Expat Focus International News Update December 2017

UK's Net Migration Falls

Net migration into the UK has fallen by the largest amount ever recorded just a year after the Brexit referendum.

The latest news highlights that net immigration to the UK is at its lowest level for three years, with falling numbers of EU citizens heading to the UK and growing numbers of EU expats leaving. However, the number of EU migrants applying for British citizenship has jumped by 80% and there’s been a fivefold increase in the number of EU workers being issued with a permanent residence card.The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says that overall net migration fell by 106,000 to 230,000 – that’s the difference between the numbers arriving and leaving over the year. It’s also the largest annual fall since records began in 1964.

Meanwhile, the UK government says that since the first stage of Brexit negotiations are now complete, expats in the country can plan for their future with some certainty.

With millions of EU citizens living in the UK, and British expats living in the European Union, all now have a clearer idea of their rights from March 2019 when the UK leaves the EU, though final details will not be published until early next year.

EU ‘Right To Stay’ Forms

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It’s been revealed that the UK’s ‘right to stay’ forms that EU citizens will need to complete after Brexit negotiations are complete will take just a few minutes to complete.

The announcement from the Home Office points out that there would be a ‘presumption in favour’ for approving applications and the process, beginning in late 2018 with EU citizens hearing within two weeks whether their application has been approved.

There are around 3 million EU nationals living in the UK. Until recently they would need to wade through a document of 85 pages for their right to stay, but the new system will have between six and eight questions to answer.

Brandon Lewis, the Home Office minister, said: “EU nationals who are worried about their future can be confident they do not have to do anything immediately.” He added that because of the numbers involved, there will be a presumption that the application will be granted, though fraudulent applications will not be granted settled status.

Best Places In Europe For US Expat Retirees

A survey by one US website has revealed the best places for American expat retirees to live in Europe. Live and Invest Overseas looked at a range of criteria, including weather, cost of living and healthcare systems, to put together a top five destination list for US expat retirees to consider.

Portugal’s Algarve occupies the top spot, followed by Valletta in Malta, Saint Chinian in France and Lisbon takes fourth place. In fifth spot is Budapest in Hungary as a retiree haven.

The website highlights that Europe offers excellent opportunities for US expat retirees because affordable housing is widely available and there’s a relatively low cost of living.

Expats Who Commit Traffic Offenses To Be Deported

Police in Kuwait say they will deport expats who repeatedly violate new laws covering the use of safety belts and using a mobile phone while driving.

The new laws are proving to be controversial, with penalties including the confiscation of the driver’s vehicle for two months. However, expats who repeatedly break the laws have been warned by the country’s head of police that they will be made to leave the country.

The announcement follows a move by one MP who is calling for expat motorists in the country to be taxed KD 1,200 (£2,960/$3,975) every year to help clear Kuwait’s heavily congested roads. The only exemptions to the rules would be private drivers for Kuwaiti families.

Expat Teachers In High Demand

Meanwhile, Kuwait’s Ministry of Education says it will not lay off expat teachers with ‘specialisations that are in demand’ after previous announcements revealing that there will be wholesale replacement of expat teachers there. The Ministry has also announced that expat social workers will be replaced with citizens in the near future.

Kuwait is one of several countries in the Gulf region looking to replace expats with its own citizens and the head of the country’s legislation department says his ministry is also looking to replace expats but is struggling to find enough Kuwaitis with degrees in law plus lots of secretarial staff.

Also, one MP is proposing a law change to enable Arab expats who have lived in the country for 40 years to enjoy ‘special residency status’ so they can access free medical care, housing and education.

Saudi Illegal Expat Crackdown

A crackdown launched in Saudi Arabia has seen 194,000 expats being detained for being ‘illegals’. The operation ran from 15 November to 11 December across the kingdom, with individuals being arrested for having incorrect work permits and also for a lack of residency documents. Police and authorities also detained those who were in the kingdom without having any legal basis for doing so.

All of these expats now face court fines and deportations – and already more than 2,000 expats have been deported. Of those being detained, 77% of the expats are Yemenis while 22% come from Ethiopia.

The move follows an amnesty for illegal expats launched last March in the kingdom for them to leave without facing legal measures or fines for not having the correct paperwork. In recent weeks, authorities have also announced that any Saudi citizen who helps or hosts illegal expats will also be facing hefty fines and the possibility of two years’ imprisonment.

World Talent Rankings Released

The annual IMD World Talent Ranking has placed European economies at the best in the world at not just recruiting top expat talent but also retaining them.

According to the IMD global business school, the best country for talented expats is Switzerland, followed by Denmark and Belgium.

11 of the top 15 most talented competitive economies for expats are in Europe, with the top 10 also seeing Austria, Finland, the Netherlands as well as Norway and Germany making the rankings. Sweden and Luxembourg complete the top 10.

The study looked at 63 different economies and two decades of data to compile the latest findings. While there are few surprises in the tables, Europe scored well because of its outstanding education systems, at every educational level, which enable employers to develop local talent and also attract highly skilled expat professionals.

The findings also suggest that Germany plays a big role in helping the continent sustain its talent competitiveness. A director of IMD, Arturo Bris, said: “Germany is one of the largest talent exporters and also attracts talent from around the world. Its policies sustain access to an international talent pool.”

The study also places Ireland in 14th place, the UK in 21st and France in 27th. The US is ranked in 16th place, with criticism that if the country does not increase public education investment then it will risk losing some of its global competitiveness.

However, the survey shows that the US is investing less in developing its local talent when compared with competitors on the global stage, but it has huge appeal in attracting talented foreign expats with opportunities for career advancement and high salary levels.

From the survey’s results, Japan is 51st among the 63 nations monitored while in Asia the number one spot is taken by Singapore, followed by Hong Kong – Japan is ranked last for Asian countries.

In Other News

Media in Amsterdam have welcomed the European Medicines Agency, which has brought its 900 staff over from London. However, critics say a big influx of expats with big salaries will push up property prices and rents. News reports show graffiti which is critical of the growing expat population there.

One newspaper’s analysis of Saudi Arabia’s housing stock reveals that 36% of homes are occupied by expats. Most are living in Mecca province and they account for 42% of residences, followed by Qassim with 40%. In Riyadh, 39% of the population are expats.

Canada has revealed that nearly one million new permanent residents will be welcomed into the country by the end of 2020, with most moving to Ontario and in particular to the increasingly popular city of Toronto. Under the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement, money will be invested into helping newcomers access training to meet relevant Canadian standards and requirements. Ontario currently welcomes more than 100,000 immigrants into the country’s most prosperous and populous province.

Growing numbers of parents around the world say they would consider a foreign university education for their children, with Chinese and Asian parents most keen to do so. According to the HSBC Bank, 42% of parents are looking for an overseas education, a rise of 36% recorded last year. The top destinations are the US, Australia and the UK.

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for a flexible visa system to boost the number of Indians looking to work and study in the capital in a bid to boost deeper ties between London and India. He told an audience in Mumbai that tighter visa restrictions were seeing talented Indians heading to the US, Canada and Australia rather than the UK.

The UK has unveiled plans to increase the number of visas being made available for talented people in a bid to boost the country’s efforts in technology, creative industries and science. The scheme could see several thousand talented expats being welcomed.

A report from the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, has listed some of the world’s worst cities for welcoming expats, with Paris topping the list. The report also highlights that France is not attractive to expats and singles out the country’s red tape and complex administration system along with low wages and high cost of living. Among highly qualified expats, the report states that the most popular countries for moving to are the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia and the UK.

There are calls in the United Arab Emirates for 8,000 government administration jobs that are currently filled by expats to be quickly replaced with Emiratis. However, critics say that there are more than 30,000 such positions currently filled by expats, the Federal National Council found as part of a hearing into how the expats can be replaced.

The British Council has unveiled classes for expats in Singapore to understand ‘Singlish’ and the local culture. Organisers say there are English terms that are unfamiliar to many foreigners, and expats need to understand Singlish to communicate effectively.

Authorities in Papua New Guinea say that the work permits for all expats in the country are going to be reviewed and new permit rules will be tightened. The aim is to ensure that expats are only working one job – and it has to be the one valid for the work permit.

In a bid to boost tourism, the Department of Tourism in the Philippines is urging expat Filipinos to ‘bring home a friend’ to boost visitor numbers. They say the country could see tens of thousands of extra visitors every year as a result.

On-Call International, a trouble risk management firm, says its clients will now be able to access security training solutions to help them meet their duty of care obligations. The initiative is aimed at offering international employers who want to customise their security training and help mitigate risk and also deal with any emergencies involving expats working overseas.

Expat entrepreneurs looking for the best destination for a technology start-up should head to Brussels where growing numbers of expats there are creating new firms, particularly in financial technology (fintech), says a report from the OECD.

Expats living in Dubai can now learn Arabic for free, with workshops being created to help foreigners learn the language. The workshops are for employees in the private and public sectors, with language materials and teachers being offered free of charge. Expats will also be able to enjoy educational videos posted on social media to help them get to grips with Arabic.


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