Expat Focus Financial Update 06 July 2016

Brexit impact rumbles on for expats

A settlement for British expats living in the European Union will be a key issue in the upcoming Brexit negotiations after the UK government said European nationals can continue to live in the UK.

However, the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the announcement was ‘absurd’ without arranging a similar commitment from European governments for British expats settled in their countries.Mr Hammond says the UK will now need to negotiate with countries to enable a deal that lets British expats continue living and working in their countries and for their citizens to continue working and living in the UK.

Meanwhile, the Brexit vote has also led to a surge in British expats looking to switch nationalities, according to various news reports.

Among the countries that have seen a surge in applications are Belgium, Germany and France.

Also, it’s become apparent that British expat retirees have seen an 8% drop in their spending power because of the fall in the pound’s value.
Many expats will be worried after the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, pointed to sterling becoming weaker over the coming days and weeks.

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The chairman of the International Consortium of British Pensioners, John Markham, told The Guardian newspaper that most expat British retirees are ‘trying to absorb the impact’ and understand whether sterling will recover or continue sliding against the US$.

The currency fluctuation is also affecting Indian expats working in the UK who get paid in rupees; their income has fallen by up to 11% since the Brexit vote result was announced.

However, several providers of Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) have announced that Brexit negotiations will not affect retirement savings.

Oman announces fake degree crackdown

The government of Oman has announced that all job applicants with degrees obtained overseas will now have them checked by a dedicated department, the Department of Qualification Equivalency and Recognition.

The move comes after the Ministry of Higher Education said it’s now seeing so many fake documents that it has created four categories to help determine the cheat certificates.

The new degree checking move will affect all expats and Omanis who have obtained a position with their qualification; the government also wants to monitor the quality of graduates who are working in the Sultanate.

Already this year, authorities have discovered more than 100 degrees that have been faked, and now students who want to study abroad must get the ministry’s approval before doing so.

Expats ditch pets in downturn

Meanwhile, expats in Oman are dumping their pets when leaving the country rather than taking them home, say rescue workers.

The economic downturn has seen a rocketing number of pets being left behind, with one vet who runs a shelter saying she has more than 60 dogs and cats currently being sheltered and looking for new owners.

However, rescue workers say that locals are abandoning their pets on the street as well.

More details on 'Saudisation' revealed

A scheme to reduce the number of expats working in Saudi Arabia to boost employment rates among Saudi citizens will create ‘real opportunities’, the deputy labour minister has told a press conference.

The Mawzoon scheme was unveiled in May and will come into effect in December, with a revised quota system that should bring a ‘dramatic improvement’ in boosting jobs for Saudis.

The aim of the scheme is to boost the number of Saudi nationals in employment, including the number of women, and also to boost the average rate of pay. Saudi authorities also say they are looking for job sustainability as they look to the future without relying so heavily on oil income.

For Saudis the unemployment rate is 11.6%, with the number of those in employment rising by 49,000 last year.

New Zealand town announces desperate need for expats

A small town on New Zealand’s South Island has made headlines around the world with a unique problem of having too many jobs and not enough people to employ.

Now residents in Kaitangata are on a recruitment drive to find people living in larger cities and overseas to relocate there.

In addition to having too many jobs, there are also too many ‘affordable houses’.

The town is in the Clutha region which estimates that it has more than 1,000 jobs to be filled and its youth unemployment rate is now down to two – that’s two unemployed people, not 2%.

Many of the the jobs currently available are in building and nursing with some salaries for workers starting at around £26,500 or NZ$50,000.

In a policy for finding people for the jobs produced by the Clutha Council, they make clear that they are finding it hard to recruit migrants because they have to compete with larger towns but they have jobs with prospects and cheap housing to help attract workers.

Expats are leaving Indonesia

Growing numbers of expats are leaving Indonesia and in their wake they are leaving behind empty houses and jobless maids.

In news reports, the expat exodus is said to be ‘gathering pace’.

Indeed, government figures reveal that in 2013, 194,168 expats were issued with temporary residential permits but last year that figure fell to 171,944. So far this year, just 72,399 permits have been issued.

One reason for the decline in the number of foreign workers is the slump in commodity prices which has led to employers slashing the number of jobs. The government has also brought in tight regulations covering expats moving there.

One of the consequences of so many expats leaving is that the numbers joining international schools is falling and rents for upmarket homes have fallen sharply.

A spokeswoman for Allied Pickfords, an international relocation company, said: “The expat drought is becoming noticeable with the expat community being hit from many angles.”

The fall in expat numbers is already having an impact on various services including housemaids, gardeners, drivers and bodyguards.

In addition, the government looks likely to set an age ceiling for employing expats at 55 years, particularly in the gas and oil industries, although some top executives will be exempt if they have ‘crucial skills’.

Polish expats exploited in Holland

Research has revealed that Polish expats working in the Netherlands are being exploited by recruitment agencies in the country.

The researchers also found that the protective measures in the industry are not working.

The survey found that expats are being cheated out of hundreds of euros every month and many are forced to work and live in poor conditions. In addition, the Poles are forced to work very long days with unpaid overtime, and face threats and intimidation at work.

A director of FairWork, which carried out the survey, said: “Hundreds of Polish migrants contact us every year because they have issues at work and despite them having the same rights as Dutch employees, these expats are often abused.”

One big problem highlighted by the report is that the Dutch employment agencies are self-regulated which is causing issues for migrant workers, says FairWork.

Healthcare costs rise in Abu Dhabi

Expats living and working in Abu Dhabi, along with Emiratis, will be paying more for their healthcare when attending private hospitals after the health authority announced changes to insurance cover.

The changes only affect those who are seeking treatment at a private hospital; procedures at government-run hospitals are unaffected.

The health authority says that the health cover provided for expats and families under the Abu Dhabi Baic Plan, and for Emiritis under the Thiqa plan, will change with locals having to pay 20% of their treatment cost.

However, the changes for expats vary with those aged over 40 facing having to pay 50% more for their policy premium – though this amount could differ between employers and their staff.

Expats also face having to pay half of their policy premium for their dependents, which includes a wife and up to three children.

The health authority says it’s moving towards a sustainable healthcare sector and wants to encourage more competition to boost the range of services being offered and the quality of them.

Visa-free travel between Mexico and Canada

Expats living and working in Mexico and Canada will soon be able to travel between the two countries more easily thanks to a new visa-free travel scheme.

The aim is to boost job prospects for expats as well as trade and visitor numbers.

From December this year, the need for visas for travel between the two countries will be removed, though the finer details to enable Mexicans to travel to Canada are still to be concluded.

International schools struggle to find expat teachers

Recruiters in China say they are struggling to find enough expat teachers willing to move to the country after touring a number of job fairs in the USA.

They say that the demand for qualified teachers is exceeding supply and the UK-based International School Consultancy Research says that the huge growth in the numbers of international schools being set up in China means many are struggling to find qualified professional teachers.

One recruitment firm says the big issue is the disparity between the reality of living in China and a teacher’s expectations.

In addition, China is also tightening the recruitment criteria for expat teachers, with a requirement they have at least five years’ teaching experience and a degree.

Expats in UAE get help

A new website aims to help expats moving to the UAE to settle in with a range of resources and tools on offer.

It’s the brainchild of the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank which points out there is information and help on their site for expats who are already living in the country.

The aim is to tell expats about visa requirements, along with details of finding accommodation and on working in the UAE. There are also cultural facts and help with creating bank accounts.

A spokesman for the bank said: “Moving to a new country involves a lot of paperwork but is an exciting experience. We know from speaking with our customers that they wanted more help and by launching the website we aim to help expats who are new to the UAE and those who are thinking of moving here.”

The website is: http://www.lifeintheuae.com.

In other expat news…

Police in the Netherlands are investigating after two expats claim to have been deceived by fraudsters who said they were from the country’s immigration service demanding cash. The fraudsters used personal information – including their passport numbers – and said that unless they paid up immediately, they would be forced ‘out of the country’.

Expats living and working in Denmark have enjoyed events around the country to meet with Danes in their own homes. The aim was to help Danes and expats reach a better understanding of each other. Organisers say that regular surveys reveal that expats find it difficult to meet Danish people outside of work, while Danes say they are unaware of how expats contribute to their culture and society, and so the events were aimed at bridging that gap.

The UAE is reminding visitors and expats heading for Dubai that from July 15 they will need an e-visa to cross from there into the UAE. Expats will no longer be able to get a visa on arrival. The new rule covers all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) residents and permit holders with expats from 46 countries, including the European Union and the United Kingdom, being exempt and they can still get a visa on arrival or use the e-visa.

Expats with assets held overseas need to be aware of a push by the European Union to clamp down on offshore trusts, particularly those protected by the UK. As a result of their proposed regulations, trusts would have to reveal who their true ultimate owners are in a bid to clamp down on tax avoidance.


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