Global Update: New Travel Restrictions, Elections, and More

From newly reelected national leadership and updated travel restrictions to new tax incentives and skill gaps, take a look at developments that could affect the workforce mobility industry.

Around the world, countries are still navigating the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on people and businesses. From newly reelected leadership in Portugal and updated travel restrictions impacting the U.K. and Europe, to new tax incentives and review and skill gaps, take a look at developments that could affect the workforce mobility industry.

Travel Restrictions Remain

As the COVID-19 pandemic and new strains of it continue to affect the lives of people around the world and vaccine distribution ramps up, so too does the issue of travel across mostly closed borders. Most countries still only allow for partial travel, with restrictions depending on a variety of factors, such as the traveler’s citizenship or their country of origin.

In the U.S., newly inaugurated President Joe Biden signed a directive to reinstate travel restrictions to Brazil and most of Europe and U.K., while also adding South Africa, citing the new more contagious strain of coronavirus. The restrictions apply to foreign nationals who have visited one of the listed countries within the 14 days prior to proposed entry to the U.S. but does not impact U.S. citizens and residents returning to the country. Biden is also expected to release executive orders related to immigration on Friday, 29 January. New Zealand, which has significantly lower COVID rates than the rest of world, will close its borders for most of the year except for limited travel bubbles with Australia and other Pacific nations.

Global Updates

In the U.S., the Supreme Court is set to review a case between New Hampshire and Massachusetts over the issue of remote work taxation. Greece recently introduced a special tax regime aimed at attracting foreign tax residents from across Europe who wish to relocate to the country for work. For those coming to Greece to work as freelancers or “in a new employment position,” Greek Law 4758/4.12.2020 aims to create more jobs in the country. While guidance is needed for what a “new employment position” means and whether the individual must physically stay in Greece, among other considerations, those interested must apply by 31 July.

Portugal’s president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was reelected on 24 January, winning 61% of the vote. With Portugal having the highest daily rates of new COVID-19 infections and deaths per 100,000 population, this election was closely watched. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, a center-right law professor and former television personality, has consistently held an approval rating of 60% or more, and was considered the front-runner. With a turnout of almost 40%, he collected more votes this time than in his 2016 victory, beating prominent opponents Ana Gomes and André Ventura.

Singapore is aiming to be a regional tech hub but is facing a major talent shortage. Reporting shows that in mid-September, there were nearly 10,000 tech-related job postings on a government-run careers portal along with 6,800 jobs and traineeships that will be created by June. Cabinet minister Vivian Balakrishnan also said that the city-state’s IT sector will need another 60,000 professionals over the next three years to sustain its immense growth. However, the coronavirus’ impact on travel compounded by tighter foreign worker policies have made it difficult to meet this demand.

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How This Impacts Mobility

Travel restrictions have been particularly impactful for the workforce mobility industry that has often relied upon cross-border mobility. Tax issues and actions remain a top priority for organizations to track given compliance impact. We will be issuing a more detailed piece on the forthcoming U.S. Supreme Court case mentioned above. With the rise in remote work, mobility professionals are navigating a new normal until the coronavirus is under more control, traveling resumes and remote work grows. With new leadership in places like the U.S. and reaffirmed in Portugal comes new opportunities to engage in public policies that effect mobility. As industry hubs around the world grow larger, so too will the demand for talent to fill critical skills gaps. Should any member have questions regarding this update, please reach out to our Vice President of Member Engagement and Public Policy Rebecca Peters, rpeters@worldwideerc.org.