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| 4 minutes read

ICYMI: Mobility changes to keep an eye on

There are many things that can impact a global mobility program, and over the past few years we have certainly seen a lot of changes! Between tax laws, immigration, geopolitical unrest, and natural disasters, those of us in the relocation industry always have to stay on our toes. This latest ICYMI post is yet another bi-weekly update on what you might want to pay attention to. 

  1. China: Since the spring of 2022, ocean freight prices have come down, with China-West Coast US rates recently hitting pre-pandemic levels. Volumes have been increasing following the Labor holiday. On top of that, in the latest ECA International Cost of Living survey, 25% of the top 20 most expensive cities for expatriates are in China. Shanghai has dropped from 8th most expensive city for expatriates to 13th, followed by Guangzhou at 14th, Shenzhen at 16th, and Beijing at 17th. All of them dropped 4-5 spots in the overall rankings. 

  2. Canada: According to Fragomen, “Canada will allow nationals of 13 countries to enter without a visa by air for tourism or business if they either held a Canadian temporary resident visa in the last 10 years or if they currently hold a valid United States non-immigrant visa.” These nationals will no longer need a temporary resident visa, but rather will use the electronic Travel Authorization program (eTA). This process will streamline entry, as the eTA is typically issued within minutes rather than the months it can take to obtain a visa. Canada is also making changes to their immigration policy in Quebec, as they are planning to require basic French oral skills for immigration. This move is to ensure that immigrants can communicate in French in their professional and social life. French is declining in Quebec and government officials want to ensure the language is preserved. These changes are expected to be official by 2026. 

  3. United States: The U.S. will now allow consular officers to issue F or M student visas up to one year in advance of an international student’s program start date. Students still may only enter the country 30 days prior to their start date listed on their I-20 form, but the cost of the visa increased from USD 160 to USD 185 on May 30th. A reminder too that employers have a few more weeks to file petitions for foreign nationals selected in the 2024 H-1B cap lottery. USCIS must receive all cap petitions by June 30, 2023. 

    Within the past few months, port congestion has also increased at East Coast, Southeast and Gulf Coast ports, especially in Savannah and Houston. This is mainly due to an increase in imports from Asia. Container availability in the USA is tight in the areas of the South Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast. The rails are currently experiencing congestion in Chicago, Columbus, and Los Angeles. Delays should be expected in picking up and delivering containers at these locations. The ports of Los Angeles and the port of Oakland ceased operations on Friday, June 2nd, due to ongoing contract negotiations and intentional disruptive job actions. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has been negotiating a new labor contract with the Pacific Maritime Association since May of last year. As of the morning of June 6th, all operations have now resumed. However, this situation is ongoing, and delays may continue. 

  4. France: The French online visa processing system was down due to system updates for technical and regulatory reasons on May 29th, which will result in delays for applications submitted online before the site went down. Additionally, the strikes that have caused significant disruption in France have calmed down following the Constitutional Council approving the government action to increase the pension age from 62 to 64. The Port of Le Havre is not seeing any major disruptions at this time.

  5. Hong Kong: As we stated last time, Hong Kong is increasing its talent eligibility list in order to draw in more skilled individuals as their workforce has drastically decreased. This program has been now officially dubbed the Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS), and will allow high-earning (HKD 2,500,000 or higher) candidates and graduates of the world’s top 100 universities to work in or seek opportunities in Hong Kong for up to two years. Hong Kong wishes to further their status as an international finance center (per Worldwide ERC) and are actively searching for new and competitive talent.

  6. Indonesia: A new golden visa program is being rolled out to attract foreigners to Indonesia. This new program will allow foreigners to stay in the country for up to 10 years. This program is designed to boost economic growth and create more job opportunities. Details on the requirements for the golden visa have not yet been released. This is following in suit to the other Southeast Asian countries who have enacted similar visa programs, such as Thailand’s long-term residence visa which is valid for 10 years, but applicants must hold at least USD 1,000,000 in assets and make USD 80,000/year among other requirements. Cambodia also has a 10-year visa program that allows for citizenship after five years, and Malaysia has introduced a premium visa program that allows foreigners to stay for up to 20 years.

  7. United Arab EmiratesDubai has removed their 10-day grace period which allowed visitors with expired tourist visas to stay in the country for an additional 10 days. Now each day beyond the expiration date, visitors will be fined AED 50 (about USD 13.60). Individuals can apply for a 30-day extension to legally remain in the UAE past their expiration date. All the other emirates had previously removed this grace period, but Dubai was the final to join in on the change.

  8. Portugal: A new digital platform has been launched for foreign nationals to schedule consular services and appointments. This Virtual Consulate will allow foreign nationals to access nine services including consular registrations, birth registrations, declaring a death, and more. These nine services were launched with the first phase of implementation on June 7th.

  9. Nigeria: Nigeria has introduced their new pathway to citizenship called a “brown-card.” The brown-card’s goal is to increase the number of people who are seeking to become naturalized Nigerian citizens. Those who qualify for the brown-card are those with African descent who wish to claim Nigerian citizenship through the “privilege of return,” those who which to invent in Nigeria (with established guidelines), skilled individuals in fields such as science, medicine, technology, and more, and male foreign-born nationals married to Nigerian women for at least one year.
Freight & shipping costs & delays Extremely elevated logistics costs have been one contributor to inflation during the pandemic. But since the spring of 2022, ocean freight prices have come down, with China-West Coast US rates recently hitting pre-pandemic levels. Volumes of imported containers to the US continued to fall through November 2022,  and congestion eased significantly, especially at LA/Long Beach, where congestion levels returned to normal in late November. Freightos data shows that rates to ship a 40-ft container from Asia to the US West Coast dropped by more than 80% since the end of April 2022, while prices to the East Coast fell by almost two-thirds. A big driver in falling logistics costs is a drop in consumer spending, which had been responsible for increased sales among many importers over the last two years.


icymi, global mobility, relocation, china, household goods shipping, international sea freight, cost of living, canada, immigration updates, quebec, united states, f or m student visas, increasing port congestion, potential delays, france, hong kong, top talent pass scheme, indonesia, golden visa program, uae, dubai, portugal, foreign nationals, nigeria, brown-card, new pathway to citizenship