Home » Expat Focus International News Update November 2018

Expat Focus International News Update November 2018

EU expats leave UK

More than 132,000 workers from the European Union have left their jobs in the UK and returned to their home countries, the official figures reveal. This is the biggest decline since records began.

Between July and September this year, there were 2.25 million workers in the UK from the 27 EU member countries, which is 132,000 fewer than was recorded over the same period last year.The Office for National Statistics says most of the decline is down to people from the Baltic states and Eastern Europe leaving the UK. This is the third year running that the number of EU citizens working in the UK has fallen.

The figures also reveal that the number of workers who came from outside of the European Union increased by 34,000 to reach 1.24 million over the same period.

Also, some NHS hospitals have revealed that they will pay for the cost of the new visa for several thousand of their staff to stop them leaving, to prevent a post-Brexit exodus from the healthcare service.

There are four hospitals in London who have already said they will help pay for the cost of applying for settled status in the UK, and other NHS trusts are reported to be considering a similar move.

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According to one recent investigation, EU citizens currently fill more than one in five nurse or doctor positions. Across NHS England, 5% of the staff are EU citizens.

Expats not protected with Brexit deal

Various expat rights groups in Brussels say the new Brexit deal between the UK and EU does not provide enough protection for expats living in the European Union. They say that four million people are increasingly concerned that they will not be able to enjoy their lives as they do now.

The groups – ‘British in Europe’ and ‘the3million’ – say that important aspects of expats’ rights have not been secured. A spokesman for the3million said expats will ‘feel betrayed’ by the Brexit agreement.

Currently, EU citizens who live in the UK will need to apply and pay for their residency – and lose this if they live elsewhere for five years. For British expats in the EU, the draft agreement states that they will be able to claim lifetime residency – but not be free to move to another EU state.

A spokeswoman for British in Europe said the agreement ‘is unacceptable’ that free movement will be ended. However, there is still a long process to complete before the agreement passes into law.

Increase in number of Brits applying for Irish passports

The number of Brits applying for Irish passports has skyrocketed in recent months. A UK resident may be entitled to an Irish passport if their grandparents or parents were born in the country.

By the end of last year, the number of applications and nearly doubled over two years to 81,000.

Post-Brexit fears lead UK expats to look East

Finance professionals in the City of London are increasingly applying for jobs in Singapore and Hong Kong over fears of post-Brexit turmoil. Recruitment firms in Singapore and Hong Kong say there’s been a big rise in applications from banking professionals looking to relocate.

A spokeswoman for financial services recruitment firm Robert Walters told one news outlet: “Recently, we have seen an increase from young Brits who are usually single people with no kids or property, who can easily relocate and who are wanting positions in Hong Kong as uncertainty over Brexit grows.”

However, she added: “There’s also been a big increase from Asians living in London, worried about London being affected by Brexit as a financial centre and looking for somewhere to build a career.”

Japan looks to loosen immigration rules

In a bid to attract more blue-collar expat workers, Japan is considering loosening its immigration rules to allow more people to enter the country. Draft laws have already been put together which would see the creation of two new visa categories to enable expats to work in those sectors suffering from labour shortages. Currently, tough immigration laws sees Japan accepting few expats from overseas.

However, the rules would allow blue-collar workers to enter farming, construction and healthcare. Of the two visa categories, those who are accepted under the first criterion will be given a visa to enter the country for five years and be able to bring their families; they must have certain skills and some proficiency in Japanese.

Expats with higher skills would qualify under the second visa category and would eventually be allowed to apply for Japanese residency.

Golden passports ‘put Europe's security at risk’

The popular ‘golden passport’ schemes run by countries which attract expats to buy citizenship for investing large amounts of money have been criticised.

The OECD says that these schemes pose a security threat and also hamper efforts to tackle tax evasion. The organisation has named 21 countries which may be posing a threat, including Malta, Monaco and Cyprus.

The EU’s justice commissioner, Vera Jourova, says the blacklist highlights that all of the EU is under threat from these schemes since their residents can travel anywhere around the EU under freedom of movement rules.

Fears have now been raised that hundreds of potential criminals from around the world may now be residents who are free to travel to other countries.

One of the passport schemes, run by Malta, makes a potential citizen donate €650,000 (£578,740/$742,238) to their national development fund and also spend €350,000 on a property, but applicant numbers have now been capped following criticism.

Monaco runs a residency programme with individuals needing to place €500,000 with a local bank and spend €500,000 on local property. While the UK does not have a ‘golden passport’ scheme, it does have the ‘Tier 1 investor visa’ which is aimed at those who are willing to invest £2 million in a British business or government bonds.

New transfer rules for expats in Kuwait

Expats working in Kuwait who are looking to switch from the private sector to the public one will be affected by new visa rules.

The country’s Public Authority of Manpower has laid down new regulations covering the sector with expats now needing to obtain approval from the Civil Service Commission before switching. For those expats moving from the public sector to the private, employers will need to provide proof that they are needed for a contract or economic activity.

The move follows a recent announcement by Kuwait that it will now look to stop issuing work permits to expats with poor university degrees working in the private sector.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee in Kuwait is set to report that the number of expats working in the country’s public education and medical sectors will be reduced to 10%. The report will go before the National Assembly in the coming months with a confident prediction that the country can comfortably replace the 35,000 expat workers, or at least half that number, within the next two or three years.

71% of expats laid off from Saudi government roles

It’s been revealed that Saudi Arabia has dismissed 71% of the expats who were employed in government jobs.

Most of the expats were working in the education and health sectors – with these sectors accounting for 90% of the kingdom’s expat population, which is around 60,000 people.

The Ministry of Civil Service is now recruiting qualified Saudis to fill the roles as part of the Saudization project that will see expats being replaced with Saudis.

Meanwhile, the latest sector in the kingdom where employers have a mandatory Saudization demand is for opticians with business sector leaders saying many opticians will be challenged to find salespeople to work in them.

The business organisations also say that many opticians are selling stock at discounted prices before they are potentially forced to close. The Saudi Arabian government has also begun urging expats living in the kingdom to register their fingerprints and those of dependents who are aged six years or over.

The General Directorate of Passports says that expats who do not comply with mandatory regulations for registering fingerprints will be denied access to electronic services.

Kuwait struggles for expat teachers

Media outlets in Kuwait are reporting that there’s a shortage of teachers due to the Civil Service Commissioner’s decision to suspend local contracts expat teachers working in the country.

Critics say the decision has been made in haste and without consulting with Kuwait’s education sector and point to a school’s cook who has been recruited as a teacher recently because of the shortfall and schools now struggling to recruit.

Also, expat teachers who have been made redundant have apparently begun filing lawsuits for compensation after being dismissed with a valid contract in place. Some teachers say that their contracts were terminated just two months into the academic year with some facing financial difficulties after quitting previous posts.

Saudi Arabia unveils platform for expat engineers

Expat engineers looking for work in Saudi Arabia will need to use a new online accreditation platform. Unveiled by the Saudi Engineers’ Authority, expats will need to register before arrival with the organisation.

The aim is to facilitate the recruitment process for employers and expat staff and restrict opportunities for expats without the ‘professionalism and abilities’ required to work in the kingdom.

From 1 January, this will include all expat engineers with less than five years of experience. Applicants will also need to undergo an interview and a professional test.

Meanwhile, Kuwaiti authorities have revealed that they have commissioned a Swedish company to scrutinise the degrees of expat engineers working in the country.

The agreement has been signed by the Kuwait Engineers’ Society to work alongside the firm who are also verifying engineers’ qualifications in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The move will see expatriate engineers now needing to submit degrees and authorise their employer to make enquiries. Around 25,000 expat engineers’ degrees will now be verified in the hunt for fake diplomas.

In other news …

Authorities in Kuwait are considering the deportation of all expats who are serving a prison sentence under an amnesty which could affect around 1,000 inmates. Kuwait says its amnesty will be on an individual basis with prisoner files being examined and then matched with the new amnesty rules.

A new law that enables expat workers in Qatar to leave the country without an exit permit has now taken effect. Under the law, up to 95% of a firm’s workforce can leave without this permit – though employers can still submit a worker’s name for their ‘No Objection Certificate’. One reason for the move is that a huge number of expat labourers have been recruited to build stadiums for the World Cup 2022 with growing numbers looking to return home.

Ireland’s government has unveiled plans to make it easier and cheaper for expats returning home and non-EU citizens to qualify to drive in the country. Currently, drivers holding an EU licence or a country that has a bilateral agreement can swap their driving licence for an Irish driving licence. Those from non-EU countries must complete the entire learning process and the plan is to reduce the cost and time involved in getting a driving licence.

The Egyptian government has announced plans for a database of all expats living and working overseas. A government committee has been tasked by the government to come up with a viable plan and will use data from several organisations with the database set to go live next year.

A Kuwaiti MP has caused a stir after declaring that one in three expat workers is ‘not useful’, and the government should deport them. Mohammad Al-Dallal is part of the National Assembly’s panel for delivering Kuwaitisation and says that the large numbers of expats in the country is putting pressure on infrastructure and essential services.

The House of Representatives in the US is looking to add Ireland to its E3 visa programme offering Irish citizens a route to a work visa that will enable them to live and work in the US. The E3 visa is aimed at helping Australia’s professionals and business people move easily on a temporary basis, but of the 10,500 E3 visas allocated every year, only half are taken up. Under the new bill, Irish citizens would be able then to pick up the surplus visas.