application for a temporary stay, you will need to be aware that you cannot spend more than six months in total outside the country (in a 12-month period) from October of this year. Otherwise, your residency permit will be revoked. The Dutch authorities will be totting up the amount of time you’re spending out of the country, since the six months are not consecutively applied. If you are in possession of a Permanent Residence Document Withdrawal Agreement, then the regulations have not changed.

Immigration lawyer Jeremy Bierbach told Dutch News that:

“It’s important for Brits who have been living in the Netherlands since before Brexit to remember that the Dutch government actually doesn’t have the latitude to introduce new rules limiting their rights.”

He urges Brits resident in the Netherlands to keep careful documentation, such as airline tickets and hotel receipts, if they’re doing a lot of travelling in and out of the country, as the Dutch authorities are now going to become stricter about applying the new rules. 

Top Five Locations for British Expats

The Daily Express reported in early July on findings by Panache Cruises regarding the best European destinations for British expat retirees. Top of their list is Italy, with good transport infrastructure and a high standard of living. The European nation is followed by Canada, a favourite among British retirees, many of whom have relatives in North America. New Zealand is next, also English-speaking and with a high standard of public healthcare. Also in the top five are Monaco and sunny Greece.

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Thailand Woos Asian Expats

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) says that it is aiming marketing initiatives at wealthy Asian expats, many of whom are already contributing to the local economy. Chinese residents of Cambodia and Laos, for example, often send their children to be educated in Thailand. Japanese and Korean expats also make up the list of wealthy investors who are being wooed by the Thai authorities. The China-Laos high speed rail service is opening up the region, and many Cambodian and Lao tourists are choosing Thailand as a holiday destination. The Thai authorities are discussing a visa waiver for Chinese tourists entering via some land borders for short periods – people don’t necessarily want to pay the current 2,000 baht visa-on-arrival fee and would be more likely to undertake day trips if this was waived.

Malaysia Fast-Tracks Visa Applications

Malaysia has aimed to fast-track expat visas from three months to five days from June 2023 in an effort to attract overseas investors. Rafizi Ramli, the Malaysian Minister of the Economy, has told the press that visa processing times have been an obstacle to investment and they want to cut down the length of time taken for those who have an existing good track record with the country.

Malaysia is also intending to review the 10-year visa requirements over the summer of 2023, relating to the Malaysia My Second Home programme. In 2021, the government tightened the regulations, requiring that applicants to the programme demonstrate proof of RM1.5 million (US$338,000) in liquid assets and a minimum RM40,000 in monthly income. It’s also intending to review the 20-year visa program, after this attracted only 28 applicants and approved only 2. To apply, people need to demonstrate proof of a RM1 million and an income of RM480,000. To put it mildly, the program has not proved popular, although ministers say that cancelling it entirely is likely to be a last resort.

South Africa Returns Citizenship to Expats

Over the past few years, expats have risked losing their citizenship of South Africa via Section 6(1) of the Citizenship Act, which stated that anyone who took on citizenship of another country (other than via marriage) without first asking permission from the Minister of Home Affairs would lose their South African status as citizens. Critics of the legislation say that it is a legacy of the apartheid era, in which freedom fighters in exile could be stripped of their citizenship without their knowledge and not allowed back into the country. This ‘draconian’ piece of legislation (which seems to have particularly affected Jewish South Africans returning to Israel) has now been rescinded, following a five-year campaign by the Democratic Alliance, who took up the cudgels with the DA abroad, who have been campaigning for nine years. The change in the law has yet to be finally ratified, but is expected by campaigners to go through.