REPOST: 15-year cap on expatriates in Kuwait proposed

Kuwait is one of the few countries in the world where there are more expatriates than native residents, with nearly 70 percent of the population being foreign-born. In an attempt to address such demographic imbalance, the government has planned to implement of a 15-year cap for expats. Learn more about this proposal in the article below from the Gulf News:

 

 

Manama: Amid increasingly louder cries to address the demographic imbalance in Kuwait, a parliamentary committee has started looking into proposals, including a 15-year cap.

 

A proposal from the Ministry of Interior calls for ensuring that only the necessary expatriates are allowed to stay in the country and the number of expatriates do not exceed 25 per cent of the local population.

 

Currently, 3,150,115 expatriates live in Kuwait, constituting 69.7 per cent of the total population—Kuwaitis only make up 30.2 per cent of the population.

 

Indians number around 1 million, making it the largest expatriate community, followed by Egyptians who number at around 700,000.

 

A committee is currently looking into ways to address the imbalance and is consulting with experts.

 

Several lawmakers have been pushing for serious and urgent action to address the demographic imbalance, presenting arguments that at times waded into controversy.

 

One MP said that foreigners should be made to pay fees for using Kuwait roads and for remitting money.

 

The health ministry last month imposed higher fees on expatriates seeking healthcare.

 

Earlier this year, Social Affairs Minister and State Minister for Economic Affairs Hind Al Subaih announced that studies had begun to reform the labour market and remove marginal workers who have no jobs and cannot secure employment.

 

Kuwait has already taken measures to ramp up fees for expatriates including a health fee hike which was announced in August.

 

The decision was taken after some parliamentarians launched aggressive media campaigns against providing health services to foreigners for free or low prices.

 

They argued that with the drop in oil prices, Kuwait could no longer afford to foot the bill and expatriates would have to pay more to enjoy living in Kuwait.

Top investment opportunities for expats

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Many expatriates who made the big decision to live in a foreign land know that in order to grow and become successful in their new life, they have to be creative and explore opportunities that will secure their financial future—and several of these opportunities for success are found in these options for investing offshore. Let’s take a look at the investment opportunities ideal for expatriates around the world.

  1. Investing in the Stocks

In definition, stocks extend to the trading of particular equities of many companies. Even if this is one of the most common investment opportunities for expats, new and relatively risk-averse investors need a lot of research and guidance before jumping in.  This is because stocks are considered to be a highly volatile investment option. Fortunately, seeking professional advice from experts—such as LOM Financial—has never been easier and proven to be both cost-effective and truly rewarding. Guidance from industry pundits can help expats navigate through the system with much fewer mistakes and higher chances of coming up with a sound portfolio.

  1. Investment in bonds

Unlike stocks, bonds are more preferred by other investors because of their relative stability and lower risks. This is because unlike stocks which are considered an equity instrument, a bond is a debt instrument which is issued by a company or government providing interest against it. However, the value of the bond is only returned upon maturity. With its lower risks and potentially decent returns, it’s one of the go-to options for expats on all four hemispheres.

  1. Property investing

Investing in a property can be one of the ways to diversify your portfolio and it remains one of the most ideal investment options for anyone who wants to enjoy generous returns especially if you think of long-term earning opportunities. Expats, for example, can invest in residential properties as well as buy commercial properties to generate passive, regular income from rentals.

REPOST: Japan to open more agriculture jobs to foreign trainees

Japan’s agricultural sector is heavily mechanized, but it seems that the country is still in need of human skills–particularly from foreign talents–to accomplish several tasks. More on this story from Nikkei Asian Review:

 

TOKYO — Japan will offer workers from overseas on-the-job training in processing agricultural goods, seeking to relieve a labor shortage for employers that increasingly handle aspects of the farming business beyond producing.

 

Previously, such foreign trainees were limited to farm work, but now they will be allowed to handle the likes of pre-cut vegetable and cheese processing.

 

The labor, justice and agriculture ministries will revise the national training system, which offers technical and informational instruction to workers from emerging economies and elsewhere. The training program employed some 210,000 people as of last autumn, of which about 20,000 worked in agriculture.

 

Farming cooperatives will be allowed to contract with foreign workers and to train them in facilities — such as fruit-sorting centers — operated by the central Japan Agricultural Cooperatives group.

 

Many farms are moving into areas like processing and sales. With foreign workers available for more duties, agricultural employers in areas like the northern island of Hokkaido, where there are fewer jobs to do in winter, will have an easier time taking on employees from overseas year-round.

 

The role of corporate management in agriculture is growing, leading to an increase in farmers taking on the role of employees in such organizations. But young Japanese are bleeding out of nonmetropolitan regions, and many companies are “keeping workplaces running with foreign trainees,” in the words of one Nagano Prefecture agricultural corporation.

 

Diversity is the key to long-term economic growth

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The question of whether cultural diversity has played an important role in the development of nations or not has been emphasized recently especially with the level of various political and immigration issues that the United States is currently facing.

However, such dilemma is nothing new. In fact, the growing dispute over the economic importance of immigration to powerful host countries like the US has been highlighted on numerous occasions in the past and have contributed to several changes in government policies, triggering, according to analysts, undesirable and long-term economic impacts.

As a response, many studies have emerged, pointing out not only the positive influence of cultural diversity in the society but also its detrimental role in securing a country’s economic growth and development in the future.

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Related publications have also stressed that countries having high levels of cultural diversity have been better in adapting innovative ideas and technological breakthroughs. Furthermore, experts have agreed that that geographical openness and believing in a cosmopolitan culture are not just mere by-products of globalization but are actually the primary drivers of long-term economic progress.

Similar conclusions can be observed especially when we shift our focus on the most diverse and influential generation today: the millennials and how they embrace an open and progressive cosmopolitan culture in the workplace.

Companies that promote as well as nurture diversity have successfully motivated and welcomed a new generation of highly-skilled and multi-talented individuals coming from different cultures, religions, ethnicity, and gender.  Employees from all walks of life can bring a wider range of experiences and ideas compared to a more homogeneous workforce.

REPOST: Note to Expats: No, You Didn’t Dodge the U.S. Tax Bullet

The tax law is quite complex, and even more so for those working abroad. Hence, plenty of expatriates, particularly Americans, often fall prey to numerous myths that later on would only put them in a much worse financial situation. Some of these myths are listed on the TIME article below:

Julia Roberts, playing Elizabeth Gilbert in “Eat Pray Love,” didn’t spend much time worrying about her taxes. | François Duhamel—Sony Pictures Entertainment/moviestillsdb.com

 

If you’re an American citizen living abroad, you may have spent the first half of April thinking, “Lucky me.” As millions of Americans filed and paid their taxes, you could go about your life without having to sweat over your 1040 or deal with the IRS at all.

 

Unfortunately, the idea that you’re no longer in thrall to Uncle Sam is a myth—and only one of several misconceptions people have about the taxation of U.S. expatriates. Here are five of the most common tax myths that plague U.S. expats, explained and debunked:

 

Myth #1: I don’t live in the U.S., so I don’t have to file U.S. taxes.

Contrary to popular belief among expats, the obligation to file U.S. taxes does not end when you take up residence in a new country. The United States is one of only two countries (the other being Eritrea) that taxes its citizens no matter whether they reside.

 

Myth #2: I don’t owe U.S. taxes, so I don’t have file a U.S. tax return.

In order to prevent the double taxation of income earned by U.S. citizens living abroad (i.e., tax imposed by the U.S. and the country of residence), the U.S. tax code contains provisions that can reduce or eliminate an expat’s obligation to pay U.S. taxes. For instance, the foreign earned income exclusion (FEIE) allows expats to exclude a certain amount of income earned abroad ($100,800 for 2015). Expats are also generally allowed to use foreign taxes paid as a credit against their U.S. tax obligation.

 

Even if these provisions eliminate your U.S. tax obligation, however, they do not eliminate your obligation to file a U.S. income tax return on an annual basis. This is because in order to claim the FEIE or foreign tax credit, you must file certain forms with a tax return. In some cases, a late filing of these forms can bar you from making these claims. If your late filing is allowed, you may not suffer penalties that are calculated as a percentage of tax due, but you may suffer penalties that are imposed as a fixed dollar amount. For example, a $10,000 penalty may imposed for not timely filing Form 8938 (Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets) with your tax return.

 

Myth #3: I don’t have a balance of $10,000 in any foreign bank account, so I do not have to tell the IRS about the money.

The Foreign Bank and Financial Account Report (FBAR) is an informational report that is submitted electronically with the Treasury Department. Any U.S. account holder (person or entity) with a financial interest in or signature authority over one or more foreign financial accounts exceeding $10,000 in total in a calendar year must file the form.

 

This means that if you have more than one financial account, the balance of all your accounts need to be added together to see if you pass the $10,000 threshold. When aggregating your financial account balances, you have to include checking, savings, investment, pension, and mutual fund accounts. Keep in mind that you can also be on the hook for foreign bank accounts over which you have signatory authority.

 

Continue reading HERE.

Middle East: Powerhouse region for expat opportunities

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Choosing the expat life can be one of the toughest decisions that anyone can face but it doesn’t mean it’s not worth the try. Even if there are pros and cons, the benefits will always outweigh the risks especially if you know where to start—and what questions to ask: can this city’s culture provide a desirable lifestyle for you and your family? Does it have the economic environment to allow you to grow as a professional?

Many expats who have recently found the answers to these questions can now be found living the best years of their lives in one of the richest and most dynamic regions in the world—the Middle East, not only because its cities boast vibrant cultures of the old and new but its resources to fuel business and professional growth have attracted millions of expatriates from around the globe.

One of the reasons why the Middle East is a healthy option is because of its optimistic economic prospects, thanks to its massive oil reserves as well as a lucrative combination of substantial employment packages and tax-free incentives.

 

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The United Arab Emirates, for instance, is a haven for expat employees. Imagine earning 66 percent more that you did back home? Aside from that, cities in UAE like Dubai, the highest ranking city in the Middle East for expats, offers different experiences such as its exciting social life, year-round outdoor and sports activities that anyone can enjoy without traveling miles away from the city center.

In 2015, Qatar and Saudi Arabia took the first two spots as the homes of the top companies for expats in terms of earning potential. In addition, according to the HSBC survey, these two ranked as the best countries for individual financial growth and progress.

The Middle East, particularly the Gulf Region, has some of the world’s highest proportions of foreign workers relative to the local population. In Saudi Arabia alone, expat population makes up 98.4 percent of the total immigrant population. Meanwhile, India, China, and the U.K produce the most expat workers.

REPOST: Saudi Arabia introduces new tax for expatriates

The new tax structure for foreign workers in Saudi Arabia—long a tax-free haven for expatriates—is meant to balance between revenues and expenses in the budget by 2020. It will affect around 11 million foreigners (with 2.3 million of their dependents) who work in the private sector. More about this story on Al Arabiya:

 

The Saudi General Directorate of Passports and Expatriates Affairs said levy fees on expatriates’ dependents include all nationalities with no exceptions.

 

The Saudi General Directorate of Passports and Expatriates Affairs said levy fees on expatriates’ dependents include all nationalities with no exceptions.

 

The directorate added that residency permits and residency identities will not be renewed unless all levy fees on dependents are paid.

 

New fees on dependents of residents and visitors went into effect on July 1. The move aims to balance between revenues and expenses in the budget by 2020.

 

For the year 2017, the levy fee for each dependent of foreign workers will be 100 SAR a month. This will save 1 Saudi billion riyals by the end of the year.

 

In 2018, the levy fee for each dependent of foreign workers will be 200 SAR a month. A monthly tax worth 400 SAR will be imposed on each expatriate employee if the number of the latter in a company is more than Saudi employees. However if their number is less than Saudi employees, the imposed monthly fee will be 300 SAR.

 

The estimated revenue is 24 Saudi billion riyals in 2018.

 

In 2019, the levy fee for each dependent of foreign workers will be 300 SAR a month. A monthly tax worth 600 SAR will be imposed on each expatriate employee if the number of the latter in a company is more than Saudi employees. However if their number is less than Saudi employees, the imposed monthly fee will be 500 SAR.

 

The estimated revenue is 44 Saudi billion riyals in 2019.

 

In 2020, a monthly tax worth 800 SAR will be imposed on each expatriate employee if the number of the latter in a company is more than Saudi employees. However if their number is less than Saudi employees, the imposed monthly fee will be 700 SAR.

 

The estimated revenue is 65 Saudi billion riyals in 2020.

Global citizens: Expat parents and their third culture kids

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Thinking about living abroad as a foreign worker can be both daunting and exciting but what if you add raising children to the equation? For most families, deciding on whether to take this less travelled path or not can be the biggest and most important choice that they’ll ever make.

Expatriation has boomed in the past few decades (which translates to a major boost in the global economy) and with it, many have chosen to build families in countries other than their own. This resulted in the emergence of a new generation of “international kids,” who may have parents from two different countries, born somewhere else, and lived in an entirely different one. That seems cool but for most of them, this kind of lifestyle can be very challenging. From dealing with different currencies and costs of living to explaining ‘where they are from,’ the struggle is very real.

 

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Many studies have finally defined the uniqueness and exclusivity that members of an expatriate family experience, particularly describing what it does to their children. Coined as the ‘third culture kids’ (TCK), they are children of expats around the world who spent their younger years in another country, learning its cultures and customs through educational and social institutions abroad.

However, this system does not remove the perception that they are still ‘foreigners’ to their host country—and what’s more astonishing is they do not also feel much at home in the culture of their country of origin; thus, allowing them to identify with a middle, third culture that they have learned to acquire from their experiences.

 

Image source: are-concept.de

 

While it’s amazing to experience two cultures at once, not belonging to either one can create this unique identity that can either make or break how they see themselves as individuals. Surprisingly, many of these TCKs were able to deal with this semi-nomadic living very well. In fact, one of them eventually became the 44th President of the United States.

It can be challenging to let your family be a part of your expat adventure, but there are several advantages that can rival the risks. For instance, showing them the world at an early age will help them have a more open and better understanding of cultural differences. In addition, as ‘world citizens’, they can develop a rare flexibility and sensitivity that not everyone can learn and acquire in a lifetime.

REPOST: Ranking: Hong Kong now Asia Pacific’s most expensive city for expats

Hong Kong is a densely populated global financial center built on a small piece land with very limited natural resources. Hence, the cost of living is understandable high. On top of that, the HK dollar has appreciated against most major currencies over the past few years. Nonetheless, it remains to be one of the world’s best cities to do business. Here is an article on CNBC that explains how this SAR became Asia Pacific’s most expensive city to live in:

 

Hong Kong tops the list as the most expensive city in Asia Pacific for expatriates to reside, according to a cost of living survey conducted by consultancy firm ECA International.

 

The city is also the second most expensive city globally — behind Luanda in Angola — and its ranking on the list has steadily increased in the last 7 years.

 

“Hong Kong has continued to get more expensive for expatriates. Over the past few years, the HK dollar has appreciated against most major currencies, owing to its peg to the US dollar, which has pushed up the price of goods and services relative to those in locations whose currencies have weakened against the greenback,” said Lee Quane, ECA International’s regional director for Asia, said in a release accompanying the ranking.

 

Jerome Favre | Bloomberg via Getty Images

 

Stable prices in Japan coupled with a weaker yen against major currencies also accounted for why Hong Kong overtook Tokyo this year as the most expensive city in Asia.

 

“This means that for many companies, the cost of maintaining their assignees’ purchasing power while posted here has fallen and international assignees based in Japan may see their cost of living allowances decrease,” Quane said in the release.

 

ECA gathered the results by collecting price data across 464 cities, comparing a pre-determined basket of goods and services that are commonly purchased by expatriates globally.

 

This basket includes groceries, meals, leisure activities and expenditure on clothing and general services. It excludes certain expenses such as rent, utilities, automobile purchases and tuition fees that are usually provided by companies when their employees relocate overseas.

 

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Top high-paying jobs for expatriates around the world

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Many people nowadays are living the best days of their lives by exploring places and once in a lifetime career opportunities. Unlike the old days however, their ideal life is no longer limited within the boundaries of their home country. In fact, even with all the pros and cons of expatriation, millions of expats around the world still think that that big decision they once made was all worth it.

 

If you’re thinking of moving into a new country to start a career, what options do you have available as a professional? Here are the most in-demand jobs for expatriates around the world.

 

Language teacher/translator

If you’re a fluent speaker of your native language and you know the basics of teaching and translation, then you’re up for a bright and successful future abroad. English is the top language for teaching globally especially in progressive countries like South Korea and Japan, Russia, Brazil, and the many more.

 

Sales/business/marketing manager

According to a 2016 LinkedIn ranking based on job demands, opportunities as a sales manager is among the top positions that expats can apply for with over 400K openings. Among these countries is Singapore—a haven for business and marketing careers with an average expat salary of $138,641.

 

IT and tech jobs

Having an expertise in information technology and skills of basics to more complex programming languages will help you land a promising career in dynamic countries like New Zealand. On the other hand, India’s demand for the IT sector is so remarkable that expats from all over the globe can benefit from higher salaries and enjoy a lower cost of living compared to other expat destinations.

 

Financial services

The finance industry as a whole is a melting pot of experts from all cultural backgrounds. On Wall Street and in major financial centers like Bermuda—home to top offshore companies like LOM Financial—for example, experts and analysts come from various parts of the world. Financial jobs will always require expat experience and expertise to serve global clients more effectively.