Immigration changes in Nigeria and Egypt

NIGERIA road sign

Africa’s largest economy is slowly coming out of its worst recession in 30 years, and the Nigerian government continues to modernize its employment-based immigration system in an effort to attract international business. Earlier this year, Nigeria finally adopted the administrative regulations to implement its Immigration Act of 2015, which was the country’s first significant amendment of their immigration law in over 50 years. This year, the Immigration Regulations 2017 made broad changes to the full spectrum of business visas, visas-on-arrival, work and residence permits, entry procedures, identification and registration rules, and administrative processes.


EGYPT | Visa-Free Privileges Suspended for Qatari Citizens, and Updated List of Foreign Nationals Required to Register In-Country Within Seven-Days of Entry
Effective July 20, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs began denying visa-free entry to Qatari citizens. This is the latest salvo in the ongoing diplomatic and trade war by 16 Middle Eastern countries against the nation of Qatar. Egyptian officials have publicly indicated that exemptions to the visa-free suspension will be considered on a case-by-case basis for Qatari nationals with Egyptian spouses or mothers; however, it is unclear thus far how applicants would exercise that option.

While Qatari nationals are still eligible to apply for visas to enter Egypt, these applications have been subject to heightened scrutiny and high rates of rejection even prior to the current escalated tensions. With the Egyptian diplomatic missions in Qatar having been withdrawn in June, applications will likely need to be lodged at the Egyptian diplomatic posts in Kuwait or Oman, which have thus far elected to remain neutral in the current dispute. Even clearing that hurdle, applications by Qatari citizens will still face greater rejection levels absent close connections to individuals or companies in Egypt.


Relocation Basics: 8 Cultural Orientation Rules You Really Need to Know

You’ve spent the first half of your life learning acceptable social behaviour, the last ten years telling your kids not to care what people think, and then it happens…

Suddenly you’re stuck right back where you were on the first day of high school, having to walk into places you really would rather run screaming from, and make nice with a sea of people who have no idea who you are. Welcome to the reality of expat life.
If your cultural orientation training was anything like mine, it revolves around the country currency, demographics and religious practices. What it might not tell you is how to find the people with whom you can laugh, cry, and everything in between with.

So here’s my best advice for potential expats, based on fifteen years of relocation, social gaffes, awkward situations and offending people.

It gets easier.
Just as the first day of school was the worst for most of us (apart from the boy who had diarrhea in assembly in 9th grade – that’s a tricky one to beat), the first few weeks of any relocation are the hardest. The quicker you get out there and start circulating, the quicker you will find your first friend.

It’s a numbers game.
You didn’t expect to like everyone in high school, and nor will you like everyone you meet, but you have to go through the numbers to get to one who will become lifelong friends. Go to as many gatherings as possible, safe in the knowledge that somewhere out there is someone who is doing the same thing and hating it every bit as much as you do…

Talk to a cherished friend beforehand,
so that you are:
more confident about yourself and will present yourself in a more relaxed way
have vented all your relocation angst so that your new acquaintances don’t think you are a moany old whingebag and hereafter avoid you and,
so you have someone impartial waiting to hear all the gory details. Knowing that you have someone far, far away who relish all the post party gossip and can never tell makes putting up with the fifteenth “what does your husband do?” far more palatable.

Go to where people gather to be social.
This issue cropped up the other day – in Europe there are higher numbers of dual income families, so there are fewer opportunities for people to meet socially through school, and so a friend with school age children is struggling to meet new people. Instead, find local events by searching social media, (check out the Families in Global Transition or I am Triangle Facebook Groups for the most awesome community of people who not only get what you are going through, but take a fiendish delight in connecting you with global locals) take a class, or do something that people go to alone. And no, I don’t mean bars.

Be prepared to watch, learn, smile – and bite your lip. Often.
There will be new social rules (cute does not have the same implicit meaning in the UK and the US), a new dress codes, language differences. You may be an avid taxidermist, but that’s probably not going to be your best icebreaker at the school social. And if you are anything like me, try to avoid sarcastic, flippant or hilarious remarks, such as “Will there be alcohol served?” at the new parent breakfast. My strategy is to seek out the person that sparks the most antipathy, and watch for who else in the crowd is wincing. Instant friend, right there.

Learn to say ‘Sorry’ in every language
– but never be ashamed of trying. This has been a hard-won piece of self-knowledge, based on years of feeling ‘less than’ when I got things wrong. I hereby give you permission to apologise freely for giving offense, but never ever give up your right to get things wrong. Because here’s the thing – if you are out there making mistakes, it means that you care enough about the people, places and culture around you to want to be part of it, and no-one ever got anything right first time.

Don’t undervalue yourself.
Most relocation advice suggests voluntary work as a great way to develop a social network, and while this may be true, I have seen more people than I care to count take on the first volunteer opportunity that comes their way, only to end up in glorious isolation doing the photocopying for the PTA. (Actually, I met one of my favorite people doing exactly that, but I just got very lucky..). Find something that both gives you a sense of fulfillment and attracts like-minded people, and feel free to test drive opportunities before you commit. Tell them I said so.

Talk to anyone.
My mother does this, and it drives me nuts, but she can find a friend faster than anyone I know. Her favorite targets are anyone with a British accent, anyone in a book store, anyone wearing Marks and Spencer clothing, and anyone with grey hair. And if you happen to have a baby, your chances of escaping uninterrupted are nil. Feel free to choose your own victims target audience, but pursue it with the same singleminded passion.

At all costs, avoid asking “What does your husband do?”.
A little piece of my soul dies every time that question is asked in social circles, as if the person being spoken to is unworthy of interest. Add in the fact that you are assuming that they are a) married, and b) they don’t instead have a wife. My personal answer when asked is “Put a gun to my head and I still couldn’t tell you”; it conveys accurately both my knowledge of what he does, and my interest in finding out. As yet, no-one has taken me up on it, but feel free to find your own, less dramatic response.

Yes, I know I am biased here, because I literally co-wrote the book on this one, but seriously, start writing it all down. Journaling has been empirically proven time and time again to support cross-cultural growth and adaptation, help you manage challenges and maintain a positive mindset. So grab a pad and a pen, and start writing. If you need a little more help, the fabulous (yes, she really is) Trisha Carter and I wrote The Guided Journal for Adapting to Life Overseas, complete with a member website jam packed with relocation friendly resources. To find out more, click here, or if you just want to buy the book, you can get it here (US), or here (UK).

Remember, it’s not right or wrong, it’s just different.
It’s one of Trisha Carter’s favourite sayings, and is incredibly helpful in those moments when you are ready to scream, cry or start booking plane tickets home. You’ll see things that will enrage, infuriate or bewilder you, but you don’t have to agree, or even engage if you don’t want to. Try to suspend judgement, at least until you can dump it all on to paper or a trusted ear. And yes, I know it’s tough.

The original article was posted on the Expat Lifeline website and can be viewed here.

Healthy Goodbyes for Healthy Starts – Expat Nest Article

“Goodbye…” It’s such a powerful and emotive word, isn’t it? And, as we will see, it’s more than just a word to signify a parting; it’s a way to complete a cycle. By saying healthy goodbyes we bring a sense of closure and ready ourselves for the new chapter in our lives. Here’s how we can do this, and why we should…

We are all familiar with farewells – expats especially so. Whether we’re the one leaving or the one who stays behind, we will always feel the sadness of a parting. Change, however, is the only constant. We will have many opportunities to say goodbye in our lives, and not just because we are expats. Saying goodbye is therefore a skill to practise and an emotional process to go through<

Saying goodbye sucks
This is especially true for expats, who have to say goodbye more than most! A common reaction to an upcoming goodbye is to become detached. Many expats will keep their distance from loved ones, whether friends, colleagues or family, before a relocation. We may shut off and try to avoid the goodbyes entirely.

A very good friend of mine, who I’d spent time with almost daily, did this as he was due to leave the Netherlands. He gave me a quick hug, and left. This wasn’t the goodbye I wanted and it left an uneasy sadness (perhaps for him too).

Why is goodbye so important?
Though we may avoid proper closure or not know how to handle it,going through the sadness of an ending is normal and healthy. “Goodbye” represents that closure and helps with a smoother transition.Closing the cycle gives you a strong foundation as you begin again.

A healthy goodbye also helps you to savour the good parts of your experience; it holds these as treasures from your previous chapter and into your new one. (These treasures can never be taken away from you.) This can give you strength; it can give you love. It can give you the power to continue when the transition is difficult.

Healthy goodbyes beyond the expat experience
They’re valuable in every meaningful relationship we have. For example, you may know your relationship is ending, but find yourself struggling to let go. This is tough, we know, but it’s better to find the strength to say goodbye, sooner rather than later, and to bring in that end. Why? Because your time is precious; it is a non-renewable resource. And you can only start over when it’s over.

If this sounds too painful, it can help to think of your emotions as the seasons: after winter, comes spring, comes summer, comes autumn…. How long you want to remain in winter is up to you to a great extent. What can you do to bring spring, without forcing it? You can take your time in the “winter” months – to reflect, to learn – and then you can say goodbye to winter and begin to lean into spring.

What else do we need for a healthy start?
We’ve discussed the pain – and importance – of goodbyes, but it also helps to look forward. Ask yourself:

  • “What else do I need for a healthy start?”
  • “What is important to me?”
  • “What matters the most to enable as peaceful a transition as possible?”

These transitional phases are difficult sometimes, but they can also be very exciting! There is the pain, yes, for something precious that is gone; there also is the beauty. But isn’t life a little bitter-sweet?

The original article can be read here –

Relocating to Botswana? Need some advice on schools, homes, etc?

Botswana, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, has a landscape defined by the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta, which becomes a lush animal habitat during the seasonal floods. The massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve, with its fossilized river valleys and undulating grasslands, is home to numerous animals including giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs.

Capital and largest city: Gaborone; 24°39.5′S 25°54.5′E / 24.6583°S 25.9083°E
Currency: Botswana pula
Population: 2.262 million (2015) World Bank

International Schools in Botswana


Westwood International School
Address: Plot 22978 Mmankgwedi Road
P.O. Box 2446
Gaborone, Botswana
Tel: 267 390 6736
Tuition Rates (US $): 14,317 – 24,823 per term

Primary through high school classes are offered at this premiere school. Courses are in English with ESL programs for students learning English. It is an International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) World School.

Broadhurst Primary School
Address: Plot 8578 Lenyaphiri Road
Broadhurst, Gaborone, Botswana
Tel: 267 397 1221
Tuition Rates (pula): 11,810,000 per term

The school uses a programme devised by UNESCO as its source material. The children are required to wear uniforms. Broadhurst Primary School is particularly well known for its sport.

Maru a Pula
Address: Plot 4725, Maruapula Way
Gaborone, Botswana
Tel: 267 391 2953
Tuition Rates (pula): 14,020 – 18,890 per year

Maru a Pula is an independent, co-educational, secondary school. It is a non-profit making institution. It offers a boarding option that is integral to the school. There is an afternoon SPE programme, which includes student participation in a wide range of service and physical and enrichment activities. Examinations offered are the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and the G.C.E. Advanced Level University Entrance exams (A Level).

Legae Academy
Address: P.O. Box 750
Mogoditshane, Botswana
Tel: (+267) 3924 313
Tuition Rates: Inquire at school

The Academy is fully registered with the Botswana Ministry of Education. The school is the sister school to Legae English Medium Primary School. It is a member of the AISA. It is a test center for University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) the Academy is internationally certified as an approved Oxford, Cambridge, and Royal Society of the Arts (OCR) examinations centre.

Northside School
Address: PO Box 897
Gaborone, Botswana
Tel: 00267 395 2440
Tuition Rates: Inquire at school

Northside Primary School is a private, international English school. The curriculum is driven by the International Baccalaureate Organization curriculum. Uniforms are required.

Accommodation in Botswana

Limited availability of accommodation suitable for expats in Africa has led to increased living costs in some key cities, although Botswana is relatively unaffected. In fact, Gaborone has been ranked among the cheapest of Africa’s cities for expats.

The suburbs of Gaborone include Broadhurst in the northeast, Naledi and Phakalane. Phakalane is built around a golf estate and is the preferred residential area for expatriates, although some people prefer to live closer to town, nearer to schools and workplace.

Other popular areas of Gaborone include The Extensions, which lie to the east of the railway line and radiate out from the Government Enclave. Extension 15 is near Riverwalk Mall (known as ‘The Village’), while Extensions 9 and 11 are probably the most expensive parts of Gaborone.

Gaborone West consists of the inner blocks to the west of the railway line, inside the Western Bypass. This area is sub-divided into Phases 1, 2, 4 and industrial.

Healthcare in Botswana

The public sector dominates the health system in Botswana, operating 98% of the health facilities. However, there is a huge gap in quality between public and private medical provisions, and expats are recommended to purchase private health cover for Botswana.

As in much of the rest of Africa, the public healthcare system mainly serves a lower-income bracket, while expats and those who can afford it use the private healthcare system.

The innovators are offering expats more affordable schools

A few years ago, competition for places in Dubai’s best international schools was so intense that British expat Jemma Schilbach felt she had to get her two children on the waiting lists for her preferred schools before they were even out of nappies.
Work ended up taking the family away from Dubai for a couple of years. When they returned in 2014, they were relieved to discover there were plenty more schools to choose from, but there was another issue: cost.
Both Schilbach and her husband, who’d previously worked in jobs where companies paid for children’s schooling, were now self-employed, and would need to pay for their children’s education themselves.
Schilbach, 43, who now runs expat community website, enrolled both her children at Foremarke Dubai, which is affiliated with the UK independent school Repton.
She was impressed with the small class sizes and Foremarke’s reputation, but with tuition fees there starting at 65,000 AED ($18,000) a year, it meant the family had to be more careful about spending to ensure they had the money to send their children, aged five and seven, to the school.
“We economise on other costs during the year,” says Schilbach, adding that ordering some household items from the UK and closely watching what the family spends on weekends have helped to save pennies. “In our opinion, the money is better spent on educating our children to a high standard.”

No more bells and whistles

As expatriate contracts change and people accept more flexible benefits, move onto localised employment packages or decide to find their own jobs overseas, finding the money needed for education is a growing challenge for families living abroad. In Dubai, for example, falling oil prices have led to many employers cutting the salaries and benefits packages they are willing to offer their expat staff. It leaves many expats no option but to pay for their children’s schooling themselves, partially or in full.

The cost of education is among the most popular topics of discussion on BritishMums. “It’s an employer’s market,” says Schilbach, who founded the site in 2012. “The old-time expat contracts are few and far between these days.”
This month, in a survey by HSBC involving nearly 8,000 expat parents, 62% said it was more expensive to raise a family overseas than at home. Some 58% mentioned that the cost of childcare, in particular, was more expensive.
A separate survey by Singapore-based advisory service, which covered 98 countries and 707 international schools, found fees rose 3.43% last year compared with the year before.
The most expensive schools for international education were in China – median fees for children aged 11-12 came in at $36,400 a year – followed by Switzerland ($28,300) and Belgium ($27,800), according to the survey. But international education in Britain, Hong Kong, the US, Singapore and Australia also cost more than $20,000 a year. Schools may also charge extra for uniforms, examinations, extra-curricular activities and even books.

“Schooling has become very expensive over the years,” says Sébastien Deschamps, ExpatFinder’s chief executive and founder. “That’s a challenge not only for the expatriate, but also for HR professionals because they still need to attract foreign talent and find ways to keep them.” He advises parents moving abroad to engage a local specialist and thoroughly research full education costs before agreeing benefits with their employer.

Alternative options

The competition has intensified as international schools are pitched more and more at local families looking to give their children an English-language education set to an international curriculum. That demand, along with the soaring fees, has led many expatriate parents to explore options beyond the traditional – and usually expensive – international schools.
Depending on language and local laws some may be able to send their children to state schools within the country where they’re working. Other possibilities include home-schooling, boarding in their home country or taking short-term or commuter deployments so their children don’t have to move at all.
Mostly, however, families are looking towards more affordable schools.

Emma McHugh, a 39-year-old mother of three and Schilbach’s co-founder at BritishMums, is in the process of returning to Dubai from Abu Dhabi. Her children will start at Safa Community School in September, where tuition fees start at 47,000 AED ($12,800).
While her choice wasn’t all about the cost – Emma felt the school had the feel of a typical UK primary with an emphasis on nurturing and care – discounts for siblings, parental referrals and the lower tuition fees came as a “huge bonus,” she says.
This new demand for affordable schooling options has encouraged some countries with sizeable expat communities to tackle the problem head on. In Malaysia, a deliberate government policy to support the development of international schools, setting aside 777.8 million ringgit ($179 million) for 2013-2015 for the purpose, has created more choices for parents whether foreigners or locals.
There are now 170 international schools across the country, from expensive established institutions such as the Mont Kiara International School, which follows a US curriculum, and the non-profit Alice Smith School, to established local chains and newcomers offering British, Canadian and Australian curricula. More are due to open in 2018.
In Singapore, the opening of Invictus Private School in August last year, founded by a tech entrepreneur with fees of about S$15,000 a year ($10,600), has also focused attention on the need for more affordable education for foreigners.

Since 2008, Singapore’s Economic Development Board has held a series of “Request for Interest” exercises for international schools, offering long-term leases on land. In April, it announced a tender to convert a former government secondary school on the west side of the island into an affordable international school.
“Foreign system schools play a part in strengthening Singapore’s position as an attractive global city,” explains Marcus Dass, director of human capital at the Economic Development Board in a statement. “While many existing foreign system schools in Singapore have been delivering high quality international education, there are requests for more affordable and diverse school options.”

Meeting expectations

Even at schools with lower fees, parents’ expectations remain high.
Many prefer teaching to be led by native English speakers, and International School Consultancy, which tracks the international schools market worldwide, expects demand to intensify for the best and most experienced teachers. With fees generally reflecting teachers’ salaries, and Western-trained, native English speakers in highest demand, schools need to perform a careful balancing act to maintain affordability and attract the best staff.

“The reputation of the international school market is such that schools that severely lack facilities, resources and quality teachers often lose favour and their enrolment declines,” says Richard Gaskell, schools director at ISC Research. “Such schools would [also] struggle to gain any reputable accreditation or quality inspection result, which many parents use to make their selection.”

ISC advises parents to check schools’ accreditation, examination board authorisation and membership of school associations such as the Council of British International School (COBIS), and the Federation of British Schools in Asia (FOBISIA).
For Yvonne McNulty, who’s lived in Singapore for 12 years and is a senior lecturer at Singapore University of Social Sciences specialising in expatriation and HR research, it’s all about “bang for the buck”. McNulty recently moved her children to Dulwich College, which opened in Singapore in 2014, where she feels she gets better value for money than the school where they were previously enrolled.
International schooling is “a hot button issue,” says McNulty. “It’s not just financial, it’s also emotional. There’s a lot of guilt linked to moving abroad so (parents) want to make it up to their children.”

The original article can be viewed here.