There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief
February 26, 2013 10:52 AM   Subscribe

I want to migrate in five years' time. What skills/qualifications can I pick up now that would allow me to get a fairly OK job offer?

My dream is to eventually move to the US, Canada, or western Europe. I know that most countries won't let you in unless you have a skill-set they want. Please help me figure out how I might achieve it. Let's exclude marriage.

I'm a citizen of a country in Asia, and don't have relatives in my target countries. Can't use ancestry either. I have an MSc in computer science from a reputable US university, but it wasn't very rigorous. I'm currently working as a financial journalist in my home country and don't remember much from school anymore.

From what I gather, I'll need a firm to sponsor me before I can begin any citizenship application process. I'm not sure how transferable my skills are internationally, especially since print media isn't doing so well and at any rate I'd like to move out of the media industry. Now seems like a good time to start thinking about what I can do in preparation for the uprooting, especially since I can feel myself getting dumber the longer I spend in the workforce.

I don't earn a truckload and have no entrepreneurial track record thus far. Would my best bet be to save up for (yet another) postgrad program and try to use that as a springboard? Even so, not sure if I might be at a disadvantage if I don't go for an expensive top-notch one. Also, I don't yet know which areas of study will really be in demand when it comes to getting hired in those countries. I would've guessed something tech-related, but it seems like the world is flooded with Chinese and Indian IT workers. Or something like accounting perhaps, but why would they be short of accountants?

Also, has anyone here successfully made the move from Asia to those places, and what did you do to pull it off? Particularly if your background is closer to mine.

posted by swimmingly to Work & Money (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Canada has some pretty easy immigration rules. They do it on a scoring method. So if you have a college degree, can speak one of the languages and are employable, and have saved enough cash to float you for a certain amount of time, you have a very good chance of qualifying.

I wouldn't bother with more school, I'd get more skills and/or certifications. So Cisco,, Microsoft Dynamics, any or all of these can get your foot in the door somewhere.

If you have a spate $600,000 you can let Canada hold it for you for 5 years, and they'll let you in. Or if you buy a business.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:01 AM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

It depends on *which* Asian country you are a citizen of –developing nation or modern nation?

I would focus on the grand prize of migration –the United States. Western Europe should be the last option given the size of their economies and their internal resistance to immigration of future workers. Canada is definitely more open to immigration for professionals, however many use Canada as a stepping stone to ultimately secure a U.S. greencard. Canada has a much much smaller economy than the U.S. and your living situation may be dramatically different (i.e. you may find a good job, but perhaps in outer province towns).

To be perfectly straightforward, the option I’ve seen taken most effecitively (and fastest) is for you to meet, fall in love, and marry a US citizen. Not that I'm in any way condoning this.
posted by Kruger5 at 11:19 AM on February 26, 2013

Best answer: There's a shortage of tech industry workers in Canada. Your MSc in computer science would be in demand if you also have good work experience to demonstrate your ability to apply that education. If you just have the degree and never did anything with it, start now. Build a portfolio of work with your own projects, and/or find a job in the industry. Then start applying. My full time job is pretty much helping people with your educational background move from all over the world to Canada.

Journalists, not so much... you're probably right about moving out of the media industry.

Another option for Canada would be getting accepted for full-time studies at an accredited Canadian university or college. You would apply for a study permit to come to Canada and study. You would also be eligible to apply for an off-campus work permit to earn money and gain experience while attending school, then upon graduation apply for a post-graduate work permit. But being an international student in Canada, while cheaper than the US, is still an expensive prospect.

Also, depending on your age and which country you have citizenship with, you may qualify for an open work permit under the International Experience Canada Programs. A fresh quota opens at the beginning of each calendar year, so this year's might be full already but you could start planning for next year.

Whichever way you go, you can apply for permanent residence in the Canadian Experience Class category once you have at least 1 year of full time skilled work experience in Canada. Your employer may also be willing to support a Provincial Nominee Program application to bypass that 1 year waiting period.

Or you can skip being a temporary worker or student in Canada and go straight for the permanent residence application category that Ruthless Bunny suggested, the Federal Skilled Worker Class, but note that it's an "outland" type of application. You should look at the processing times for it before applying as a FSW. Applying to work or study in Canada temporarily is a much faster way of getting here.

A few years after getting permanent resident status, you can apply for citizenship.
posted by keep it under cover at 11:35 AM on February 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

Most country's immigration service have a list of high-demand people that get some kind of advantage in applying for residency. Those could be a good place to start, though it will likely mostly be very specialized fields such as nursing that aren't so helpful to you.

I would advise caution with choosing the USA. As you're presumably aware, because of problems with a very large porous border with Mexico, the US immigration system is horribly broken. You can make it through, but there are a lot of pitfalls that drag things out for years or decades, and it's normal for things to take a long time. On the employment track you're talking about, I would guess 6 years for you to get residency, depending on your country of origin (then another 7 years for citizenship, but residency is the important one), which is a lot of time for things to go wrong.
A common source of problems is that in the modern economy, it's pretty rare to be able to hold a job at the same company for six years, and when you don't have residency, you have to leave the country if your company reports that you've been laid off, so you often have only a short window to find a new sponser, which can be extremely difficult, and you could potentially end up back at square one if you fail, except many years older than thus less desirable as an immigrant.

If you're going to run the gauntlet of immigration, a reliable immigration process is worth seeking.
posted by anonymisc at 12:44 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

While I agree Canada is the best choice, and journalism is a dead end, I think the combination of computer science and communication is a big advantage with a lot of multinationals. Most of which have a particular focus on having employees from everywhere, working everywhere.
posted by mumimor at 1:07 PM on February 26, 2013

FWIW, Husbunny and I ache to move to Canada, it's just not working out.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:28 PM on February 26, 2013

I have an MSc in computer science from a reputable US university, but it wasn't very rigorous.

My husband has a Masters degree in computer science and works as a software developer. He has a work permit to work in Ireland (where we live, we are non-EU citizens) which was easy to get because software developer is on the list of shortage occupations and there are jobs. I haven't looked extensively but there are definitely other countries in Europe where this is also true. Most countries have their immigration rules online and are fairly easy to find so do some looking around at the requirements for countries you're interested in. Language may be an issue but there is a job market in parts of Western Europe for English speakers, Amsterdam and Scandinavia are good places to start looking. Keep in mind you're not looking at citizenship, just permission to go there and work.

You have the qualification already, now you just need the skills and work experience. So I'd say, learn how to code and get hired as a developer, and you'll be fine. Five years experience is plenty.
posted by shelleycat at 3:58 PM on February 26, 2013

Most country's immigration service have a list of high-demand people that get some kind of advantage in applying for residency. Those could be a good place to start, though it will likely mostly be very specialized fields such as nursing that aren't so helpful to you.

Actually the shortage lists tend to be scientific researchers and IT professionals. Sometimes really specific high level business functions.
posted by shelleycat at 4:01 PM on February 26, 2013

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