For the wanderlust, working in a foreign country sounds like a dream come true. It seems like an opportunity to get paid to travel. In reality there are a lot of logistics that go into working abroad. Each country has different policies on international employees.
There’s a lot more work and planning that goes into working outside of your home country than simply buying a plane ticket and setting off. For any type of long term position, a work visa will be required. Unfortunately, there’s no one simple process for obtaining a work visa. The procedure is different for any given country.
Luckily, there are tons of resources available to help get you the job of your dreams. This interactive map identifies information about work visas across the globe and will tell you how it varies by country.
Getting the Visa
In order to get a work visa, some countries require an interview. Argentina, Czech Republic, France, India, Mexico, Switzerland, and the US are among the countries with this procedure. Most countries require no interview at all, or an interview in only some specific scenarios.
These interviews will typically include questions on a person’s background and intentions. They may ask things about former employees and finances so the government can determine if you’re really who you say you are.
More commonly, countries will perform background checks to learn more about your history. Only three countries (Argentina, Czech Republic, and the US) require both an interview and a background check to apply for a work visa.
How Long You’ll Wait
Work visas are estimated to take anywhere between 4 days in China and a full year in Australia to process. Generally work visas take around one or two months to process. The bottom line is, it’s probably going to take some time to obtain a work visa, so give yourself adequate time to prepare before accepting a job offer abroad.
Of course, these wait times are incredibly subjective and simply estimates. Some say wait times are increasing quickly with demand, but there’s unfortunately nothing applicants can do to speed up the process. This just gives you more time to say your goodbyes to your home country and plan everything for a smooth transition.
How Long It’ll Last
Depending on how permanent the position is, you may expect to repeat this process a few times. Typically work visas expire after approximately one year. The shortest work visa life is 90 days in Belgium. China, though having a speedy process, offers work visas that must be renewed every three months.
Some countries such as Canada do not set a specific time period of expiration for work visas. Other countries such as Japan, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, and Argentina have multiple lengths of validity dependent on the situation.
Applying for a work visa can be stressful and confusing. On top of trying to figure out accommodations and how you’ll adapt to the new culture, trying to figure out the documents you need can be overwhelming. Take it day by day and you’ll be working somewhere across the globe before you know it!