Expat Focus International News Update July 2018

London top city to find work

The best city in the world that expats want to move to is London, a study by the Boston Consulting Group has revealed. In their Decoding Global Talent 2018 report, they put the English capital in first spot, with 22% of expats saying they were happy to move there, followed by New York with 16%.The top five also sees Berlin, Barcelona and Amsterdam make the grade. The next most attractive city is Dubai, followed by Los Angeles, Paris, Sydney and Tokyo.

The report found that 57% of workers said they were open to moving to another country for employment purposes, but that is 7% lower than a similar study carried out in 2014.

The report points out:

“Though the US is the world's most popular destination overall, it's less attractive to people who are in Mexico and other countries where it was the first choice previously.”

The researchers also found that workers in China are less willing to leave their country than they were in 2014, while 90% of workers in India said they would move overseas for the right job.

Experts in areas such as mobile app development, artificial intelligence, interface design and machine learning are among the most willing to move countries for the right job.

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Kuwait fires more expats

It has been revealed that Kuwait has fired more than 1,600 expat employees this year – which is nearly three times the number of expats the country fired in the whole of 2017.

The redundancies are part of the Kuwaitisation programme to reduce the number of expats in the country and boost work opportunities for locals in the public services.

The Civil Service Commission says that 1,629 expat workers have so far this year been fired, compared to 666 last year. In a country that offers guaranteed employment to all of its citizens, there are 12,000 Kuwaitis registered as unemployed, with its citizens accounting for 76% of the country’s public sector workforce.

Meanwhile, The Ministry of Education has also announced 2,000 new teaching jobs for Kuwait’s public schools. The ministry says that the jobs are for new expat teachers, whether they’ve been hired from overseas or locally.

The government says the country is in need of expat teachers with specialisations in science, maths and languages.

Americans ask for independence

A group calling themselves Accidental Americans are urging President Trump to give them ‘independence’. They say that Americans who have barely any ties to the US should be free of the burdens that tie them to the passport. Namely, they should not be made to file tax returns every year, regardless of the fact they do not live in America and in many cases have not been there since they were born.

No one knows how many accidental Americans there are and the US State Department does not recognise the term as an official status of citizenship.

Webber, the advocacy group, says there are several million Americans around the world who not only want to be free of their tax filing obligations but also want to abandon their passports, but can’t afford to do so because of the costs and bureaucracy involved.

The group currently has 570 members with affiliates in Italy, Ireland and Belgium. A spokesperson said the average person in the group is 47 years old and left the US before they had turned three. Many members do not even speak English.

They are now urging President Trump to allow accidental Americans to renounce their citizenship at a minimal price and reduce restrictions on those who want to keep their US passport.

Australian expats struggle to find work when returning home

It’s been revealed that the average time for an Australian expat to find work after returning to their home country is 10 weeks. One in three said it was difficult finding a suitable role that matched their skills and experiences, while one in five Australian expats said they had to accept a lower level role.

However, 54% of Australian respondents said their main reason for overseas work was to experience other cultures and just 21% of Australian expats said they worked overseas to gain work experience specifically.

The research was carried out by the University of Technology Sydney, who said that expats who have expectations of advancing their career by working overseas should plan what they want to get out of an assignment and achieve those objectives before returning home.

American H-1B visas will restrict entrepreneurs

A study looking at the restriction on the issuing of American H-1B visas, which encourage entrepreneurs and professionals to the country, will put these expats off when country needs them most.

The Trump Administration has stated an aim of eliminating or restricting the H-4 visa, which is for spouses of those holding the H-1B visa.
But this could have unintended consequences which include affecting the wellbeing of dependents and the entrepreneurs the US wants to attract.

Researchers at the University of Tennessee say the restrictions on spouses and dependents moving with the H-1B holder will lead to a lower overall life satisfaction. And with a failed expat assignment costing between $250,000 and $1 million for employers, this could be a costly mistake to make.

Latest figures on Saudi’s expat crackdown

The latest figures on the crackdown on expats violating labour and residency laws in Saudi Arabia have been revealed.

Since November last year, 1.32 million expats have been arrested. Of these, 337,000 were deported to their home countries with another 12,337 being held in detention centres to finalise procedures against them.

Officials say that 984,000 expats violated residency visas, while 229,000 violated labour laws and 106,000 violated border security.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labour has revealed that engineering graduates in the kingdom who are the dependents of expats cannot work in engineering roles.

This follows an agreement with the Saudi Council of Engineers to prevent recruitment of expat engineers from outside the country who have practical experience of fewer than five years in a bid to boost employment of Saudi nationals, which is currently 60% in engineering posts.

Expat numbers fall in Oman

The number of expats in Oman has fallen by 96,000 after the country decided to ban temporarily work visas in 10 sectors.

The National Centre for Statistics and Information shows that since the ban was brought in last January, there are now just over two million expats living and working in the country.

The sectors affected include engineering, information systems and aviation as the country aims to ‘Omanise’ the labour market. Meanwhile, it’s been revealed that growing numbers of employers in Oman are opting to use short-term work visas for expats rather than the two year traditional visa.

The Oman Society of Contractors says employers are worried about financial issues and adds that investors too are choosing short term work visas.

In other news…

China has handed 12 more green cards to talented expat professionals living and working in Shanghai. The permanent residency cards now bring the total number handed to outstanding expat professionals there to 85.

Population growth in the UK is slowing down as EU expats increasingly shun the country because of Brexit. The net migration figure from the EU is now 244,000 for 2017, a fall of 75,000 on the year before – that’s the lowest figure for six years. However, numbers of expats arriving in the UK from outside of the European Union have increased to 205,000.
While Brexit negotiations are ongoing, the European Union says that UK driving licences may become invalid after Brexit in all of the EU’s member states. The European Commission says that the mutual recognition of British and EU driving licences will end when the UK leaves the EU and this will see a return to international driving permits.

Expats who are working for public departments in Oman are now allowed to sponsor visas. According to the Royal Oman Police, foreigners who own some types of property can also receive a visa without having a sponsor. A police official quoted in local media says expats are able now to become sponsors of their family members if they meet certain conditions. Meanwhile, Oman has also announced that it is introducing ten-day visitor visas for just $13 (£9.80).

Kuwait’s Public Authority for Manpower says employers can cancel the work permit of any expat employee who has been imprisoned or has have absconded – the employer can also cancel their residency permit. The authority says that employers must submit a request to cancel the expat’s work permit and then return them to their country at the employer’s expense.

It’s early days yet, but the UK government has published its White Paper on how the UK’s role with the EU will be shaped after Brexit. Among the points under consideration are preserving pensioners’ healthcare in the European Union, and for those who move to EU countries after Brexit, to maintain the UK’s pension uprating. There’s also reference to securing ‘onward movement opportunities’ which would see British expats already living in the EU being able to move freely to another country in future.

The government in Papua New Guinea is being urged to curtail the number of job opportunities for expats as there are growing numbers of graduates with no jobs. The Department of Labour and Industrial Relations has announced it is now looking into the situation.

Qatar has an announced that it is looking to develop its expat labour sector with a raft of laws to protect labourers’ human and social rights after they migrate to the country. The government says it will comply with worldwide agreements and commitments signed with countries that are providing expat labour, particularly from Africa.

Dubai says its population is set to rise to more than 5 million people by 2027 and has already surpassed 3 million. It’s now one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, mainly down to expats taking up work opportunities.

The number of British expats living in Spain has fallen, according to official figures. The Spanish population has risen for the second year running after three years of falling. The population of Spain is now 46.7 million people, the highest since 2013, with large numbers of migrants moving from Venezuela, Colombia and Italy. The number of Brits registered living in Spain was 285,698 at the beginning of the year.

A British lesbian has won the legal right to work and live in Hong Kong with her wife following a landmark ruling from the top court there. The woman, known as QT, will be granted a spousal visa that had initially been denied. This brings to an end a long running legal battle that will also help other same-sex couples moving to the financial hub. While discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal in Hong Kong, same-sex marriages are not recognised and now legal experts say that pressure is growing for Japan and Singapore to change their policies to accept the spouses of gay expat workers. One reason given for this is that global financial hubs are struggling to attract talent and business.

Expats heading to Indonesia will be required to undertake formal language training, a first for any nation in south east Asia. The move follows a presidential decree aimed at simplifying the country’s work permit process for expats.

The British Embassy in the United Arab Emirates has issued an updated bereavement guide to help the 100,000 UK expats who work and live in the country, with details about repatriations should someone die there. The guide helps navigate the red tape for returning an expat home.


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