The latest global immigration news and updates you need to be aware of

Expat news
  • visa application
Published on 2023-12-04 at 10:00 by Asaël Häzaq
Some countries are making efforts to attract economic immigrants, while others are trying to limit their numbers but still allowing a few select candidates to enter. Here's a world tour of the latest immigration news to help you plan your stay abroad.

United States 

Updated L1 visa rules impact foreign sole traders

On October 20, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented new regulations that impact the eligibility criteria for L1 visa applicants. The L1 visa is designed for entrepreneurs, executives, and highly skilled employees who have a minimum of one year of experience working for a company with a subsidiary, branch, or affiliate in the United States. The visa is valid for one year for newly established companies and three years for well-established ones. In cases where the L1 visa is renewable, the maximum duration cannot exceed five years for highly skilled workers and three years for company directors and executives.

Following the USCIS update, sole traders are now ineligible to apply for an L1 visa. This is because the USCIS is now making a distinction between sole proprietorship and "self-incorporated" businesses (such as companies, LLCs, etc.). Sole proprietors, who are not legally distinct from their businesses, no longer qualify for L1 visas. Conversely, managers of a company or limited liability company, who are legally separate entities from their businesses, can still meet the eligibility criteria for the L1 visa. This poses a challenge as many sole traders, including numerous Britons, previously utilized the L1 visa for expanding their businesses into the USA. Alternative options, such as applying for the H-1B visa (designed for skilled workers) and the E-2 visa (an investor visa), are available.

Countries where Americans emigrate the most

According to the 2020 United Nations migrant stock data published by the US Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the majority of Americans are choosing to emigrate to Mexico (nearly 800,000 in 2020), Canada (approximately 273,000), and the United Kingdom (around 170,000). While Canada and Mexico have historically been the preferred destinations, the ongoing health crisis and the rise of digital nomadism have accelerated this trend. However, the shift from the "American Dream" to the "Canadian Dream" was already underway before the onset of Covid. In 2019, the Canadian newspaper Le Devoir highlighted a surge in permanent residency applications from American nationals.

In Mexico, the Covid and the economic crisis have accelerated American immigration, causing concern among the local population. Residents express worries about rising prices and the potential for gentrification. According to the US State Department, approximately 1.6 million Americans are expected to have immigrated to Mexico by 2021. Germany and Australia also stand out as significant destinations for American immigrants, with 153,000 and 117,000 arrivals, respectively. Other expatriates opt for countries like Israel, South Korea, France, Japan, and, notably, Spain and Portugal.

Portugal, dubbed the "California of Europe," is particularly attractive to Californians, who invest heavily in Lisbon. While official statistics projected only 7,000 of them in 2021, their numbers have tripled since 2018. The same goes for Spain, the new Eldorado for Americans. However, similar to the situation in Mexico, tensions are rising among locals, who voice concerns about the same issues noted by the Mexicans.

Higher H-2B visa limits

On October 11, 2023, the United States hit its semi-annual limit of 33,000 H-2B visas as per the Immigration and Nationality Act. However, the demand for foreign labor remains high, especially during the summer months. In response, US authorities have released an additional 64,716 temporary H-2B non-agricultural visas, supplementing the annual quota of 66,000 H-2B visas. Among these extras, 20,000 visas are specifically earmarked for individuals from Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti. Additionally, the remaining 44,716 visas will be distributed to individuals who have held H-2B visas in at least one of the last three fiscal years.

Furthermore, there will be three significant waves of visa issuances: from October 2023 to March 2024, from April to May 2024, and from May to September. Unlike the H-2A visa, which is designated for agricultural professions, the H-2B visa serves as a temporary work visa for non-agricultural occupations such as catering, tourism, cruise ships, and construction. The H-2B visa provides employers with the flexibility to address sudden labor demands and better adapt to the uncertainties of the economic climate.

Immigrants: a financial windfall

The American Integration Council confirmed that immigrants contribute billions to the economy. In a recent study, the Council examined the economic impact of immigrants. Taking Arizona as an example, it estimates that immigrants make up 12.6% of the state's population, totaling around one million people. In 2021 alone, these immigrants contributed $8.7 billion in taxes at the local, state, and federal levels. Foreign-born individuals constitute one-sixth of Arizona's workforce, with half of them originating from Mexico, Canada, or India. 23% of these immigrant workers have started their own businesses, and 19% are employed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Additionally, half of all immigrants in Arizona have become naturalized citizens.

The American Council on Integration also underscores the role of undocumented immigrants, emphasizing their contribution to the regional and, by extension, national economy. In 2021, these individuals collectively paid $650 million in taxes. Among them, young people eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, established under President Obama to protect those who entered the country illegally as children, contributed over $207 million in taxes in 2021. Additionally, refugees added to the economic contributions, paying over $380 million in taxes.

United Kingdom

Higher minimum wage for foreign workers

This applies to applicants seeking skilled worker visas. The minimum salary required to qualify for this visa is set to increase to £30,000 per year (almost $38,000), up from the current £26,200 (around $33,000). For the executive, this marks a new method of restricting immigration, while for businesses, it's an additional cost. The hike affects the entire recruitment process for foreign workers, leading to varied consequences across different sectors. However, the anticipated rise in sponsorship costs extends even to less-skilled positions. Companies fear potential counterproductive effects, with an increase in labor shortages. Sectors heavily reliant on foreign workers, such as healthcare and information technology, could become even more vulnerable. According to several immigration specialists, the measure will not have the desired effect.

New measures to reduce immigration

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is once again taking steps to tighten immigration policies. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, net migration stood at 606,000 last year, with the expectation of reaching a peak of 700,000 this year. Reducing net immigration has become one of the key goals of the Sunak government. First of all, it targets foreign workers in the social and health sectors, where they might only be allowed to relocate with one family member. Additionally, the government is targeting the list of occupations in short supply, making it more difficult for British companies to hire foreign workers.

The same objective applies to a possible increase in the salary levels required for skilled workers wishing to expatriate. The increase, from £26,200 to £30,000 a year, would reduce the number of foreign talents. Meanwhile, the controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda has not been dropped by the government. Despite being deemed illegal by the British Supreme Court, supporters of the measure are urging Sunak to explore alternative methods for its implementation.

Labor shortage: sectors that are recruiting

Despite the government's efforts to tighten immigration policies, businesses are experiencing a contrasting reality impacting their sales and the country's economy. Various sectors continue to suffer from labor shortages that cannot be resolved solely by British workers. Despite the government's proclaimed "historic" rescue plan of £2.8 billion (over $3.5 billion) to hire 300,000 healthcare professionals and reduce reliance on foreign talent, the healthcare sector is still struggling. For those affected, the government is perceived as "missing the point," and the situation appears to be a lost cause.

The government needs to address the primary demand of workers: higher wages. In 2023, the healthcare sector remains a major employer of foreign professionals. Skilled worker visas in healthcare enable individuals to work and live in the country for a renewable period of 5 years. Other sectors, including engineering, information technology, programming, software development, and economics, also actively seek foreign talent. This trend is expected to intensify in the coming years, partly due to retirements in these fields.

South Korea 

The E-9 visa is intended for "non-professional workers" seeking employment in agriculture, fish farming, construction, manufacturing, or services. This visa is categorized based on the specific sector of activity. On November 22, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo unveiled a comprehensive reform plan aimed at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As part of this initiative, the E-9 visa is being expanded to include the catering industry. Currently, the quota for foreign workers in the catering sector is set at 3,000, with the possibility of increasing it to 10,000. The total quota for the E-9 visa this year is 110,000.


On November 10 and 20, six Chinese nationals were apprehended while begging on the streets of Bangkok. Each of them had between 100 and 500 baht ($3 and $15). One of the individuals has already been deported to China. The remaining individuals should face the same fate. Blacklisted by the Thai police, these men are suspected of exploiting visa exemptions to legally enter Thailand and establish their "begging business." Since September, Chinese nationals have been allowed to enter Thailand without requiring a visa. This initiative, devised by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, aims to revive the declining numbers of Chinese tourists in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the individuals contest the police's account, claiming that they ran out of money during their trip. However, the police provided evidence that at least one man had entered on a tourist visa since June. The investigation revealed that the accused were making approximately 10,000 baht a day (around $285) through begging. According to the Thai police, their visibly distressed appearances garnered sympathy from tourists. However, the Thai police show no sympathy. They have intensified inspections on Chinese travelers with facial and/or bodily deformities to prevent "professional begging." Begging is prohibited in Thailand and Chinese nationals who are arrested face a 10-year ban from returning to the country.


Germany has promptly amended a section of its immigration law to address the immediate demand for foreign talent. The changes, effective from November 18, specifically impact the EU Blue Card, a work permit designed for highly qualified non-European individuals. The revised criteria now stipulate that the work contract should be for a minimum of 6 months, with adjusted salary levels, especially for professions facing shortages, roles held by young foreign talent, and positions in information and communication technologies (ICT). Holders of a card from another EU country can continue working in Germany, connected to their job, without the need for a work visa. However, their permissible stay in Germany is reduced from 18 to 12 months.

Other changes concern the eligibility criteria for the EU Blue Card. ICT specialists lacking a university degree can still apply if they can demonstrate a minimum of 3 years of professional experience comparable to the target position within the last 7 years. Additionally, new "shortage" categories have been introduced, encompassing skilled workers in construction, logistics, production, and mining; ICT executives; senior academics in nursing and obstetrics; other academic health-related professions like dentists and pharmacists; as well as teaching and education professions. In the case of changing employers, EU Blue Card holders are only required to notify the immigration authorities within 12 months of assuming their new position.


From November 30, the Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment (DETE) will no longer be accepting applications for a letter of support to acquire stamp 4. As a quick reminder, any non-European or Swiss national intending to remain in Ireland for more than 90 days must apply to Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) for authorization. This authorization is crucial for those planning to study, work, reunite with family, or stay in Ireland. Each authorization comes with its designated stamp, which is affixed to the residence permit.

Stamp 4 is a permission allowing indefinite stay in Ireland, subject to the following conditions: working in compliance with the company's regulations or establishing/taking over a business. You can acquire Stamp 4 after obtaining permission to work in Ireland or after receiving other authorizations, such as joining a family member who is an Irish citizen, seeking refugee status, participating in an investor program, and so on.

Even though DETE won't be accepting applications after November 30, it will still handle those submitted before the deadline. This change will affect foreign nationals with a "critical skills" employment permit, researchers with an accommodation agreement, and individuals holding a non-consultant hospital doctor (NCHD) work permit. However, the Registrar of Immigration Services specifies that applications for "buffer 4" permits will still be accepted. This includes candidates who haven't applied to DETE within the designated timeframe.


To ensure the safety of its foreign workers, the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority is granting permission for foreign workers in the hotel sector to continue working within the same hotel or hotel chain, regardless of its location in the country. Moreover, the construction sector is set to receive an influx of 10,000 foreign workers. Human resources agencies, particularly those focused on recruiting foreign workers, are now allowed to bring in talent even in the absence of a bilateral agreement with the worker's country of origin. The deadline for applications from human resources companies looking to recruit foreign workers has been extended until December 31.


Following the intervention of the Supreme Court, the Kenyan government has re-evaluated its position. Initially, on November 7, the Kenyan Department of Immigration and Citizen Services (DICS) declared an increase in service fees impacting work permits, permanent residence, access to citizenship, passports, visas, consular services, and birth and death registration. However, prompted by the Supreme Court, the government released a revised list on November 14, adjusting the fee hikes. The new measures are scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 2024. Public consultation on these measures is open until December 10.


Since November 8, companies with expatriate quotas have been mandated to submit a monthly declaration on the e-CITIBIZ platform established by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs (FMI). As a reminder, this declaration should outline the positions held by foreign workers, workforce composition, and any other relevant data. It must be submitted within the initial 10 days of each month, or else face penalties ranging from 100,000 to 200,000 naira (US$ 125 to US$ 250). Starting in December, penalties will be contingent on the number of days overdue.


The process of regularizing the status of undocumented foreigners has come to an end. In June, the Peruvian government initiated an extensive online regularization procedure, valid for six months until November 10. This allowed eligible foreigners to acquire a temporary residence permit. Following this period, those with a temporary residence permit could apply for special resident status, granting them a one-year renewable residence card. However, those who did not complete the regularization process within the stipulated time limit faced potential sanctions, including deportation. Peru has also introduced a new visa for digital nomads, but specific details of the changes have not been provided yet.


 Québec: reopening of the 2024 Investor Program

On March 29, 2023, the Ministry of Immigration, Francization, and Integration announced the suspension of its Investor Program from April 1 to January 1, 2024. The reason behind this decision was to realign the program with Quebec's integration and economic growth objectives. As the suspension period approaches its conclusion, Quebec is getting ready to reopen its Investor Program. To apply, candidates must possess at least a high school diploma and achieve a level 7 on the Échelle québécoise des compétences en français test. Additionally, they need to hold a work permit and have been living in Quebec for a minimum of 6 months after obtaining it.

The program requires an investment of CA$ 1.2 million (approximately US$ 880,000) through IQ Immigrants Investisseurs (IQ for "Investissement Québec"). However, the government emphasizes that the selection conditions will be confirmed when the program reopens. As a reminder, foreign entrepreneurs can immigrate to Quebec through three programs: the Entrepreneur Program, the Self-Employed Workers Program, and the Investor Program. Quebec pursues a dual objective: attracting foreign talent and fostering economic development through immigration, all the while aiming to "maintain the vitality of the French language," as stated by Christine Fréchette, Minister of Immigration, Francization, and Integration.

Ontario rolls out the red carpet for foreign workers

Foreign nationals have long raised concerns about their qualifications not being appropriately recognized, leading them to accept positions for which they are overqualified. Statistics Canada validates these concerns, indicating that in 2021, 10.6% of individuals born in Canada found themselves overqualified for their jobs. This figure slightly increases to 11.8% for immigrants educated in Canada but significantly rises to 25.8% for immigrants who did not study in Canada. Ontario aims to address this issue with new legislation next year, with measures taking effect from December 1, 2023. Specifically, over 30 organizations will be prohibited from referencing Canadian work experience standards when hiring immigrants.

For the provincial Minister of Labour, David Piccini, who presented the measure on November 9, there is a need to halt the counterproductive waste of skills, particularly amid significant labor shortages. The goal is also to ensure that immigrants have access to skilled, well-paying professions, allowing them to thrive in their host country when pursuing a career in Canada. Ontario is also focusing on international students, with plans to attract and, more importantly, retain them. The province is set to invest nearly 70 million euros in initiatives related to welcoming, training, employment placement, and support for immigrants.

Canada publishes its 2024-2026 Immigration Plan

There hasn't been a drop in the number of new immigrants; instead, there is a stabilization. On November 1, Immigration Minister Marc Miller unveiled Canada's Immigration Plan for 2024-2026. The government aims to welcome 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024 and 500,000 in both 2025 and 2026. It's important to note that these figures encompass not only individuals arriving in Canada but also those already residing there who are changing their immigration status. The Minister acknowledges residents' concerns regarding the housing crisis, emphasizing that immigrants play a crucial role in the country's economic development. The new plan aims for balance by addressing labor needs, supporting the population, and upholding values of solidarity. The Ministry of Finance has initiated a Housing Action Plan with an allocation of over $40 billion for new housing construction.

As always, priority is given to economic immigration. The plan outlines the admission of 281,135 economic immigrants in 2024, followed by 301,250 in both 2025 and 2026. This includes a significant number of skilled foreign individuals. To address labor shortages, the Express Entry system, dedicated to skilled immigrants, now incorporates new job categories such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), health, commerce, transportation, agriculture, agri-food, and French-language teaching. The Immigration Plan aims to attract 110,770 foreign talents through the Express Entry program by 2024, with an additional 117,500 talents expected in 2025 and 2026.

Review of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)

As a part of its strategy, "An Immigration System for Canada's Future," Canada is reevaluating its Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) legislation. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) operates under this legislation. Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Program, established to more effectively distribute foreign talent across the country, operate within the framework of IRPA.

However, the IRPA has not been reviewed since 2002. Hence, the ongoing review centered on three key pillars: ensuring a welcoming environment and providing increased support for newcomers, balancing immigration and labor market requirements, and formulating a coordinated growth plan. The government acknowledges the shortcomings of its policy aimed at fostering a warm welcome and positive experience, necessitating efforts in this domain. IRCC wants to be more transparent, fair and open. The review is intended to result in the reform of the IRPA effectively.


Restrictions will continue for Croatians intending to relocate to Switzerland in 2024. On November 22, the Swiss government warned that it would maintain its regulations to limit the number of Croatian nationals. Croatians have enjoyed unrestricted work opportunities in Switzerland since 2022, following a partial revision of the Ordinance on the Free Movement of Persons by the Swiss Federal Council. Prior to this change, Croatians faced disadvantages compared to other European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) nationals.

However, this freedom of movement comes with a limit known as the safeguard clause. Switzerland retains the unilateral right to restrict the number of Croatian nationals at any given time. This provision, effective from January 1, 2023, extends until 2026. Switzerland can invoke the clause as soon as the number of Croatian expatriates surpasses the established quota. In November 2022, Switzerland invoked the safeguard clause, citing exceeded quotas. This year, it is reactivating the clause for the same reason. In October, Swiss authorities reported that all B permits (residence permits without a specific purpose, valid for 5 years) had been allocated, and 76% of L permits (short permits for a specific purpose) had also been distributed.

Croatians aren't the sole focus of this clause; Switzerland has previously used it multiple times to curtail the immigration of other European nationals. For Switzerland, this mechanism serves as an effective means of regulating immigration levels.


The Ministry of Health in Kuwait plans to set up a new medical care and testing center specifically for foreign workers. This initiative aims to end overcrowding at medical centers, which the government deems a "crisis" that has endured for several years. Negotiations are underway with local agencies to identify the optimal location for the new center, which is anticipated to be in Hawally, south of Kuwait City. Additionally, the government is contemplating measures to enhance the competitiveness and efficiency of these centers, by extending their operating hours.

As a reminder, most of Kuwait's population consists of foreigners, around 3.2 million out of a total population of 4.6 million. Kuwait's ongoing industrialization efforts include a government initiative to replace foreign workers with locals gradually. In addition, the government has intensified measures against expatriates residing illegally in the country, implementing expulsion policies. It has declared that any foreign resident sheltering an expatriate in an irregular situation will also face expulsion.


Omani citizenship for 201 expatriates

The Sultanate of Oman has announced that citizenship will be conferred to 201 expatriates, specifying the number and eligibility criteria. This announcement concerns only foreigners currently residing and working legally within the country. To qualify, individuals must be in good health, free from any legal disputes, and capable of covering the associated costs of the procedure (amounting to 600 Omani riyals, approximately 1,558 dollars). A medical certificate will serve as evidence of their health condition and the absence of any transmissible diseases.

The authorities stress the significance of the final requirement. Applicants are required to provide the documents outlined in Regulation 92/2019, including a valid passport, visa, valid resident card, and identity card. If applicable, they must also provide a marriage certificate, a copy of the spouse's visa, and copies of their children's passports. Additionally, applicants are advised to bring a certificate of good conduct from Omani authorities and another from their country of origin. Further documentation, such as proof of income issued by the employer, is also necessary.

Once citizenship has been granted, foreigners are required to present themselves to the relevant ministry to obtain their Omani passport. As part of the commitment, they agree to establish permanent residency in Oman. These newly naturalized Omani citizens are obligated to undergo a written or oral Arabic proficiency test, with the option to retake it up to four times. However, certain restrictions accompany this new status. For the first 10 years following citizenship acquisition, individuals are limited in the amount of time they can spend outside the country unless granted special dispensation by the Ministry of the Interior. Foreigners aspiring to obtain Omani citizenship must initiate the application process through this ministry.

End of conversion from visitor to employment visa

Foreigners staying in Oman on visitor visas can no longer change their status within Omani territory. This recent regulation, implemented by the Royal Omani Police, applies to all visa types, including dependent visas, tourist visas, and express visitor visas. Unlike the previous practice that allowed the alteration of immigration status without exiting Oman, the new directive mandates that any foreigner with a visitor visa seeking to acquire a work visa must depart Oman, secure employment to obtain the work visa, and subsequently return to Omani territory.


The 30% rule is a tax provision enabling employers to provide employees with a fixed allowance to address specific relocation expenses. This is applicable to employers who fulfill their employer's contributions in the Netherlands, are registered with the Dutch tax authorities, and for employees recruited from abroad to work in the Netherlands. The fixed allowance should not surpass 30% of the taxable salary, implying that a portion of the expatriate's income (up to 30%) remains exempt from taxation.

On October 26, 2023, the House of Representatives introduced amendments that would significantly overhaul the 30% rule. If implemented on January 1, 2024, these amendments would have substantial consequences for both expatriates and employers. The revised system introduces an upper limit beyond which the 30% rule would no longer be applicable. This ceiling is aligned with the highest income standards law (Wet Normering Topinkomens) and is set at 223,000 euros per year.

The legislation also proposes a phased reduction in the tax-exempt portion: 30% for the initial 20 months, 20% for the subsequent 20 months, and 10% for the final 20 months. Additional measures are outlined to limit expatriate privileges. This marks a notable shift in Dutch policy aimed at retaining foreign talent. Adapting to these reduced tax incentives will be crucial for the country to stay competitive in the global labor market. However, the Senate's decision is expected before the text comes into force.


Working in Denmark without a residence or work permit

As of November 17, a recent regulation permits specific expatriates to work in Denmark without a residence or work permit. This provision is applicable to individuals employed by a foreign company linked to an entity with a minimum of 50 employees operating in Denmark. The scope of this rule is limited to brief stays in Denmark, allowing for two distinct periods within an overall duration of 180 days. Each work period is capped at a maximum of 15 working days, with a mandatory 14-day interval outside Denmark between successive work periods.

To benefit from the new system, the foreign worker must already possess the legal authorization to enter and stay in Denmark, such as an applicable visa. This exemption might also apply to particular companies and for specific roles or assignments requiring specialized expertise. Industries such as construction, hospitality, catering, transportation, and agriculture could fall within the scope of this provision. The Danish authorities highlight the presence of current exemptions for work permits, including 40 days annually for board members, a maximum of 90 days for foreign workers engaged in specific tasks, and up to 5 years for visiting professors. Additionally, artists may, in certain instances, be eligible for a work permit exemption.

11 proposals to address labor shortages 

Denmark is grappling with labor shortages, particularly in the health sector, leading the national organization of Danish municipalities, Kommunernes Landsforening (KL), to urge the government to consider foreign labor. In a press release issued on November 6, KL suggests 11 measures to attract more foreign professionals and address the labor shortfall.

KL recommends establishing a dedicated list for healthcare professions facing shortages, allowing foreign professionals to apply through a specialized system. The organization also suggests enhancing Danish language courses to facilitate the integration of foreign workers. Moreover, it proposes increased flexibility regarding the use of English in the workplace, a consideration for permanent residency applications. KL emphasizes the need to streamline bureaucracy, which currently discourages foreign talent.

KL President Martin Damm emphasizes that the demand is expected to reach "tens of millions," especially in nursing and education. In the social services sector alone, a shortage of 16,000 workers is projected by 2030. Hence, recruiting more "competent and motivated" foreign workers is urgently needed. KL's 11 proposed measures aim to attract and, more importantly, retain foreign talent. Martin Damm urges the government to consider these recommendations and enact legislation as soon as possible.

Saudi Arabia

The investor e-visa (business visit visa), unveiled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) earlier this summer, is entering its second phase, extending its availability to the global community. Initially restricted to 60 countries, the investor visa aligns with Vision 2030, a program initiated by MBS in 2016 to enhance economic development by drawing in more foreign investors.

In collaboration with MOFA, the Ministry of Investment (MISA) has expanded the eligibility criteria. MOSI now incorporates individuals from countries featured on the "Invest Saudi" platform. Additionally, eligibility extends to those holding a tourist or business visa from the UK, the USA, or a Schengen state, provided they have previously visited these countries. Permanent residents of these nations, as well as individuals with a residence permit valid for a minimum of 3 months in a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country, also qualify for the e-visa.

The e-visa, which is valid for up to one year and allows multiple entries, can be applied for through the Invest Saudi platform. MOFA's goal is not only to position itself as an appealing investment hub but also to foster the establishment of new businesses and stimulate economic growth.


Kenya exempts African visitors from visa requirements, according to President William Ruto. The decision is expected to be implemented by the end of the year. President Ruto, addressing the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (September 4-6) hosted by Kenya, expressed the view that "[...] visa restrictions between African countries are [counterproductive]." Despite progress in bilateral agreements, achieving visa-free travel has been a lingering goal for the African Union over the past decade.

Until recently, only Gambia, Seychelles, and Benin had entirely waived visa requirements for all African visitors, as indicated in the African Union's (AU) 2022 report. The ongoing efforts of various African nations are reflected in Africa's Visa Openness Index. William Ruto confirms that facilitating visa-free travel for Africans is crucial for the continent's economic and social growth, stressing that when people, including businessmen and entrepreneurs, face travel restrictions, everyone stands to lose.


William Ruto made the announcement during the African Climate Summit, declaring the elimination of visa requirements for all African travelers. Following suit, Paul Kagame, at the 23rd World Travel and Tourism Council summit held in Rwanda from November 1 to 3, shared the same news. The change is effective immediately, slightly preceding the implementation in Kenya. Consequently, Kenya now joins the list of three countries offering "visa-free" travel for Africans.

Raising the same arguments as William Ruto, Rwandan President Paul Kagame insists on the tourism potential in Africa, which currently heavily relies on foreign visitors. Statistics from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa reveal that 60% of tourists coming to the continent are non-African. Earlier, in January, the Rwandan government had already removed visas for over 90 countries globally, aiming to attract more tourists and boost economic growth.

The announcement is part of the African Union's plan. In 2016, the African Union introduced the African passport, aiming to ensure unrestricted movement for all Africans, extending beyond diplomats. The AU believes that eliminating travel restrictions plays a crucial role in fostering economic and social development across the entire continent.

Gulf countries

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members have agreed to introduce a unified visa, enabling tourists to travel seamlessly across all Gulf countries. GCC Chairman Sayyed Hamoud bin Faisal Al Busaidi signed the decision during the 40th meeting of GCC Interior Ministers in Oman. All Gulf States have expressed their support for this initiative, anticipating that the single visa will contribute to increased unity among member states, elevate their appeal, foster economic growth, and draw more tourists. The implementation of the single visa is scheduled for 2024-2025.

United Arab Emirates

In a further move to draw in additional international talent, particularly the self-employed, investors, and skilled employees, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has expanded the eligibility for its Green Residence Visa to these three traveler categories. Qualified employees seeking the visa must possess a degree and have a monthly income of at least AED 15,000 (approximately USD 4,084). Self-employed expats are required to secure a self-employed permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization, along with an annual income of at least AED 360,000 for two consecutive years (nearly USD 100,000).

The Green Residency Visa allows individuals to sponsor their spouse, children (up to the age of 25 for sons and without age restrictions for unmarried daughters), and parents. This sponsorship also includes disabled children of any age. In case of visa expiration or cancellation, foreign nationals are granted a 6-month grace period, allowing them to stay in the country during this period.

South Africa

South Africa is actively contemplating a comprehensive overhaul of its immigration laws. The country plans to establish an advisory council comprising representatives from both the public and private sectors to stay informed about emerging social and economic issues. Interior Minister Aaron Motsoaledi insists on the urgency to revamp an outdated "artifact of the colonial era." One of the initial focuses of the reform is addressing the challenges associated with illegal expatriates and refugees.

The existing law prevents the state from refusing entry to a refugee, and it also bars the state from expelling or deporting asylum seekers and refugees. The government contends that approximately 20,000 illegal immigrants enter the country annually. The Ministry of the Interior openly refers to this as a "migratory crisis," signaling the need for a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws.

All citizens are encouraged to provide feedback on a White Paper by January 19, 2024. The reform will also tackle the issue of visas, which the government considers too numerous. The African powerhouse aims to uphold its influence in African and global markets by reforming its immigration laws. Similar to other nations, South Africa is seeking to attract and, more importantly, retain foreign talent while addressing unemployment issues.


"Hungary belongs to the Hungarians". That's how Parliament is defending the bill presented on November 15, which seeks to strengthen immigration regulations. In practical terms, lawmakers seek the authority to decide who can reside in Hungary and for how long. If enacted, the law would eliminate visa renewals and unrestricted right of residence. Instead, it would establish specific conditions governing a foreigner's ability to live and work in the country.

Under the proposed law, expatriates would be eligible for a position only if there were no qualified Hungarian candidates, and the number of selected foreign workers must not exceed the number of available vacancies. Additionally, foreign workers would be granted admission for a limited period. For long-term employment, third-country expatriates would require explicit authorization from Hungary, provided they contribute to "the interests of Hungarian society" without negatively impacting any Hungarian citizen. The legislation outlines the swift expulsion of expatriates who violate these regulations.

New Zealand

According to New Zealand's official statistics, the population increased by 2.7% in one year, adding 138,000 people to a total population of 5,269,000. This marks the fastest growth since the 1990s. In response to labor shortages and to reignite economic growth, New Zealand has implemented an extensive policy to attract and retain foreign workers following the reopening of its borders. While the country has seen a surge in arrivals, economists anticipate a gradual slowdown in population growth. This deceleration is already evident, with population growth decreasing to 33,000 in the third quarter, slightly less than the second quarter (34,500) and significantly less than the first quarter (42,700).

Countries that apply visa restrictions to HIV-positive people

As per the HIV Travel database, numerous countries continue to enforce travel restrictions for people living with HIV. In 12 states, such as Egypt, Tunisia, the Solomon Islands, and Bhutan, restrictions are imposed for stays of fewer than 90 days. Moreover, restrictions extend to longer stays exceeding 90 days. In total, HIV Travel identified 54 countries with restrictions, including the initial 12 nations with restrictions on short stays and an additional 42 states. This list includes countries like Australia, China, Cuba, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, the Maldives, Seychelles, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

People living with HIV may face challenges even entering foreign countries, as several nations have instituted entry bans and deportations specifically targeting HIV-positive travelers. Countries like the UAE, Russia, Iran, and the Solomon Islands have introduced entry bans. Additionally, expulsion measures have been introduced by China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Malaysia, and Qatar.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), approximately 39 million people worldwide will be living with HIV in 2022. UNAIDS points out that these restrictions constitute discrimination. They express regret that governments are leveraging fears and ignorance while disregarding medical progress. We've come a long way from the initial waves of HIV epidemics, as it is now entirely possible to lead a healthy life with HIV. The life expectancy of someone with HIV is nearly identical to that of an individual without it. For UNAIDS, there is no public health justification for these restrictions; on the contrary, they limit opportunities for those affected. The ability to work, study, or travel abroad can be a significant challenge. UNAIDS calls on all relevant states to reconsider their position.