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ICYMI: What's impacting mobility? Lunar New Year, cargo costs, rents, and immigration changes.

With so much extreme volatility around the world, our goal is to bring to your attention some of the happenings that ultimately effect your mobility programs. We know that adverse weather conditions, ongoing and escalating geopolitical tensions, soaring shipping costs, ongoing housing unaffordability have an impact on both our daily lives and those moving within talent mobility programs. 

As I previously mentioned geopolitics, this may be a topic for deeper consideration. Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war have significantly impacted global shipping markets. This article from Freight Waves points out some interesting impacts on a few other potential situations, with a particular focus on the situation in the Korean Peninsula as some predict that Kim Jong Un has made a strategic decision to go to war. Besides the obvious dangers for Japan and South Korea, these two countries comprise approximately 40% of the worlds ships. So for the time being, expect freight shipment costs to increase.

Now let's look around the world at some other recent changes:

  1. China: The Chinese New Year holiday begins on February 10, with a projected record 9 billion domestic trips expected over the 40-day travel rush as people embark on journeys back to their hometowns for family gatherings. This is the world's largest annual mass migration where every transportation modality gets maxed out, and with trains being a primary mode of transportation, nearly 11 million train trips are expected. While the country celebrates, Bloomberg shares that Chinese companies are becoming stingier as the nation’s economic pain deepens, threatening to delay a much-needed consumption rebound and cause deflation to become more entrenched. Workers cite less travel, fewer benefits, and big cutbacks. 
  2. East and SE Asia: Lunar New Year celebrations are also happening across Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and other countries. Per Fragomen, visa and permit applicants should submit applications as early as possible and should contact their processing office to determine exact closure dates and the effect on individual applications. Applications submitted nearer to closure dates may not be accepted or acted upon until government offices reopen.
  3. France: The Paris 2024 Summer Olympics will take place from July 26 until Aug 11, 2024. Additionally, the Olympics will be followed by the Paralympic Games which are set to take place between August 28 and September 8.  Now is the time to consider any mobility activity you might be anticipating to France, and Paris in particular. Landlords in Paris are serving notice to long-term tenants so that they can rent out their properties at a much higher rate during the Games. All systems will be maxed out, from immigration to transportation and housing availability. Expect visa delays, shipping challenges, and very high costs. France has also shaken up some of its immigration laws with a new permit for medical professionals, temp residence permits and proficiency requirement. See more at Hudson McKenzie.
  4. United Kingdom: There are new updates on the fines employers will now face for illegal employment. Per Newland Chase, effective from February 13, 2024, the minimum fine will increase from £20,000 to £45,000 for each worker found to be working illegally. The Home Office confirms that this new minimum will be applied to ‘first time offenders’ only, but that the exact charge will be reviewed in line with the circumstances of the employment and assessment of whether intentional deception was utilized. Also for the UK, as shared by BAL, the United Kingdom’s Electronic Travel Authorization pilot program is available to nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Lastly, Dwellworks reports that London rents are on the rise. The average rental rate in London is now around 2650 GBP ($3200) per month, and economists predict rates will continue to increase this year.
  5. United States: Dramatic weather is having an impact on California, where an atmospheric river lashes the state with heavy rain and strong winds. A state of emergency is in place for at least eight California counties as authorities urge residents to heed evacuation warnings. Los Angeles has received close to half a year's worth of rain, with officials warning it will be one of the "most dramatic weather days in recent memory." Drivers were stranded in floodwaters in Los Angeles, mudslides covered a stretch of highway in Ventura County, and flights were grounded at Santa Barbara Airport. Also, per Envoy Global,  the USCIS announced the FY 2025 H-1B Cap Season Dates and that they have strengthened the integrity of the H-1B Program by reducing fraud in the registration process. The initial FY 2025 H-1B cap season registration period will open at 12:00 PM (ET) on March 6, 2024. The registration period will close at 12:00 PM (ET) on March 22, 2024. 
  6. Chile: There are more than 160 active wildfires are burning across Chile as emergency crews race to rescue residents in smoldering communities. Over 100 people have died in Chile's Valparaíso region. The Chilean government has urged people not to travel to the areas hit by the fires.
  7. Germany: Per BAL, Germany announced that Israeli nationals can remain in the country until April 26, 2024, without applying for a residence permit or an extension of their visa-free stay. Israeli nationals are now permitted to stay in Germany without applying for a residence permit until April 26.  Dwellworks explains that for housing, there will not be much change for Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, and other German cities. 
  8. Ireland: According to Dwellworks, Dublin is anticipating more economic growth from multi-national corporations. This means more multi-family housing is being built, leading to a slight increase in rental availability. Landlords have also lowered pricing for excess inventory at the high end of the market, though entry-level units are still hard to find in general. The smaller rental markets in Cork, Galway, Limerick, and Wicklow are seeing an increase in cost, as supply is limited in these alternative locations. Expect rental rates to remain high as the pace of new construction is not budging due to a mixture of costs and regulation.
  9. Singapore: Singaporean officials announced an agreement with China for a 30-day mutual visa exemption policy will go into effect on Feb. 9.  It had been previously announced but as of Feb 9, holders of ordinary passports from Singapore and China will be exempt from visa requirements for a stay of up to 30 days in the other country.
  10. Australia: Australian authorities introduced a new permanent resident visa program, the Pacific engagement visa, for nationals of participating Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste.  To be eligible, individuals must be between 18 and 45 years old, have a formal job offer in Australia and meet other visa requirements, including English language, character and health checks. Get more info from BAL.


SEOUL, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Global air freight rates have climbed for the first time in seven weeks ahead of Asia's lunar new year and as attacks on Red Sea shipping prompt companies to secure costlier air cargo space. The Baltic Air Freight Index, which shows general cargo weekly transactional rates across a number of routes, rose 6.4% in the week to Monday, price reporting agency TAC Index said, reversing declines since a mid-December seasonal peak.


global mobility, relocation, cargo costs, air shipments, price increases, immigration, lunar new year, chinese new year, geopolitics, china, east asia, southeast asia, france, united kingdom, germany, united states, chile, ireland, singapore, australia