Expat Focus Financial Round-Up 09 November 2016

Expats moving to the US work in IT or healthcare

A survey of expats who move to the US for work has found the largest proportion of them are from the UK.

The research by International AutoSource found that nearly 19% of expats are British, followed by those from the Philippines with 12%, while Brazil and Mexico account for 7%.Interestingly, the survey also reveals that around 93% are moving to the country for work reasons and they are mainly being recruited into the healthcare and information technology sectors.

In addition, around 49% of them will remain in the US permanently.

The firm behind the survey said they wanted to find out what expats wish they’d known before moving to the US and they revealed they were surprised at the cost of healthcare and their own tax implications.

Other expats in the US also flagged up cultural differences with some saying the country is very different from its portrayal in films and TV shows.

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This is the second year the survey has taken place with the aim of helping expats appreciate more about the US before moving there.

Expats flee New Delhi smog

Indian news outlets have been reporting that expats are fleeing New Delhi because the city’s air is so toxic – the quality is so poor that schools have been forced to close.

When the air pollution in the Indian capital reached more than 16 times the safe limit, the government stepped in to declare a national emergency.

Along with 1,800 schools closing to help keep children indoors, expats as well as middle-class Indian professionals have begun to migrate from the city.

This is not the first time that the pollution in the city has hit the headlines; the World Health Organisation earlier this year placed New Delhi at the top of its most polluted world cities.

Canada to welcome more expats

Canada is opening its doors to welcome around 300,000 expats and refugees in 2017.

The government says the move will boost economic growth as the country attempts to deal with an ageing population. The figure is a big leap from the current intake of 240,000.

The country’s citizenship Minister John McCallum said that a bid by the country’s Economic Growth Council for immigration levels to increase to 450,000 people every year over the next five years will not be necessary – just yet.

Canada says it is looking for business people, skilled workers and caregivers and there is a growing number of family places available too.

The process for international students wanting to move to Canada will also be streamlined and the process for obtaining permanent residency will be possible; the process for obtaining a visa for all economic applicants will be made easier at some point in the future.

The government says a growing proportion of these new migrants will probably come from India and China.

Oman to raise visa fees for expats

Expats applying for work visas in Oman are going to see a 50% hike in fees.

The announcement was made by the Ministry of Manpower which has stated that the new fee structure will take effect shortly with sponsors having to pay OMR301 ($782/£631), an increase from the current fee of OMR201 ($522/£421).

The government says there are more than 1.8 million expats currently working in the country and the fees for domestic and farmworkers will also change but will remain relatively lower.

However, the new fees have not been welcomed by the country’s construction industry with one company telling a newspaper that the new visa fees will have a detrimental effect on their profitability.

The spokesman said that they are already struggling because of the country’s economic conditions and the visa fee increase will place them in ‘greater trouble’.

Another employer who hires around 2,000 expats to work in hospitals said the new fees would also impact on their profitability while some workers say they are worried that employers may begin deducting the increased fees from their salaries.

Expats targeted with new HNW platform

Two firms have teamed up to create a new digital advisory platform which is aiming to attract US expats and high net worth individuals in Asia.

Morningstar and Crossbridge Capital are behind the venture and they say that expats in the region are currently underserved by other providers.

Totals fees for using the services will be capped at 1.25% with the new platform aiming at investors based in Singapore who have assets worth more than S$2.0million (£1.1m or $1.44) or who enjoy an income of more than S$300,000.

Money guide for expats moving overseas

The business magazine Forbes has published a five-step guide for expats who are thinking of moving overseas to live and work.

Among the tips, the magazine says that finding an employer to sponsor a job will make the process easier and it’s also an opportunity for expats to negotiate their employment contract before they leave for better benefits.

American expats also need to be prepared for filing two sets of their tax returns – one to the IRS and another to the taxman in their country of residence.

Along with finding somewhere to live, expats from the US may also need to change their financial service provider because of foreign legislations that may prohibit them from using a US bank or investment firm. There may also be issues of a foreign bank refusing to have a US citizen as a client.

The magazine also says there may be an issue with the expat’s 401(k) contributions which means the move overseas could have an impact on their retirement savings.

For more information, read the Forbes article about what expats need to know before moving abroad.

Kuwait mulls residency card for expats

The government in Kuwait is considering the introduction of a residency card for expats in a bid to reduce the issue of sponsors seizing the expat’s passport which means they cannot leave the country.

The new law may be passed within the two months with the residency card carrying some information about the expat and their sponsor which may be needed by security authorities.

The government acknowledges there is a problem with employers confiscating passports and the new residency card will be a replacement for it. It also will bring an end to international criticism over passports being confiscated by employers leaving employee expats stranded.

Brexit plans suffer setback

A legal bid that would compel Parliament to have a final say before the government triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has been won.

This means that formal exit negotiations from the EU cannot now begin without first being voted upon by MPs.

However, Prime Minister Teresa May says that there are ministerial powers in place which means MPs will not need to vote on the actual triggering of the treaty article but campaigners against Brexit are calling this move ‘unconstitutional’.

The government has lodged an appeal which may be heard in December by the Supreme Court and the British government has informed the EU commission that the UK is still aiming to trigger article 50 by March 2017.

The government points out that it has no intention of allowing the court judgement to derail the Brexit timetable.

No income tax guarantee to lure expats

Expats will still be attracted to live and work in the UAE because they will still have no personal income tax to pay – even though the income would help the country.

That’s the verdict from economists as the Emirates tries to diversify and stabilise its economy following the global down turn in oil prices.

Even though the Finance Ministry has announced recently that there will be the introduction of VAT for the first time, there will be no other new taxes on personal income or individuals.

Expats lose out to Chinese bankers

Expat bankers working in Hong Kong are increasingly finding that senior roles with global investment banks are being taken by mainland Chinese candidates.

The move mirrors a slide down Asian revenue tables by international banks over the last year whereas the big Chinese banks are growing rapidly.

In a bid to stem the decline, international banks are now turning to employ Chinese bankers to help them grab some of the mainland-driven financial deals that are dominating the fee income sector.

In addition, the skills of Chinese bankers have also improved in recent years which makes them more attractive as candidates too.

One survey also points to a growing number of junior and mid-ranking Chinese banking staff being promoted into senior roles in Hong Kong’s global investment banks rather than promoting Western staff.

One senior banker told a news outlet that there are still roles for senior Western bankers but these tend to be for the highest levels and these appointments are, apparently, occurring less often.

Meanwhile, one of the world’s biggest professional membership associations says that China will soon overtake the US for offering the biggest and best opportunities in project management.

A spokesman for the Project Management Institute told one Chinese newspaper that the opportunity for expanding into China for project management professions ‘will be huge’ over the coming years.

One reason for this is the big Chinese employers are looking to enjoy business opportunities around the world but do not have the cultural experiences in dealing with non-Chinese countries and businesses and need help to do so.

In other news…

Polish expats will soon have a TV channel dedicated to them after Zoom TV announced its plans for using the DTT platform for their broadcasts. Along with news and documentaries, there will also be drama series and movies as well as infotainment and lifestyle shows.

Iceland has revealed that more than 3,400 people have moved there in the three months to September to help boost the population to 337,610 people. Most of those moving to the island were nationals returning home who had been, mainly, living in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. However, the remainder are foreign nationals with 710 coming from Poland and 180 from Lithuania.

A contract to build a Labor City in Kuwait has been signed. The aim is to provide housing for 20,000 expats on low incomes with high service standards including entertainment, security and social facilities.

Nationals in Qatar’s public sector have just received a big pay rise but their expat colleagues have not. The new salaries for working in government jobs will be paid from January and is a part of the country’s aim to put Qatari citizens first.

Estate agents in Spain are reporting a downturn in sales to British expats following the EU referendum. The real estate sector is also reporting a general downturn in property purchasing since Spain is still to form a government after the most recent general election which may have an impact on property taxes. However, the sector notes that the decline in Brits buying homes is of concern since one in five Spanish homes sold to a foreigner was to a British expat.

Expats in Abu Dhabi are finding that it is becoming cheaper to rent a home with prices being affected by the economic slowdown, according to CBRE. Office rents are also in decline but the real estate firms says that rents across all types of homes are now falling – and landlords may be willing to negotiate still further. The property sector is struggling with the economy performing badly and growing numbers of expats returning home.

Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi is urging the country’s expats to return home and she said the tax system is being reformed to be more transparent. In a speech in Tokyo, she added that the country is looking for experienced business people and foreign investors to help develop the country and the expertise of expats would help.

Egyptian expats working around the world are expressing dismay at their currency sinking by 48% following a devaluing of the pound to help balance the market. However, Egyptian expats working in the GCC say they will be forced to remit more money home to their families to help deal with rising prices.


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