Monday, December 13, 2010

Work permit 1 of 5: Introduction

Koh Chang, Trat, Thailand
Koh Chang, Trat, Thailand
Photo by Clay Irving
Note: this guide is for skilled workers. Those without strong job skills that foreign companies would like to import should read the Young Person's Guide to Moving Abroad

For many of you reading this blog, you're probably frustrated. You want to live and work in a foreign country, but you're not reading this blog to teach English in South Korea or be a nanny in Brazil. You're educated, well-skilled and you think you have a job that an employer overseas might value. In short, you want to find someone who will sponsor your work permit. You're sick of the rat race in your home country and you long for a better life in Thailand where your nice income will let you enjoy time on relaxing, pollution-free beaches.

The problem is that you don't know where to start. There are some things you've heard of, such as being a hot-shot CEO or working for a multinational and hoping they'll transfer you (when you know they probably won't), that you just don't think are going to work for you. They're either too out of reach or too much of a gamble, so you need something else.

Over the next few days, I'll be making a series of posts covering:
  1. The introduction (what you're reading now)
  2. Laying the foundation
  3. Applying for jobs
  4. Handling the interview
  5. Negotiating the salary
None of this is rocket science. None of this is quick and easy, either. It's also not guaranteed.  Variations on the described technique got me two job offers in London (and would gotten me a third if I hadn't already accepted a job in Nottingham, UK) and a standing offer in Paris. I'm also not the first person to go this route.

(Update: Feb 16, 2012. That "standing offer in Paris" I mentioned over a year ago? That's where I'm working now. The tips I list work.)

By this time, you've already read about Count von Europe and you're working on saying "yes" to him. You also have your papers in order. I've yammered on about this a lot because it's important. When the call comes, you don't want to ask an employer to wait a few months for you. So while you're waiting for tomorrow's post, go back and read those two and start getting things done. If you really want to make this happen, you have your work cut out for you.


  1. Very much a valued topic to me... I'm graduating from a US med school soon and have been turning the idea of researching expat experiences/methods many times over the past few months.

    I am 25 years old with no wife and no kids. No property or land here in the US, but I do have alot of student loans.

  2. @Anonymous: med school? There's always a huge demand for qualified medical personnel. You should have no problem :)

  3. I don't think you can overstate the importance (and difficulty) of the document gathering process.

    This was far-and-away the biggest challenge faced by me. Police reports not less than 3 months old, documents showing I wasn't married, insurance valid in EU, Birth Certificates, ect.

    Certified, Notarized, Apostillized, Translated by a recognized government approved translator.

    It was an incredibly daunting task for me, especially since I was living in NYC at the time and born in Illinois. I had to do most of this through the mail as NYC apostille people can't do Illinois Docs, for example.