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ICYMI: Global agility required

Sometimes it feels like so many things continue to keep us in a steady state of anticipatory anxiety. But we have to understand and identify challenges before we can adapt to them, and adapting to the future quickly and efficiently is a core competency that keeps companies and mobility programs “agile”. 

Every two weeks, we reflect on some of the recent occurrences around the world in an effort to help you identify and prepare for things that might impact your talent mobility. Here's what you might need to know to stay agile:

  1. Japan: Per our fiends at Envoy Global, Japan introduced plans to launch a digital nomad visa for select foreign nationals beginning in the late spring of 2024. The government has introduced a six-month digital nomad visa that will be open to nationals of 49 countries, including the United States, Australia, and Singapore. Eligible applicants must make an annual income of at least ¥10 million ($68,300). The visa will be listed under the designated activities category. The visa is not eligible for renewal. For more check the government of Japan’s websiteAlso, Japan's economy officially slipped into a mild recession earlier this week. 
  2. Thailand: In Bangkok, authorities issued a warning that pollution levels had hit unhealthy levels. The government ordered workers and others in the capital to work from home for several days to raise air quality. Reporters were told that crop burning was the main culprit behind the spike, but around a quarter of the pollution was from vehicles.
  3. Panama: The Panama Canal is grappling with a severe water shortage that has gotten worse due to a rainfall deficit and El Nino weather phenomenon. The canal is only able to handle half of its typical volume each day and therefore wait times and costs have increased. Many carriers are shifting their routes to avoid the Canal. 
  4. Red Sea: You may not realize that 15% of all global trade conducted by sea passes through the Red Sea. As Yemen-based Houthis have launched attacks on cargo ships, the impact is significant on goods passing through as danger, wait times, and costs escalate. Companies have responded by sending ships around the southern tip of Africa to avoid going through the Red Sea, which can add at least a week of travel time. In other instances, shipping companies have turned to air freight, which is usually more expensive and has less capacity when it comes to how much can be shipped per load. This will create delays and impact shipping costs for mobility programs.
  5. Canada: WERC reports that the Canadian government intends to extend the existing prohibition on foreign ownership of residential property throughout much of Canada for an additional two years. With housing affordability still a top concern, the existing ban, which is currently set to expire on Jan. 1, 2025, will be extended through to Jan. 1, 2027. Despite requests for reconsideration, relocation management companies have generally still not been able to acquire residential property from transferees due to restrictions placed on “non-Canadian” companies being able to purchase residential property. 
  6. United States: Renting is cheaper than owning in all Top 50 metros in the U.S.! Per Lending Tree, the spread in costs between renting and owning a home with a mortgage is widest in the San Jose, Calif., San Francisco and New York metros. The difference between the median monthly housing costs for homes with a mortgage and the median monthly gross rent in these metros is $1,341, $1,303 and $1,289, respectively. WERC also notes that the USCIS released a series of final rules and announcements increasing the fees for many U.S. immigration and benefit-related services, including most of the ones used by employers. This will affect the H-1B cap registration process in advance of the FY 2025 cap season. The new fees will result in significant increases impacting a range of employment-based services commonly used by employers. You can see fee increases here

    Also consider checking out a couple of USCIS webinars this week here: 
    USCIS Webinar: FY 2025 H-1B Electronic Registration Process, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024 | 2 – 3:30 p.m. EST | Register» 
    USCIS Webinar: Final Rule to Adjust Certain Immigration and Naturalization Fees, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 |2 - 3 p.m. EST | Register»
  7. UAE: From our fiends at EER, As Ramadan approaches (March 11-April 10), business services in Dubai will have reduced hours and availability. This includes home finding, immigration, and other relocation and assignment support. Across most of the country, office hours will be Mon-Fri from 9:30am-3:30pm. Property viewings and settling-in services will be adjusted to those business hours and no school tours will take place as spring break coincides with the holy month of Ramadan.
  8. Ireland: How about a cleaner, greener, more attractive city center? Dublin is looking to do what a number of other European cities have done, (think Paris, Amsterdam and Lisbon). They've proposed an ambitious goal of reducing traffic congestion in the city center by 60% through the creation of new pedestrian streets and plazas that will make Dublin’s heart an altogether more pleasant place to linger.
  9. United Kingdom: UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) has announced that the next ballot for the India Young Professionals Scheme will open at 2:30pm India Standard Time (IST) on Feb. 20, 2024 and will close at 2:30pm IST on Feb. 22, 2024. And like many governments, the UK has unveiled significant proposals to regulate the short-term rental market. Under these proposed changes, individuals looking to rent out their properties on a short-term basis would be required to obtain planning permission from their local authority, marking a significant shift in the regulatory landscape.
  10. France: Visitors to the Eiffel Tower were turned away on Monday because of a strike over poor financial management at one of the world’s most-visited sites. A sign was posted at the entrance in English, saying: “Due to a strike, the Eiffel Tower is closed. We apologize.” There are also worker strikes at Port of Le Havre in northern France, which is the largest seaport in the country. More strikes are expected at the port on Thursday, Feb. 22 and Tuesday, Feb. 27. The strikes are taking place in protest over a dispute on overtime and retirement age, and will close the port on those days. This might impact time frames for deliveries. Additionally, unionized rail network controllers plan to strike across France, on Feb. 23-24. National, regional, and local rail service disruptions likely. Lastly, in case you missed it, on Jan. 27, 2024, the French government published a new immigration law, which goes into immediate effect. Per Fragomen, the main work-related changes include:
  • a new residence permit for medical professionals;
  • limits on the repeated renewal of certain temporary residence permits;
  • the introduction of a French-language proficiency requirement for multi-year residence permit holders; and
    • a residence permit allowing for the regularization of certain undocumented workers.

Lastly, you might want to check out these additional resources:  

  1. This information from Newland Chase on the “6 Common Misconceptions about Short Term Travel in Europe” is a must read. 
  2. Check out the latest “Immigration and Mobility Decoded” podcast from Envoy Global that breaks down FY 2025 H-1B Cap updates. Since this is just around the corner, you might want to take a look.
The Japanese government plans to introduce a six-month digital nomad visa for certain foreign nationals beginning in the late spring of 2024. The visa will be open to nationals of 49 countries, including the United States, Australia and Singapore. Eligible applicants must make an annual income of at least ¥10 million ($68,300). The visa will be listed under the designated activities category. The visa is not eligible for renewal. Through the visa, applicants will receive a residence card or certificate.


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