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Update on Australia’s Travel Restrictions

The global pandemic has affected workers from all over the world. Australia, like other nations, have implemented strict regulations on the travel of foreign nationals into their country. 

Exemptions on Australia’s Travel Ban 

In the latest amendment in Australia’s travel ban, the Border Force Commissioner has been given authority to approve travel in compelling and compassionate situations. 

If your work involves critical infrastructure projects, and health and essential services, then there is a chance that you would be approved to travel to Australia. 

If you have a split family or if you’re a temporary visa holder with a prior established residence in Australia and was caught offshore by the travel restrictions You may be included in the travel ban exemptions.

The list of exemptions has been gradually expanded since the initial lockdown in March. The current list of exemptions includes:

  • travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
  • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations, and delivering critical medical supplies
  • person with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
  • person sponsored by an employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).  
  • entry would otherwise be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
  • military personnel, including those who form part of the Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, Asia Pacific Forces and Status of Armed Forces Agreement
  • a student completing year 11 and 12, with support from the relevant Australian State or Territory government health authority and education department
  • travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.

Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List

The Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List categorizes the 17 occupations that provide the critical skills needed to help the recovery of Australia’s economy from the COVID-19 impact. Here are the occupations included in the PMSOL list:

  • Chief Executive or Managing Director 
  • Construction Project Manager 
  • Mechanical Engineer 
  •  General Practitioner
  •  Resident Medical Officer 
  • Psychiatrist 
  •  Medical Practitioner nec 
  • Midwife
  • Registered Nurse
  • Developer Programmer 
  • Software Engineer 
  • Maintenance Planner

Visa applications for other occupations will still be processed but those that fall under the PMSOL list will be given priority. Under continuous monitoring of the labour market and the development of required skill to recover from the COVID-19 impact, the Government and National Skills Commission may change and update the list.

What is a critical skill?

If your skillset covers the following, then it is considered as a critical skill:

  • travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
  • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations, and delivering critical medical supplies
  • with critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services (such as in medical technology, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, engineering and mining, supply chain logistics, aged care, agriculture, primary industry, food production, and the maritime industry)
  • delivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery (such as financial technology, large scale manufacturing, film, media and television production and emerging technology), where no Australian worker is available
  • providing critical skills in religious or theology fields
  • sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the PMSOL
  • whose entry would otherwise be in Australia’s national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority.

You can request for an exemption through the Commissioner’s Discretion – your request must be accompanied by the following:

  • Passenger details: name, DOB, visa type and number, passport number, Australian residential address, Australian telephone number)
  • Case information: why this case should be considered for Commissioner discretion/exemption
  • Supporting statement: the request should be accompanied by a statement and evidence of how you meet one of the grounds for an exemption or excise of the Commissioner’s discretion listed above.

One important thing that you should take note of is that all travellers are required to provide evidence to immigration that you meet one of the exemptions mentioned before travelling. 

How businesses are affected by the travel ban

If you are running a business in Australia and want to employ an expat, they must have a valid Australian visa and an approved waiver of the travel ban. But there is no guarantee that the application to travel will be approved as the decision is subjective and there are approximately 20,000-25,000 applications each week. The chances of approval are very minimal so it is advisable to seek out a person who can work remotely rather than having to apply to travel to Australia. 

Why Expats Should Invest in Australian Property Now

Earlier this month, Westpac, St George, and Macquarie banks reduced the serviceability floor rate for home loans from 5.35% p.a. to 5.05% p.a., meaning an increase of borrowing capacity and an opportunity for expat investors and home buyers.

The decrease to serviceability floor rates comes off the back of announcements made by Philip Lowe of the Royal Bank of Australia (RBA) in May this year and an ongoing trend toward reduction amid growing recession and pandemic woes.

In Gareth Hutchens’ article, published on 28 May, by ABC news online, Lowe claimed that interest rates would likely remain at 0.25 percent for years – until the unemployment rate was back to around 4.5 percent.

‘We’re not going to be raising interest rates until full employment is in, and we’re sustainably within the 2-3 percent target range for inflation,’ he said. ‘I think it’s reasonable to expect that that will not be for some years.’

By dropping their floor rate to 5.05%, the Westpac group reflects the low rate environment we are currently in and proves to customers that they want their business, so they borrow more.

Thus, the other big banks will likely follow this trend (Westpac’s new 5.05% rate comes in below ANZ’s 5.25%, CBA’s 5.40%, and NAB’s 5.50%), and if they do, borderline customers across major lenders will have more chance of loan approval and help the economic downturn shift back.

What this means for expat investors

Reductions to rates are good for Australian-based home buyers but are even better for international purchases and the expat community.

When you apply for a home loan, the lender assesses all your loans, new and existing, at rates much higher than the actual rate you pay. Government regulator, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), requires banks to ensure their customers can repay loans at 2.5% more than current interest rates, or the ‘floor’ rate set by the bank, whichever is higher. They call this the earthquake test, and it is there to ensure that if interest rates rise, you can still service your loans.

Over the last few years, interest rates have decreased, but the serviceability floor rate had not moved. Given the pandemic and unexpected recession-era we are now facing, rates will not increase soon. The government wants people to borrow money to buy properties and help prop up the economy.  Last year, floor rates dropped to 7%, meaning customers could borrow more based on cashflow and mortgage repayments; however, they couldn’t borrow more money on paper even though their real-life affordability had improved.

Because expats have additional borrowing capacity restrictions, banks will assess 60% to 80% of actual income to account for foreign exchange risk. The benefits of investing now in a recession-like market are paramount, as the decrease to 5.05% means for some Australian expats (permanent residents living overseas), the borrowing capacity increases by up to 15-20%.

And if you are only borrowing 60% of the property value, some banks will give you a very low-interest rate; for example, Macquarie Bank’s current variable investor rate is 2.69% p.a.

While we expect this trend to last some time, the rate reduction is excellent news for Australians living overseas who’d like to invest now. As the Expatland mortgage partner, Stoneturn is well placed to assist you with enquiries about the changes.

If you are an Australian expat who would like to review a current loan or explore new mortgage options, please get in touch with Stoneturn today.

Key Things You Need To Know When Doing Business In The UK

There are many things you need to consider when doing business in the UK, may it be starting a new company or expanding your current business.

Some of the things you have to consider include:

  • Visa & Immigration – options available to you in obtaining a visa for yourself and any employees you may want to relocate to the UK
  • Relocations – what you need to consider when relocating yourself and/or your employees
  • Tax Planning – to understand the UK tax system and what you need to do before and after you commence doing business in the UK.

Join industry experts from our London E-team in this webinar where they explain the important points you must consider when doing business in the UK.

Watch the recording of the webinar now.

 

UK Roadshow – Job Opportunities Abroad

Expatland E-Team member Canstaff and Heartland Immigration, a global recruitment and staffing service providers are running a roadshow to assist UK residents looking for work abroad.

The roadshow will run throughout the UK in 6 key locations and will provide information and assistance regarding immigration, property search, foreign exchange and expat insurance in addition to job placement.

The Roadshow location and dates are as follows.

Oct 28,2019 – Glasgow

Oct 29, 2019 – Middlesbrough

Oct 30, 2019 – Sheffield

Oct 31,2019 – Birmingham

Nov 2, 2019 – Swindon

Nov 3, 2019 – London

For more information visit the website.

Harmony Relocation Network

Harmony Relocation Network and Expatland Global Network form Worldwide Agreement

Harmony Relocation Network, a global cooperative network of locally owned relocation companies and Expatland Global Network have today formed a worldwide agreement.

Harmony Relocation Network members that hold FIDI’s FAIM certification have the opportunity to co-lead Expatland’s E-Teams to develop their businesses and help global expats heading to Expatland.

FIDI is the global alliance of professional international moving and relocation companies. The FAIM certification plays a key role in maintaining standards within the international moving and relocation industry.

Harmony Relocation Network was founded in 1992 and consists of over 140 members in 60 countries, serving 180 countries across six continents, providing the same high level of high quality services, local expertise and personal commitment.

The Expatland Global Network is made up of E-Teams. Operating at city level, they have essential local knowledge and insight. They cut through complexity and drill down to the issues that are relevant to specific locations.

John Marcarian, founder of the Expatland Global Network, says, ‘We are very pleased that Harmony Relocation Network members will co-lead our E-Teams. We take comfort in knowing that these companies are highly qualified and globally recognised. We are very pleased to work with Harmony Relocation Network to ensure our members are moved by the best.”

Paul Bernardt, Managing Director, Harmony Relocation Network, comments: “The Expatland Global Network is a true innovation developed by John Marcarian. We believe that the Expatland Global Network offers an excellent integrated platform to assist global expats on the move. We are very pleased that our members now have the opportunity to lead Expatland’s E-Teams across this dynamic and growing network.”

 

‘Expatland’ origins

Expatland began as a book, written in 2015 by John Marcarian, as a result of John’s personal expat journey. Its focus was to help expats plan their move overseas.

 

E-Teams around the globe

The Expatland book was just the start. To solve the problem of lack of support for would-be expats, John launched the Expatland Global Network in 2018.

The Network is expanding rapidly. There are now E-Teams in more than 20 cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Prague, Budapest, Hong Kong, London and Singapore. With best-in-practice members recognising the importance of this service, many more will follow.

Businesses interested in joining an E-Team in their city can get in touch with Expatland: http://www.expatland.com/contact/

 

About Harmony Relocation Networkhttps://www.harmonyrelo.com/

Relocation is more than just moving people. It’s about moving people’s lives. That’s why, whatever we do, we do it with our heart and soul, striving to surpass the expectations of the people we work and care for.

Our global network was founded in 1992 with a focus on Europe and the USA. In the late nineties, the global expansion began, mainly because our customer base was also expanding. The network first expanded to Australia and Asia. Middle East, Latin America and Africa quickly followed suit.

 

 

International Association of Movers Conference

Our Founder, John Marcarian, will be attending the 57th Annual Meeting & Expo of International Association of Movers (IAM) to be held on 3rd October 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.

We invite Harmony Relocation Network members with FAIM certification to book a meeting with John to discuss the opportunities of joining an E-Team in our network

To book a meeting please email concierge@expatland.com

How to be an Expat

Our Founder John Marcarian, who has spent most of his life in Expatland, (A virtual country where expats live) was recently featured in Business Life. John talked about his experiences as an expat in Expatland.

He stresses that expats should always plan their departure before making the move.

John advises,” As an expat, one should plan for everything before departure, place to live, which school to send the children to and  even read your employment contract, even though you are being transferred to another branch of the same company, the local rules might be very different.”

You can read the full article at Business Life article July 2019

Bruno Hicke, our Paris Group Leader, provides much needed advice

Our Paris Group Leader, Bruno Hicke of BH & Associés, recently provided much needed advice to a This is Money UK reader.

The reader’s elderly mother was having difficulty closing a French bank account and was being charged fees as a consequence of the delay.

Read Bruno’s advice on the This is Money website.

How does the Coalition win affect the immigration policies?

With the Coalition’s victory in May 2019 Federal elections, the immigration system is expected to continue the past six years trends. Prior to the election, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a cap of 160,000 migrants per year for the next 3 years.

Out of this number 30% will be allocated to the Family migration while the remaining 70% will be dedicated to the Skilled migration stream.
Out of the latter category, 39,000 visas in 2019-20 will be allocated to Employer Sponsored skilled visas, which shows an increase of almost 3, 500 places. However, the Government introduced stricter labour market testing, so that skilled migration is only used where an Australian worker is not available and stronger English language, age and work experience requirements are required.

 

Introduction of two new regional visa categories

Within the Employer Sponsored skilled visa scheme, a particular focus will be on the regional areas. The Government will introduce two new regional visa categories (Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa and Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored) in November 2019.

Under these two schemes, skilled migrants will be priority processed and afforded access to a larger pool of jobs on the eligible occupation lists compared to those who live in the major cities. Also, skilled migrants will have a pathway to permanent residence under the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional).

Skilled Work Regional Scheme

This regional scheme will be reinforced by the Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA), which target specific skilled migrants to work in the regional areas of need.

With the DAMAs, the Federal government this year is aiming to provide more attractive incentives to the new settlers in Australia to avoid the big cities and settle in the areas that are not so populated and still requires the new migrants’ skills and expertise.

For this purpose, they have allocated a number of places, to encourage the new migrants to settle in the Northern Territory, the Great South Coast of Victoria, the Orana region in New South Wales, South Australia and Kalgoorlie-Boulder in the Western Australia’s Goldfields.

What this means for you as an expat moving to Australia

Expats seeking to move to Australia now have a greater opportunity to apply for a visa under the two new regional visa categories as there is a larger pool of jobs on the eligible occupation lists .In addition, their visas will be processed more quicker than other applicants as  they are afforded priority processing. Expats in Australia who hold these visas will also have a pathway to permanent residence under the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) Visa.
The team at Migration World are ready to and can assist you with all your questions and enquiries regarding the granting of a visa to enter and live in Australia