Cyprus’ Latest COVID Travel Categorization

Authorities in Cyprus have categorized European countries, based on their epidemiological situation in an effort to halt the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in their country. The categorization of countries may be modified at any moment, depending on the Coronavirus situation.

Category A includes low-risk countries. Citizens coming from the countries listed on the category A, are not required to test for the Coronavirus, nor are they obliged to go through two weeks compulsory quarantine.

Category B lists countries with possibly low risk “but more significant uncertainty compared to Category A. Passengers from category B countries falling into the following categories may undergo health examination upon arrival in Cyprus, including citizens of Cyprus permanently residing in the Republic, their foreign spouses and their minor children and all legal residents in the Republic. Persons who belong to this category must go under house quarantine until the result of the COVID-19 test is issued.

Category C includes countries at increased risk, compared to categories A and B. Persons coming from category C will be eligible to enter only under certain conditions. They also will have to choose if they want to undergo a diagnostic test for Coronavirus disease upon arrival in Cyprus or present an RT-PCR Covid-19 certificate with a negative result, not older than 72 hours.

To view an updated list of the countries that fall into the above categories, visit the Cyprus Flight Pass website by clicking here.

Any Countries not defined below are treated as category C.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

New Info About the UK’s Upcoming Points-based Immigration System

After leaving the EU, UK is now in a transition period until Dec. 31 with some rules and regulations to be extended until July of 2021. The UK government has followed the Migration Advisory Committee’s report to roll out plans for a post-Brexit immigration system where EEA and non-EEA citizens will be treated equally.

The new points-based scheme will require that an applicant collect at least 70 points from a number of factors including a job offer by an approved sponsor, having a salary of at least £25,600, speaking English at a required level, securing a job in a shortage occupation or a PhD in a subject related to the job. Applicants with a PhD in the Engineering and Science fields get double points in this category.

Under the new scheme, prospective new applicants can achieve 50 points from the three factors of language, job offer and approved sponsor. The remaining 20 points can be gained from reaching an approved salary level, the job is in a shortage occupation or the applicants has earned a PhD. The new scheme seems similar to the discontinued old scheme “Highly Skilled Migrant Programme.”

The changes look likely to benefit applicants from New Zealand, Canada and Australia who will reach the 70 points threshold assuming they have a job offer by virtue of speaking English and earning over £25,600.

There is also talk of a broader route to allow a smaller number of the most highly skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer.

The Government’s announcement makes no mention of the current Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme), which allows for living and working in the UK for two years, but one can surmise that if this remains in place, visa holders would be able to secure a role and transition to the new scheme to remain longer than two years.

There’s just enough uncertainty in the announcement to ensure there will be plenty of inconsistencies and unintended consequences, and while it’s hard to believe the implementation of regulation in the post-Brexit UK could be anything less than comprehensively thought-through, we live in interesting times.

The government’s announcement makes no mention of where the UK will find “low-skilled” workers in hospitality, transportation or agriculture, but for the time being prospects of remaining in the UK longer look a little brighter for new applications at least.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

UK Partners With Kenyan Fintech Companies to Increase Financial Inclusion

The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Peter Estlin, has announced £10 million of UK Aid support towards financial technology (fintech) accelerator Catalyst Fund during a visit to Nairobi.

His visit comes ahead of the first UK-Africa Investment Summit next year, which will bring together businesses, governments and international institutions to encourage investment in a range of sectors, including fintech.

The Catalyst Fund supports business development and investor opportunities for early stage fintech companies in emerging markets. With support from the UK Department for International Development, the Catalyst Fund will help connect a further 30 local fintech companies with international investors and mentors, including Kenyan fintech companies.

Speaking during the launch at the Nairobi Garage, the Lord Mayor said, “Today’s announcement highlights the mutual benefits of closer financial co-operation to both the UK and Kenya. By forging partnerships across Africa, the UK’s financial services sector can turbocharge national economies and empower individuals financially, creating thousands of jobs and enriching lives across the continent”.

The Catalyst Fund offering combines bespoke Venture Building support from fintech and emerging markets experts, patient capital in the form of flexible grants, and curated, 1:1 connections with our circles of investors, corporates and universities.

The British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott said: Kenya’s FinTech sector is strong, diverse and growing quickly. The innovators we met today show the future of Kenya’s economic growth and I am proud that the UK is able to support their work, helping create growth, jobs and the achievement of the Global Goals in partnership between our two countries.

Amolo Ng’weno, CEO of BFA Global who manages the Catalyst Fund, added: In Kenya, access to digital financial services is no longer the major issue – today we need to work toward ordinary citizens improving their financial health, gaining new access to opportunity and accessing basic services. At BFA, we see a significant opportunity for inclusive fintech startups to play this role. However, in order to succeed, they require early stage capital, partnerships which can enable pathways for scale, and access to a high potential talent pool. Our mission at the Catalyst Fund is to accelerate these startups and strengthen the inclusive fintech ecosystem, and we look forward to working toward this goal with the support of UK Aid.

The Lord Mayor also announced through the City of London Corporation that five startups under the Catalyst Fund will be selected to attend the Innovate Finance Global Summit, taking place during UK Fintech week in 2020, helping to strengthen the links between UK and African fintech sectors.

 

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

UK Student Visa and Occupation Shortage Changes

Two new changes to the United Kingdom’s visa systems.

Occupation Shortage List

The shortage of occupation list has recently been expanded to include a range of skilled occupations, following changes to the Immigration Rules.

The changes mean that occupations such as veterinarians, architects and web designers will be added to the shortage occupation list (SOL), giving people coming to the UK to work in these industries priority in securing a Tier 2 work visa, over occupations not on the list.

It also means that employers can advertise job vacancies for the occupations included to all nationalities as soon as it’s available, making it easier for them to access the international talent they need.

The Tier 2 shortage of occupation list (SOL) is a list of occupations recognized by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) as being in national shortage, which they assess would be sensible to fill, in part, through non-EEA migration.

Reflecting recommendations by the independent Migration Advisory Committee in its review of the shortage occupation list in May 2019, today the Immigration Rules have been amended accordingly, putting the changes into law.

When reviewing the shortage of occupation list, the MAC considers a range of factors including whether the role is in national shortage and whether it is sensible to fill with migrant workers.

In addition to expanding the SOL, the Immigration Rules have been amended to further demonstrate the government’s commitment to transferring the 480 unaccompanied children under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 as soon as possible.

The updated rules will ensure that those children transferring under section 67 are granted with ‘section 67 leave’ upon arrival. This form of leave allows them to study, work, access public funds and healthcare, and is a route to settlement which they would not ordinarily have had. Currently, those who transfer to the UK under section 67 only receive ‘section 67 leave’ if their asylum application is unsuccessful.

It will provide the children, and the local authorities who will care for them, with additional reassurance and guarantee their status in the UK at the earliest opportunity.

The Home Office has also streamlined English language testing ensuring that doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives who have already passed an English language test accepted by the relevant professional body, do not have to sit another test before entry to the UK on a Tier 2 visa. This change will make sure that hospitals and medical practices across the country will be able to access the staff they need more quickly.

Student Visa Changes

The UK Government has announced that it has plans in the pipeline for overseas students in the UK. A new immigration route will enable overseas students in the UK to stay for two years after they graduate. The UK Government hopes that these plans will enable some of the best students to stay. They also hope to attract more talent to the UK. This will, of course, offer wonderful opportunities for graduating overseas students. The plans will however only be introduced sometime in 2020.

To qualify, the graduate must have studied at a so-called trusted UK university or higher education provider. This provider must have a proven track record at the Home Office. The good news is also that there will be no cap on the number of overseas students that will qualify under these new plans.

Overseas graduates in any subject will be able to stay in the UK for two years to find work. They will be allowed to apply for jobs regardless of their skills or the subject they studied. The UK Government is hoping that the two-year allowance will increase their chance of finding long-term employment in the UK.

During these two years, graduates can then find employment that will fulfill the criteria for immigration routes leading to permanent residence, and switch to these routes. It will, of course also be possible for them to switch to other routes during this time that leads to permanent residence in the UK. Permanent residence will then, of course, lead to British citizenship.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Wealthy South Africans Are Able to Gain EU Citizenship Through Malta

Emigration options for South Africans are fairly limited. Most countries require special skills applied towards applications for specific jobs, or for the applicants to dig deep into ancestral histories.

But when it comes to Malta, the applicants only need to provide cash, lots of it. Unlike ancestral visas, the process of obtaining Maltese residency or citizenship via investment is relatively quick, and awarded largely without prejudice after a due diligence process.

And this is the route many high-net-worth South Africans appear to be following.

The Maltese government offers both residency and citizenship programs, which require applicants to spend and invest millions. Each offer the right to live and work in Malta, easy access into the Schengen Zone as a traveler, and in the case of citizenship, it’s also possible to live and work anywhere in the European Union.

According to residence and citizenship company LIO Global, the application process is relatively straightforward – but it requires applicants to invest a significant amount of cash, or purchase or rent properties in order to obtain residency.

Citizenship requires both cash investments and a property purchase or rental, and a significantly higher non-refundable “donation” to the Maltese government.

The cheap route: R490,000, excluding investments starting at R4.1 million.

The cheapest way to get a Maltese passport is to purchase residency, though even this doesn’t come cheap.

In order to get a Maltese passport via the Malta Residency and Visa Program, South Africans need to pay a non-refundable deposit of approximately R90,000 before anything is confirmed.

If successful, the applicant must then pay an additional flat fee of approximately R400,000.

The direct investment route requires applicants to put at least R4.1 million into government bonds, and leave it untouched for a minimum of five years.

Another way to gain Maltese residency is to purchase or rent property, either in Malta or on the island of Gozo.

In order to qualify, purchased property must have a minimum value of around R5.2 million. The minimum property price in Gozo is slightly less – there, applicants will need to spend a minimum R4.4 million.

If renting, applicants must commit to an annual rental in Malta worth approximately R200,000. In Gozo, the annual rental amount must be approximately R165,000.

Residency status doesn’t require applicants to remain in Malta, and the entire process can be completed in just two physical trips, one to sign the application in the presence of a commissionaire of oaths, and another to submit the residency permit. After this, and the financial commitments, the applicant can enjoy all the benefits from abroad.

The process is also relatively quick – the Maltese government typically turns these applications around in under six months.

Malta is an archipelago in the central Mediterranean, between Sicily and the North African coast.

The expensive route: R10.6 million rand excluding investments starting at R2.5 million.

After the success of the residency program, the Maltese government added a way to purchase citizenship, under the Individual Investor Program.

This comes with the added benefit of European citizenship, which means successful applicants can live, work or travel to any countries in the European Union.

As both Malta and South Africa allow for dual citizenship, this program means South Africans can retain their South African citizenship, too.

Maltese citizenship comes at a significant price, though.

Applicants who pass the due diligence process must make a contribution totally R10.6 million to the country’s National Development Fund.

Spouses and children under 18 who wish to join must pay an additional R408,000 each. And unmarried, financially dependent children between the age of 18 and 26 are also welcome – at a cost of R816,000 each.

The program also requires a five year financial investment of approximately R2.5 million, which is returnable.

Applicants must satisfy some degree of legal residency, and purchase or rent property. If purchasing a property, the applicant must spend at least R5.7 million, and hold onto it for five years.

The applicant can also rent a property for a minimum of five years, instead of buying. This must have a minimum annual value of at least R260,000.

Neither of these properties can be rented out during the five year period.

The application process for citizenship takes approximately one year to finalize. Once approved, applicants must make at least two visits to Malta – including a stay of between two and three weeks during the first year.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].