Where to get advice
These rules can be very complicated. Worse still, they are often far from clear and you will often find that the local practice differs from the way things are supposed to work in theory.
It is very expensive and very frustrating if you end up in an unnecessary battle with the immigration authorities.
As a result, this is an area where you will need specialist advice if you wish to make a smooth transition from one country to another.
Unfortunately, this is an area where there have been lots of crooks and charlatans operating. As a result, many countries now limit the people who are qualified to give advice to potential immigrants.
Make sure that you take advice from someone who is not only qualified to give it but who also has experience dealing with your type of case and who can give you references by way of introductions to satisfied clients.
Good sources of preliminary background information are:
- Migration Policy Institute
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
- International Organisation for Migration
- Embassies or consulates in your country of the countries of interest to you
If you’re thinking of moving to another country there is a pretty well-trodden path towards doing so.
You don’t need to take all of these steps but you’ll probably be much better off if you do.
Get qualified and experienced
It is much easier to obtain work if you already have the necessary qualifications and experience and, in most countries, it is only such work that will allow you to earn enough to pay the bills. In many places there is a glut of illegal migrants who are wanting to work and who are exploited by paying them very little if they are employed illegally.
Learn at least some of the language
It is much easier to move to another country and a great deal easier to find employment if you speak at least some of the language. 100 words will help out of many crises. 500 words is better. 1,000 words will allow you to have a basic conversation.
The more of the language you know and the better you speak it, the better your time will be.
Save some money
Many people in the field would recommend that you should have enough money in the bank to pay for all of your living expenses for three months. Of course, this isn’t as important if you’re going straight into paid employment but an emergency reserve is always necessary.
Choose your country
This is often not as simple as it might seem as there are many countries where it will just not be possible to do what you want to do.
Remember to check whether it is not only possible to do what you want to do but that it is a place where you would enjoy doing it.
If at all possible, you should try to visit the country to which you intend to move and spend a couple of weeks there. This might put you off the idea completely! Flights are now quite cheap and this is a very inexpensive safety mechanism.
Apply for a visa
Do this in good time and with the aid of suitable professionals.
Obtaining a visa can, in some cases, take months or years so check out the likely time-frame before you start.
Do lots of research
Whilst your visa application is being processed, do as much research as you possibly can about the country and whatever it is you want to do whilst you’re there.
If that research suggests that you might have chosen the wrong place, it is far better to start again at this stage rather than to obtain your visa and travel to the country before realising that it was a bad idea.
Apply for jobs
In some cases, you will need to have a job offer before you can apply for your visa but in other cases you will obtain a more general visa authorising you to work in a particular capacity and you’re then left with the task of finding suitable employment.
When applying for jobs make sure that you have your CV/resume not only translated into the local language but also reconfigured into the form commonly used locally. There are great differences in what an employer expects to see in an application for a job. Some things (marital status, number of children, sexual orientation etc) might be unacceptable or even illegal in one country but common practice and indispensable in another.
For most of the main migrant countries you will find online facilities to help you draft a suitable job application.
Make as many contacts as you can in the country before you ever go there. A good starting point is your existing list of contacts, many of whom may have friends or contacts of their own who are living or working in the country in question.
This all sounds very complicated and there is no doubt that moving to another country – particularly if you are travelling with a family – is a major undertaking. However, with sufficient determination, there is almost always a way of doing it.
You can, of course, just get on a plane and wing it. Many student travellers do not much more than this but it is seldom the best way forward and it can often waste huge amounts of both your time and your money.