A lot of people dream of going to work in other countries for various reasons. They may want to experience a more exotic lifestyle, or simply a better one, earn more money or see the world.
Often times, expats workers are not welcomed with open arms as they hope.
America’s initiatives to employ stricter immigration policies on the H1-B visa, for example, have been all over the news as of late. Many people are concerned that our country will no longer be openly welcoming as many foreign skilled professionals to join our workforce.
If you’re from America or another a country that’s considered to be part of the developed world, you likely have never attempted to work abroad. Therefore, you may not be aware that no matter where you’re from, legally immigrating for work is more often than not extremely complicated.
This is the reason that the new constraints have been such a large disappointment to legitimate professionals that would simply like a new experience or better opportunity.
Expat Woes All Over The World
The United States of America is by no means the only country that has been taking measures to protect career opportunities for their citizens. You may even be surprised at some of the controversies surrounding expat work in varied countries:
Saudi Arabia: Earlier this year, it was decided that expats wanting to work in the kingdom will no longer be allowed to work in many types of business, according to the Khaleej Times. This decision affected many employment categories or positions that are often held by immigrants:
Watch shops, optical shops, medical equipment shops, electrical and electronics sales, automotive aftermarket sales, building material sales, carpet sales, automobile shops, home and office furniture businesses, clothing shops, household goods, and bakeries.
Oman: One of the world’s richest countries (their currency is double the value of the US Dollar) is behind a citizen-protective initiative called Omanization. This initiative is being pushed to ensure that Omani nationals have the first -and only- chance at landing the best jobs. As part of this initiative in 2018, a hold was placed on work visas for expats on 87 different kinds of jobs.
Oman has also recently stopped issuing travel visas upon arrival for all nationalities.
If these actions aren’t clear strides toward tightened national security and strengthening the local population, I don’t know what is.
South Korea: Unless you’re going there to teach English, South Korea is an example of a place where foreigners face extreme difficulties finding a job.
Even if you hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher and other (teaching) certifications, obtaining a work permit requires lots of vetting. Something as small as certain driving infractions appearing on your background check from your home country may prevent the country’s immigration agency from issuing one to you.
The limitations being placed on foreign nationals to work in these three countries is a tiny glimpse of what people who want to work as expats may be up against – no matter where they’re from.
The point of this article is not to discourage you from going to work abroad, nor is it to discourage healthy nationalism. But it is to show that:
1) Many countries are passionate about protecting work opportunities for their citizens.
Citizenship is also highly protected in some of these countries and can never be obtained by a foreign national -ever- regardless of how long they live in the country or how much they contribute to it. Such countries won’t even grant citizenship to the children of permanent residents if they’re born there.
2) If you do plan to work abroad, please research thoroughly and ensure the country you want to travel to has a place for you. Immigrating to a country without having your employment or residency status secured puts you and your family at risk.
Follow The Process
I just said it and will repeat it again – you shouldn’t immigrate prior to obtaining your work permit. This includes going to a country for a visit and then deciding to stick around and work before you’ve been granted permission unless that is acceptable according to the countries rules.
Sure, it’s easier to get a job somewhere once you’re already there but you’ll run the risk of working illegally if you’re hired by a company that doesn’t mind breaking the law.
Companies that don’t mind breaking the law are never good places to work.
I have personally witnessed cases where workers in these situations are subject to abuse by their employers, non-payment for labor provided, and possibly being arrested or deported.
Taking the time to find a proper job and become properly documented prior to travel is well worth it because it protects your rights and legal status.
Maybe you try and try, but you just can’t seem to find a company from overseas that will hire and sponsor you.
That is disappointing and I would never suggest that you give up, but I do suggest looking for alternatives.
Everybody’s situation is different so you’ll have to figure out what your alternative is. For example, I once lived abroad and had a temporary residency card that did not include permission to work. The economy in my home country was better, so it actually made more sense to work remotely from home with a company from back home.
For many people who’d like to work abroad and are facing challenges, I think remote work is an awesome solution.
Other benefits are that there’ll be a lesser sentiment (if any) that you’re taking a job from someone in their own country. You can also experience a new country on your own terms without the workplace culture shock, and you typically won’t need a work permit if you are somehow, or technically, earning income in your own country.
If physically traveling to work abroad is not possible, remote work is a Plan B.
Do you have a Plan B or Plan C when it comes to your dreams of working abroad? You should, and like Plan A, they should be based on your skills, passion, and abilities that can earn you money. If Plan A doesn’t work out, then you can pursue those and still be happy.
You might find that this is a process that needs some time and research. Hopefully, your financial situation will allow you to do this. Living a lifestyle which leaves room in your budget so that you’re not under pressure — and can take time to think and plan — is helpful with processes like these. Some people choose to live in inexpensive countries or cities to make room for such planning.
What has your experience working abroad been? Was all of the struggle with visas, culture shock, etc. worth it, or do you prefer working remotely to broaden your horizons?
Let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading!