By: Jonathan Foland, Graduate Career Services Assistant and Doctoral Student in Communication
Perhaps you always wanted to travel the world, and getting a job with an international employer will help you live that dream. Maybe there are different places around the globe where you want to live and work. Are you wondering how to make a move happen?
If you are curious about traveling in your career, or thinking about immigrating to another country for new opportunities, then below are six suggestions to help you start. Many of these suggestions will apply regardless of your U.S. citizenship status.
Apply for a Passport Early
Getting a U.S. passport takes time. According to the U.S. Department of State’s website, the standard processing time for a passport application is 6 weeks. You can expedite the process for an additional fee, cutting your wait time to about 3 weeks (some people qualify for faster processing under special circumstances). You will not be able to apply for and receive your passport on the same day, so plan accordingly.
Depending on where you want to travel, you may need a passport card or a passport book. A passport card is valid for land or sea (but not air) travel to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean, but a passport book is what you will need for travel elsewhere. The adult, first-time application fee for a passport card is $30, while the adult, first-time application fee for a passport book is $110; the processing (execution) fees for either one is $25.
You can fill out your adult, first-time application online, but you will need to submit your document in person. Many United States Post Offices accept passport applications and will take your passport photos. At present, many post offices in North Carolina are taking passport applications only by appointment. Again, plan accordingly because it is unlikely you can get a same-day (or same-month) appointment.
Take Advantage of UNC Resources
UNC students can access GoinGlobal, a set of resources for international job seekers. GoinGlobal provides career guides for 37 countries, including the U.S., Australia, Chile, India, France, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia. For each country there are job search resources, support for formatting job search materials, information about cultural and financial considerations, and explanations about different work and travel visas.
You may also meet with a counselor at UCS to talk about work opportunities abroad.
Faculty and students at UNC may explore the opportunities and resources available through UNC Global. Although they do not specialize in job search resources, UNC Global supports faculty, graduate student, and undergraduate in research and learning opportunities, helps international students (and their partners/family) acclimate to UNC and the surrounding communities, and encourages the campus community to develop global awareness and connection through a host of special events.
Research Immigration Standards and Types of Visas
Each country has its own immigration policies and standards. Prospective immigrants have to meet qualifications set by each country before being granted a visa. Some countries may prioritize applicants based on age, desirable skills sets, overall health, education, professional experience, etc. Explore a country’s government website, or the resources offered by GoinGlobal, for specific immigration policies and standards to get a sense for whether you might be a qualified candidate.
Likewise, countries offer different types of visas, each visa granting certain privileges and constraints. Student visas permit an immigrant to seek an education in another country, but those visas may limit opportunities for employment. Work visas may be temporary or long-term. Again, explore a country’s government website, or the resources offered by GoinGlobal, for the different visas offered.
Enlist the Aid of an Expert
Applying for immigration and getting a job offer can be lengthy, arduous processes. It is possible for you to do all of this on your own, but you may want the help of a qualified immigration lawyer, consultant, or adviser. An expert can help you navigate the process and point out potential setbacks, saving you time and headaches. Lawyers, consultants, and experts will charge fees for their work and may offer a range of services (e.g., preparing paperwork). Before taking on the services of a qualified expert, find out more about their credentials, experience, and success rate—be informed and confident when making this type of investment.
Plan for Leaving
When an employer is ready to hire a candidate from another country, it is unlikely that employer will wait an unreasonably long time for their candidate to get all of their affairs in order. The visa process can take some time to complete and will vary from region to region. If you are granted a visa, then you have to be ready to make your move.
Think ahead about possible moving expenses, including the costs of travel, temporary lodging, securing a new place to live, and transporting belongings. Will you ship as many of your belongings as you can, or will you sell most of them? Do you have pets, and have you researched policies on bringing pets across borders? The day you apply for your passport may not be the day to liquidate assets or negotiate termination of a lease. However, at some point in the process these will be concerns you have to address.
Immigrating for work and living is a major decision, and one that requires a lot of research, time, and money. The suggestions provided above are intended to demystify and help you plan for the immigration process. It takes effort, but with success come new vistas and new opportunities.