Working Overseas – What You Need to Know & Might Not Know Who to Ask!
I get a decent amount of questions from people looking for advice about how to move overseas to work. I am by no means an expert since I never actually planned to work abroad; I sort of fell into my job after finishing my degree. But, since I do now work abroad (and have for a few years at this point) I have a slight advantage in offering some knowledge on the situation. My experience is in Ireland but the rules and regulations of immigrating and working as an immigrant will vary from country to country. The main audience for this is Americans, as they are the ones who ask me the most, and are my largest reader base. If you have an EU passport or are eligible for one by descent, I am very jealous of you for being able to move around the EU so freely!
You will need to immigrate to your chosen country legally with a visa.
For some reason, there are still people in this world who don’t realize that you can’t just pick up and move to another country. If you do not have the legal right to work and live there, what is the point of going? I think that sometimes Americans don’t get this because we have 50 states we can freely move to and from with no restriction, so why would moving to say, Australia, be any different? Because unless for some reason you have an Australian passport, you’re going to need a visa to prove that you have the legal right to live and work in the country. Movies always show people just showing up in different countries and never having to deal with immigration officers, but guess what? That is the movies, real life immigration is not like that. If you want to work, this is the first and most important step to ensuring you do it all the correct way! Because if you don’t start out on the right foot when immigrating, you will have a lot of problems later.
Like David Bowie said, it ain't easy
I have had heard nightmare stories of filling out paperwork for visas in other countries. Thankfully Ireland hasn’t been too bad for me in this way. I arrived on a student visa and then went on to my graduate visa (I talked a little bit about that a little bit here), and then onto my work visa. Soooo, I’ve been around the block with different visas, all with different permissions! Filling out the work permit application was so, so stressful. So stressful in fact, that after my initial application was denied, a solicitor was brought in to make sure all the wording was perfect and that every I was dotted and T was crossed. My work permit application was long and it was complicated, but it had to be taken seriously. Take every application/form you fill out as if your life depends on it. Because, at the end of the day it does if you’re trying to earn that foreign currency. And another thing, visas, permits, applications – they are not cheap. To date, I’ve spent well over €1,000 on visas and am lucky that my job pays for the cost of my permit because if they did not I would be out thousands. That’s another thing – your job may not be required to pay for your permit! If they choose not to in that circumstance you are looking at an even bigger cost.
Consider all your options
As previously mentioned before I originally came to Ireland to study. For the record, my long-term goal was never to work abroad or even stay in Ireland for longer than the year of my degree. The longer I have lived here though, the more and more people I meet that come to Ireland for a post-graduate degree are typically coming over on a student visa in order to have a visa to live in the EU and possibly find work after to permanently immigrate. I find the plotting of this all to be a bit cheeky, but to each their own.
A lot of countries (a quick search on Google showed Canada, Australia, and Japan) also offer working holiday visas which allow recent graduates the opportunity to work abroad for typically a year. I believe most of these jobs are in the service industry but it could be a cool (and legal) way to work and live abroad.
If you already work for a big international company you may be able to transfer to the country of your choice if your company has an office there. I have met Americans from Facebook and IBM that have done this as a way to move abroad. That said, for Ireland specifically, they have also let me know their salaries are lower in Ireland than back home. So, if money is that important to you, I would suggest looking into how much you will be making and cost of living where you are hoping to go.
I have also seen some people doing Work Away. This is a short-term option and from what I can gather, you aren’t paid much money but help a host in exchange for room and board. Teaching English is another way to live, work, and travel abroad for a year or two too! There are a lot of options out there and these are just a few.
No, you can’t really just apply for jobs and move over (typically!)
Depending on where you are looking to go, you most likely will be in a situation of not just being able to apply and get hired over someone in that country. You will require a work permit, a visa, and plenty of other fun bureaucratic paperwork. For my work permit, my job had to be posted to the entire EU (that is 28 countries for y’all who aren’t aware) for two weeks as a part of my application to prove that I was the only person who could do the job I have. Think about it, why would they hire YOU over someone that already has the legal right to work in the country? You really need the support of a company to back you up. If you do already work for an international company that transfers you, this will probably be a bit easier for you and fingers crossed they pay your moving and visa costs!
It can be done!
It obviously can be done, I live in abroad and plenty of other Americans do too. I swear, I have not lived in Dublin long, but I have seen such an increase in the number of Americans living here even from when I first moved over. I cannot stress how important it is to understand the complexities of the situation if you are truly considering working abroad.
Every immigration story is different and there is no set path for getting there. I know my advice isn’t perfect, but it is the best I have based on my time working abroad and with speaking with others in a similar position.
One more thing, if you are in the position to be able to move abroad for any reason, I would highly encourage you to do so. All the paperwork, money, and stress are worth it in the end!
As always, if you have any questions on anything mentioned or have a suggestion for a post, you can leave me a comment below, send me a DM on Instagram, message me on Facebook or send me a tweet on Twitter. Don’t forget to follow me on Bloglovin' and Pinterest too!
*all images original to Candid Alexandra