Expat Focus International News Update March 2019

Spain will guarantee British expat rights

Spain has revealed that it will continue to guarantee welfare and healthcare access for British tourists and expats until the end of 2020 – regardless of what happens to the Brexit political process. The move comes as the Spanish government looks to limit the impact of a no-deal Brexit.This means that British residents will still have access to the country’s social security system which will give them rights to pensions and unemployment benefits. Also, the government says there will be freedom of movement for workers between Spain and Gibraltar. With more than 400,000 British expats living in the country, the move has been widely welcomed by the British expat community and commentators. Spain is also popular with British tourists, with 18 million visiting last year.

Spain has also said it is planning to offer new residency papers to 300,000 UK nationals should there be no agreement on the future relationship between the European Union and the UK.

Sweden has also unveiled plans to protect the rights of British expats in the country for up to a year after Brexit.

British expats in EU get Brexit help

Meanwhile, British expats who live in the European Union have been given access to publications from the government to help them appreciate the potential challenges they may face should the UK leave the EU without a Brexit deal.

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While the UK says it will broadly protect the rights of EU citizens in UK, not every EU state has offered the same assurances. The European Commission has also published a plan which calls on member states to be generous to British expats who live in their country, including taking measures that help protect those who are currently legally residing to do so without interruption in future.

The best countries for expat businesswomen

For expat women who may be wondering which countries around the world will be the best to live and work in, a new survey may help. According to InterNations, an expat community, the countries where expat women are most and least satisfied with their careers have been revealed.

Their Working Abroad Index also looked at job security and work-life balance, as well as career prospects.

According to the results, Greece is the worst place in the world for women expats with 37% of expats there rating it badly. The next worst destination is Italy where 34% of expat women said they are dissatisfied with their job, versus 20% around the world, and 50% also said they are dissatisfied with their work-life balance.

Of the 57 countries monitored, the US came in at 29th, with 53% of female expats saying they are pleased with their job security.

The best country for female expats is the Czech Republic, which has consistently climbed up the rankings for those women wanting to work overseas. In second place is Bahrain, followed by Taiwan and then Norway and Denmark.

Vienna still top for expats

Vienna is still the world’s best city for expats looking for the best quality of life, according to one index.

The 21st publication of Mercer's Quality of Living places the Austrian capital in first place for the 10th year running.

The rankings look at various categories including health and medical considerations, schools, housing and education opportunities. More than 450 cities were surveyed around the world.

Zurich came second in the list, with joint third place being shared by Auckland, Munich and Vancouver. The top 10 consists of Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Geneva and Basel.

London is in 41st place, with all US cities falling in the index; the biggest fall was for Washington DC which is in 53rd position. Also, the Mercer list has a separate ranking for personal safety, which many expats will appreciate with Western European cities dominating the list.

For expats, the safest city is Luxembourg with Helsinki in second place, followed by Basel, Bern and Zurich in joint third. The least safe place in the rankings is Damascus, followed by the Central African Republic’s city of Bangui.

Kuwait cancels expat residency sticker

Kuwait has announced that it’s scrapping the expat residency sticker that is placed in passports and using the civil ID card in place of it. The Interior Ministry has announced it is working with the Foreign Ministry to coordinate the move.

The first stage began on 10 March, with domestic workers having their residence permit stickers cancelled. The next stage will see most expats with residency stickers having theirs cancelled. Now, instead of Kuwait’s residency permit stickers being placed in an expat’s passport, information will be placed on the expat’s ID card. The government stresses that expats will not be allowed to leave or enter Kuwait without having a valid passport or civil ID card with them.

Kuwait boosts expat leave

New legislation in Kuwait will give expats an annual leave boost. The government looks set to rubberstamp a recommendation to raise annual leave for the country’s 1.7 million expat workers to 35 days. Also, expat monthly salaries look set to increase under the legislation.

Meanwhile, media outlets in Kuwait reveal that the government is mulling over a law that will ban expats over the age of 60 who do not have a degree or pre-university qualification from working there. The Manpower Authority is apparently set on issuing a resolution that will ban expats from renewing their residency visa after that age if they do not have a university degree.

The country also looks set to make 365 expat teachers redundant when the current school year ends. The teachers will be replaced by Kuwaitis.
The teachers to lose their jobs are those teaching social studies, Islamic studies and psychology, among others.

Media sources in Kuwait reveal that the Interior Ministry is preparing a campaign to crack down on expats who have violated their residency visa. The outlets say there will be no amnesty granted with the ministry saying there are around 70,000 residency violators living in the country.

Four-year exit plan for expats in Bahraini government jobs

MPs in Bahrain have approved a plan for all government jobs in the country to be occupied by Bahrainis within the next four years. Currently, 85% of jobs in the public sector are occupied by Bahrainis. While some MPs called for the 100% target to be achieved in the next six months, others said expats should be allowed to finish their contracts and train Bahrainis to replace them.

UAE employers look East for expats

Growing numbers of employers in the UAE are looking at expanding their workforces but increasingly they are looking to hire Asian professionals, a survey reveals.

In the study by online recruitment firm GulfTalent, 300 managers were asked about their plans for recruitment during 2019. The results found that employee numbers are set to rise by 9%.

However, a growing proportion of new vacancies are being filled by Asian candidates, with employers saying the expats have lower salary expectations which is why they are being hired. Over the last 12 months, there’s been a 12% rise in the number of Asian nationals being employed, with Western expat numbers falling by 10% and Arab employees falling by 8%.

Once the recruitment firm crunched the numbers, they found that Asians are earning around 20% or less than Arab employees and 40% less than Western nationals.

Also, employers in the UAE are hiring fewer American, Canadian and Australian expats and though the number of British expats has fallen, it’s not been at the same rate which, the recruitment firm says, is probably down to the low value of the pound making British expats more affordable to employers.

News that employers are looking to hire more expats coincides with an announcement from the Ministry of Human Resources that more categories of jobs that expats will not be eligible for have been added to the current list of 35 sectors. Also, plans are being put in place to deport expats who currently work in those jobs from April.

The UAE has previously announced that expats over the age of 40 will not be allowed to renew their residency permits in 35 professions. Now the list for prohibited professions includes pharmacist, assistant pharmacist, administrative clerk, storekeeper and human resources officer, among them.

Malaysia to ban cheap expat workers

A plan by Malaysia’s government to exclude expats from jobs paying RM 10,000 (£1,837/$2,444) and below should be halted for a study to be carried out, one union says. The call comes from the Master Builders’ Association for Malaysia who say the plan is not feasible because there are not enough experienced Malaysians to replace them. Instead, the government wants to retain categories for expats who are in jobs paying RM 10,000 and above.

More expats leave Saudi Arabia

Government figures reveal that 274,000 workers, around 96% of whom are expats, left Saudi Arabia’s labour market in the third quarter of last year.

The General Organisation for Social Insurance says that the number of workers registered with them during the second quarter of 2018 was just over 9 million. The number of expats in the third quarter was 7.16 million, down from the second quarter’s figure of 7.41 million.

Saudi Arabia says the reason for the large drop is down to the Saudisation project to nationalise jobs in most employment sectors, which was launched by the Ministry of Labour and Social Development.

In other news…

Expat numbers continue to fall in Oman and have now reached their lowest in four years. The country has an expat visa ban in place or many industries as the country’s Omanisation project picks up steam. Expats now account for 43.7% of all Oman’s population with just over 2 million expats in the country.

Officials in Saudi Arabia say there’s been a 50% rise in the number of complaints about corruption in the kingdom. The Saudi National Anti-Corruption Commission says it is increasing its efforts to fight administrative and financial misconduct. There were 15,591 complaints last year, compared with 10,402 in the year before – with many of these being made by expats.

Kuwait says its expat workforce grew by 66,000 people between June and December last year. Of these, 47,000 expats were employed in the private sector with another 11,094 being employed as domestic helpers. The total number of expats is 2.38 million, with two in three expats working in Kuwait’s private sector.

Expats in the UAE can now apply for a 10-year visa after the legal framework was approved. The visas are available to innovators, entrepreneurs and investors.

Expats living in the British Virgin Islands will see the process to gain residency status being ‘regularised’ after complaints that applications do not get processed. The move could see a huge upswing in investment from expats who otherwise would send their money home.

There has been a 125% spike in high net worth South African expats applying for second passports, residence planning firm Henley & Partners says. Most are looking at ‘future-proofing’ their financial plans following the introduction of a new expat tax aimed at expats from March 2020.

Oman’s Ministry of Health has revealed that over the last two years, 582 expat nurses have been made redundant and 449 Omanis have been hired instead. However, there are 5,531 expat nurses still employed by the Ministry.

US expats could be affected by a decision to close up to 24 international immigration offices around the world. The government says the work could be absorbed by US consulates and embassies overseas and will save millions of dollars but critics say their closures will hamper family reunification petitions, as well as military applications.

A shortage of skilled workers in Ireland is leading to medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific offering to pay relocation costs for expat Irish residents who left for Australia. The firm is now recruiting there for manufacturing and senior quality engineers to help fulfil its research and development roles.

Canada says it will provide more funds to expats heading there with pre-arrival settlement services to help expats find a job and somewhere to stay. The aim is to create a streamlined service including the ability to apply for jobs before an expat moves to the country.


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