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May 5, 2011

Global News Briefs

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Australian Visitor Visa and Other Visas May Become Easier to Obtain (04/20/11)

The Australian government is considering the simplification of visitor visas. The government is trying to reduce the different types of visas and visa subclasses by 50 percent by 2015. The proposal calls for all short-stay (non-business visitor) work activities to be moved out of the visitor program and into the new unsponsored short-stay visa. This will form part of the proposed new temporary work visa. It is also proposed that the types of visitor visas are reduced from nine to four.


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Austria Opens Labor Market to All EU Members
Live Trading News (04/06/2011)

Austria fully opened its doors to workers from the eight Eastern European EU countries on May 1. The country faces both benefits and challenges from the move, as it has an aging population and badly needs highly-skilled workers as well as lower-skilled workers for industries such as construction and food service. The Austrian government estimates that between 15,000 and 25,000 foreign workers will enter the country following the easing of its labor policy. The flow will be relatively low because the country had previously been slowly allowing Austrian companies to hire foreign workers as “key personnel,” while farmers and tourism companies were allowed to hire seasonal workers and industries with labor shortages could hire foreigners. Austria and Germany are the last EU countries to allow unrestricted entry of workers from Eastern EU states, as they were concerned that their proximity to the eastern states would unleash a flood of foreign workers on their countries. But now some experts say that they may have lost their chance at the highly-skilled workers they need so badly, as most have already gone to Britain or other countries.

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High Taxes Deter Foreign Workforce, Study Finds
Copenhagen Post (04/27/11)

A new survey of Danish companies from consulting firm COWI finds that high tax rates and the Danish language are bigger barriers to recruiting foreign employees than the negative attitude toward foreigners. About 40 percent of respondents said the top barrier was tax rates, 15 percent cited language, less than 10 percent cited immigration rules, and just 4 percent said it was the negative tone of the immigration debate. For the past several months business representatives have been complaining that the tone of the immigration debate and the state of immigration rules have made it hard for them to recruit foreign workers, but the recent relaxing of the points system for family reunification has improved the situation slightly, according to Tine Horowitz of the Consortium for Global Talent. “Today we’re actually seeing slow improvements to the debate climate,” she said.

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Over a Million EU Migrants Seen Set for Germany—Study
Reuters (04/26/11) Doerr, Christian

The IW Institute estimates that as many as 1.2 million foreign workers will come to Germany by 2020—800,000 of them in the next two years—once the country fully welcomes citizens of newer EU members in Eastern Europe from May 1. Michael Huether, director of IW, said the workers will be good for Germany, which is facing a major skills shortage. The workers may not get a warm welcome from Germans, though, as an IW poll found that 40 percent are concerned about a negative effect on their jobs. Experts say the new open-door policy affects mainly low-skilled workers, and unions say the government has not done enough to prevent migrants from undercutting local workers in areas such as construction. But the IAB institute says migration will grow Germany’s economy by 1.5 percentage points by 2020 and have little effect on German unemployment.


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Global Interest

Moving Pains: Can Your Relationship Go the Distance?
Seattle Times (04/27/11) Elejalde-Ruiz, Alexia

When one’s partner is reassigned overseas, it can be a major stress on a relationship. Often it involves putting one’s career in the back seat for the sake of the partner, as well as giving up daily interaction with family and friends at home. "It's hard for anyone to see how they get a win-win out of this one," said psychologist Peter Pearson, co-founder of The Couples Institute in Menlo Park, California. "With security and ambitions involved, it gives the illusion of a polarized, black-and-white problem in which someone will lose." And if both partners are not completely on board with the decision, there will be problems. A survey of expats from the Interchange Institute found that females who moved abroad for their husband’s job were much more depressed about their situation than those who felt they had a voice in the decision. Even when the wife had a job her attitude did not benefit, but having a feeling that her career was moving forward and having a social identity did help, according to the survey. The more pro-moving spouse should help their partner to become more comfortable by supporting ways to meet new friends or find a job, and if the couple decides not to move, the partner that most wanted to stay should agree to take more trips and adventures to compensate for not moving. Talking to other couples that have been through the same experience also helps, experts say.



Drop in New Hires for International Assignments
Recruiter (UK) (04/11)

The percentage of new hires for international assignments fell to 8 percent, according to an annual survey from Brookfield Global Relocation Services. The report found that 9 percent of international assignees are 20 to 29 years old, the lowest percentage in the report’s history, and 60 percent of spouses/partners were employed before the assignment, but just 12 percent were employed during assignments. “While companies are increasingly selecting more experienced transferees, they are faced with the ongoing challenge of connecting the value of international assignments to the bottom line,” said Scott T Sullivan, executive vice president of Brookfield.


France and Italy Push for Reform of Schengen Treaty
BBC News (04/26/11) Hewitt, Gavin

Tens of thousands of migrants fleeing political upheavals in North Africa are pouring into Europe through southern Italy, gaining access to Europe’s border-free Schengen zone. Right-wing parties in Italy and France are pressuring leaders Silvio Berlusconi and Nicolas Sarkozy to curb this large-scale immigration. The two leaders are investigating establishing temporary controls on the Schengen treaty that allows legal residents of EU countries to travel freely across the zone. The two leaders are also asking that EU countries aid help those countries along the Mediterranean to deal with the massive influx of immigrants. The Tunisian government will also be asked to help stem the migration of its citizens to Europe. Italy and France also have agreed to joint sea and air patrols aimed at stopping African migrants. While France will honor temporary visas issued by Italy to migrants, those who cannot support themselves will be turned away. Aid agencies claim that most migrants have remained in North African countries, and that Europe is only receiving a small fraction of these migrants.


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The Maldives

President Ratifies Pension Act Amendment
Haveeru Online (04/25/11)

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has ratified the first amendment bill to Pension Act, placing a three-year delay in enrolling expatriate workers to the Maldives Retirement Pension Scheme. The act states that the Maldives Pension Administration Office, within a year of the commencement of the act, should formulate procedures for expatriate workers to participate in the Maldives Retirement Pension Scheme. It also states that the Maldives Pension Administration Office should finalize the participation of all expatriate workers in the pension scheme within three years of the commencement of the act.

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Saudi Arabia

Passport e-Services Upgraded
Arab News (04/24/11) Fakkar, Galal

A new online service in Saudi Arabia will allow Saudis and expatriates to get passports, birth certificates, and other documents electronically without having to visit government offices in person, according to Prince Muhammad bin Naif, assistant interior minister for security affairs. The new service, which can be accessed online at, is part of the government’s effort to improve its electronic services and puts all security and service departments in one location to make processes easier for Saudis and expatriates.

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Sweden Simplifies 'Expert Tax' to Attract Expats
Swedish Research Council (04/19/11) Nylander, Johan

In an effort to attract expert talent from abroad, the Swedish government introduced legislation to provide a 25 percent reduction in income tax for foreign employees making at least $13,200 a month. By basing the rules on salary levels, the new legislation is aimed at making the rules more objective and less confusing. Foreign employees with extremely rare expertise can also apply for the tax relief. The tax relief will target key foreign personnel including executives, scientists, researchers, technicians, engineers, research and development specialists, and specialists in finance and information and communication technologies. It will also extend to those who hold vital positions in their companies. Other legislation aimed at strengthening the Swedish economy includes reducing dividend taxes for some small businesses and increasing tax incentives for research and development investments.

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United Arab Emirates

UAE Puts Curbs on Email
Wall Street Journal (04/18/11) Van Hasselt, Caroline; Elgazzar, Shereen

Individuals and certain businesses in the United Arab Emirates will no longer be able to access Research in Motion's highly-secure corporate e-mail services from their BlackBerry smartphones beginning May 1. According to the U.A.E.'s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, the restriction on Research in Motion's BlackBerry Enterprise Services will apply only to individuals and companies with less than 20 BlackBerry Enterprise Services accounts. Despite the restrictions, for which the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority did not provide a reason, individuals and companies with less than 20 subscriptions will still be able to access Enterprise services from the less-secure BlackBerry Individual Solutions accounts. Although the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority did not provide a reason for why it decided to restrict BlackBerry Enterprise Services, analysts have said that the decision was likely an attempt to prevent the services from being used by terrorist networks and members of organized crime. The restrictions also come as social media has played a significant role in fueling anti-government unrest in several Middle Eastern nations. However, the U.A.E.'s restrictions will not apply to social media sites.

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United States of America

Making Relocation Local
Human Resource Executive Online (04/20/11) Starner, Tom

As a result of the recession, many U.S. multinational companies are considering saving money by hiring more local talent rather than sending employees overseas, according to Mercer’s 2011 Global Pay Summary. It is still a better idea for many companies to send their own executive-level employees abroad, but for lower-level employees it often makes more financial sense to hire locally. “From the perspective of our industry, looking at 'annual total cash' may benefit from additional information [to round] out the total mobility picture," says Peggy Smith, CEO of Worldwide ERC. "In the case of a transfer from the U.S. to a foreign destination, it excludes the significant costs of the employee and family mobility to the new country, but there are additional and significant costs related to that mobility." There are one-time costs such as moving expenses, immigration support, and language training, but there are also ongoing costs such as filing foreign taxes, annual trips home, housing costs, and tuition for children. "These costs can be significant when not planned for by knowledgeable professionals in these various areas of the mobility process," she says. "So even an assignment to an area that normally provides relatively low base salary and total cash can cost much more than anticipated when mobility costs are projected." Some companies are even converting their expat workers to local employees, which cuts labor and management costs as well as potential liabilities, says Andrew Pearson of Patersons Global Payroll.


Big U.S. Firms Shift Hiring Abroad
Wall Street Journal Online (04/19/11) Wessel, David

During the 2000s, the largest employers in the U.S. have cut their U.S. workforce by 2.9 million while increasing their overseas workforce by 2.4 million, according to a new report by the U.S. Commerce Department. Multinational companies like General Electric Co., Caterpillar Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., that traditionally employ a fifth of all U.S. workers and pay higher wages, are increasingly relying on Asia and other rapidly growing economies. The trend is no longer motivated by the search for cheap labor. Many companies are now more productive with fewer employees, and others find that selling and making products abroad increases the numbers of research and design employees needed in the U.S. "We've globalized around markets, not cheap labor. The era of globalization around cheap labor is over," says GE’s chief executive Jeffrey Immelt. "Today we go to Brazil, we go to China, we go to India, because that's where the customers are." Several economists warn that the U.S. tax code, the declining U.S. infrastructure and education system, and barriers to immigration for foreign workers make the U.S. less attractive to large multinational businesses. Additionally, the U.S. government has done little to counter "all the incentives in the global economy—an overvalued U.S. dollar, lower corporate taxes abroad, very aggressive investment incentives abroad, government pressure abroad versus none at home," says former trade negotiator Clyde Prestowitz.

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