Skip to main content

K2 is pleased to share the latest update in the global mobility impacts series. In this issue, you will find updates from around the globe, keeping you informed as we move into the second quarter of 2023. 


Immigration News  

UK Passport Office  

Workers have begun striking with more than a quarter of their employees walking out over disputes surrounding their jobs, pay and conditions. Those striking include passport examiners, operational leaders, priority service and customer service liaison teams. From the start of May, non-examination workers and interview officers also followed suit. 

This industrial action was due to last until May 6th, however post this date, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCSU) members are being balloted on whether to renew the mandate for industrial action, which could lead to further disruption over the coming six months. The Home Office is currently quoting standard processing times of around ten weeks to get a passport, yet the PSCU have warned of a significant impact to processing times, with delays in delivery of passports over the summer months.   

K2 are advising that it is possible to apply for a priority process option to reduce processing times to one week, but please be aware that appointments are difficult to obtain and should not be relied upon. We recommend that your assignees check expiry dates on current passports as soon as possible; most countries require a minimum six-month validity on the passport on the date you leave the country, and this calculation should be factored into both holiday and business trips planned over the coming months. 


Swedish Embassy in Pakistan

The Swedish Embassy in Pakistan is closed until further notice. This means that applicants applying from within Pakistan cannot visit the Embassy to submit biometrics or collect their permit cards.  K2 is currently awaiting the Swedish Migration Agency to confirm if these appointments can be scheduled with any other Embassy in the neighbouring countries.

Previously, the Swedish Migration Agency extended all permits until the applicant had been in Sweden for exactly four years. The reason for this was so that all applicants were given the chance to apply for a Permanent Residence Permit after four years in Sweden. 

K2 have been informed that The Swedish Migration Agency are no longer taking the date of qualification for a Permanent Residence Permit into consideration when processing extension applications. In some cases, the applicant can receive a permit which is valid passed the date when they could apply. As you can only apply for a Permanent Residence Permit in connection with the expiry date of your application, they will be submitted at a later date, rather than when they would initially qualify for a Permanent Residence Permit.

Asia Pacific  

A number of locations have implemented policies and permit types to attract foreign talent.  At the commencement of 2023, Singapore implemented the ONE Pass, which is a five-year visa aimed at top talent in a wide range of sectors, offering people the flexibility to work for more than one employer, and even to set up their own business.  Qualifying criteria includes a fixed salary of S$30,000 per month in the prior twelve months, twelve months of continuous employment with an established overseas company or an established company in Singapore or have outstanding achievements in an area of expertise.   


Hong Kong implemented the Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS) officially launched at the end of 2022 and updated in the first quarter of 2023. TTPS allows a maximum of 24 months’ stay, during which the holder may work, change employers, or set up business. If they continue to meet the conditions of the scheme, a three-year extension may be granted. This year, a new investment visa type was introduced, called the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme. These changes all come alongside growing trends such as remote working. 


Global Banking Challenges  

Over the past few weeks, we have seen an increasing number of delays in payments being made to assignees. This is due to ad hoc questions being raised by receiving banks around the world. 

The delays are largely due to a sharp increase in compliance checks by banks. These were initially triggered following the Ukraine/Russian conflict but are also due to banks clamping down on money laundering and crime prevention. The additional challenge is that there is no pattern to these compliance checks and can be for varying amounts, across an array of banks, and in differing locations.  

Currently, we are seeing more queries raised in South American locations (and Pakistan), although other locations around the world are not excluded, and patterns can change overnight.  

These compliance questions are causing additional delays in the transfer of some payments and therefore we recommend that additional time is built into payment requests, especially for the most affected locations. 

At K2, we are working hard with our sending banks to try and identify any delays as early as possible, and we are proactively following the payment process from origin. We are advising assignees to expect longer payment times (often two weeks plus) and all communications to support this message by the Global Mobility teams would be strongly recommended. 

 Although we are hoping this will settle down over time, we believe this will be the situation for the medium to long term. Your K2 Account Manager will keep you appraised of any changes we are seeing to these payment processes. 


Destination Services  


K2’s commercial team had the opportunity to catch up with many of our European destination service provider partners at the EURA conference in Dublin, Ireland.  Everyone reported the same challenges in their locations, which included a continued shortage of rental properties on the market, increased rental prices, and little or no flexibility on contract terms.  This continues to create challenges in service delivery; with it now being more difficult to build a back-to-back property tour due to the lack of stock, and the traditional one/two days home finding programs being less effective in the current markets. This not only makes the search process more complex, but also requires flexibility on behalf of the assignee to find availability in visiting just one or two properties. 

These challenges have meant a new way of working and K2 are communicating closely with our DSP partners to ensure the most effective service delivery. The current situation is a continued knock-on effect of global economic factors.  The good news is that we are expecting to see improvement as we head into 2024.   



Political unrest continues in Paris after President Macron signed into law a rise in the retirement age, from 62 to 64.  Our team will be discussing future measures during briefing calls, with warnings that dates for home finding trips and household good packs or deliveries may vary from those originally planned, particularly around strike days.   

We are experiencing occasional blockades at the ports, however as this is only on the days when a general strike is called, we can work around this and plan accordingly.  Whilst we have been experiencing this situation for almost 3 months now, our team in Paris have learnt to adapt, and they believe that tensions will gradually calm down in the next few weeks.  


United Kingdom  

The White Paper titled A Fairer Private Rented Sector underlines the UK governments commitment to ensure that all Landlords in the private sector adhere to legally binding standards, which will be administered through the Renters Reform Bill.  The proposals have yet to be passed into law and this is now anticipated to take place in late 2023 or early 2024.    



As Asia opens for business, there is an overall stabilisation for many countries. In general, pricing and costs continue to remain high.  It is recognised that competitive housing markets will continue to impact assignees – higher rental properties expand the search outside typical expat-style neighbourhoods, and in some locations, there is limited negotiation with landlords. 

  • In Singapore, paying the real estate payment of commission to housing agents is trending towards becoming the norm – assignees/ tenants having to pay realtor commission.  
  • In Taiwan and Korea, it is becoming more common for a negotiation fee or pre—downpayment fee respectively to be paid to take a property off the market during negotiation.  
  • Hong Kong, China and Macau have not fully seen the impact of operating business after the pandemic last quarter and will join other Asia locations from this quarter onwards. We anticipate seeing an increased supply and higher pricing in the coming months in the housing market.  


Argentina Housing Market  

Our DSP Partners report that the rental market has been impacted by the current instability of the political and economic situation in the country. The key factors to consider include:  

  • A continued high demand for rental properties with rental prices increasing considerably. 
  • Rental Payments in Argentine Pesos are nearly impossible to find due to the instability of the currency. Rental properties that are published in USD will expect payment to be made in USD via cash payment or wire transfers to an offshore bank account.  
  • Landlords are increasingly cautious with their rental properties as reforms for rent laws will be impacted by the upcoming presidential election in October 2023. 



At the time of publication, there are no reported port strikes in Europe and the UK.  Shipping line rates continue to gradually decrease, including rates for USA/Canada/South America which have now started to decline. 

The World Trade Organization has seen early signs of recovery in 2023 after decreased activity on major trade lanes in the last quarter of 2022. The slowdown in containerised trade has had a positive impact on port congestion: the ports of Long Beach / Los Angeles who suffered heavy congestion in 2022 are now operating normally.  

K2 partners have highlighted that they are expecting another haulage shortage during the summer if imports pick up, as many hauliers have experienced a reduction in their driving crew. Increased activity in the summer and drivers booking holidays could easily result in shortages once again. We continue to monitor closely with our partners, the logistics team and clearing partners. 

There is currently no change for moves out of Russia –  these are still progressing well. Our partners have mentioned that clearance for Russian passport holders is becoming more difficult in certain destination countries, and we are monitoring this closely. Likewise, shipments from Kiev are moving smoothly.  


Being prepared in Europe on weekends and bank holidays 

With several public holidays taking place, many countries on mainland Europe impose bans on the driving of commercial vehicles over a specified weight on Sundays and public holidays. These include Austria, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. This is an environmental measure which has now been in place for several years.  

Some countries will extend these to include Saturdays on popular summer weekends, whilst others have commercial traffic prohibitions on specified roads at certain times. There are not normally restrictions on smaller vans. It is always worth checking the details for the country you are planning on driving through.  

This will impact situations such as when assignees require a delivery on a Friday and Saturday, as the vehicle then may not be able to return to its origin in sufficient time, and may be held over the weekend, incurring extra charges.  In such instances, K2 will highlight the risk of additional costs and always recommend the earliest start time possible.  


Despite any challenges faced, K2 will continue to provide you with the very best service possible, ensuring that your assignees’ relocation experience is a smooth and seamless one. To discuss any elements of this update further, please reach out to your dedicated Account Manager.

Leave a Reply