Only a few lucky expats escape from the nightmare of having to sort paperwork and go through bureaucratic delays before they move to a new country. Chances are you are likely to have to deal with visa requirements, so we are bringing you this guide to give you an idea of what to expect, and a few tips to help you through the process.
Figuring out everything you’ll need to do in order to obtain a required visa or work permit can take a considerable amount of your time, so the best you can do is get to it as soon as possible.
If you have secured a job in a new country, find out what you will need to do to get your paperwork in order. Your employer should be able to give you some information on visa support and may even take the worry off your hands.
From form filling to long waits
Visas and work permits can be a complicated matter. More often than not, these things involve a great deal of bureaucracy, extensive forms to fill and long delays. But stay positive; with advance planning and appropriate research it will all fall into place.
The first step is to find a reliable, up-to-date source of information – each country has its very own regulations when it comes to immigration, so make sure you obtain specific information regarding the country that you are planning to move to.
Look for official websites like the country’s consulate or the immigration department, often part of the Home Affairs Ministry or Ministry of Justice.
Find out at your earliest convenience what type of visa or work permit will be required for you and any family members accompanying you, paying special attention to costs and timescales. Bear in mind that procedures can vary if you and your family members have different nationalities.
Some countries require that your passport has at least six months validity prior to the date of your arrival. Some others may require in addition that you provide a Police clearance Certificate (or official criminal record), or even mandate specific vaccinations for allowing your entry. It’s important to look into the detail of what your new country will expect from you.
Citizens of the EU and EEA member countries are usually allowed to enter other member countries and have the right to live and work, but there are some specific restrictions on freedom of movement between nations. Make sure to not overlook restrictions that may apply to your situation. Many expats within the EU may not need permission to live and work in a European country, but will still need to register once they have moved and apply for specific permits.
Requirements upon arrival
After all the work you will have put in prior to your move, organising all your documents, making dozens of copies and filling lengthy forms, you may still need to file some more paperwork once you arrive in the new country.
Of course, this will depend on where you are going and where you are coming from. But it’s worth noting that many places require you or your family members to apply for different permits (residence permit or identity card) after entry to the country.
Even if your paperwork is all in order once you are in the new location, you may be required to register with local authorities shortly after arrival.
All done and dusted …Or is it?
It’s a very gratifying feeling for expats to have gone successfully through the lengthy process of sorting visas or permits, and to start a fully compliant life in the new country. However, it is important not to lose track of your papers’ validity.
As a foreign national, you may be subject to fairly regular renewals of your passport, visa or work permit. Before you forget that document at the back of the bottom drawer, it may be wise to check expiry dates and keep a calendar to know when you’ll be required to process any renewals in order to maintain all your papers.
If after a while you are thinking of changing job, bear in mind that most permits are not transferable to different employers and you may need to obtain a new permit. If you plan to apply for citizenship, you may have to wait for a number of years. In this case, it may be worth checking whether your new country accepts dual nationality, as you might be required to surrender your original nationality in order to gain the new citizenship.
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