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| 6 minutes read

ICYMI: Real estate and immigration shakeups

Can you believe we are through the first quarter of 2024 already? Whether we wanted it or not, the world keeps changing and mobility needs to keep up. We're here to make sure you have updates on anything that might potentially impact your relocation program and mobile talent. Here's what's happening around the world:

  1. United States: The National Association of Realtors settlement is expected to change the process for buying and selling real estate across the U.S. There are so many what-ifs and potential nuances to how things will play out, and you can learn more by looking at our recent post on the topic. Then tune in to this upcoming WERC webinar to hear more from industry experts. Additionally, per CNBC, February sales of existing homes surged almost 10%, with inventory rising almost 6% year over year. Increased demand pushed median prices higher, up 5.7% from 2023. 20% of homes are now selling above list price. U.S. News, also reports that in January 2024 alone, about 4.6 million U.S. citizens left the country for international destinations. That number is 17% higher than the same month in 2019. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be careful abroad, though. Check out the places that the U.S. government warns not to travel right now

    Lastly, filing fees for many employment-based visas will go up on April 1, 2024, according to a final rule recently published by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It’s the first time the agency has raised fees since 2016. In a statement announcing the new fee schedule, the agency noted that “unlike many other federal agencies,” USCIS receives 96% of its funding from filing fees, and only about 4% from Congress.
  2. European Union: Per Fragomen, effective April 1, 2024, Bulgaria and Romania will partially join Europe’s Schengen Area, with border checks ending for air- or sea-based travel between Bulgaria, Romania, and other Schengen Area countries. The European Council will continue talks to lift land border checks. The days spent in Bulgaria and Romania will count toward the Schengen allowance of a maximum 90 days in any 180-day period (or less for visa nationals) as of April 1, 2024. Romanian authorities have already confirmed this approach; while Bulgarian authorities have not but are expected to clarify their position in the future.
  3. Indonesia: According to Envoy Global, the government of Indonesia has introduced several immigration changes for 2024. Limited Stay Permit (ITAS) foreign nationals with a one-year permit can only submit extension applications 30 days before expiration, and those with permits exceeding one year must submit extensions three months in advance. See this for more information on updates on single-entry and multiple-entry visit visas.
  4. China: Per Elizabeth Kumbhari at Newland Chase, the Chinese government has announced it is extending limited visa-free travel to an additional six European countries. As of March 14th, passport holders from Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourg will be allowed to visit China for business, tourism, or to visit family. Visa-free travel is available for stays up to 15 days. The waiver for these six countries will remain in effect until Nov. 30, 2024. Late last year, China launched visa-free travel for up to 15 days for passport holders from six countries – please see their original post below for additional information. For more, read Newland Chase's latest blog:
  5. Brazil: The government of Brazil will begin requiring an eVisa for U.S., Australian, and Canadian citizens traveling on or after April 10, 2024. Our friends at CIBT share that the eVisa will allow multiple entries to Brazil from the date of issue, provided the visitor stays in Brazil for no more than 90 days in any 365-day period. Brazilian eVisas issued to Australian and Canadian citizens will be valid for a period of five years, and those issued to United States citizens will be valid for a period of 10 years. Note that the eVisa is linked to a particular passport. If the linked passport expires before the exipiry date of the eVisa, then the passport holder will be required to apply for a new eVisa.
  6. Netherlands: After passing stricter tax treatment on highly-skilled foreign workers (expats). the Dutch Ministry of Finance has commissioned a review to assess the impact of the change. The 30% ruling is a tax credit for highly skilled and highly educated foreign workers recruited abroad. It allows immigrants to keep 30 percent of their salary without paying income tax, under certain conditions. Their employers have to apply for the scheme, and the Tax Authority has to approve it. According to the NL Times, the idea is that the tax credit is meant to help expats cover moving costs and the costs of setting up a new home and life in an often more expensive country with a higher-valued currency. That makes the Netherlands more attractive in the competitive global labor market. More will definitely be revealed as the commission publishes results.
  7. Canada: Housing crisis, packed hospitals, and food lines? This article from Bloomberg shares some of the challenges occurring from Montreal to Vancouver as Canada's population grows faster than the rest of the G-7, India, or China thanks to welcoming immigration policies intended to be a solution to falling birth rates.  However, the article digs into unaffordable housing, years-long waits for a doctor, food insecurity, and a drug epidemic, claiming that these have reached crisis levels in Canada's four largest cities. According to the article, Toronto is at the epicenter of the country’s housing crisis, where scarce supply coupled with a population boom have led to a massive jump in prices. According to the latest data released by and Urbanation, the average asking price for rental units in Canada surged by 10.5% year-over-year in February, reaching $2,193 per month. And from All Points Relocation, over the past two years asking rents in Canada have risen by 21%, translating to an average increase of $384 per month. 
  8. United Kingdom: The requirement to renew a Sponsor License after four years or pay a renewal fee will be removed starting April 6, 2024, as announced by The Home Office. Officials have now removed the requirement to renew the sponsor license and automatically extended all licenses due to expire on or after April 6 for an additional 10 years. Sponsored organizations that have already filed a license renewal application should arrange with officials for a renewal fee refund. Also, the European Union's Entry and Exit Scheme (EES) is due to start on October 6, 2024. British travelers will be considered as non-EU nationals. They will need to submit fingerprints and facial biometrics. Once the scheme is running, UK travellers will then need to obtain an online permit, via the as European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS).
  9. Ireland: From our friends at Corporate Care, while the Irish housing market has eased somewhat, we have still not returned to the situation where a client might view 7 or 8 or more properties for the purpose of comparison. In Cork, for example, a client will be lucky to view 2 to 3 properties such is the very restricted supply in that market. The lower end/affordable end of the market remains particularly challenged nationwide and while supply of new properties is improving, particularly in Dublin, it has done nothing to boost the availability of affordable rental accommodation. The pressure on clients to make an immediate decision continues, except for higher-end properties where more time to consider has become the norm once again. Because of this huge demand for affordable properties, clients will often be required to decide on a property almost immediately. This can often be stressful.

Reminder that the Middle East is entering the last week of Ramadan and many offices have shortened working hours. The second week of April, many countries will enter Eid Al Fitr holidays and usually close from Sunday, April 7th until Thursday, April 11th.

Also sign up for our next webinar, “Making Sense of the Buying Process for Mobility Services” on April 9. In the session, we'll cover what mobility and procurement managers need to know to effectively navigate and manage the buying process for relocation management services and technology. 

The proposed settlement announced by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) regarding various U.S. buyer broker litigation is the latest development in a rapidly evolving landscape that is poised to transform not just the U.S. real estate market but also the talent mobility industry overall.  This webinar will pull together experts to discuss what the current state of play is related to buyer broker litigation, what process changes will occur related to buyer agency agreement and MLS listing requirements if the proposed NAR settlement is enacted, what these changes might mean for talent mobility, and how WERC and the talent mobility industry are navigating the potential changes.   Attendees may earn up to 1 CRP® or GMS® continuing education credit after completing this webinar.


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