How fortunate the man with none?
March 8, 2010 7:51 PM   Subscribe

Work Anywhere Filter? I want to be able to get a job in (almost) any Big City in the world. How should I go about it from where I am right now.

Firstly, I am definitely not looking for any major career change. Some background. I'm 26, on a work visa in the United States. I'm a computer programmer in the videogames industry. Because of many reasons(introduction of new gaming platforms wreaking havoc with the industry , general state of the economy, the gaming industry being very fickle at best, H1B visas being looked down upon in the States etc) I'm finding it quite hard to get an agreeable new job in these times.

Secondly, my girlfriend and I broke up (quite amicably) a couple of months ago. She moved across the great wall to the North to her home province.

Thirdly, I have always been an Anglophile. I want to live and work in England for at least some part of my life before I am bogged down by commitments and responsibilities of a more permanent sort. I have always wanted to be a citizen of the world in many respects.

And now I have come to the conclusion that what I'd like most is for these visa and immigration issues to be sort of impermeable to me. For instance, I would love to be able to work for a year or so in my ex-girlfriend's home province and see the life I've heard her talk about. I would love to go to England for a while, or perhaps somewhere in Belgium/Luxembourg. And work at a company for a couple of years or so.

From where I am right now, all these countries might as well be on the other side of the universe. Primarily because I do not possess any skill that would justify a company paying for my relocation, or even considering me as a prospective employee. Now I figure, putting the language issue aside for a second, the answer lies in specialization of some sort. I doubt a neuro surgeon would have a bad time getting a job in at least one of their top five cities

Fourthly, I would like to be able to get a job at Home for a year or so and work there for a while with minimum fuss from an immigration standpoint.

So my question is this: Is this a pipe dream? Or am I too late in my career of choice to avail of this fantastical opportunity? Is there any particular specialization I can undertake in that might prove invaluable in times to come. Being very good at what one does is only half of the solution, I suspect that one needs to be able to do that very few can to avail of this cornucopia of cosmopolitan delights.

Thanks for any help, anecdotes, insights you might have in this matter. I'd be happy to clarify any points I might have missed out.
posted by prufrock to Work & Money (12 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
What is your nationality? That's the key determinant here.

As a "Computer Professional", if you have accepted qualifications, you may be eligible for a skilled migrant's visa to Australia. I understand there's a fairly large computer games design industry here. As you're 26, you may also be eligible to work here as a backpacker, but that depends on your passport.
what I'd like most is for these visa and immigration issues to be sort of impermeable to me
You must become extremely wealthy. That's about the only foolproof solution.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:28 PM on March 8, 2010

Where are you from? Where is your girlfriend from?

Anyway, British Columbia (Canada) is aggressively trying to recruit skilled immigrants from the US such as yourself whose US work visas are due to expire.

Check out BC's provincial nominee program.

Vancouver has a strong gaming sector (although Vivendi has laid off staff they are quickly snapped up by other developers).
posted by KokuRyu at 8:56 PM on March 8, 2010

Languages you're proficient in, and whether you have experience with DX or OpenGL, would be useful info.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 9:31 PM on March 8, 2010

I'm a long time (about 14 years) American ex-pat, currently living in London.

Unless there is something ancestral you haven't revealed, entering Europe (legally) is going to prove difficult for you due to the economy. Unemployment is very high in most European countries, both at the aggregate (national) level as well as in specific sectors.

I've been in England a long time and have never seen such a strong, almost universal backlash against immigration. There are general elections coming up, and every party seems to be anti-immigration on some levels, and some parties to an extreme. I don't have a good feeling for the mood of the entire European continent, but Mrs Mutant is Dutch and we've watched as Geert Wilders got elected, his appeal based to no small extent on his anti-immigration stance.

Both Fiasco da Gama and KokuRyu have raised key points - you have to look at countries with strong economic growth, or sectors that are performing well.

But if you're dead set on Europe there is another possibility: if you take a Masters (one year programme) in England you can not only work while studying (20 hours per week at the present), but you're also eligible for a two year post graduation work permit which is itself extendible for another two years. After you've been here five years you can qualify for what's known as Indefinite Leave to Remain, effectively a UK green card. Naturalisation can take place immediately after securing Indefinite Leave.

I've known several people who have followed that route and once you're a British citizen your other goals (living in Belgium, etc) would fall into place. But note that while this option is on the table at present, in this environment pretty much anything immigration related can change.

So I don't think your goal to live outside the US is a pipe dream. Its most definitely achievable. It would seem there are multiple avenues available to yourself; its more a matter of setting course (i.e., Canada, UK) the casting off.

Best of luck!

Oh yeh, in my second paragraph I only put legally in parenthesis as generally in these threads someone will chime in with advise along the lines of "just go", or they know / heard of someone who went to Europe as a tourist and lived for several years working without status or an employment permit.

Don't do that. You really don't to be an illegal immigrant, overstaying a tourist visa then further breaking the law by illegally working. Even before the economic problems governments here were starting to crack down on this. I know of one young lady who overstayed then worked illegally here in London. When she was caught not only was she deported (after being detained for several weeks) but she earned herself a 10 year travel ban from entering the UK as well as an eye popping fine (taxes owed in income earned in the UK).

Working illegally is just not worth it, especially so as poor economies make governments seriously crack down on illegals

posted by Mutant at 12:11 AM on March 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Agreed with Mutant.

Depending on where you're from, the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme in the UK may be an option for you.

Singapore is very welcoming of expats and has a large IT industry.

Most countries are making it harder to relocate. I work for an organisation based in the Netherlands that has had to cancel jobs because we can't get visas approved. At least in the UK, there are other options like Highly Skilled Migrant and Youth Mobility and as Mutant says, become a citizen from here.
posted by wingless_angel at 1:26 AM on March 9, 2010

Australia has a points-based system for immigration. I believe that programmers are in demand, but you can take a qualification test online at the Australian Immigration website. The other method in Australia is to be sponsored by a company. Not sure how easy that is as a young programmer, but certainly easy enough to look into.
posted by qwip at 2:43 AM on March 9, 2010

Actually you're in one of the better careers for this sort of thing. A neurosurgeon would have pass a licensing test for her country of residence and be reasonably fluent in the local language before she could practice. As mentioned above, the UK has a points-based system that pre-approves highly skilled immigrants, and it's likely you'd qualify even without a UK degree. (UK masters degrees are unfortunately pretty expensive for non-Europeans.) Ireland also has a Green Card system that makes it easier to gain sponsorship just by being in a designated occupation. I don't know how easy they make things in practice, and there are fees involved. Many other countries have the usual company sponsorship rules, but not necessarily with the kind of quota pressures that exist with H1B.

Moving back home for an extended period of time is going to set you back even without citizenship (assuming your home country even recognizes dual citizenship). But I'd imagine having a work record in a given country makes it easier to get another job there, even after a hiatus.
posted by serathen at 5:36 AM on March 9, 2010

You're a video game programmer. Where are the major game houses? I would have thought the video game industry is always looking for talent is is quite recession proof. If your good, I would think you can write your ticket.
posted by jasondigitized at 5:49 AM on March 9, 2010

As mentioned above, the UK has a points-based system that pre-approves highly skilled immigrants, and it's likely you'd qualify even without a UK degree.

This is true, but the current iteration of the HSMP (Highly-Skilled Migrant Programme) Tier 1 requires a Masters Degree (there is talk of changing this).

If the OP has a Masters Degree, then I suspect he would qualify for the HSMP Tier 1: qualification is by a combination of salary and qualifications, with bonus points for youth and UK experience. Without a Masters, he flat-out wouldn't qualify.

Tier 2 of the HSMP is open to anyone, in theory, if they can find someone willing to offer them a job who can show that the job has been advertised, and no-one local is available with suitable skills. (Where "local" in this case means the entire EU). The HR department at my workplace have told me that Tier 2 is very difficult to qualify for, these days.

(Or, in sum, I agree with Mutant that it will be difficult).

Other countries: I know New Zealand is harder to get into than it was a few years ago, when we would have taken almost anyone, certainly someone with your skills. But it might be worth a shot. Australia's economy is sound, so you might be able to get in there (I'm talking about the points-based system in both cases; it's similar to the UK one).

Ireland: Forget it. There are no jobs. None. Everyone's leaving.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:06 AM on March 9, 2010

Ah right, I forgot about the masters requirement. Also, if you just got a masters (except maybe in the UK, like Mutant suggests) and haven't been working concurrently, then you can't meet the current salary requirement. That's the part that bit me.
posted by serathen at 9:34 AM on March 9, 2010

If you're still interested in sticking with your current skillset, and willing to work in Asia - Singapore is making a concerted effort to develop a digital media and gaming industry. EA has its regional headquarters here, for example, and Ubisoft has a full-fledged studio here too. Your experience will also probably put you in good stead with the immigration authorities.
posted by hellopanda at 10:32 AM on March 9, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers so far. I'll go through the links presented.

I am from India, my girlfriend is from Nova Scotia. I did my Masters from a pretty good school in the US.

I totally agree with Mutant, in that I'm looking for a totally legal way to do this.

I'm not wholly tied to the videogame industry, I'm frankly tired of my visa status getting in peril because my sponsoring company went under. I'd like to be involved with programming somehow, though.

I sort of want to be in a position also to return to a country having once left it. I mean be an attractive prospect to an employer in country A having worked in country A in the past and currently working in country B. I do not want industry trends to dictate where I could or should go, but rather cultivating some sort of a career profile out of programming and technology that makes me very attractive to some companies so that they are willing to accommodate/wrangle all visa/immigration issues even if the country isn't a love-fest for immigrants.

Thanks for all the insights, so far though!
posted by prufrock at 11:06 AM on March 9, 2010

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