When should I apply for this job abroad?
August 1, 2011 10:01 PM   Subscribe

I want to apply for a job in another country, but I'm not ready to actually make the move yet. Given the logistics of finding a job internationally, what should my timeline be like?

I am an American in a serious, very-long-distance relationship with a non-American. He will shortly be moving to the UK and in the next year, but probably no earlier than May/June of 2012, I want to move over there with him.

The problem is, in trying to feel out what job opportunities exist for someone like me, I've stumbled upon a well-known company that has several open positions that look damn near perfect for me. They're also just getting into a market sector that I specialize in. I don't want to wait too long and let these opportunities get away, but...

...given that I'm at least 10 months off from actually moving, I don't want to apply for these positions right now and ask the company to go through the whole process just to have me request a several month delay before my start date. However, I know that the job application/interview process, negotiations, and work visas do take some time -- I just don't know how much time, since I only have experience applying for jobs here in the US.

So given my May/June 2011 target, when might it be appropriate for me to start this process without wasting the other company's time?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Start now. You should move to the UK in part because you want to. If you end up there a few months before him because you got a company to sponsor you, isn't that just gravy?
posted by sweetkid at 10:07 PM on August 1, 2011

Being from the UK, I don't know what the visa process is like for applicants, but when I moved to Japan it took 3 months for the company I was joining to process my visa and for the back-and-forth required. This was after a remote hiring process that involved remote interviews over the course of a month.

That's 4 months from your ten, and that was after finding a job in the first place. If you begin preparing now, the time will fly by and you'll most likely be at the point where you are waiting for things to get sorted on the other end, not the other way around.
posted by beseku at 11:14 PM on August 1, 2011

When I wanted to move from the U.S. to Europe (not the UK), I started applying for jobs in January, interviewed in early June, and moved in late July. However, I get the impression from other ex-pats that that is on the short end of the time it can take to go through the immigration process, so I would say you should assume a two-month minimum for the legal part alone, plus two to four weeks for the company to review your CV, arrange an interview, etc.

But I second sweetkid: don't wait on him to move. If there's nothing in the U.S. holding you back, apply now, and move as soon as possible. There's no guarantee that there will be job opportunities available for you next spring. And bonus: if you're already established as a resident, his transition will be made much easier.
posted by neushoorn at 11:16 PM on August 1, 2011

Agreed that it is worth applying now and applying for a lot of things... in part because it's not clear if you have extremely specialized or high-level knowledge they can't find there or in the EU.

If you don't (and this isn't a U.S. company hiring and interviewing for people to be based there), there's relatively little motivation for any employer to do all the visa-related things, have to not do in-person interviews or go to some length to do them, etc.

From what I understand, in general the UK job market is far from great so employers tend to have a considerable number of local, qualified applicants.
posted by ambient2 at 11:55 PM on August 1, 2011

Start in January if you want to line up timing, now if you want to move earlier. Our UK visa processing took 3 full months (spouse), after a job offer was in hand. The job seeking part only took two months from start to finish (with interviews conducted by phone), but the visa was the snag.

When you apply for jobs you will be asked to indicate your visa status. Some employers are more accommodating of delays than others. Depending on what visa you intend to go on, you can apply in advance of/independently of a job. Are you going under EEA by chance?
posted by wingless_angel at 12:03 AM on August 2, 2011

A few years ago, my partner was flown to the UK for a job interview in October, was offered the job, accepted it in November, did all the paperwork and was able to enter the country by the end of the December on a work visa. This was for an academic position, so they were constrained by the start of term as they needed someone to teach a class that had already been scheduled, but we were able to process two visas (one work, one "partner" visa) in well under two months. This was in the NYC area (you have to work with a consulate and/or visa processing center in the US).

That said, if they want you enough to go through the paperwork on their end to get you a work permit, it's possible they'll be flexible about your start date. My partner had already received an offer for a post-doc position in Paris when the permanent offer came through; the university was able to arrange for immediate leave after teaching one term as a condition of the job offer.
posted by tractorfeed at 12:32 AM on August 2, 2011

The job situation in the UK is Not Good, and their immigration restrictions have been getting considerably stricter every year for some time now.

Unless you have some highly-marketable and specialized skill, you're going to have a tough time, and visa approval is by no means a "sure thing" (which will deter many employers from even looking at you).

Good luck.
posted by schmod at 6:01 AM on August 2, 2011

The job situation in the UK is Not Good, and their immigration restrictions have been getting considerably stricter every year for some time now.

This. Also part of that 'considerably stricter' included adding monthly quotas for various visas, including the one tractorfeed is likely talking about up there (tier two I'm guessing?), making a two month turnaround now highly unlikely. You should probably try to get some hard info about processing times for whatever visa you think you're likely to apply for, preferably from the UK Border Agency but even word of mouth from people who have been through the system very recently (last 6-12 months at the most) will be useful. Don't rely on outdated information, find out when the latest changes were made and make sure you only talk to people with experience after those changes.

It might be that it takes you all the time until next June to be able to move over there anyway so you have to start now, or it might be that your particular circumstances mean that you can go within a few months of starting. But I think you need a lot more information to know which is likely.
posted by shelleycat at 11:53 AM on August 2, 2011

This is the part of the Border Agency website I meant to link to before, sorry. Visas are just to get you into the country, you probably need to focus on the work permit part since that's what lets you have a job.
posted by shelleycat at 12:02 PM on August 2, 2011

I would focus on the work permit aspect. I hate to be That Guy, but you are likely to find this difficult.

It currently looks almost impossible to obtain a work permit under Tier 1, unless you are "recognised or have the potential to be recognised as leaders in the fields of science, arts and humanities", setting up a business, or investing in the UK. (Tier 1 is for applicants who do not have specific job offers).

Tier 2 is for applicants who have job offers. Their prospective employers sponsor them. As shelleycat notes, there are quotas on the number of applicants under this Tier (20,700 per year). Your job also has to be on a list of shortage occupations, OR the employer has to advertise the job and show that NO suitably qualified local worker can do it. (Not: "you are the best candidate", but "no-one else other than you can do it"). Anecdotally and from my own experience, it is hard to get one of these visas.

Add to this, the job market isn't very good here, as others have said.

If you were living with your partner, you would perhaps qualify to come as his "dependent" (this is a broad category covering spouses, civil partners, and same or opposite sex partners who have been living together for two years). But it appears that isn't the case.

So basically if I were you I would applying now and taking whatever I could get.
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:19 AM on August 3, 2011

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