Expat Focus International News Update June 2017

Why expats head overseas

The biggest reason why expats head overseas is to enjoy better career opportunities.

That’s the finding from a study by global healthcare specialist AXA, which found that 30% of the 500 expats they spoke with said it was their main reason for moving abroad.

Around 23% said they moved for better pay and benefits.The findings also reveal:

• 15% of expats move overseas for a better work-life balance
• 14% move to enjoy a better environment for raising a family

Before moving, the expats were also asked what the most important issues are to organise.

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• 58% of expats said wrapping up their responsibility and role within the UK was the most important part
• Making arrangements for a family member who was remaining was key for 42%
• For 37% of expats, transferring their finances to their new country was important
• One in three said selling their car was important

Also, amending or cancelling utilities and insurance was important for 32% of expats.

The chief executive of AXA, Tom Wilkinson, said: “Moving overseas can offer fantastic opportunities for career development and these may not be as readily available in their home country. When moving abroad, expats may be offered the chance to learn about new markets and experience different customer segments; they will also enjoy the lifestyle benefits including a better worklife balance.”

He added that it is important for expats to remain realistic and be prepared for what’s ahead of them, including the possibility that the cost of living in their new country may be higher.

Mr Wilkinson also urged expats to consider the healthcare facilities in their new country, since previous research has revealed that many expats do not consider healthcare issues until they need assistance.

Brexit negotiations focus on expats

The Brexit negotiations for the UK to leave the European Union have now begun and the rights of expats have topped the agenda.

Negotiators want to see a deal for European expats who live and work in the UK and reciprocal rights for British expats living elsewhere in the EU.

A spokesman for the UK’s Brexit team said their ‘first aim’ was to secure the rights of UK citizens living in the European Union and for EU citizens living in the UK. He added: “This will end the anxiety facing 4 million people.”

Spain is one EU country that has already tried to placate the 500,000 British expats believed to be living in the country.

US expats express dissatisfaction with government

A survey of US expats around the world has found growing numbers feel that the US government ignores their interests.

The findings from Greenback Expat Tax Services show that levels of dissatisfaction are increasing.

With more than 9 million US expats working overseas, the survey also reveals that fewer expats voted in last year’s presidential elections than was expected.

Before the vote, 73% of expats said they were planning to vote but only 64% did so.

When questioned about why they did not vote, 36% of expats said they felt that no candidate represented their interests.

That’s an increase from 26% last year and 8% who said so in 2015.

A spokesman for the firm said that US expats are ‘highly opinionated yet underrepresented’ and are increasingly disappointed with US politics.

When questioned about how the government can best help US expats, 59% said that citizen-based taxation should be repealed, 20% said that the tax filing process should be simplified, and 8% said their tax burden should be lowered.

Expats struggle to leave Qatar

Following the blockade on Qatar by its Gulf neighbours, one knock-on effect is for expats trying to leave the country.

That’s because three of Qatar’s neighbours have created a sea blockade which means expats cannot ship their belongings to their home countries or to a new destination.

In the hot summer months, there is traditionally an exodus of expats leaving the country and news outlets are reporting that growing numbers are having to leave their belongings behind.

Some are having to sell everything they own so they can move on while others are also struggling to find a shipping company that has capacity for their belongings.

There’s no way for expats transport their possessions by land or sea which means when they come to sell their belongings, including cars, they are selling at heavily discounted prices.

Fears for academic brain drain in UK

Fears are growing that increasing numbers of expat academics are packing their bags to leave the UK because of Brexit in what critics call an ‘academic brain drain’.

According to the Times Higher Education newspaper, the expats are worried over their residency rights, academic funding and potential future laws.

The increasing numbers leaving could see the UK’s reputation as a research superpower being diminished.

The newspaper reveals that 25% of all academics in the country’s eight elite universities are from EU countries and 16% of all academic staff at UK universities are EU nationals.

Meanwhile, the Health Foundation has revealed that the number of nurses from EU countries looking to work in the UK has fallen dramatically.

They say there has been a fall of 96% in the numbers looking to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council Register.

Express entry visa programme to Canada improved

Canada has unveiled changes to its express entry visa programme, which has taken immediate effect and allows expats to build more points if they meet the necessary requirements.

Among the changes are offering points for those expat candidates who have siblings already living in Canada.

One reason for this, says the country’s Immigration Minister, is that studies reveal that newcomers looking to build a life in Canada integrate more readily when they have siblings in the country.

Other changes include not having to register with the country’s Job Bank and having strong French language skills.

The express entry system is aimed at attracting highly skilled expat workers as well as international students who are looking to move to Canada permanently.

Canada has also unveiled a new strategy for attracting skilled expat talent from around the world, with a plan to process work permit applications more quickly.

The government says that expats looking to move to Canada should see their applications being processed in two weeks and this will also include temporary residence visas.

Meanwhile, the US government has unveiled plans to crack down on visa fraud.

They say that the H-1B visa stream is being abused by employers looking to recruit highly skilled expat talent and there will now be more site visits around the country to ensure that the visas are being used as intended.

New Chinese ‘green card’ now available

China’s plan to upgrade its permanent residence ID cards, also known as ‘Chinese green cards’, are now available for expats working and living in the country.

The ID cards will now be required for those expats living in Shanghai, Beijing, Zhejiang and Guangdong.

The big difference for the new cards is that they incorporate a microchip to hold more information so they can be read by a document reading machine.

The new cards also enable expats to use them for every day needs including education, finance, medical treatment and accommodation.

A government spokesman said the cards will offer better support when attracting high-level foreign expats to establish a business and live in the country.

Questions over expat CVs in the Middle East

A recruitment firm says that two in three expat job applications in Gulf countries have deliberate errors that misrepresent their talents to a potential employer.

HireRight says that hiring expats is always a gamble, and that employers do not find out about an employee’s shortcomings until after contracts have started, which could have legal and financial as well as reputational consequences.

In a survey, they found that 85% of employers have found a candidate misrepresenting or lying about their abilities during the recruitment process.

That’s an increase of 66% of employers who said they found issues with their candidates’ CVs five years ago.

The firm’s Middle East sales director, James Randall, said: “The implications financially of a wrong hire can be incalculable. The financial damage done while they are on the books may not be evident until they have gone.”

He added that a wrong hire also has an impact on the performance and morale of other workers.

Mr Randall says that one reason for expats to cheat on their CVs is a tradition in the Middle East of not checking references thoroughly, but this is changing with tightening regulations, particularly in the financial and banking services industries.

Among the issues uncovered are expats using false dates for their employment history, upgrading their job title, and providing false references.

The best countries for university study

With growing numbers of expat students heading off to the world’s most prestigious universities, a new survey reveals how the institutions rank.

For six years now Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) tops the rankings, followed by Stanford and Harvard.

The league table is put together by QS World University Rankings which also places Cambridge University in fifth, Oxford is sixth while University College London is seventh. In eighth place is Imperial College London.

While the top 10 sees no new entrants, six universities in China have now entered the top 100 for the first time.

One reason for MIT’s dominance is its ability to make worldwide connections with a strong alumni body, while the UK’s universities may struggle to maintain positions after Brexit, says QS.

In other news…

Alan Stroud is making headlines after opening a shop selling cream teas and Cornish pasties in the Chinese city of Dongguan. In addition to expats enjoying the shop’s offering, the Cornish expat is also seeing growing numbers of Chinese clients who have visited Devon and Cornwall lapping up the offerings.

Researchers have revealed that while expats from central and eastern Europe moving to the UK have a stronger work ethic than British born people, this only lasts for a couple of years. The findings from the Universities of Bath and Leicester also reveal that migrants have, on average, around two years’ more education than their British counterparts.

A growing trend of Chinese bankers flooding into Hong Kong has been highlighted in a report from Reuters. They point out that growing numbers of Western expats are being laid off from Western banks to be replaced by Chinese workers, while the number of people working in investment banking is rocketing.

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, says expats living in the UK should not tarnish the country’s image. The Prime Minister was speaking to leaders of London’s Bangladeshi community and said the country was now a ‘role model for development’ and no longer a country of ‘natural disasters, beggars and other bad things’. Meanwhile, Bangladesh has begun the registering of its expats living overseas to ensure they receive the welfare services they are entitled to.

Abu Dhabi has unveiled a new register of wills for expats who are working and living in the UAE, which will enable them to circumvent Sharia law when they are estate planning. For the first time, wills can be registered in English and expats can specify who should receive their assets when they die. This is contrary to Sharia law which predetermines how an inheritance will be distributed. Registering a will should cost around DH 500 (£104/$136).

Kuwait’s Central Statistical Bureau has revealed that nearly half of expats working in the country’s private sector do not have a high school diploma and just 10.5% of expats have a university degree.

Saudi Arabia has started offering short technical courses for its citizens in a range of subjects including computing and electronics. The move is part of a bid to reduce the country’s reliance on expat workers. A pilot course for more than 4,500 trainees has proved popular.

US expats whose passports may be due for renewal this year are being urged to file an application as the US State Department is predicting a bottleneck. This is because the 10-year passport saw a peak in applications 10 years ago when Americans needed one to travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean rather than using their driver’s license. The State Department says around 20.5 million applications are expected to be received – that’s substantially higher than the 13 million applications they receive on average every year.


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