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How to emigrate to Ireland?
April 24, 2007 8:34 PM   Subscribe

I want to live overseas for the summer, with an eye to emigrating, potentially. I am thinking of Ireland or maybe the UK. Please help by telling me about your experience if you were thinking about or did the same thing.

I'm thinking about Ireland because I keep hearing great things about it and I get the impression it's less doomed than either the US or the UK (and being of Irish descent helps). But I do have friends in London too who I need to see. Basically, I want to visit for a few months at first, but I want to make sure that if I do decide I want to emigrate I can do so as easily as possible.

About me ... I am an american woman, software engineer, 29 years old. Recently most the ties in my life that keep me here just dissolved, and I'm feeling myself wanting to leave the States. I loved europe when I was there when I was in college, and I think my heart is just more continential than american. I think I should try going for it. Any of you with a similar wanderlust have any advice?

About work -- I will not be actively looking for work, but I would like to know where I stand if opportunities that present themselves. I know it's common here that if I mention I'm in IT, someone replies that they are hiring. Can I do this on a passport without running afoul of immigration laws? (I believe this might be a no-no in the US). I know I will qualify for a permit for both Ireland and the UK, but I don't want to commit to working there yet -- so how does this work?

Should I just not worry about the job thing at all and just go for 2-3 months and figure it out when I get back?
posted by cotterpin to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Can I do this on a passport without running afoul of immigration laws? (I believe this might be a no-no in the US). I know I will qualify for a permit for both Ireland and the UK..."

How do you you qualify for a work permit?

I moved to Europe from the US about ten years ago, and when I got my initial work permit my employer had to advertise the job for 90 days across the EU. Its not clear to me how you can be assured of being eligible for a work permit without actually applying.

In any case you do need a work permit to be legally employed. If you were at a University and in the UK on a student visa you are allowed to work 20 or so hour a week. I teach part time at a University here in London and we get lots of American students who do just that while taking their year/term abroad.

I've had lots of friends from the US visit me in London and take "under the counter" type jobs (e.g., working in Pubs, etc) so there is always that possibility.

In terms of living in Europe when I first started doing biz trips here in the mid 90's I knew I wanted to move; it just took a few years to set it up. So I'd say come on over, check out both Ireland and England (perhaps Scotland as well) first see if this place appeals to you. Then worry about how to do it legally.

I'm American and have lived here for about ten years and have no intention of returning to America to live if I can avoid it.
posted by Mutant at 10:50 PM on April 24, 2007


A UK work permit is something that the employer applies for, not the employee. Like Mutant, I can't see why you are sure that you qualify. You would need the job offer, and the employer would have to prove that no-one within the EU could fill the job (by advertising it, as Mutant said).

Certain jobs are on a shortages list, where the employer could just offer you the job without advertising it, however IT jobs aren't (they used to be).

Your other option is the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme. This assesses your eligibility based on criteria like education level and income. If you're successful, you would not need a job offer, you could just move to the UK and find work. (But it takes some time, and costs around 400 pounds for the application).

Workpermit.com is a site that I've found easy to use and with up-to-date information (it's a commercial site, but they give you the information for free. I'm not affiliated with the site).

I doubt very much that UK Immigration would be pleased if you started working while on a tourist visa. (btw, the visa is the important thing, not the passport).

Your best bet might be to go for a couple of months on a tourist visa, and if you like the country, talk to potential employers and see if they will apply for a work permit for you.
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:18 PM on April 24, 2007


(and being of Irish descent helps)

If the OP has an Irish grandparent, then that's her way in to getting an EU passport.

If your heart is "more continental than American", then you need to come to the continent, which the UK and Ireland are not! Have you thought about France? I emigrated from the US to Paris 6 years ago. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done but I'm so, so glad I did it and would never return to live in the US. I didn't speak French very well at the time (I'm fluent now) but as I worked in the software industry, I was able to get a job in a large multinational corporation where the work was performed in English.

My recommendation, if you can afford it, would be to come over to Europe for a month or two and just get to know the places you're considering moving to. Go to Ireland, then spend some time in London, then take the Eurostar over to Paris and spend a week or so. Don't worry about the job thing yet - first you need to focus on a specific destination I think.

And no, you can't work legally if you have only a US passport, but that wasn't really clear from the question. If you have an EU passport or can get one, you're golden.
posted by hazyjane at 1:44 AM on April 25, 2007


Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America might be worth looking at.
posted by nitsuj at 2:14 AM on April 25, 2007


Hmm... I've been living in Dublin since Sept 06 as a Fulbright Scholar. My time here is almost done and I certainly have grown to love being here. I am looking forward to returning to the US, not because of any shortcomings of Ireland, but because I still consider the US my home. I could see living here in Ireland a few more years and being perfectly happy. Eventually, I know I would be really itchy to go back to the US.

You don't say a lot about what prompted the switch on an emotional level other than that you feel more "continental than american." I'm nitpicking, but this is an important point : to refer to something as "continental" is actually to separate France, Germany and the rest of Europe from the UK and Ireland. The culture here in Ireland is not necessarily like other parts of Europe. In fact, I posited to a few different Irish acquaintances that Ireland is the last European country that still loves the US and they've all agreed. If you loved, say, Paris or Prague, you might not like Ireland at all - the culture reminds me of my boyhood home of Kentucky, with an emphasis on a relaxed pace, plenty of polite socialization, a disdain for "pretension", etc.

You mention Ireland being less doomed - Ireland is a fantastic country, but its fortunes are very much tied to the United States. The boom in the economy since the 90s is primarily due to the government emulating American tax policy - Ireland offered almost no taxes to relocating multinationals, which are dominantly American. Those same American companies are starting a slow pullout to the Czech Republic and other Eastern European countries which can offer a cheaper but similarly-educated workforce. Ireland has nearly free higher education which has led to a very educated young generation - this generation's wages have shot up the charts, which have significantly raised the housing prices, which is driving up the cost of living and the demand for higher wages, etc. I think Ireland will do okay in the future, but there are some potholes in the road ahead.

It is a different culture here. Things are much more casual and generally slower than where I moved from (Detroit). I say that living in Dublin. I imagine living out in Kerry or up in Donegal would be even more traditional and rural-oriented.

There is a decent mix of nationalities in Dublin : Polish, Chinese and Nigerian probably chief among the many non-Irish people in the city. Dublin is very friendly to walkers and other non-car folks (I walk everywhere unless it's pouring down rain, which is rarer than you might think in the Southeast part of the country). I've really adapted to buying groceries every third day and I eat a very good diet of simply-prepared, fresh foods because of the abundance of local produce and my tiny refrigerator (standard for Irish apartments). The pub culture is very relaxed and conducive to just chatting with friends - I've had a couple of visitors remark on how non-desperate the pub is compared to, say, New York bars. So, overall my stress level is way lower than it was in my previous work life.

What I miss - pop art and general urban synthetic colors (I'm an artist); Japanese pop culture and food (Ann Arbor was very good in this regard for being a small college town); a twenty-four hour work culture (try getting photocopies after 6 in Dublin. 6!).

Well, that ended up being way longer than I wanted - honestly, I always encourage travelers to travel. Get out! See if you like it! Move if you want to! Hopefully, my thoughts can help you make a decision... Good luck!
posted by Slothrop at 2:45 AM on April 25, 2007


Expat in Austria here. I came with my backpack in 2000. I got a job at a top ad agency and started working without a permit . I was technically employed by my father's company in Texas, and he billed the ad agency a monthly contract fee.

Working in IT makes things a lot easier. I was a software engineer in my first employer's interactive department. They arranged my work permit. I've been legal ever since, and am now working for a German software consulting company.

I don't have any plans to go back to the States.
posted by syzygy at 2:52 AM on April 25, 2007


How do you you qualify for a work permit? I moved to Europe from the US about ten years ago, and when I got my initial work permit my employer had to advertise the job for 90 days across the EU. Its not clear to me how you can be assured of being eligible for a work permit without actually applying.

Ireland has a "green card permit" for which in certain industries, including IT, the requirement that the employer look to fill the job domestically is waived. I don't know for sure that I will qualify, but it's a good bet. For this I do need an offer in hand.

In the UK, I believe I qualify for a HSMP permit, which looks to be something the employee applies for. It's a points based system.
posted by cotterpin at 4:39 AM on April 25, 2007


If the OP has an Irish grandparent, then that's her way in to getting an EU passport.

I have great grandparents who emigrated from ireland and my grandparent was born here. Might be a narrow miss.

If your heart is "more continental than American", then you need to come to the continent, which the UK and Ireland are not! Have you thought about France? I emigrated from the US to Paris 6 years ago. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done but I'm so, so glad I did it and would never return to live in the US. I didn't speak French very well at the time (I'm fluent now) but as I worked in the software industry, I was able to get a job in a large multinational corporation where the work was performed in English.

Thanks, this is good advice. I did spend a month in europe, France and Germany, about 9 years ago. I loved Paris, but to say I don't speak French very well is an understatement; I can't speak it at all. I am twice as afraid of trying to go somewhere where I don't know anyone and I can't speak the language. However, it might be more worth it than I think.
posted by cotterpin at 4:45 AM on April 25, 2007


What jobs qualify for an Irish green card.

Lists titles and salary requirements.
posted by jamesonandwater at 5:56 AM on April 25, 2007


I spent all of 2006 in Berlin and it was one of the best times of my life. I never applied for a work permit (hence my coming back) but I do have a few friends that did and didn't have too much trouble, especially the ones that worked in software.

I have to echo what was said about Paris and recommend that you check out Berlin. In my opinion, it's a younger, more energetic and far cheaper city than anything in the UK or Ireland.
posted by atomly at 6:43 AM on April 25, 2007


If you come to the UK on a tourist entry and try to convert to a work, student or partner visa, you will encounter a lot of problems. US is virtually the only non-Commonwealth nationality since last year allowed to do this at all, but the Home Office don't look kindly on it. I came in on a tourist visa having been accepted to a postgraduate program so late there was no option, but was very nearly deported. Of course once the student visa came through it was straightforward (by "straightforward" I mean "a hassle, but worked out eventually") to later obtain a work permit.
posted by methylsalicylate at 8:26 AM on April 25, 2007


Also:

Your other option is the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme.

Postgraduate degrees, 2+ years earning over £40k in jobs specifically advertised for people with degrees or better, and amazing reference letters will get you one of these. Plus having a solicitor who will really go to bat for you.
posted by methylsalicylate at 8:29 AM on April 25, 2007


"I have great grandparents who emigrated from ireland and my grandparent was born here. Might be a narrow miss."

Not so much, in fact. Your qualifying parent and/or grandparent can claim Irish citizenship (in the form of an Irish passport) right now. At that point you become the child/grandchild of a living Irish citizen.

Plus if the great-grandparent was from present-day Northern Ireland, your opportunities for citizenship in the present-day republic are even more lax.

Nobody seems yet to have explicitly told you that an Irish passport allows you to work anywhere in the EU, and in the UK you are legally all-but-indistinguishable from a UK passport holder (you can even vote in national elections).

[An observation about the IT market: if your skills are not in the MS / Java realm, there's no bloody work here at all. Unless you want to do tech support for Apple in Cork. 'Open' technology jobs, if they exist, don't get advertised anywhere. And Ireland's economy, job market and entire national infrastructure are so preposterously skewed towards Dublin that it's beyond a joke.]
posted by genghis at 2:36 PM on April 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Dublin is very friendly to walkers and other non-car folks (I walk everywhere unless it's pouring down rain, which is rarer than you might think in the Southeast part of the country). I've really adapted to buying groceries every third day and I eat a very good diet of simply-prepared, fresh foods because of the abundance of local produce and my tiny refrigerator (standard for Irish apartments). The pub culture is very relaxed and conducive to just chatting with friends - I've had a couple of visitors remark on how non-desperate the pub is compared to, say, New York bars. So, overall my stress level is way lower than it was in my previous work life.

That's funny, in many ways it might be very similar. I already walk most everywhere, no car, no tv, and I think the pub culture is one of the reasons I want to go and *live* there for a bit.

Thanks everyone for your answers. I think I am going to just go and travel and get a feel for it, and not be hesitant to try spending time in the rest of europe. As long as I don't do the backpacking thing again, being almost 30 and all :)
posted by cotterpin at 2:53 PM on April 25, 2007


Postgraduate degrees, 2+ years earning over £40k in jobs specifically advertised for people with degrees or better, and amazing reference letters will get you one of these [A Highly Skilled Migrant Visa].

They've changed the rules recently, though you're pretty much right. It only takes one year of earning that income, and it doesn't matter what job you earn it in. The reference letters aren't necessary either - income/education are basically all that matters (I'm preparing to apply for one myself). More details at the link I posted in my first post.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:11 PM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nobody seems yet to have explicitly told you that an Irish passport allows you to work anywhere in the EU.

This is correct. But I'm not sure that acquiring Irish citizenship based on one's great-grandparents is very easy. See for example the Irish Embassy's page and this unofficial page, which suggests that it is possible, but only if one's parents had registered for citizenship prior to one's birth.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:20 PM on April 25, 2007


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