Friday, August 31, 2012

"We Don't Sponsor Work Permits"

Personal note: this blog has now reached a quarter million pageviews!

Venezuela Carnaval. Gosh, why would
anyone want to live here?
Photo by Studios
It's a common lament: "I keep applying for international jobs but they turn me down because they won't pay relocation or they don't sponsor work permits." You can apply for international positions for months on end and if you have the skills for a job, these are the two biggest objections you will face. If you get a phone interview with your dream job in Venezuela, questions about relocation costs or work permits will often cause the interview to come to a swift end.

Not paying relocation is a bit of a strange issue because many hiring managers are apparently bad at math: if you can't find anyone and must import a worker, it will often cost you less to pay a small amount for their relocation than to do without a critical skill your company needs (there are many caveats to this and if you're on the hiring side, you know what I mean).

However, "we don't sponsor work permits" is a bit spurious. Companies seldom have this written down in their playbook. Like all objections, to overcome this objection you have to know the real reason for it. What the interviewer is usually saying is "I don't know how this process works and it makes me feel uncomfortable." That's actually a perfectly natural response, so your job is to say "actually, it's really simple to sponsor someone and I'll happily walk your HR people through it."

In my work permit series I lay out a step-by-step plan on how to land that job in a foreign country. In part four I wrote:
This is why you've spent so much time learning exactly how the country's work permit system is structured. When the company in Nottingham wanted to hire me, they were concerned that it would be difficult. I assured them that it wasn't and briefly outlined the process. Then I asked for contact information in the company to whom I should be sending links to explain the process in more detail. I told them where to download forms, what fees they would be paying and what papers they would need to provide. In short, I told my employer how to hire me.
See that? I had (almost) the same objection as many people get, but I overcame it by explaining how the process works. You'll need to tailor this to the country you're trying to get work in, but I'll explain the UK system so you can get a feel for the information you need to give a company.

London, England
London is awesome
Photo by Tim Morris
First, work permits are no longer issued in the United Kingdom. Instead, there is a points scheme that each non-EU worker needs to go through. There's also an immigration cap of just over 20,000 people on non-intracompany transfers, so the earlier in the year a company tries to hire an expat, the better.

For a company to hire a non-EU worker, they need to become a licensed sponsor. It's not much different from how it used to be: fill out some paperwork to prove you're a real company, pay a fee, get your license.

Fee for small sponsors or sponsors with charitable status
Fee for medium or large sponsors
Tier 2 only£310£1,025
Tier 2 and Tier 4£410£1,025
Tier 2 and Tier 5£410£1,025
Tier 2 and Tier 4 and Tier 5£410£1,025
Tier 4 only£410£410
Tier 4 and Tier 5£410£410
Tier 5 only£410£410

Check here to determine if you're a small sponsor and check here for full policy guidance.

For expats, they generally need to score enough points as a Tier 2 worker. The company needs to make them a job offer and provide them with a number called a Certificate of Sponsorship (new rules starting April 6th, 2012).

The applicant is then submitted to the Home Office and they're approved, they apply for entry clearance and fly over to become an expat!

So it's not too hard to do. The company needs to apply to be a sponsor and, when approved, needs to provide you with a Certificate of Sponsorship number. It's that easy. Yes, there's more work involved, but it's on your end. You need to verify that you qualify as a Tier 2 worker and apply for your own entry clearance. These processes take time, but shouldn't scare off a potential employer if you've convinced them you're the right candidate. It's a bit of paperwork, but it's not expensive and if you've made yourself look like an outstanding candidate, being able to explain the above can seal the deal.

Note that one "we don't sponsor" objection is very real: if it's relatively easy for the foreign firm to fill the position, they might not be legally able to hire you as their country's laws probably require them to recruit locally if they can. Or they may be simply disinclined to hire because, hey, why wait months for someone if you can get someone now? If you've gone through my work permit series and buffed your résumé to the point where no local candidate could possibly match what you have on paper, you still might be able to overcome these obstacles. It's hard work, particularly in the current economic downturn, but people are still making it happen. You can, too.

See also: We don't pay for relocation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Moving Abroad with Pets

Today's guest post is about bringing your pets abroad. I've briefly touched on this topic in the comments to Why you'll say "no" to living abroad, but mainly focused on a couple of legal issues. Vivienne Egan describes some practical considerations.

Moving abroad and bringing the family pets

If you are considering moving abroad – especially if you are relocating the entire family – one thing you might need to consider is your pets. From the much-loved hound to the moggy that pre-dates the children, these family members will need your special consideration.

Cats cats cats! (Arrow Rock, Missouri, 20050703) 03
Who would want to leave these delightful critters behind?
Photo by Scott Granneman

Things you’ll need to think about
  • Are you bringing the pets with you? Moving kids overseas can be a difficult thing to negotiate at the best of times; the news that Fido isn’t coming too might be met with dismay from the other family members
  • What’s best for the animal? Consider that elderly pets may not appreciate the long journey and unfamiliar new surroundings or climate
  • How long are you going to be away for? If it’s only a year or two, perhaps a trusted family member of friend can care for your pets during that time
  • Where are you moving? What are the local laws about bringing pets over borders?
  • Should you engage a relocation service? This may be best left to the experts, and pet relocation services will ensure all the right paperwork is complete on time for your flight
Facts of pet relocation
  • Pets are transported in a secure cargo area in a plane with a ‘sky kennel’. It is dark and temperature controlled area specifically for live animal transport, and they won’t be checked on during that time
  • The PETS scheme is designed to stop the spread of rabies and other animals. The UK requires all pets to be transported with registered carriers
Tips for the flight
  • Try and give your pet time to get to know its carrier before the flight
  • Putting a familiar smelling blanket or toy in the kennel will help your pet settle for the flight
  • Give your pet a light meal before flying and leave time for a toilet stop
Settling your pet in abroad
  • You will have to check that your new home abroad is suitable for animals – are the fences secure? Is there enough room in the backyard?
  • Where is the nearest vet and the nearest pet supply store?
  • What’s the pet culture in your new location? Attitudes towards pets might be substantially different from what you’re used to at home
While it may be a lot of fuss to relocate a pet, for devoted pet owners the hassle is ultimately worth it to have a special furry friend to help you in an unfamiliar place.

Have you ever relocated a pet? What tips would you offer?

Vivienne Egan writes for Now Health International

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Week in Germany

As usual, all pictures can be clicked on to see a larger image.

I spent last week in Germany. The first few days were spent at a conference, but by happy coincidence, my father lives about half an hour away from the conference, so we spent the next couple of days introducing him to his granddaughter.

Torsten picked us up from the airport

The River Main flowing through Frankfurt

A beautiful square in Frankfurt

A metro station entrance

A metro station entrance

A metro station entrance

Having drinks at the Café Everblatt

The first night conference dinner

Our daughter having fun

Not a sign I wanted to see on our elevator

Those were Frankfurt photos, so here's Idstein.

My father, who lives in Idstein

The view from my father's flat

Idstein is a beautiful town

My wife relaxing for a moment with our daughter

More houses in Idstein

Lovely scenery in Idstein

Lovely scenery in Idstein

Lovely scenery in Idstein

Our daughter having fun in a store
When we left, she pulled away and ran back to this

Detail on a fountain in Idstein

My wife and father

My father and myself, relaxing over beers

Idstein at night

My wife really doesn't like her photo taken

A lovely garden in Idstein

My father relaxing in the garden

I really liked this garden

Finally getting my wife to smile for the camera

Friday, August 24, 2012

My week in Germany

I've been in Germany all this week, first speaking at a conference and then visiting my father in Idstein, where I've been introducing my father to his granddaughter.

YAPC::Europe 2012. Frankfurt, Germany
Your author giving a keynote speech at YAPC::Europe 2012
Photo by Claudio Ramirez
One of the things I love about my profession is that I get to travel to conferences all over the world. At this conference, I was surprised to speak with several readers of my blog and I've learned a few things:

  • One reader is thinking about renouncing their US citizenship.
  • One reader is in the process of renouncing US citizenship.
  • Another reader is afraid to respond to my blog posts unless they can do so anonymously.

For those who wish to renounce their citizenship, it all boils down to one thing: the US is demanding they pay taxes but offering nothing in return. It's a common refrain I hear.

If you wish to comment anonymously, one of your best options is to download the Tor Browser Bundle. This software can be downloaded to a USB key, if you don't want to install it, and run from there. It allows you to safely and anonymously browse the Internet. Yes, some people use this to do bad things, but others, such as freedom advocates in Iran and China, use this to to communicate with each other safely.

Please note that Tor makes your internet life much more anonymous, but to truly get anonymity, you should read the Tor Web site carefully. It will explain what Tor is and how you can use it to be safe. For normal Web browsing, you don't have much to worry about (as long as you have Javascript turned off). However, if you start using "advanced" features, there are caveats you will want to know about.

There are ways of compromising Tor security, so don't take it for granted. However, they don't appear to be commonly used.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Immigrating to Israel

Note: I'm in Germany for a week, so my posting schedule might be disrupted.

If I found a way for you to legally immigrate to Somalia, would I post it here?


Do I think it's a good idea for you to immigrate to Somalia? No. Would I encourage it? No. But I don't think it's my right to decide for you where you should or should not move to. Thus, I expect that while some people might have issues with those moving to Israel, particularly under the procedure I'm about to explain, I'm going to post this information, too. The history of Israel is long and complex and I've noticed that those who take sides both for and against Israel often fail to note the history. It's a long, sad story of tit-for-tat reprisals where both the origins and present day reality are often ignored in favor of contradictory views on what people think is "right".

Also, I have friends in Israel and they describe a different situation than what you hear in the news, but I'm sure you're not surprised by that.

Theodor Herzl, father of modern Zionism
Normally, it's not easy to move to another country, but if you are Jewish, you can immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return. From the Wikipedia article:
The Law of Return (Hebrew: חוק השבות, ḥok ha-shvūt) is Israeli legislation, passed on 5 July 1950, that gives Jews the right of return and settlement in Israel and gain citizenship. In 1970, the right of entry and settlement was extended to people of Jewish ancestry, and their spouses.
The steps to become an Israeli citizen under this process are as follows:

  • You must be a Jew, the spouse of, the child of, or grandchild of a Jew.
  • You must apply for an Oleh (Jewish person seeking to immigrate to Israel) visa.
  • At the expiry of 90 days after your entry to Israel (you don't need to remain), you will automatically be offered Israeli citizenship.
  • If you reject citizenship, you will remain an Oleh and have permanent residency.
You may apply for that visa either before or during your trip to Israel. Rejecting the citizenship may seem strange, but it allows Jews who would otherwise be forced to give up their previous citizenship to still live in Israel.

For the purpose of the applying the Right of Return, a "Jew"" is defined as anyone who was born to a Jewish mother or has been converted to Judaism, and is not a member of another faith.

Note that the Law of Return is extremely controversial, even among Israeli Jews, and many "returning" Jews are offered property in West Bank land that some claim is not part of Israel.

If you're not familiar with the extensive history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, be aware that there is right and wrong on both sides. If you have friends in Israel, I would strongly recommend that you talk to them to better understand the pros and cons of this choice. Depending on where you settle, it could be a hard choice indeed.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Presidential Commission on U.S. Expats?

White House
Hello, anyone home?
Photo by Chris Christner
The New York Times writes about a possible Presidential Commission on U.S. Expatriates. I welcome this, but I'm concerned when we consider Obama's campaign promises to expatriates in 2008. He promises to address expat concerns in several areas:
  • Strengthen Economic Security for Americans Abroad
  • Responding to Social Security Concerns
  • Citizenship Transmission
  • Voting Procedures
  • Census of Americans Abroad
  • Concerns of Americans Living Abroad
  • Other Governmental Services and Benefits
He has addressed none of these issues. Not only has he not followed up on this, Obama signed FATCA into law, making our lives much worse.

If you've not been following along with the FATCA debacle, here's a brief and somewhat misleading description of what's going on:
  • The US passes a law demanding all Foreign Financial Institutions (FFIs) turn over American account information to the IRS or suffer massive penalties.
  • As an incentive to comply, the US offers nothing.
  • FFIs discover it will cost them millions to change their computer systems to comply and that such compliance can break local laws.
  • Many countries object, so US offers many of them "reciprocal" treatment: give the US the data on our citizens, and the US will return the favor.
  • US banks start objecting en masse because it will cost them millions to change their computer systems to comply.
  • US considers not honoring reciprocity agreement. Germany politely responds "f**k you".
If nothing else, you have to ask how arrogant the US must be if it feels they can demand that every FFI on the planet submit to IRS authority. At this point, it's very much up in the air regarding whether or not FATCA is going to go anywhere, but that's a story for another time.

From the NY Times article cited above:
“Right now, there’s no systemic focus on issues dealing with Americans abroad, and their numbers just keep growing,” said Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, the New York Democrat co-sponsoring the legislation. 
Ms. Maloney, chairwoman of the Americans Abroad Caucus in Congress, said the level of concern she had been hearing from expatriates was “the worst I’ve ever seen it.”
It's getting bad enough for some expats that the number of Americans renouncing their citizenship are hitting historical highs. What's more, these aren't anti-Americans. These are not hippy/political protester types that many Americans back home think they are, nor are they a bunch of rich tax dodgers. They're ordinary Americans who are angry that they're giving up their citizenship, but they feel like they're forced into it due to the increasingly punitive set of laws coming out of Washington.

So I welcome a Presidential commission aimed at trying to sort through the mess and trying to make things right for the estimated 2% of the US population that lives abroad, but there's no way this will happen before the upcoming election. If it happens after the election, I doubt anything will change. Neither Romney nor Obama have done anything to convince me that they care about Americans overseas. But then, why would they? We're hardly enough votes to sway the election.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Touch of Parisian History

Clicking on the photos will display a larger version.

My mother-in-law is down from Calais, visiting, so we've been out and about quite a bit lately. We recently went walking around Le Marais area of Paris and had a lovely time. We had been their previously with friends, eating at L'As du Fallafel and discovering that it really is some of the best damned falafel on the planet: and dirt cheap, too.

I think having a group of six and with a toddler helped us waltz past the extremely long line.

This time, though, there was no mission for "the best falafel on the planet". Instead, it was just wandering. I was delighted to get this photo:

A street sign which, translated to English, reads "Bad Boy Street"

That's the street sign for the Rue des Mauvais Garçons, or "Bad Boy Street". Some assume the name is due to this area of the Marais having a strong gay scene, but no. Apparently the street was originally named rue Chartron, back in 1300, but changed to a variation of its current name in the 1500s. Allegedly the name stems from the fact that some of the people who lived their were fairly rough and apprentices of local butchers.

However, the French also used the term Mauvais-garçon for other reasons:
Aux xvie et xviie siècles, mais aussi dans les siècles précédents, les mauvais-garçons étaient des bandes armées, souvent des brigands, des mercenaires, lansquenets et reîtres démobilisés qui terrorisaient les villes et les campagnes.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but also in previous centuries, the "bad boys" were armed gangs, often thieves, mercenaries, lansquenets and demobilized reîtres who terrorized the town and countryside.
In other words, the Mauvais Garçons may very well have been a disreputable area where brigands hung out, or lived. Mind you, that's idle speculation on my part, but the timing of the name change is right.

Of course, there are plenty of lovely pubs in the area.

A Parisian pub in the Marais area of Paris

And this fountain quite popular.

An intricate fountain in the Marais area of Paris

And our daughter found it delightful, even trying to climb in.

Our daughter trying to climb into a Parisian fountain

The next two photos are from my morning walk to work. I sometimes divert slightly and walk through the Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

A view of the Parisian skyline, as seen from the Parc des Buttes Chaumont

The views from the park are astounding. I need to come down here with a proper camera some day.

A view of the Parisian skyline, as seen from the Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Later we wen't down to the Seine River and enjoyed the Paris Plage (though these first two photos are a couple of weeks old). Once a year, a bunch of sand is brought into Paris and the Seine River is temporarily transformed with beaches and palm trees as relief for those Parisians who can't leave the city during the traditional August holiday. It's proven to be a very successful event.

Last night I headed down to meet my wife and mother in law for a night of dancing and drinking along the river bank.

And a final shot of a Parisian canal.

It's really a gorgeous, gorgeous city.

Monday, August 13, 2012

How babies get denied US citizenship

No, you're not going to believe this story: in vitro babies denied U.S. citizenship. For those not wanting to read the USA Today (and who can blame you?): the US State Department asserts that the US laws requires children to have a "biological link" to at least one parent and in vitro fertilization isn't enough to establish that link. You have to prove that either the sperm or the egg came from an American donor — something pretty damned hard to do when the entire process of donating eggs or sperm is designed to protect the identity of the donor.

You might wonder "what about adopted children"? There's an exception written into the law for them, but if you carry your baby for nine months, give birth, but you're old enough that the consulate is suspicious about how you conceived them, humiliating, invasive questions arise.

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There's an assertion made in the clip above and in various news stories that US law is not keeping up with technology. I will agree this is true, but in this case, it's about US law pretty much ignoring the reality of our global society. There needs to be a non-partisan, permanent Senate committee representing the interests of the the US population living outside the US. I can't imagine such a thing happening any time soon, despite the fact that we'd be the 18th largest state (by population) if such a thing were to be recognized.

For anyone who thinks that, somehow, against all reason, verifying the citizenship of sperm and egg donors is legitimate, you need to sit down and start asking yourself why we have citizenship laws.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cayman Island expats object to income tax

Once you start studying how expats around the world live, you can find yourself surprised by all sorts of things. For example, have you ever heard of the Posh Corps? This is a term Peace Corps volunteers use to describe volunteers who have it better than other volunteers. For example, a flush toilet or electricity might count as Posh Corps amenities and you'll sometimes read that some Peace Corps volunteers sneer at the Posh Corps because the latter has it easier.

I no longer get terribly surprised at what expats experience, but I was surprised by the headlines coming out of the Cayman Islands recently. Many people want to move to the Caymans because, among other things, there is no income tax for expats. So if you're not an American, you can live in the Caymans and pay absolutely no income tax whatsoever. If you are an American, you can avoid income taxes on the first $92,900 (as of this writing) of your income, though once you cross that threshold, you're immediately taxed on the difference at your full rate.

View Larger Map

This and the strict banking secrecy laws have served to turn this tiny island into the sixth largest financial center in the world. but the British government (who owns the Caymans) has directed this territory to find new sources of revenue because without taxes on expats, they're suffering a budget deficit.

Waterfront, George Town, Grand Cayman
Waterfront, George Town, Grand Cayman
Photo by Fevi Yu
So what did the Caymans do? They decided it was time to levy a tiny, 10% income tax on expats. The outcry over this has been so great that they have abandoned this plan. Cayman expats even have a Facebook group dedicated to protesting the expat tax.

I've been accused many times of not wanting to pay my fair share of taxes due to my objections to the insane US tax laws for expats, but that's mainly ignorance on the part of the accuser. I pay lots of taxes and I don't object to them. In this case, it appears that expats are objecting to paying any  income tax, even one as low as 10%. Part of the controversy appears to be that the income tax is only for expats and is therefore discriminatory. Others argue that fees and other taxes are high enough to make an income tax a burden. Regardless of the truth, it tends to make expats as a whole look greedy and doesn't help our situation.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Comparing the US and Germany

Today's post is primarily just pointing you to this rather long comparison between the US and Germany. The author grew up in Germany and moved to the US at 26 years old. He makes plenty of generalizations (as he freely admits), but if you want to get a hint about how different even similar cultures can be, I strongly recommend reading this work. Some comments are rather innocuous:
Cheerleaders, high school girls cheering and dancing in short dresses for the boys' sport teams, actually do exist in the US. I had always thought they only exist on TV, just like the laughter in the background of soap operas. But no: girls actually do want to be cheerleaders. To Germans, the whole setup is ridiculous, sexist, and degrading.
Castle in the Rhine Valley, Germany
Kaub, Rhine Valley, Germany
Photo by Michael Clarke
Or comments about US racism (though the author notes that discrimination is often less in the US):
There is widespread structural discrimination against blacks in the US. They often live in poor, crime ridden neighborhoods with inadequate schools, health care and groceries, which quite predictably leads to a dramatically lower life expectancy. The HIV infection rate of blacks is about eleven times higher than the rate of whites, yet governmental safe-sex campaigns directed at blacks are nowhere to be seen.
Actually, if you go on to read the comparison, Germany sometimes comes off worse than the US, such as:
It is not very well known however that Germany saw a much more vigilant communism hunt at about the same time. While in the US only about a dozen people ever went to prison for being Communists, that same number runs in the thousands in Germany. The communist party was forbidden by the German high court, and party members who continued their activities were arrested and sent to prison.
That's a bit reassuring, not that the Germans sent so many Communists to prison, but that the author appears to be trying to be fair.

A friend of mine from Austria has read this comparison and he claims it's pretty much the same as with Austria.

While some of the oversimplifications of US life are grating, the overall tone seems accurate. I suspect many Americans really have no idea what life is like outside their borders.

On a related note, if you really want to blow your mind, read this Quora post about things foreigners don't believe until they come to America. Note that for all of the responses in that post, you can click on the "comments" link below them to see what other people have to say. It's mind-blowing at times.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Irish Citizenship by Descent

Today's guest post comes courtesy of Lucy Faraday, a freelance writer. I've only written one substantial bit about Ireland, regarding year-long student work programs in Ireland, so I'm happy that Lucy provides a nice article about claiming Irish citizenship via ancestry. It's one of the many areas I should write more about.

Ireland: The Easiest Way into the EU

ireland - church
Church Ruins in Galway, Ireland
Photo by jenbaltes
Gaining residency in the EU has great benefits. Under EU rules, anybody with citizenship in one country is allowed to visit, settle and work in other EU countries, without restrictions. This gives an immense amount of freedom as not only can you live and work wherever you want, you can also claim welfare payments, get access to a country’s free healthcare, and even vote. Gaining entry to the EU can be extremely tricky, though, and some countries make the task nearly impossible, even for citizens from America or other developed nations. However, one EU country provides a much easier route than any otherinto the EU: Ireland.


While Northern Ireland (a separate country and under UK rule) has suffered its fair share of trouble, Ireland itself has a long, peaceful history. It remained neutral during the world wars, keeps out of global politics, and is one of the most relaxed places to settle. It offers free health care, has no national military service, has a friendly, welcoming population, and allows dual citizenship, so you won’t have to relinquish your original passport and nationality. Cities such as Dublin are cosmopolitan and vibrant, while the countryside around Ireland is some of the prettiest in the world. Recently, Ireland has suffered some economic problems, which may make finding a job a bit tricky, but it also means that it has never been cheaper to move there. Besides, once you have obtained an Irish passport, you do not even have to go to Ireland, as you are permitted to travel by air, Fred Olsen Cruise, express coach or train in order to holiday, live, and work anywhere in the EU.

Irish Descent

It is estimated that nearly 40 million Americans have Irish ancestors. Irish immigrants have made their way to America by their thousands, and this has some distinct advantages for an American looking to gain Irish citizenship. While most countries make provisions for people to claim citizenship if their parents came from the country, Ireland goes several steps further.

Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1956, people born outside Ireland can claim citizenship, not only if their parents were born in Ireland, but also if their grandparent, or in some circumstances, great grandparent was born there. For an American, this means there is a really good chance that one of your grandparents, or great grandparents (of which you have eight), originated from Ireland. Of course, you don’t have to be an American to apply, as anybody with ancestors born in Ireland has the right to claim citizenship.

If you are claiming Irish descent because of your great grandparent’s origins, there are some stipulations. Somebody in your lineage must have already made an application for citizenship since your great grandparents left Ireland. However, even this stipulation has been wavered on more than one occasion, so it may be worth applying even if this is not the case. It is important, though, to remember that since 1922, Northern Ireland has been part of the UK, not Ireland, so if you grandparents or great grandparents came from the Ulster area, you can only claim citizenship if they were born before 1922 (otherwise they are classed as British).  

Irish citizenship by descent

cork, ireland
Cork, Ireland
Photo by Travis Crawford
Under the Nationality and Citizenship Act, applying to live in Ireland because of descent is a fairly straightforward process. If your parents are Irish, you are automatically entitled to citizenship. However, if you are applying because your grandparents or great grandparents came from Ireland, you have to establish a chain of lineage. This is simpler than it sounds. All you have to do is collect birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates for yourself, your parents, your grandparents, and your great grandparents.

For those descendents who were born, married or died in the United States, these documents are available from the Office of Vital Statistics or Office of Vital Records, in whichever state they resided. For Irish documents, these are available from the Irish General Registry Office. If you do struggle getting hold of the relevant documents, it might be worth hiring a genealogy service who often have access to extensive databases and should be able to track them down for you. All documents need to be originals, not photocopies, and you need to make sure you get the full-length certificates, not the shortened versions.

Applying for citizenship

Once you have established your lineage, you need to request an application form from the nearest Irish embassy or consulate office, or download one from the new Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. Fill in the application and send it off along with your documents. After this, your local embassy or consulate will then contact you and arrange an interview. This is quite informal, and nothing to worry about, although you do have to pay a fee (around $150). During the interview, they will discuss your lineage and ask why you wish to settle in Ireland, so it is worthwhile having a little story about getting back to your roots. After about six weeks, you should hear whether you have been granted citizenship. If you have, the embassy or consulate will send you Irish citizenship papers, which will allow you to then apply for a full Irish passport.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Finding Universities in Europe

beautiful old auditorium at German university
The Old Auditorium at the University of Tübingen, Germany
Photo by Stefan Baguette
If you follow the Overseas Exile Google+ page, you probably saw a bunch of education related posts recently. This is because I went through and started retagging a bunch of posts with an education label. I deliberately keep the number of labels on this site low because I want them focused and easy to browse through, but so many countries offer preferential immigration policies to foreigners who graduate from their universities that I'd be a fool to ignore this.

The education posts cover issues such as countries offering free university degrees to foreigners, obtaining (US) financial aid for foreign universities, whether or not a degree is required, and so on.

Today's post, via a post on Reddit, covers how to find the appropriate European university for you. You can search for:
As listed in my education links, many European universities are free or very inexpensive, even for non-EU citizens. In fact, there are Americans who are studying in Europe just because they're finding it cheaper than studying in the US. My wife, who is French, spent less than 3,000 euro for a Masters in French Law. If you were to study at the German University of Tübingen, you would discover that they don't charge exchange students tuition they charge 603,50 € per semester, even if you are a foreign student, though it's possible that the fee may be abolished.

It depends on the country, but if you qualify to study there, you'll often find that your student visa lets you work part time, allowing just as you likely would if you were attending university in your home country. If you want to live in another country but you still want to complete your education, why not do both?