Expat Focus International News Update August 2019

The best expat countries for quality of life

The best places for expats to live in the world are, according to a survey, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The poll was undertaken by Numbeo, a global database of consumer prices, who found that Denmark is the most highly rated country for delivering the best quality of life for expats.It was followed by Switzerland and Finland. The worst country for expats wanting a good quality of life is Bangladesh. The index is based on data submitted by expats living around the world.

Surprises in the Best Expat City Index

Meanwhile, Glasgow is the top-rated city in Europe for expats to live in, according to a new index. Glasgow beat the likes of Bern and Madrid into the top 10.

According to the index, Ottawa is the best city for expats, followed by Canberra, Wellington and Toronto. Glasgow is in fifth place, followed by Bern, Madrid, Melbourne and Abu Dhabi. Amsterdam is in 10th place.

The best city for expats to earn the most money is Zurich and researchers say that the UK lags behind Sweden and Germany when it comes to average net earnings.

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Both New York and San Francisco are ranked ahead of London for quality of life though the UK can boast of having the highest number in the top 1,000 universities list.

The worst city of the 70 that were analysed in the index for expats is Cape Town in South Africa, which has poor safety levels for expats plus high unemployment and traffic congestion issues.

Pledge to EU expats in the UK

The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to offer 3.2 million EU nationals currently living in the country ‘certainty’ about their future.
However, he has been criticised for declining to enshrine this pledge into law.

Mr Johnson has told MPs that the ability of EU migrants to remain in the country after Brexit would be ‘guaranteed’. While the previous Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement would have guaranteed the rights of EU citizens, there was no protection should the UK leave the EU under a no-deal scenario. Mr Johnson says he wants to retain the ‘talent and skills’ and the ‘diversity’ of EU migrants.

New visa to attract expat talent to the UK

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has unveiled a plan to attract the brightest and best expat scientists from around the world. The move is a bid to counter a reduction in EU research funding, including losing key European researchers.

Now Mr Johnson says there will be a new visa aimed at attracting the best brains in engineering, technology and general science. Also, the new visa will not need an existing job offer to be applicable and will allow an applicant to seek work in the UK.

Expats' work-life balance improves abroad

Researchers have revealed that working hours are not important to an expat wanting to improve their work-life balance.

The findings from AXA Global Healthcare revealed that 46% of expats say that since moving abroad, their work-life balance has improved. However, just 22% of those questioned said they are working fewer hours after moving overseas.

Around 34% of expats are working between 40 and 45 hours every week, while 22% are working for more than 46 hours. The figures highlight that working fewer hours is not important for improving an expat’s work-life balance.

Instead, expats say that having improved leisure opportunities, for 35%, was more important, while 32% said that having a high disposable income helped. When looked at on a country level, expats in the UAE are more likely to have an improved work-life balance, for 61% of expats there. This puts them ahead of expats in France, on 52%, and the UK, with 46%.

The chief executive of AXA, Tom Wilkinson, said:

"A work-life balance is important to the happiness and health of all employees and expats are no different. An overseas job can be intense, so it's important that employers ensure they give support through a secondment."

He added that having a good work-life balance does not rely on the hours being worked and that it’s ‘encouraging that for most expats, their new lifestyle is paying off’.

The most expensive US cities for expats

Expats heading to the US will find that their cost of living will vary around the country and a new survey reveals the 25 most expensive destinations for them to live in.

The findings from the Council for Community and Economic Research has placed Manhattan as the priciest place for expats to live in.

Researchers looked at the cost of housing, groceries, transportation and healthcare in 257 cities to put their index together.
In second place is San Francisco, followed by Honolulu, Brooklyn, Seattle and Washington DC.

Expats will find that their largest expanse expense for the top five cities will be rent, which accounts for 29% of their financial outgoings. For example, a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan will cost around $3,100 (£2,552) per month.

In a separate study, the council says the least expensive city in the US for expats is Harlingen in Texas.

Expats to the US hit by new rules

Fears are growing that new immigration rules for expats heading to the US could drastically reduce the number of legal applications. President Donald Trump unveiled the new rules which would also deny permanent residency as well as work visas to applicants.

The law currently states that anyone seeking a ‘green card’ must prove their legal status and that they will not be a burden to the country. However, there are a number of new rules that could disqualify them from accessing a green card.

Among the issues being looked at is whether an immigrant uses Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other government assistance schemes. The new rules will also take into account an applicant’s education, health and household income.

Petition organised by expats in Thailand

Expats living and working in Thailand have organised a petition urging the government to reform Article 37 which compels any foreigner living in the country who visits another province to report to immigration. While the rule was applied loosely previously, expats say they are finding that the authorities are imposing fines after travelling to other provinces and returning home.

This extends to those who may spend a weekend away and technically cannot work when they return to their job without reporting to immigration. Also, more Thai nationals are being fined for not reporting expats who may have stayed in their accommodation.

British expats struggle with French authorities

British expats in France are complaining that French authorities there are ‘not interested’ in their residency permit applications. They say officials are refusing or not wanting to cooperate when an expat applies for a residency permit.

Under the law, it’s not mandatory for expats to have the residency card but they can have one issued if they meet the residency requirements, usually if they have lived for more than five years in the country.

In other expat news …

It has been revealed that 75% of women in Bahrain’s prisons currently are expats. The government figures reveal that of 116 inmates, 87 are expats.

The government in Papua New Guinea has unveiled a plan to investigate companies, organisations and government institutions that may be breaching laws on expat employment there. The move is part of a review looking at tightening expat employment policies, particularly for those expatriates in senior positions in companies and government institutions.

A survey from health insurer MetLife has revealed that American employees are keen to work overseas but rarely do. Their findings highlight that 67% of those questioned said they were interested in working for at least three months overseas and 24% said they were unsure if their employer offered expat assignments. However, just 15% of American employees say they have undertaken an expat assignment.

A study by the Belgian government has revealed that a no-deal Brexit will destroy 1.2 million jobs across the European Union. Researchers say that Spain will lose up to 70,000 jobs and Germany could lose around 300,000. They point out that France will lose 141,000 jobs while in the UK there could be up to 500,000 redundancies. However, when looked at as a percentage, Ireland could see more than 50% of all its employment being lost and will be one of the hardest-hit countries. The figures have been calculated by looking at EU and worldwide supply chains as well as direct trading links with the UK.

Saudi Arabia has revealed that expats will no longer be employed in the kingdom’s hotel sector by the end of the year. The rule will apply to all staff being hired for hotels, as well as villas and resorts.

Bizarre new rules aimed at expats in Kuwait have led to an outcry in the country. Among them is one that prevents expats from entering fish auctions while in progress and not allowing expats to renew or obtain a new driving licence while having an outstanding fine.

New rules on wills in the UAE for non-Muslims have been revealed and mean that DIFC courts in Dubai will now accept wills that have assets across the country and overseas. The move will mean that expats will no longer need several wills and just one will is going to be valid in the English language DIFC Courts.

Oman’s government has revealed that its temporary ban on expat hiring has been extended to include four more jobs in the country’s private sector. The move is part of its Omanisation process with the ban on expat hiring in sales and marketing, IT, engineering and human resources being extended from August for another six months. Also, more than 65,000 expats left Oman in the year to May 2019 and the government says that the number of expats now living in the country has fallen to 2,017,000.

Nepal has revealed that the number of work permits being handed to expats fell by 30% last year, compared to the year before. The number of work permits now match those being issued in 2016-17 with most expats in the country working on infrastructure and hydropower projects as well as a medicine and hospitality sectors.

Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior has revealed that the residence permits of 102,000 expats were cancelled from 2015 to the end of 2018. The expats had been working in government and civil sectors with Asian workers accounting for 63% of the total and Arab expats accounting for 32%. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has revealed that 299 expat teachers lost their jobs at the end of the financial year and have been replaced with 275 Kuwaitis. The teachers were working in Islamic education, social studies, social and computer studies.

According to the 2019 Remote Workers Index, the best country in Europe for digital nomads is the Netherlands, followed by Germany. The index looks at broadband connectivity and the ease of becoming a remote worker. In third place is Spain, followed by the UK, Poland and France. Austria, Denmark and the Czech Republic makes up the top 10.

The government of Moldova has revealed that it is suspending its citizenship by investment programme after questions were asked about the companies involved. Among the problems is one Dubai property developer using the prospect of a Moldovan passport that gives access to visa-free travel to 121 countries, including the European Union, to buy a property there.

The United Arab Emirates has revealed that applications for its six-month multiple entry visa can now be made from outside of the country. The visa covers all categories of entrepreneur, investors, students and talented professionals who are interested in a long-term residency visa. The visitor’s visa is aimed at giving potential job applicants an opportunity of visiting the UAE and reviewing its facilities and whether they would like to move there.

A new start-up in Copenhagen, Denmark, says it aims to correct an imbalance that sees expats there paying up to 28% more in rent than Danes. Rent Hero is aimed at landlords who target expats with extortionate rent levels and will educate expats about the legality of a rental contract and if they are overcharged there will be help when seeking compensation.


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