Expat News Roundup - week 3, 2013

Posted on 14/01/2013

China hits the expat news this week, with a report that more and more expats are choosing to settle in the country – and particularly in the city of Shanghai. Meanwhile, many of those expats may have new hope of gaining permanent residency in the country, with news that the authorities will issue more green cards from July.

Heading West, UK expats are waiting to find out whether the British government will prevent pensioners claiming a state “winter fuel allowance” once they have emigrated to warm countries. A European court case, meanwhile, could determine whether thousands of expats in Spain will lose their homes.

Finally, a sad tale this week from Saudi Arabia, where the sale of a residential development has left a group of expats facing destitution.

Large Increase in Shanghai Expat Population

The Shanghai Daily has reported a significant rise in the city’s expat population, which totaled over 173,000 at the end of 2012. This is a rise of nearly 7% on 2011’s figures.

Shanghai is a popular destination for foreign residents, with the city providing a home to around 25% of the expats across the whole of China.

Despite the large number of expat residents, only a small proportion (around 5000) have been granted permanent residency status by means of a green card. The Chinese authorities are, however, expected to make more green cards available in the near future, as another of this week’s stories reveals.


More Chinese Green Cards to Become Available

New legislation in China should make it easier for expats to gain permanent residency in the country.

Changes coming into effect in July will increase the number of green cards available.

Gaining a green card allows citizens to work without a permit, and to freely buy property in the country. Green cards also make it more straightforward to start businesses or invest in the country.

Although China has a large expat population, until now it has granted very few permanent residencies when compared to other nations, such as Australia and the USA.


UK Expat Pensioners may Lose Winter Fuel Allowance

UK pensioners who have decided to enjoy their retirement in warmer climes may soon lose their annual winter fuel allowance payment.

The £200 payment is provided every winter to all UK pensioners to assist with heating bills. Currently, UK pensioners are still able to claim the allowance from abroad, provided they became expats after turning 60. Now, a new ruling from the EU Court of Justice has decreed that all expats should be able to claim the payment, regardless of when they moved abroad.

Expats remaining eligible for payment has always proved controversial. Many UK-resident Brits claim it’s unfair that those now living in warm countries still receive the money. Expats, however, argue that having contributed to the UK’s National Insurance scheme, they are equally as entitled to the money as those remaining in Britain.

Now, politicians looking to claw back the £16 Million annual cost of paying the allowance to expats are suggesting an “average temperature test” to determine eligibility.


Desperate UK Expats in Spain Seek Help from European Court

A British expat couple in Spain have turned to the European Court of Human Rights in a desperate attempt to prevent their home from being bulldozed.

The couple, living in Andalucia, are one of many subjected to controversial demolition orders for their homes, after local town halls granted planning permission for houses to be built on non-urban land.

Many expats have lost their life savings after following planning processes, only to find that local councils were wrongly granting planning permission.

Around 300,000 homes are thought to have been built illegally in Andalucia alone, and hundreds more cases are still progressing through the court system.