Expat Focus International News Update November 2017

Happiest Cities For Expats

In a survey of 51 world cities, the most popular with expats is Manama in Bahrain.

This unexpected winner is in pole position because expats say it’s easy to settle in there; 92 percent of those who responded said they could live in Manama without learning Arabic. Expats add that as well as the quality of urban living, the city ranks well in all indices. The local population is friendly towards expats and few have encountered problems when it comes to finding new friends.The findings from the Internations expat city rankings also see Prague making it into second place, with Madrid in third. The survey highlights that while Madrid may not be the best destination for an expat looking to develop a career, they will enjoy excellent leisure options and weather.

However, expats in Lagos in Nigeria and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia say they are unhappy with their local quality of living and work life. The third worst city for expats to settle in is Paris. This was a surprising find for researchers. Expats in Paris say they enjoy a quality of life that is slightly above average, but that it is very hard to settle into life in the city. Indeed, 43 percent of expats in Paris say the local people are not friendly towards expats, which is nearly double the global average.

In addition to the cold welcome, expats there say it is difficult to get by without learning French, and that housing is increasingly unaffordable, with one in three expats saying they are dissatisfied with their financial situation in the city.

Rising Numbers Of Expat Businesses

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The number of business expats is continuing to rise, with small and medium-sized employers driving growth by encouraging their employees to move overseas at an increasing rate, says one report. Findings from Aon Inpoint show that the number of multinationals around the world with expat employees will, by 2021, reach 13,900, with some employee groups exceeding 1 million workers.

Most of these will, according to the report, be working for smaller corporations, defined as an organization with less than $10 billion turnover per annum, for 95 percent of the total. Others will be working for mega multinationals. Employers in the Asia-Pacific region are driving the trend, which includes those in energy and power as well as professional services.

Drop In British Expat Numbers

A study has revealed that there has been a big drop in the numbers of British workers being sent overseas for work. The findings from Santa Fe Relocation also reveal that the UK is the world’s third most popular location for international assignments, behind the USA and China. The firm’s Global Mobility Survey highlighted concerns over Brexit, though the UK is still the focus of one in 10 international business assignments. The US is home to a fifth of international secondments, while China is proving to be increasingly popular.

However, the number of British expats heading overseas have also seen a decline, falling to 9% from 13% for all international assignments. The research also highlights that international assignments and relocations for expats are becoming increasingly complicated.

The firm’s chief executive, Neal Bothams, said: “Despite speculation about the UK’s standing in the world, the report shows Britain is still open for business. The UK still packs a bunch in global commerce, though the drop from 13 percent as the largest sending country to 9 percent is significant.” He added that British firms are now utilising other short-term approaches, such as increasing the number of business traveller solutions, since they are hesitant about long-term international assignments.

Popular British Expat Destinations Revealed

Portugal and Malta have topped the list of the most desirable locations for British expats to move to.

The result comes from a survey conducted by citizenship consultancy Henley & Partners. It found that Malta was top of the list for expats looking to enjoy citizenship-by-investment, while Portugal topped the list of countries for residence-by-investment, seeing expats invest in return for permanent residency.

The research saw countries being evaluated by independent experts covering citizenship and immigration as well as lawyers, country risk experts and academic researchers. The panel of experts looked at a range of issues including quality-of-life, compliance and visa free access. They found that Malta dominated the citizenship programme followed by Cyprus, Austria, Antigua and Barbuda and then Grenada. Portugal took top place for the third year running for offering the world’s best residence-by-investment programme, followed by Austria and Belgium. The bottom country being Bulgaria.

The World’s Most Powerful Passport

The world’s most powerful passport is the one issued by Singapore, since it enables its citizens to travel to the most countries without needing a visa, according to one global passport index. The index has been compiled by Arton Capital, who say that such passports are attractive to business executives who travel frequently and who are able to choose the passports they can carry.

The firm’s research found that Singapore has nudged Germany into second place as Paraguay recently eased its visa requirements for those holding a Singaporean passport. There are around 5.4 million people holding Singapore’s passport, and they can travel to 159 countries either without gaining a visa first or having one issued when they arrive. Germany’s passport enables its holders to visit 158 countries without a visa.

In third place are the passports for Sweden and South Korea, which offer access to 157 countries. Denmark, which offers access to 156 countries, takes fifth place. The United States passport is tied in the sixth place with Canada, Ireland and Malaysia.

One reason for the US slipping in the rankings is that the passport’s usefulness is said to have declined since President Donald Trump moved into the White House. In addition, various countries, including Turkey, have revoked visa-free entry to US passport holders.

The worst passport to hold, according to Arton, is Afghanistan, where citizens have visa-free access to 22 countries.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed by Citizenship Invest that there is been a 42 percent increase in demand for second passports and nationalities from high net worth expats living in Saudi Arabia. Most of those applying from the kingdom are from Syria, Yemen and Pakistan. These people are looking for a solution to more stringent immigration policies in European countries as well as the United States.

Spanish Pledge To British Expats

The Spanish government has pledged there will be no disruption for British expats living in the country because of Brexit. Speaking on a news programme, the country’s foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, said he was hopeful that a deal to protect expat rights after Brexit could be reached for the 300,000 Brits living in Spain.

He added: “If there is no deal we will ensure the lives of ordinary UK people in Spain will not be disrupted.” Mr Dastis also pointed out with more than 17 million British holidaymakers heading to its country every year, the government is keen to maintain Spain’s popularity as a holiday and retirement destination for Brits.

New Zealand Immigration Reduction

The new Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has unveiled plans to slash immigration by up to 30,000 from its current level of 70,000 new arrivals. Ms Ardern has also unveiled plans to boost the minimum wage and restore workers’ rights for rest and meal breaks.

The move follows an announcement for tackling New Zealand’s soaring property prices, which will see property purchases from non-residents banned. House prices have rocketed by 20 percent in the past year, with critics pointing to a surge of Chinese investors buying property. There will also be restrictions introduced on migrants who are looking to buy ‘critical infrastructure’ and farmland in New Zealand.

Saudi Arabia Expat Exodus

The expat exodus from Saudi Arabia continues with news that 300,000 have left the kingdom so far this year. Authorities say around 1,000 expats every day are packing up and leaving, some of whom had made redundant after the country introduced plans for Saudization, with nationals taking the jobs of expats.

Official statistics reveal that 302,473 expats have left so far, which is an average of 1,120 expat employees every day. The number of expats without jobs in the kingdom has also grown to 66,267.

In addition to the Saudization project, a new levy imposed on expats and their families in July is also reducing job opportunities and encouraging expats to leave. One investment company has calculated that there are 161,500 fewer expat jobs available in the second quarter of this year, when compared to the first three months. Work visas for expats in the kingdom’s private sector have now been reduced from two years to one year.

Limiting Expat Residency In Saudi Arabia

Meanwhile, news that more than 330,000 expats are working beyond retirement age in Saudi Arabia has led to calls for a residency cap to be introduced. Supporters say the new cap should limit an expat’s stay in the kingdom to three periods of six years. The retirement age for expats in Saudi Arabia is 60.

Best Tech Start-Up Destinations

A new survey has revealed the best locations for expat technical start-ups – and it’s not San Francisco. According to Expert Market, the number one location in the world is Beijing’s Zhongguancun hub.

The Texas-based firm says that China’s answer to Silicon Valley is attracting large numbers of expat entrepreneurs from around the world. The survey considered help getting started, the cost of living, salaries and the time it takes to set up business. The survey also shows that Berlin has been pushed into second place, followed by San Francisco.

The popularity of the Chinese hub was highlighted with a development grant last year from the Chinese government, worth more than $.5 billion.

In Other News

The Nigerian government has revoked the residency permits of expats that have been working for six firms in the country. The expats had been working for firms in oil and gas, but their operational licences have now been withdrawn.

Saudi Arabia has announced that new born babies of expat residents in the kingdom will be allowed to enter the country without having first obtained a visa from the expat’s home country.

There will be a mass exodus of academics from the European Union when the UK leaves the EU, says a British Academy study. Their findings show that one in three economic and languages teaching staff are from the EU and are looking for clarity about their future. Institutions in Northern Ireland and the West Midlands look set to be hit the hardest.

Fears over how expat workers are being treated in Qatar has led to the UN clearing the country over mistreatment claims. Since the investigation begun in 2014, Qatar has introduced a minimum wage, prevented employers from stopping staff leaving the country, and from having employment contracts being lodged with the government.

The Ministry of Health in Kuwait has been slammed by the country’s nursing association after the ministry recruited 200 expat nurses, despite a decree in July which prevented recruitment of non-Kuwaitis into nursing positions, a situation the association says is ‘a scandal’.

Russia’s foreign ministry has announced that around 30 million Russian nationals are now living as expats, but many strive to preserve close ties to their home country.

A Kuwaiti MP has tabled a draft law that would compel expats in the country’s private sector to pay for an exit visa before leaving the country. The visa would need the expat’s sponsor’s approval and would create a system similar to that found in Qatar.

A crackdown on who will be allowed to drive taxis in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca will leave thousands of expats out of work. Among those most affected will be the country’s large Pakistani community as well as Bangladeshi and Indian people.


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