Expat Focus International News Update 22 March 2017

Brexit date revealed

The UK will trigger Article 50, which is the process to begin the formal Brexit negotiations, on Wednesday 29 March.

That’s when the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, will notify the European Union officially that the UK is leaving.For this to happen, the Prime Minister will need to write to the European Union’s 27 member states to inform them and the UK believes that negotiations will begin soon afterwards.

The negotiations are set to last for two years which means the UK will leave the EU officially in March 2019 – though this date is subject to change, depending on the complexity of negotiations.

Both sides of the debate have flagged up the issue of EU expats in the UK and British expats living in the European Union and how they will be dealt with during negotiations

Big leap in numbers applying for UK citizenship

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Growing numbers of EU expats are applying for UK citizenship or permanent residency certificates over fears of what post-Brexit Britain may look like.

Official figures show that more than 16,750 expats from EU countries were granted UK citizenship last year; that’s the second highest figure ever recorded.

Of those, 6,500 were from France, Germany and Spain, which is a 50% rise on 2015’s figure.

The UK’s government has said that the rights of around 3.2 million EU nationals who are working and living in the UK will be a priority issue for them during Brexit negotiations, though they also state that this depends on the offer being made to British citizens living in the EU.

However, experts are also predicting that there will be a glut of applications for UK citizenship in the coming months but the system already cannot cope.
According to citizenship experts, there are around 85,000 pending citizenship applications still to be processed.

Expats warned of terrorist threat

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is warning expats as well as tourists of an imminent terrorist threat in south-east Asia.

The agency’s director-general, Duncan Lewis, said Australians are particularly under threat, with large numbers living, working and holidaying in the region.

ASIO say their big worry is that more than 600 people from the region have gone to the Middle East to fight with terrorist groups and are heading home now that the tide is turning against IS.

Mr Lewis told reporters that 195 passports have been cancelled since 2012 and another 36 have been suspended.

Happiest US cities revealed

Expats heading to the US may be interested in learning which are the happiest places for those living there.

A well-being index has placed Naples in Florida in top spot.

The findings are based on a survey which questioned people about what makes them happy and those respondents who enjoy a healthier and wealthier existence and also have the better weather are said to be the happiest.

Next on the happiness index is Barnstable in Massachusetts, then California’s Santa Cruz and then Honolulu, with Charlottesville in Virginia taking the fifth spot.

This is the second year that Naples has topped the poll which also looks at financial security, social cohesion and how often residents try new things.

Expats in Tanzania have passports seized

The leader of Tanzania has ordered the seizure of expat construction workers’ passports.

The workers are employed by an Indian infrastructure company that has been engaged to create a water project that is behind schedule.

Now the president of Tanzania, John Magufuli, says the passports should be seized until the water project is completed.

The Indian company at the centre of the episode has declined to comment.

Kuwait MP criticises expats

Kuwait’s only female MP, Safaa Al-Hashem, has defended her proposal that would see expats receiving medicines at a public clinics and hospitals coming to an end.

The MP says that the only way to improve health services for Kuwaiti citizens is to reduce expenditure on expats.

She also says that the consultation fees of KD1 (£2.65/$3.28) and KD2 are far too low for expats being treated in clinics and hospitals and they should be paying more. Al-Hashem says expats should also pay for prescribed drugs from pharmacies.

Her call has been criticised by doctors in the country and other groups supporting the human rights of expats living and working there.

However, the demand coincides with research from the government which has set out a timetable to stop hiring expats in some sectors.

The country’s Ministry of State also says marginal labourers should be deported when their contracts end.

The ministry also wants to punish visa traffickers, boost the numbers of Kuwaitis in the workforce, and deport people who have expired residency papers more quickly.

Peru introduces new expat migration law

A new migration law for expats has come into effect in Peru, with the new legislation making it easier for foreigners that have qualifications to enter the country.

The restrictions for volunteers and investors that will help to develop the country have also been relaxed.

Expats can now get a visa for 183 days as a volunteer or tourist and if they are business partners, researchers or temporary workers then it is for 365 days.

The residency rules have also been changed, with a new 365-day residence permit being created for professional experts, retirees, students and religious volunteers.

Peru is also encouraging expats to apply for a visa for business reasons. Should their investment be successful then they could qualify for a residency permit as an investor.

Sky unveils new app streaming service

Expats in the UK, Germany and Italy wanting to access foreign language content for their TV can access a new app streaming service from Sky TV.

OnPrime TV offers services in Arabic, South Asian and Russian. There’s a free 30-day trial and the offering is bundled with film, news and television channels for a variety of prices.

The news coincides with an announcement from BBC and ITV, which are creating a subscription channel in the US.

The long-awaited service will provide content for expats and Anglophiles alike at $6.99 every month.

British expats wary about investing in Spain

A study has revealed that British expat pensioners are increasingly nervous about living in Spain once the UK leaves the European Union.

Researchers say they are worried about their health care provision and pensions.

In addition, the number of British people aged over 55 who are enquiring about buying a dream property in the Costas has now flatlined.

Property website Kyero says the numbers of British retirees wanting to move to Spain has declined substantially in recent months.

However, the firm reports that interest from other EU nationalities, particularly from Germany, is helping to keep the Spanish market buoyant.

The news coincides with a leading Spanish politician telling The Times that the Spanish government is open ‘in principle’ to expats in the country retaining their healthcare access.

In other news…

A new concierge service for expats has been unveiled in Vietnam to enable them to answer a variety of questions from expats living there. The service now covers Hanoi and Saigon.

Turkey is urging its expat population to return home regularly for weddings and holidays, with the community in Germany being targeted first. The Turkish government wants to boost the country’s tourism earnings and make it one of the world’s most popular tourism destinations.

Fans of Irish butter Kerrygold in Wisconsin may be disappointed to hear that stockists are being told to comply with the state’s rules and remove the product from shelves or face fines and potentially jail.

Indian expats living in Europe can now access Bobbles TV on satellite services. Other services include Chinese, Vietnamese and Indonesian channels.

Road injuries involving expats in Amman have begun to fall, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information. They say that there’s been a 28% drop in the number of injuries and deaths from road accidents in the year to January. The number of expats being injured has fallen by 10.4% to just 60, while the death rate has fallen by 10% to 52.

The number of Swiss expats living overseas has reached a record figure of 775,000 people at the end of 2016. Most of them are living in Europe and hold dual nationality, with France playing host to more than 200,000 Swiss nationals. The next most popular countries are Germany, then the US, Italy, Canada and the UK. The Swiss Abroad community says numbers have increased by nearly 3% with more Swiss nationals moving overseas than are returning home.

Ecuador may not be a top destination for those conducting international business but it has brought in new laws to boost its immigration scheme and attract more expats to work there. There are now new conditions for temporary and permanent residency and an improved visa application process.

Irish expats may be entitled to vote in future presidential elections, if a new constitutional referendum is passed. The public vote will also extend to expats living in Northern Ireland.

Authorities in Beijing have begun a programme of asking expats how the city can be improved as the central government begins to devolve powers. Among the categories where expats are being urged to offer an opinion are how to prepare for the 2022 Winter Olympics, how to boost the city’s economy, and how to solve issues with traffic congestion and pollution.

The number of foreign students applying to study at US colleges is now in decline with fears over how they will be welcomed and issues over obtaining visas, a survey reveals. Nearly 40% of US colleges say the number of international students has fallen at undergraduate and graduate level.

Dubai has unveiled a new policy for building housing for those on low incomes, including expats. The policy will classify residents in strategic sectors and for those areas and jobs that are necessary, then the government will provide housing to meet employers’ needs.

Expats from 80 countries will no longer need a visa to travel to Belarus after the country lifted restrictions. Expats can now enter the country for five days but they must enter through the Minsk National Airport.

The British Embassy in the UAE has unveiled a series of comic strips to remind expats and visitors to look after their passports in a bid to reduce the numbers claiming emergency travel documents every year.

The US State Department estimates there are more than 1 million American expats living illegally in Mexico. They say that 80% of the US expat population there lack official documents.

Qatar has revealed that more than 5,000 expats changed their jobs after the country’s new entry, exit and residency law was brought in. The government says the expats had completed their working contract before transferring to new employers. A year ago, the number of expats doing so was 2,288.

French expats hoping to vote in the country’s presidential election have been dealt a blow after the government said it wouldn’t allow overseas electronic voting to take place because of hacking fears. The election will be held in June and expats can register for a proxy or postal vote after the deadline for doing so was extended.

The UAE has revealed it’s looking at strengthening the protection of domestic expat workers in the country with restrictions on their working hours, guaranteed annual paid leave and the right to retain their passports and ID cards.

Expats from South Africa are being urged to promote the country in the countries where they now live. The appeal from Brand South Africa was unveiled at a dinner for 200 expats living in Australia.


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