Expat Focus International News Update 27 April 2017

Why expat assignments end early

Research has revealed that the failure rate for international assignments for expats has doubled over the last four years.

The figure reached 7.2% over the past year, when in 2012 it was just 4.9%.According to ECA International, the main reason for expats failing overseas is down to cultural issues, with the expat and their family struggling to adopt to a new way of life.

Other issues highlighted in the survey reveal expats are feeling isolated, facing language challenges and issues over their security and welfare.

Expats also flagged up difficulties with their accommodation and schooling for their children.

However, in 40% of cases, expats say that their new role did not match their expectations – but 57% of employers say their expat’s performance did not meet their expectations.

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The highest expat failure rates were seen among employers with 10,000 or more employees, with one in 12 overseas assignments being terminated early.

A spokesman for the consultancy said: “Considering how much effort, time and expense is invested for assignments, the disruption of these failures is a disturbing trend.

“The main issue appears to be a mismatch between the expat’s expectations and reality.”

However, there’s also a big issue with employers retaining expat talent with one in eight opting to leave their employer two years after returning from an assignment and taking with them experience and skills that are increasingly expensive to replace.

The biggest migrant group comes from India

The world’s biggest group of migrants comes from India, with 15.5 million Indians accounting for 5% of the world’s expat population, according to the United Nations.

In a report, the UN says there are 243 million expats working around the world and the most popular destination for Indians is the United Arab Emirates with 3.5 million Indians moving there.

The next highest populations of Indian expats are to be found in Pakistan and the United States, both having around 2 million Indian expats.

The UN says that around $582 billion was sent by expats to their home countries in 2015, a 2% fall on the year before.

Indians remitted $69 billion which accounted for 3% of India’s gross domestic product and made it the number one country for migrant remittances.

The UN report says that after India, the top 10 countries for sending expats overseas include Mexico, Russia, China and Bangladesh, with the UK in 10th spot.

The number one hosting country for expats is the USA, followed by Germany, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UK with other popular countries including Canada, France, Australia and Spain.

Most family friendly expat locations revealed

A survey of more than 14,300 expats has revealed the friendliest countries for families and there are some surprising entries to the list.
InterNations’ survey places Uganda in first place followed by Israel, Taiwan, Costa Rica and Thailand.

The top 10 also sees Greece, Australia, Mexico, Turkey and the Philippines being described as friendly destinations for expat families.

The survey reveals that most expats in Uganda say the local population are extremely friendly towards children and expat families.

Israelis are considered to be extremely friendly towards expat children and the country offers a good mix of health and education as well.

However, the rankings also show the worst countries for families, with the Czech Republic, Italy, Qatar, Belgium and Hong Kong all ranking poorly.

The bottom spots are taken by Germany, Saudi Arabia, Austria, Russia and Switzerland is in last place.

Expat student numbers fall in Saudi Arabia

The number of expat students in Saudi Arabia has continued to fall, according to official figures.

A newspaper report reveals that the country’s economic difficulties is why there has been a 25% drop in student numbers.

However, the kingdom’s education sector says the number of expat students who will be enrolled by the end of the year could rise by up to 50%.

They say there are a raft of reforms being carried out by government departments and ministries that will help fuel a rise in expat student numbers.

Meanwhile, it has also been revealed that the number of international students heading to the US is in decline.

After years of rapid growth, the numbers applying are now falling – led by a big drop of students from the Middle East wanting to study in the US.

Some universities are reporting that their international student application numbers are down by 39%.

Survey reveals the world's happiest places

A report from the United Nations has revealed the best countries to be happy.

The survey looked at 155 countries and spoke with thousands of people around the world.

The report concludes, not unsurprisingly, that the countries that top the list are considerably richer than the countries that prop up their league table.

These countries also enjoyed economic and political stability, whereas those countries without these are ‘inhibited from enjoying happiness’.

According to the UN, the world’s happiest countries are Norway and then Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

The world’s unhappiest countries are Yemen, Syria and South Sudan.

The report also pinpoints popular expat destinations including New Zealand, in eighth place, Australia in ninth, the US in 14th place and the UK in 19th.

Expat numbers rise in Switzerland

Figures from the Swiss government reveal that the number of expats living in the country has risen by 2.5% to reach 2.1 million people.

This is the first time that the population of foreigners has broken through the two-million barrier. The foreign population now accounts for 25% of Switzerland’s resident population.

The government has also revealed where expats are heading and the economic hubs of Zurich and Geneva are the main spots followed by Vaud for its high-paying jobs.

The areas also have some of the world’s best living standards.

There are now 263,000 expats in the canton of Vaud and while Geneva is third in the numbers stakes, expats in the city account for 40% of the city’s population.

Expats in Japan do not clock off early

A study by the BBC says that an effort by authorities and employers in Japan to make people leave work early has not been very successful.
Expats working in the country are expected to rack up long hours in the office.

There has been a growing trend for employers, particularly those in Tokyo, to encourage their workers to leave early when it’s the last Friday of the month.

However, few people have decided to take employers up on their offer despite the government backing the initiative and urging employers to do the same.

The aim is to reduce workplace stress and employers were told to encourage workers to leave at 3 o’clock on what is known as ‘Premium Friday’.

Some employers are offering their staff bonuses to leave early of around ¥3200 (£23/$29) but few, if any, expats are thought to accept the incentive.

Expat Brits will miss out on vote

Despite a promise in the 2015 election to enable British expats who have lived overseas for at least 15 years to vote in elections, they will not be able to vote in the next General Election on June 8.

The Cabinet office has confirmed to a national newspaper that there will not be time for the government to introduce legislation that would bring about the vote for all British expats.

The news has been greeted with dismay from various overseas expat groups and one organisation has started an online petition demanding their right to vote.

In other news…

A poll of the young expats in Belgium has revealed that 96% of them are happy with their expat life in the country. In addition, 8 out of 10 said that their decision for relocating there had had a positive impact on their career.

A lawyer in Kuwait is urging the government to ban expats from the road. The lawyer says that all driving licences should be temporarily suspended and the issuing of new licences banned completely. The lawyer says the move would ease traffic congestion.

The government in Bangladesh has revealed it is going to form a welfare body that will help protect expats working there from abuse and harassment. There will be special focus on supporting female expats particularly from sexual harassment as well as physical assault.

The Swiss expat group Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) has rejected a move to have English recognised as an additional language for the expat community. However, the move which would see OSA’s documents translated into English looks unlikely to go away and delegates are set to discuss the issue again at their next biennial meeting.

The GCC’s first ever youth survey has been unveiled in the UAE with the aim of understanding the wellbeing and development of youths, including expats, there. All seven emirates are taking part in the nationwide initiative.

Expats in Denmark have been protesting about a new law which could see the minimum period that people have to live in the country being extended to eight years before they can apply for residency. The previous limit was raised from five years to six years just last year. Denmark is now one of the strictest countries to gain residency.

Expats in Oman will be allowed to buy houses in a new property project unveiled by the Ministry of Tourism. The Naseem A’Sabah project will enable expats to ‘own the house of their dreams’ on land that is being reclaimed from the sea off Mawaleh.

A new app called ‘Momzie’ has been unveiled for expat mothers, and mothers-to-be, in Luxembourg. The app is available in English, German and French and enables expat mothers to meet and make friends with other expats living nearby.

Rocketing property prices in Hong Kong are forcing expats to move out of their traditional enclaves to find cheaper housing. Now the expats are heading to Tin Hau, Ham Tin and Tung Chang in search of a better life, reports local media.

Singapore has retained its place as the ‘most liveable city’ for Asian expats, says ECA International. The study places the city ahead of Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney, with Osaka in Japan making up the top five.

Expats in Dubai are being warned over swimwear rules for new beaches, with women being asked to cover their bikinis and instead to dress modestly at the family beaches. The areas on both sides of the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club are now families only and staff will be on hand to insist people follow dress rules and ward off groups of single men.

India has announced changes to its expat students scheme – a popular method for expats and non-resident Indians to enjoy undergraduate studies at a prestigious institution. Now potential students must have lived overseas for five years, rather than the previous limit of two years.

Expats in Dubai looking to renew their driving licence will only have a valid one for five years under new rules that take effect from July 1. The previous length was ten years and this remains for Emiritis.

The government in Jamaica has revealed that 1,644 work permits for expats have been issued in the first four months of 2017. Just one applicant was rejected.

Expats living in South Doha are urging authorities to provide ‘cheap entertainment options’ for their neighbourhood. The call comes after the population there rocketed due to large-scale infrastructure projects though many accommodation units have little for expat workers to do, including things such theatres and cinemas.

Denmark has introduced new regulations for citizens who are married to spouses from outside of the European Union and want to return home. Previously, the country’s unpopular ’26-year rule’ has been removed and new attachment rules have been introduced and a new law will be discussed that will benefit highly paid Danes to meet the requirements easily. With 200,000 Danes living overseas, 10,000 of them could face problems bringing a spouse back to their home country.

Japan has unveiled plans to relax the visa requirements for Chinese expats to visit. The idea to relax visa rules is to encourage more Chinese tourists to the country.


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