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ICYMI: travel trends, immigration changes, and geopolitics

Frequently, many of the same challenges that impact global travel also impact talent mobility for global mobility programs. That's why we're always looking at the travels polls that are shared by GBTA. Their latest poll shares that the travel sector has reached near-full recovery since the pandemic (84% report their company’s business travel in 2023 has largely or mostly recovered compared to 2019) ─ and their top areas of focus for the year ahead include travel cost management, sustainability, retailing models, and emerging technologies. 

In fact the top barriers for business travel in 2023 include corporate budgets keeping up with price increases (69%), inflation/recession concerns (63%), and geo-political events (44%). For 2024, 67% of travel buyers expect their travel budgets to increase (39%) or remain about the same (28%). Much like mobility programs, 2/3rds of companies will make cost management a top strategic priority and the same will ramp their investment up on technology. Read the announcement and access the full poll results here.

Now here are the latest country updates that might be impacting mobility programs:

  1. Italy: The Italian government has announced new regulations for the EU Blue Card including new educational requirements, employment offers and salary thresholds, as well as now allowing self-employment along with their highly skilled employment. All changes can be read here. Additionally, Italy is now requiring some foreign nationals to pay for access to national health services. A fee of EUR 2000/year will now be implemented, though asylum seekers, migrant workers, foreign workers, job seekers, and unaccompanied minors are exempt from this fee. 
  2. Canada: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is piloting a new program to streamline work permits from the Philippines. This new program will more efficiently allow eligible Canadian employers to recruit Filipino nationals when the company is looking to hire groups of employees of 50 or more. Additionally, the Indian consulates in Canada have suspended all processing of visas for Canadian nationals intending to travel to India. Those with valid Indian visas may still travel from Canada to India, but new visas will not be issued until the suspension has been lifted. There is no information as to when this temporary suspension will be lifted. 
  3. India: Per Newland Chase, India had stopped issuing travel visas to Canadian citizens following a diplomatic row over the murder of an Indian activist in Canada. Canada’s large Indian community was hit hard by this action, as it effectively prevented them from traveling back to India, unless they had already secured a visa prior to the halt. Last week, India started the process of again issuing visas to Canadian citizens. Specifically, India is now processing some visa requests for entry visas, business visas, medical visas, and conference visas. It is not a full resumption of visa services at this time, but officials in both countries are saying it is a step in the right direction to repairing diplomatic relations between the countries.
  4. Hong Kong: The restriction of foreign national postgraduate students in Hong Kong not being able to seek part time work will be temporarily lifted as of November 1st, 2023. This exemption will be reviewed after a two-year period by the government. 
  5. Japan: Two new visa programs have been adopted in Japan allowing for new highly-skilled or highly-educated individuals to come to the country for work. These two pathways called J-Skip and J-Find are a part of Japan’s strategy to stimulate the economy. J-Skip holders can apply for permanent residency after one year and J-Find holders are granted a discretionary stay of two years.
  6. Saudi Arabia: Expatriates in Saudi Arabia will not be allowed to recruit domestic workers from their own nationalities. According to the Musaned platform for domestic labor services, under the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD), the recruitment regulations prohibit expatriates from applying for a visa to recruit domestic workers, who belong to the same nationality of their own. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has expanded its e-visa program to travelers from six additional countries - Turkey, Thailand, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, and Mauritius - for leisure, business, and religious (Umrah only) travel. 
  7. United Kingdom: Per Newland Chase, applications for the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system opened on October 25th as part of a pilot launch program. The ETA is a pre-screening system for passport holders bound for the United Kingdom from countries who have visa-waiver agreements with the UK. Under the ETA system, visitors will be allowed to stay in the UK for up to: Six months for tourism, visiting family and friends, business or study, or; three months under the creative worker visa concession. Additionally, an ETA will be required if a traveler is transiting through the UK, but not going through UK border control.
  8. EU Schengen Area: Border security will continue to be heightened into 2024 for some Schengen Area countries. While Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic extended their border checks into November 2023, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, and Sweden have all extended their checks into the spring of 2024. These heightened measures can include the requirement of identification documents and detailed traveler checks.
  9. Israel/Palestinian Territories: You likely know that travel to Israel is severely disrupted and many flights have been canceled. Individuals needing to travel to Israel should expect severe delays and cancellations. The Ministry of Interior located in Ben Gurion Terminal 3 may assist Israeli citizens with expired passports in receiving an emergency passport to exit the country. 
  • Palestinians wishing to exit the West Bank must do so through one of the land borders with Israel or Jordan and may need additional authorization from the Palestinian authorities or the Israel Coordinator of Government Affairs. Palestinians who are U.S. citizens can travel normally through Israel and exit the West Bank. Additionally, they can also fly out through Ben Gurion airport. 
  • Cyprus is also allowing emergency travel for foreign nationals looking to evacuate from Israel or the Palestinian Territories. Temporary accommodations and return flights can be made available and Cyprus is working in conjunction with 26 other countries through the “Special National Plan ESTIA” regime. These evacuation routes can not be relied upon by Israelis or Palestinians. 

Lastly, here are the week's top 5 risk intelligence alerts from Crisis24 that share information on Israel, Europe, Bangladesh, DRC, and Panama. 

The European Union Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs has again revised the time frame posted on its website as to when the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will be operational. The new time frame has changed from summer 2024 to mid-2025.


icymi, italy, etias, canada, india, hong kong, japan, saudi arabia, united kingdom, schengen area, israel, palestinian territories, business travel, outlook, trends