Expat Focus International News Update 27 January 2017

Expat entrepreneurs encouraged in the US

Expat entrepreneurs may find it easier to enter and remain in the United States if they provide significant employment and economic benefits, says the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The DHS says it has the authority for granting a longer period of stay for those expat entrepreneurs who meet their criteria, but this will be done on a case-by-case basis.The new rule will be introduced on 17 July and nearly 3,000 expats will be eligible every year to stay in the country for up to 30 months. There is the prospect of extending this by an extra 30 months if they meet the DHS criteria.

Under the rules, each start-up could see three expat entrepreneurs being granted eligibility, along with their spouses and children. The spouse may also apply for authorisation to work but the children cannot do so.

One of the criteria includes the start-up receiving a large amount of capital investment from a US investor who has an established record of investments or receiving significant grants awards for research, development or job creation by a government entity.

India grows in popularity with expat entrepreneurs

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However, the US isn’t the only destination that is popular with expat entrepreneurs – the HSBC Expat Explorer survey has highlighted that India is also a popular destination for expats to create a business.

As the world’s quickest growing economy, India is attracting more entrepreneurs than any other place across the Asia Pacific region and the Middle East.

The survey also revealed that India is home to the highest proportion of expats who are working on an international assignment or secondment.

Kuwaiti MPs will debate expat expulsions

MPs in Kuwait have demanded a debate on the country’s planned expulsion of expats.

The debate will take place in February and follows widespread criticism of the plan by news outlets and citizens on social media.

However, the debate will also deal with why the Kuwaiti government is failing to limit the number of expats in the country.

Around 70% of Kuwait’s 4.4 million population are expats and the MPs demanding the debate say they are a ‘minority in their own country’.

The debate will consider the impact of expat numbers on infrastructure and how much money is being remitted out of Kuwait by expat employees.

Expat rights are a 'priority' in Britain

British Prime Minister Theresa May has declared that the rights of expats living in the UK will be dealt with ‘as a priority’ during Brexit negotiations.

She made the announcement in a London speech and reiterated that she also wanted to see the right of UK nationals living in other European Union countries being guaranteed as soon as possible.

Mrs May said that expats from the EU are ‘still welcome’ and she would guarantee their rights immediately if she had reassurances about the rights for British expats in other parts of the EU.

The announcement by Mrs May has prompted the professional body for HR to call on the government to engage with employers to help develop an immigration approach that will deliver the people the country needs with the necessary skills.

Meanwhile, the British government has lost its case at the Supreme Court on whether Parliament should be consulted before article 50 – the process for the UK leaving the EU – is triggered.

Oman plans to retain two-year visa ban

News outlets in Oman are reporting that the government has agreed to retain its two-year visa ban on expat workers who leave the country without obtaining a no objection certificate (NOC) from their employer.

The announcement follows calls for the law to be changed after expats complained that employers are abusing the NOC system.

Trade unions say the ban is hurting expats since they have been effectively bonded to a company and they should be allowed to join an employer after completing a contract.

Saudi Arabia warns expats to register expats’ fingerprints

Expats in Saudi Arabia are being warned their records will be deactivated and they will lose access to online services if they do not register their fingerprints with the government.

The call comes from the kingdom’s Passports Department, which says that the fingerprints of expats and any dependents who are older than six years of age must be registered.

To help the process, there are now fingerprinting centres created across the kingdom.

The move is believed to be part of a crackdown on the number of illegal expats living in the country.

The Passports Department is also warning expats who are in the kingdom on a visitor’s visa to leave before it expires or face legal action which could include fines, imprisonment or deportation.

Expats in France could pay for healthcare

As part of her political campaign in France, Marine Le Pen, who is leader of the National Front party, has said foreign citizens living in France should pay for their own healthcare.

Ms Le Pen says that for the first two years that foreigners spend in France they should not get priority when it comes to healthcare and benefits.

In addition, expats who are working in France legally and paying Social Security and taxes should also pay for their healthcare needs in their first two years in the country; Ms Le Pen says they should also contribute to the cost of educating their children in state schools.

Expats apply for business licences

The demand from authorities in Qatar for expats to have licences for businesses being run from home has led to several applications.

News outlets in the country say the expats are looking to create businesses in sewing and tailoring as well as cooking and gift packaging and to do so with legal permission to earn extra money.

However, there are restrictions on running a home business in Qatar; the applicant must be 18 or older and a resident of the house where the business is being run.

The licence fee is QR 1,020 (£225/$280) every year and just one licence will be granted per property.

Expats in China face VPN crackdown

The Chinese authorities have announced a crackdown on people using unauthorised VPNs (virtual private networks), which means many expats living there will be affected.

A VPN enables an expat to use the internet and access websites overseas – which may be banned by the government – for news and social media without their activities being monitored; expats will mainly use VPNs to boost their privacy.

The government has announced that all VPN and cable services must have government approval before they can be used for business activities that operate across China’s borders.

The crackdown has already begun and will end in March next year and is aimed towards small businesses in the country who get around the country’s ‘Great Firewall’ to conduct business overseas.

Now these firms must use government approved VPN services which are much more expensive or risk break the law.

Date for new expat fees in Saudi revealed

The new fees that expats with dependents must pay while living in Saudi Arabia will be SAR100 (£22/$27) every month for each individual.

The fees will need to be paid up-front to cover the full year before a new residency visa will be granted.

However, from July next year, the fees will double and in 2019 will rise to SAR300 and then SAR400 in 2020.

The visa fees will be paid into the country’s coffers, as will the new expat charge that private sector employers must pay from this year which will be SAR200 a month – and this figure will double next year as well.

Expat children do not forget mother tongue

Babies and toddlers who head overseas with a knowledge of their mother tongue in the first few months of their life will not forget the language and will retain a knowledge of it to relearn in later life, says a recent study.

Scientists at a Dutch university studied 25 Korean adults who had been adopted shortly after being born into families that spoke Dutch and they found the Koreans still remembered some things from their native language many years later.

This is the first study that shows that children who, as toddlers, switch languages and then are given the chance to relearn their mother tongue will pick it up quickly as they haven’t really ‘forgotten’ it.

Expats are being told by researchers that they should talk to their children in their native language since they will absorb and process what is being said.

The best destinations for an expat's career

The most recent instalment of the HSBC Expat Explorer survey has revealed which destinations are the best for an expat’s career.

Of the 10 best countries for a successful career, six are in Europe.

The survey questioned nearly 27,000 people who are working around the world about their experiences.

A spokesman for HSBC Expat said: “Europe is home to some of the best destinations, according to our survey, for the expat to have a successful career. Six of these European countries in the top 10 have been recognised for their great worklife balance, strong work culture and offering relatively good job security.

“What is clear from our survey is that working overseas offers expats a wealth of opportunities that will suit many different personal priorities and career needs.”

The best destination for expats, for the second year running, is Switzerland which also offers an excellent potential income of around $188,000, which compares favourably with the global average expat salary of $97,419.

In second place for the best career destinations for expats is Germany, while Sweden picks up third place. The UAE is in fourth spot with one of the best employment packages available and in fifth place is Norway which enters the top 10 for the first time with an excellent worklife balance for expats.

In other news…

A new cohort of expat students who will be studying at the New York University in Abu Dhabi and living in UAE homes have agreed to speak only Arabic while living with their host families. The eight students say the move will boost their hopes of learning the language.

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower has published figures that the number of expats in the city state has remained stable over the past few years. In 2016, there were 189,600 pass holders which is a slight rise on the year before. The figures also revealed that the average salary expats are earning there is $3,300 per month.

Tourism bosses in Malaysia have unveiled plans to target expats living there to have holidays in the country to enjoy its delights and help encourage more spending with the country’s currency falling in value against the US dollar.

The UAE’s Federal National Council has been told that the country is looking to boost the number of highly skilled expats living and working there to 30% of its workforce by 2021. Currently, just one million of the country’s 4.7 million population are executives and highly skilled employees.

Oman’s Ministry of Manpower says that more than 400 expat workers have been caught every week over the past year breaking the country’s labour laws; many of these are then deported to their home countries. In separate figures, the country has revealed that Bangladeshis are now the largest expat group in Oman with 694,449 citizens living there.

Authorities in Bahrain have unveiled plans for expats to undergo regular health check-ups in private health institutions. The mandatory medical check-up will be a condition of the expat renewing their residency permit.

Dubai’s Statistics Centre has revealed that a baby is born in the country every 3.5 hours but most of them are to expats, who have a birth rate that is nearly three times that of UAE citizens. In 2016, expat births reached 22,755 compared with 7,728 Emiratis.

The South Korean Shinhan Bank has launched a mobile app aimed at expats; the multilingual application enables expats to check their account balance as well as exchange rate and also to make international and local transfers. It’s also possible to link up with a call centre where there are staff available to speak in the expat’s own language.


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