Home » Expat Focus International News Update May 2019

Expat Focus International News Update May 2019

The world's best city for expats

For the ninth year running, the Austrian capital of Vienna has been rated as the best city for expats to live in and enjoy, according to a survey. Mercers carried out research into 131 cities around the world to compile its rankings.The worst city for expats is Baghdad, after years of civil unrest.

A spokesman for Mercers said:

"A successful international assignment hinges on the professional and personal well-being of the expat and their family’s welfare. A poor quality of living can impact considerably on an expat’s lifestyle while younger generations have high expectations for lifestyle, entertainment and leisure opportunities."

The top 10 of their cities for expats are dominated by German and Swiss locations with Zurich in second place, followed by Auckland, Munich and Vancouver all tied for third place.

Saudi Arabia's 'green card' is unveiled

Saudi Arabia’s new ‘green card’ will give any expat who pays the required fees the right to work, live and own a business in the kingdom without needing a sponsor. Officially called the ‘Privileged Iqama’, the card will also entitle an expat to own property there as well.

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It has taken three years since the green card scheme was first mentioned and expats can opt to renew every year or decide for permanent residency. The scheme is awaiting Cabinet approval of the new system which will not need expats to have a local sponsor.

Expats in the kingdom no longer have to endure the long visa queues at embassies or having to deal with government bureaucracy. Essentially, holding a green card will give expats the same rights as Saudis except for citizenship.

Oman bans expats from top-level jobs

Oman has banned expats from taking up senior government roles after a ministerial decision. The Ministry of Manpower says expats will also be banned from all clerical and administrative positions in the country.

The announcement reveals that expats who are in these positions can remain in post until their contract ends, but the position will not be renewed and the expat will be replaced with an Omani.

The latest move extends the recruitment ban for expats in selected professions that was brought in several years ago to encourage the recruitment of Omanis.

There is also a push to remove all expats in senior positions in the country’s private sector, including chief executive officers of national firms. Meanwhile, it’s been revealed by the Government that 94% of all expats working in Oman’s government sector are in the education and medical fields.

Eating, drinking and smoking in the EU

For those expats looking to move to the European Union and wondering which the best countries are for eating, drinking and smoking, then a new Nanny State index reveals all.

According to the findings, Germany offers the fewest restrictions of all EU member states when it comes to eating, drinking and smoking. The Nanny State index has been published for the second time to look at how member states make it easy to take up these pastimes.

The index looks at which countries attempt to deter the consumption of a legal product by, for instance, restricting adverts and trading hours.
In the index, the other countries that do not deter consumption are the Czech Republic and Slovakia, followed by Austria and Luxembourg. The UK, Hungary and Finland feature at the other end of the scale.

Why expats love Germany and the UK

The reasons why expats rate Germany, the UK and Bahrain as the best destinations for a career have been explained by one senior banker. The HSBC’s head of wealth in Singapore, Ian Yim, explained to one media outlet that the annual Expat Explorer survey reveals that Germany offers the best destination for expat careers with strong job security and work-life balance.

Bahrain is the second most popular destination down to is enviable pay and benefits packages to attract some of the best and brightest talent from around the world. He adds that expats rave about working in the UK for both personal and professional development. The country also has a young, ambitious and dedicated workforce with lots of opportunities for expats on offer.

Millennials increasingly want to become expats

Around two in three UK millennials say they would like to move overseas, and around half of them will move to several destinations, study reveals. The findings by Crown Relocations highlight that millennials – that’s those born from the mid-90s – are looking to improve their quality of life by heading overseas.

The survey found that 59% of these potential expats say they are seriously considering a move, or have plans in place, to work abroad in the near future. Along with improving their quality of life for 37%, 25% of them say they are ‘following their dreams’ and 25% want to improve their well-being. Just 12% say that becoming an expat would help their career progression.

The number one destination for a move is to a European country, followed by Australia and New Zealand.

Expat job opportunities in China rocket

More than 500 expats turned up for a recent jobs fair in Beijing with more than 1,000 posts on offer from employers seeking expat staff. The number of opportunities in China for expats is not only rocketing but expanding from what used to be a largest demand for language teachers.

Instead, the Foreign Talent Research Centre says that the IT, media and service industries are looking for more expats to employ. At the recent jobs fair, most posts were in sales, marketing, media and IT with opportunities for software engineers and communication managers.

The organisation says that a successful expat applicant will have some understanding of Mandarin and better levels of proficiency will be an advantage and these tend to offer the best paid roles. Figures from the national government highlight that growing numbers of expats from European and Asian countries are enjoying employment in a rapidly growing economy.

The BBC also carried a report about opportunities for expats there and point to the city of Shanghai and Nanjing as offering newcomers an opportunity for embracing life in China.

Expats in China should learn Mandarin

An article on the China Global Television Network website highlights that employers should encourage expats heading to the country to learn the language. Since China’s economic boom is attracting growing numbers of Western firms wanting to deploy staff there means working with Chinese partners so expats with language skills will be an important part of this.

In addition, learning Chinese will boost opportunities and help foreign workers appreciate the linguistic and cultural awareness in their new society.

In other news…

The Indian embassy in Dubai is warning its expat population in the United Arab Emirates to report any employer who delays salary payments directly to it or its missions in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The warning was posted on Twitter in a bid to alert Indian nationals on the procedures they should take when non-payment happens.

A businessman in Oman has been jailed for three years for employing 3,800 expat workers illegally. The Ministry of Manpower says that 1,500 of the expats were working with expired labour cards.

In the first four months of this year, authorities in Kuwait deported 4,500 expats for breaking labour and residency laws. Most expats are Asians or Arabs. Meanwhile, Kuwait’s Public Authority of Civil Information has revealed that 30,000 expats have left the country since 1 May. Expats now account for 70.3% of the total population with 3.3 million expats.

The United Arab Emirates has announced plans that could see visa exemptions for expats from more countries ahead of Expo 2020. The World Expo is being hosted by Dubai and is part of a plan to welcome 20 million visitors every year – the emirate has announced the plans to make visa entry easier and have visas with no entry fee for those staying for less than 48 hours.

A move by the government in South Africa to revise its critical skills list for expats who are eligible for work permits could see large numbers being forced to leave the country. The new list is expected to be published soon and could have a major implication for those employers who have serious skills shortages. One employer organisation in the country says there is a growing trend to hire South Africans, rather than expats and when the new list is finalised, it will come into effect immediately.

Expats in the UAE who have a job seeker visa are being warned to modify their status, should their visa expire so they avoid penalties and fines – and the prospect of deportation. The visas are issued for six months and do not need a sponsor but they cannot be extended for a longer period. Should an expat find a job, then they’ll need to sign up to the correct visa for this purpose.

Kenya issued 9,465 expat work permits last year, a rise of 13% on 2017’s figure. New rules introduced in the country mean expats must have their work permit in place before travelling to take up their post. The rise in expat numbers comes at a time when job creation for Kenyans is slowing.

The government in Bahrain has introduced a law that bans expats from owning a property in areas that are not designated as investments or tourism zones. One reason for the move is to prevent Bahrainis from being priced out of the country’s property market.

Kuwait’s National Assembly has been informed by the Civil Service Commission that so far this year, nearly 2,500 expats working in the civil service have been laid off and replaced with Kuwaitis. That’s in addition to the 3,150 expat employees who were replaced last year.

Expats from Taiwan may be surprised to hear that the Taiwanese government is considering restricting those citizens who are living overseas from collecting a pension if they register within a year or two of their retirement age. The government says that between 2008 and 2016, more than 4,500 expats registered their household as being in Taiwan when they were 63 or 64 years old to begin collecting their pension at 65. The government says the current system is unfair to those who have paid in for many years, while expats enjoy benefits when they’ve lived overseas during that time.

A new website has been launched aimed at offering essential information for vulnerable and older British expats living in Spain. The Support in Spain site has been created to be easily navigated so family members and professionals can search for information to help a British expat family member or friend.

Growing numbers of buyers from overseas are increasingly looking to invest in the UK property market, one property portal reveals. PlaceBuzz says that even with Brexit, overseas buyers are benefiting with sterling being 12% lower in value against the dollar since the referendum and buying a UK property could be a shrewd move for many foreign investors – including British expats living and working overseas. Also, the portal says, worried expats living in the European Union may also be looking to buy again back home with Glasgow and Birmingham topping the locations for searches, followed by London, Manchester and Leicester.

Ghana’s Petroleum and Chemical Workers’ Union is calling on the government to ensure that Ghanaians are being paid at the same rate as expats for equal work. They say the government needs to enforce the equal pay for equal work sanctions under the country’s Labour Law with immediate effect.

While media attention has been focused on US working to prevent migrants entering the country, the Washington Post reports on a ‘cultural phenomenon’ of migrants leaving the US and heading to Mexico. They say the numbers involved are probably larger than those heading into the US. Since 1990, the Mexican government says that the US expat population has risen fourfold to 800,000 people. The US embassy says that actual numbers are probably 1.5 million higher.

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