Expats across the globe left in limbo as covid-19 closes borders

Pedro Gonçalves
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Expats across the globe left in limbo as covid-19 closes borders

As countries across the world grind to a halt under government-imposed lockdown, many expats face the difficult decision of choosing between leaving their homes or remaining in limbo overseas.

Dominique Mills, 26, is making a living giving horse-riding tours in the remote Scottish Highlands, but on Wednesday afternoon she will leave her home of two years indefinitely.

The Queenslander was due to return to Australia briefly at the end of March and reapply for a UK visa but she now doesn't know if she will be allowed to return.

We are committed to regularly updating our social media pages with existing commercial options open to British travellers"

Like many Australians renewing their visas or building lives overseas, Ms Mills has been unable to get clear information from the British or Australian governments about her status, AFP wrote.

 Rebecca Taylor is among the scores of Australian expats who have had their lives uprooted in an instant and been left jobless by the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday morning, the 23-year-old woke to the news that the federal government was calling for all Australians abroad to come home.

She immediately resigned from her job, packed up her life, and 24 hours later was en route home.

The situation is the same halfway across the world. Expats  stuck in Australia are scrambling for advice on what to do. 

There are more than 7.3 million migrants living in Australia, with the greatest majority of those - 992,000 - being born in the UK. There are 651,000 people from China in Australia,  592,000 from India and 568,000 from New Zealand

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison closed Australia's borders, meaning that anyone who arrives in the country must self-isolate for 14 days. He has also advised against international and domestic travel.

High Commissioner Vicki Treadell said: 'We understand the urgency of the current travel situation and are speaking to airlines to find workable solutions to get British travellers in Australia back to the UK.

"We are committed to regularly updating our social media pages with existing commercial options open to British travellers."

People are also being urged to have the capability to leave at a moment's notice. 

As American citizens traveling abroad are urged to return to the United States because of the coronavirus pandemic, many who live in the UK fear they could soon find themselves stuck in limbo: Ineligible for support from the British government if they lose their jobs, they also have no homes — or health insurance — to go back to in the US, CBS News reported.

Approximately 174,000 Americans live in the United Kingdom, many of whom do not qualify for government support under the terms of their visas.

If an American expat on a work visa loses their job before they've been in the UK for five years, they're required to leave the country.

In Spain self-employed expats have been thrown a lifeline by the government, as the interior minister announced tax breaks in autonomo payments for workers affected by the closures.

Any owner or worker who loses more than 70% of trade will be entitled to a halt on the sometimes-exorbitant autonomo payments until the crisis is over. But this news only partially eases the strain on the expats.

Many still have bills to pay, rent to keep up to and lives to live with no income, and until the service providers and landlords equal the commitment to that of the Government, the situation remains bleak, local news outlet Olive Press reported.

Last week, Pedro Sanchez announced a €200m investment into benefits to help the self-employed, as well as ensuring that workers are exempt from payments during the crisis.

As the outbreak continues to claim lives, many expats are yet to decide what to do and given the circumstances, it's unlikely they will receive official advice before they have to commit to a course of action.

 

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