Here we are with the latest bi-weekly ICYMI update (and the first of Spring 2023) that looks around the world to help you consider the possible happenings that might impact your mobility programs and mobile employees as they traverse the world. Here are some countries to pay attention to right now:
- France: France is experiencing significant disruption to business and public life that could impact global mobility activities (like the movement of household goods to and from France, destination services, etc.). According to Crisis24, labor unions and various activist groups will likely continue their ongoing campaign of strikes and protests against pension reform through at least late March. Our friends at Neer advise that travelers to France can expect challenges with air travel, public transport, and other services. Garbage workers have also been on strike, leading to mountains of uncollected waste in Paris.
- Germany: Per Crisis24, Unions are calling for transport and port employees to strike throughout Germany March 27; significant disruption likely. Airport, railway, bus, tram, subway, and highway employees are to take part, as well as port workers. Significant disruption to transportation and shipping is likely. The nationwide strike comes following months of regional strikes affecting transportation, shipping, and other public services.
- China: Per our friends at Erickson Immigration Group (EIG), China will reopen its borders to international travelers for the first time in three years. From Wednesday, March 15, Chinese authorities will issue all visa categories. Areas that were visa-free in China before the pandemic will resume visa-free entry. Reuters reports that China also continues to report an increase in influenza virus cases even as warmer weather returns.
- Japan: Per our friends at Envoy Global, the government of Japan announced that Certificates of Eligibility (CoE) can be obtained in a digital format via email as of 17 March 2023. CoEs are generally required as part of the application process for obtaining a residence permit or entry permissions into Japan.
- Brazil: Also from EIG, Brazil will resume entry visa requirements for US, Canadian, Australian, and Japanese citizens. The move reverses a 2019 decision by then-president Jair Bolsonaro to suspend entry requirements for the four countries. That policy was meant to encourage tourism, targeting citizens from wealthy nations.
- Portugal: The "potential" end of Portugal's Golden Visa has started a rush for final applications. The golden visa has been heavily criticized at home for sending house prices up, and the European Commission has called for the end of such programs. While some say it is to help prevent Portugal's housing cost crisis from further escalation, golden visa rules had already changed last year to redirect investments from a red-hot property market in big cities to depopulated areas. For more on the housing situation go here.
- Finland: The world's happiest country is Finland for the sixth year in a row, according to the annual World Happiness Report, which ranks countries based largely on life evaluations from the Gallup World Poll. The US did not crack the top 10, but Denmark, Iceland, Israel, and the Netherlands rounded out the top 5. You may find that getting people to move to these locations is easier.
- Canada: BAL reports on the Canadian government's extension of post-graduation work permits. Beginning April 6, PGWP holders will be able to opt into a process to extend their work permits for up to 18 months. The government announced the new work measures to address labor shortages and help post-graduate work permit holders retain their right to work in Canada. Canadian authorities have said they will provide application instructions on IRCC’s website in the coming weeks. Additionally, Envoy Global shared a study from Niskanen Center that revealed the U.S. lost 45,000 college grads to Canada's high-skill visa between 2017 and 2021. Lastly, officials in Canada removed COVID-19 regulations for travelers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau as of March 20.
- United States: Los Angeles school employees have begun a 3 day strike which has cancelled classes for more than 400,000 students. Given that the union and district remain far apart, more strikes could be expected this school year. In other news, a presidential subcommittee on immigration has recommended the U.S. extend the grace period for laid-off foreign workers on H-1B visas from 60 days to 180 days. Currently, out-of-work H-1B visa holders have to either find a new job within 60 days or return to their home country. The advisory panel said current restrictions place extreme stress on laid-off workers and causes the U.S. to lose highly-skilled foreign talent. Check out a recent post from us on this topic: Employer Considerations When Laying Off An H-1B Visa Holder
Despite some slightly increased optimism from mobility leaders coming into 2023, the world is moving fast and new challenges are affecting mobility programs. Agility and flexibility are keys to success right now, letting companies adjust quickly with the knowledge of what's going on. With that in mind, here are a few other recent posts to keep you up to date:
Key immigration trends for 2023
The secret to a great mobility experience can't be stressed enough!
Labor unions and various activist groups will likely continue their ongoing campaign of strikes and protests against pension reform across France through at least late March. Disruptive demonstrations broke out in cities nationwide March 16 in reaction to the government's invoking Article 49.3 of the French Constitution in an attempt to pass the pension reform without the need for a vote in the National Assembly; clashes broke out and police resorted to using teargas in several locations, including Paris, Dijon, Grenoble, Rennes, and Amien. Moreover, a coalition of major labor unions plans to stage new demonstrations March 18-19, as well as another nationwide day of strikes and protests on March 23. The events will likely draw large crowds of participants.