Expat Focus Financial Update 05 September 2016

Best and worst destinations for expats revealed

The best destinations around the world for expats have been revealed in the latest InterNations Expat Insider survey.

The survey questioned more than 14,000 respondents in 191 countries and 174 nationalities.

In first place is Taiwan, which has knocked Ecuador from the top spot. Malta takes the second position, with Ecuador now in third place.According to expats, Mexico is the fourth best destination, followed by New Zealand, Costa Rica and Australia. The remainder of the top 10 is made up of Austria, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic.

Italy ranking in a surprising ninth position from the bottom. The eighth worst place was Qatar, with Mozambique, Egypt and Saudi Arabia all ranking poorly. Other difficult countries to live and work in are Brazil, Nigeria, Greece and Kuwait.

However, the worst destination in the world for expats to work in, according to InterNations, is Tanzania.

The survey covers a range of factors including expats’ happiness and personal life, with Malta doing very well in the personal finance index, allowing it to leapfrog into sixth position in the rankings from its previous position in 42nd place.

The UK was ranked in 33rd position overall, with France 41st, Sweden 42nd and China in 48th place. The US was ranked 26th.

Some of the explanations for why countries rank particularly poorly include culture and language. Those who ranked Germany in 17th position said that the local population is not very friendly and 62% of those who responded said they found learning German difficult.

Expats in Taiwan ranked the country for being the best in the personal finance and quality-of-life categories. Indeed, 64% of respondents said they are planning to stay for longer than three years while one in three are hoping to stay ‘forever’.

The head of InterNations, Malte Zeeck, said: “Taiwan is the best place for quality-of-life and personal finances and is our big winner. They are doing something right.”

Spot check by Dubai Emir sees nine people fired

In a story that has gone around the world, the Emir of Dubai carried out a surprise morning visit to government offices and found many senior employees were late for work or did not turn up at all.

The following day, nine senior bosses were told to retire.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s visit was also filmed and it showed the ruler strolling around empty government offices and inspecting desks.

The king has been carrying out surprise visits for several years and he has now ordered a shake-up in the way Dubai is run.

Expat entrepreneurs in US could get new work permit

A bid to attract more expat entrepreneurs to the USA could see them being given permission to stay on a temporary basis for up to two years.

The proposal from the Citizenship and Immigration Service would see entrepreneurs looking to scale up or even start a business when moving to the country.

The service’s director, Leon Rodriguez, said: “The proposal will help the economy grow by expanding options for immigration for foreign entrepreneurs who meet criteria for attracting investment, creating jobs and generating revenue.”

The proposal has now been put out for consultation and an update will be published in October.

Review of the UK's immigration process

Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered a review of immigration policy ahead of negotiations to leave the European Union.

Immigration to the UK has been of growing public concern and some ideas being mooted include offering low skilled workers from the EU a work permit alongside a tougher Australian style points-based system.

The government’s migration advisory committee has also unveiled a report that reveals that low skilled migrants to the UK have put pressure on social housing supply and education, as well as health and transport services.

The report highlights that while highly skilled expats moving to the UK bring positive benefits, having so many low skilled migrants is, the report states, creating a ‘burden’.

Expat teachers to be laid off in Kuwait

According to media reports, hundreds of expat teachers working in Kuwait could soon be losing their jobs.

As the country pushes to increase the number of Kuwaitis working in education, up to 400 expats could be released by the Ministry of Education.

One newspaper says a list of those who are going to be made redundant has already been prepared. The layoffs are aimed at ensuring that one in four teachers in some subjects, including social studies and computer science, are filled by Kuwaitis.

The expat teachers affected will be told in October that their contracts will be terminated.

The most innovative countries are…

A survey has found that European economies are dominating the ranks for being the most innovative countries which offer expats and locals opportunities to develop ideas and businesses.

The list is led by Switzerland with strong showings from Sweden and the UK.

It has been compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and Insead, a business school.

Switzerland has retained its number one position from 2015, while the UK fell from second to third place and Sweden moved into second place.

In fourth place for the most innovative countries is the USA, followed by Finland, Singapore, Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany. China is now in 25th place, a rise from 29th last year.

The survey examined infrastructure, research, creative output as well as market and business sophistication.

The director-general of the WIPO, Francis Gurry, said it was important that countries invest in innovation as a critical way to boost long-term economic growth.

UAE expats not saving for retirement

Despite expats from Western countries moving to the UAE to earn high salaries, many are not planning for their financial future.

Most nationalities working there enjoy a tax-free status but they are not saving adequately for their retirement, according to a newspaper report.

One financial adviser said that in their experience just 10% of Western expats were saving for their retirement.

The reasons for not saving include enjoying an expensive lifestyle and paying off debts in their home country, which means most expats are unable to save.

British expats don't have medical insurance

According to a new survey, around 60% of British expats who move overseas do not arrange medical insurance before leaving.

That’s the finding from AXA PPP International, who say that four out five expats said they were concerned about accessing quality healthcare while living in another country, though 60% do nothing to arrange it.

In addition, around 80% of expats said they were concerned about finding a good doctor, 42% said they would organise healthcare when they arrived in the new country and nearly 20% said that their travel insurance came with healthcare cost cover.

The firm’s managing director, Tom Wilkinson, said: “Those who are used to having a state health service do not realise that in some countries everyday costs such as prescriptions and medical practitioner charges are not covered. Also, even the emergency services in some countries must be paid for upfront, such as ambulance transport.”

Bahrain launches campaign against recruitment firms

A campaign that will punish recruitment firms that withhold the passports of expat workers in Bahrain has been launched.

Growing numbers of expats have been complaining that employers are blackmailing them into paying huge sums of money for their passports to be returned, says the Migrant Workers Protection Society which has launched the campaign.

A spokesman for the association said: “We recommend that those employers who don’t return passports are penalised so it sends a clear message that the practice is not acceptable.”

New Zealand expats don't like Australia

Around half of New Zealand expats living in Australia say they feel discriminated against, according to a report.

Indeed, more expats from New Zealand expressed the sentiment than any other nationality in the Scanlon Foundation’s report.

The report also reveals that nearly 30% of New Zealand’s expats say their experience of living and working in Australia has been negative. The expats also express low levels of distrust in the country’s political parties and the federal parliament, as well as the Department of Immigrant and Border Protection.

With nearly 635,000 New Zealand citizens living in Australia temporarily, as at the end of 2015, one reason for the levels of resentment include not being entitled to the same benefits as Australian citizens.

Around half of New Zealanders also say that they’ve experienced discrimination because of their religion, ethnic origin or skin colour over the past year, with most abuse being verbal and only very few saying that they had experienced physical assault.

Expats in Kuwait to pay water bills

Expats living in Kuwait look set to be paying their water bills after the Ministry of Electricity and Water announced it is importing 100,000 smart meters for installation in shops and apartment buildings.

The result will see tenants being billed for water fees directly for their water use in apartments rather than the building owner paying a water bill for the entire building.

In addition, smart meters for electricity use are also to be installed in apartments in time for new energy tariffs that will come in from next April.

Saudi Arabia establishes new expat complaints system

Saudi Arabia has announced that it has put in place a new procedure for dealing with expat complaints more quickly, according to one newspaper.

The move by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development says expats are increasingly complaining about delays in the payment of salaries, for instance, and they can now lodge a complaint and have the problem settled quickly.

The ministry says it will help expats with legal representation so they can present their case in a labour court. This representation will be free.

The ministry also says it will defend the rights of labourers and expats and prevent private establishments from ‘shirking their responsibilities’.

In addition, the ministry is also set to provide more rights for expatriates over issues of healthcare and food.

In other news…

Expats living in Shanghai have expressed worries that the city is planning to remove English street signs in a bid to make room for larger Chinese language street signs which would be easier for drivers to see and read.

A new digital visa application service for visiting the UK has been rolled out to 180 countries, with applicants also able to use mobile devices to apply for a UK Visa. The move follows a pilot that was run in China and it is now being rolled out around the world in 10 languages.

Expats from Canada who have dual citizenship and who are planning on visiting the country must have a Canadian passport from September. The country’s new electronic screening system will no longer recognise the passport of the holder’s other country where they have citizenship.

Expats living illegally in Qatar have been given three months to leave the country without facing ‘legal consequences’. It’s the first time Qatar has offered a grace period for more than 10 years and the aim is to encourage expats working illegally without a visa to leave.

French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy has announced plans for expats not being granted citizenship until they have lived in the country for 10 years. He has also announced that the right to citizenship for those born in France will now not be an automatic process.

Courts in the Philippines are warning expats to control their emotions in public, since flashing the middle finger is an offence that could lead to their deportation. There are apparently a growing number of cases of expats being found guilty of flashing their middle finger during arguments, which must be punished by deportation under Federal Penal Law.

Expats who are living in and around Brussels are being targeted by the Flemish Brabant tourism agency, which has produced a booklet in English to help introduce expats to attractions close to the capital.