Visa changes affecting global contractors

global visa changes contractors

1st March 2023

With immigration rules changing across the EU and a rise in visa applications, recruitment businesses placing global contractors must keep up to date with all the latest developments. Contractors who do not possess the correct documentation and paperwork in the countries where they decide to be based could land themselves in hot water with local authorities, which could lead to hefty fines and potentially more punitive consequences. In this article, we round up some of the latest changes that recruiters need to be aware of, affecting future visa holders and the eligibility criteria to apply.

We begin with huge changes to ‘golden’ visas, adopted by several countries to attract wealthy foreign non-EU investors in return for domestic residency and national passports, which have recently come under the spotlight. In most cases, these visas were awarded to property buyers who would invest a significant amount in real estate to stimulate the local economy. As reported by, Ireland became the first country to call an end to its programme on 14 February, swiftly followed by Portugal two days later. A bill has been submitted to Spain’s Congress to call time on its golden visa.

So, what has suddenly prompted these governments to terminate the once popular visas? In the case of Ireland, Minister for Justice Simon Harris said that it was a matter of relevance and that the programme no longer met with the Government’s policy objectives. He also mentioned EU Commission and OECD report findings and said, “However, it is important that we keep all programmes under review including any implications for wider public policy, such as the continuing appropriateness and suitability of this programme for cultural, social and economic use.”

For Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who made the announcement, the main reason for ending the programme which had been introduced a decade ago, was to do with a lack of affordable housing in the country. The golden visa programme has been criticised for causing property speculation, with rising property prices a real issue in the country impacting affordability for its own citizens. The same line of argument has been adopted in Spain by those who have pushed for the abolition of the programme, while also citing concerns about money laundering in the EU.

Wealthy US citizens are now targeting the central Mediterranean archipelago of Malta, which is now the sole remaining EU nation to offer a golden visa. According to visa application statistics, the demand from Americans has now surpassed that of Russian and Chinese nationals. The motivation behind such a move has been driven by a desire to find a safe haven should there be a climate or global pandemic catastrophe in the near future. Political and social unrest in the US, as well as the shrinking middle class, has also prompted such a move. Malta has the highest investment level requirement at €600,000.

Global visa requirements for contractors

In other news, the Ministry of Education in Kuwait is looking to cut back on the number of foreign teachers who are allowed to enter the country. Its ruling will affect the situation of around 1,800 expatriate teachers who are currently working in the oil rich state but who are now at risk. As reported on the Global Payroll Association website, Islamic education, social studies, computers, art education and music are the key subjects under threat. It appears that the number of expatriate foreign teachers has now risen higher than what is deemed to be acceptable, which is stifling the local teacher pool.

Meanwhile, an article on the same portal reveals that the UAE and Saudi Arabia are considering granting citizenship to their big expat community of workers, many of whom have been plying their trade in the region for many years. The transition away from fossil fuels and a move to cleaner, greener energy means that these nation states are keen to attract and retain foreign workers. Granting them greater rights, including citizenship, is one way of achieving this. According to the figures quoted, the UAE and Saudi Arabia currently pump 14m barrels of oil per day.

In a move to entice high income earners and graduates from top foreign universities to help plug the shortage of specialist skills, Japan is set to introduce simplified immigration pathways in April. The two visas being offered are the Japan System for Special Highly Skilled Professionals (‘J-Skip’), which is for researchers and engineers with over 10 years’ experience and whose salaries are above ¥20m (over £123k), while the Japan System for Future Creation Individual (‘J-Find’) is aimed at graduates.

As we’ve seen with the various visa changes around the world, global recruiters looking to place contractors overseas must ensure that these individuals have the right immigration documentation and meet all current visa and permit holder requirements. Furthermore, it is imperative that they are fully tax compliant, so agency owners must ensure that they are operating according to local regulations or they could face stiff penalties and even prosecution. If you need advice on any visa, immigration or tax compliance matter, our 6CATSPRO experts can advise you.

6CATSPRO is part of WorkwellTM Group

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