SAUDI ARABIA | July 1 – Companies, Foreign Workers, and Families Brace for Potential Start of Expat Levy
Foreign nationals and the companies employing them in Saudi Arabia are braced for the beginning of a greatly-expanded “expat levy” starting July 1. The measure was first announced by the Saudi government in December 2016 as part of the fiscal 2017-18 national budget to help overcome the continuing budget deficits of the last several years due to slumps in global oil prices. In other words, the Saudi government is attempting to walk a policy “tightrope” between raising additional tax revenue to balance the budget and encouraging increased local hiring, while at the same time recognizing that the national economy is highly dependent on foreign labor and investment. December’s announcement brought understandable outcry from expats and companies alike, but the Saudi crown has been silent on the subject since that time.
AUSTRALIA | New Six-Year Multiple-Entry Visa and Work and Holiday Visa for Singaporean
At the recent Singapore-Australian Leader’s Summit held in Singapore, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced two new visa measures to further cement economic ties between the two nations. Coming January 1, 2018, Australia will begin offering a six-year multiple-entry visa for business and tourism to citizens of Singapore. In addition, effective August 1, Singapore will be included under Australia’s Work and Holiday Visa program.
ISRAEL | B-1 Work Visa Rules Revised for Skilled Foreign Workers on Large-Scale Projects
Israel’s Ministry of Interior is revising its work visa rules to assist companies bringing in skilled foreign workers to work on large-scale projects that require unique technological or mechanical expertise. The amendments to the B-1 work visa regulations appear designed to facilitate work authorization for skilled blue-collar workers who previously would have difficulty qualifying under the current criteria. The new regulations were just recently published; thus, some of the details and exact implementation date are still unclear, and Pro-Link GLOBAL will be doing a more detailed analysis of the opportunities for companies as more information is released.
KUWAIT | Residence and Visit Visas Issuance and Renewals Halted for Many Expat Family Members
Effective immediately, dependent family members – other than spouses and children – will no longer be able to obtain Kuwaiti Residence Permits (Iqamas) from the Ministry of Interior (MOI) or Family Visit Visas from Kuwaiti diplomatic missions abroad. This freeze means that parents, siblings, and other family members of sponsored foreign employees may no longer accompany or visit their working family members in this gulf emirate. Affected family members already in Kuwait have three-months after the expiration of their current visa to exit Kuwait or reportedly face deportation action. However, Kuwaiti authorities have stated that exceptions may be made with prior approval where remaining in the country may be unavoidable.
VIETNAM | New Work Permit System Mandatory in Hanoi Starting July 1, Mandatory Soon in Other Cities
In April, Pro-Link GLOBAL reported that the Vietnamese Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MOLISA) was transitioning to a new online work permits application system. Pilot programs using the new system have been ongoing in Dong Nai and Vung Tau City, with nation-wide roll-out slated for July 1. For more details, see our Immigration Dispatch of April 24. Reportedly, the pilot programs have been successful, and the MOLISA is set to implement the new system nationwide.