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Working Abroad: Countries With Easily Obtainable Work Visas

Working overseas can be a rewarding and unforgettable experience. The opportunity to live and work in a foreign country offers several benefits, including enjoying a new culture, possibly learning a new language, developing more self-reliance and making new friends! If you're thinking of working overseas, the U.S. Department of State offers several reliable resources to help get you started, including information on teaching in a foreign land. Additionally, here is a brief introduction to five of the easiest countries to obtain a work visa for, along with practical information on how to apply.

The Land Down Under is one of the easiest countries to obtain a work visa for U.S. passport holders. Americans between the ages of 18 and 30 that are interested in working for up to a year may be able to apply online for a Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) that allows them to work for up to 12 months. In addition to the age group provision, other eligibility requirements include: access to sufficient funds (AUD $5,000), must meet health criteria and be of good character, must not be accompanied by dependent children and possess at least a high school degree or its equivalent. Because health care in Australia can be expensive, travel and health insurance is highly recommended. Other subclasses for online registrations are available with no age restrictions for shorter stays, e.g. three months or six months, and longer stays, for up to four years. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection advises interested individuals to be mindful of work visa scams and to be familiar with current scam warnings.

Related: Best Backpacking Trips To Take Through Australia

The Great Buddha of Kamakura (credit: Randy Yagi) The Great Buddha of Kamakura (credit: Randy Yagi)

The Land of the Rising Sun has long been one of the most popular destinations for Americans to work abroad. For stays less than 90 days, Americans are not required to obtain a visa, either as a tourist or for short-term business. Beyond 90 days, a U.S. citizen must apply for a work visa from their closest Japanese Consulate in the United States. For instance, New Yorkers must obtain information from the Consulate-General of Japan in New York while Northern Californians must obtain information from the Consulate General in San Francisco. In order to qualify for a Japanese work visa, only individuals with long-term resident status in the U.S. can apply. After this is confirmed, an applicant must obtain a Certificate of Eligibility form from the closest Consulate General location that's completed by the applicant's sponsor in Japan, such as employers, schools and relatives. After receipt of the Certificate of Eligibility, the applicant can then fill out a visa application form and include the required documents by following the guidelines before submittal to the closest Consulate General location.

New Zealand

New Zealand's Working Holiday program is similar to Australia's for Americans ages 18-30. Applications for the U.S. Working Holiday program can be made online and applicants must possess a valid Visa or MasterCard credit card for online fee processing. However, for Americans who wish to stay two years or longer, evidence of good character is required by way of a police certificate. For Americans interested in applying for a different type of work visa, several types of work visas are granted, such as a job offer from an employer based in New Zealand, as a tour guide or for individuals in a highly specialized field of work.

Reclining Buddha, Thailand (credit: Randy Yagi) Reclining Buddha, Thailand (credit: Randy Yagi)

The Kingdom of Thailand offers a number of temporary employment opportunities, including working for the hotel and travel industry or as an English teacher. Americans interested in working in the enchanting Land of Smiles must obtain both a Thai work permit and a Thai visa. In order to be eligible, an application must be filed on behalf of the worker from a company, foreign government or other organization. Once both are approved, the work permit is valid for one year. Non-immigrant work visas fall into two categories — Category M for film producers, journalists or reporters, or the more frequently used Category B, for applicants who wish to work in Thailand or work as a teacher. Among documents needed to file an application are a U.S. passport, two passport sized photographs and a letter from the company indicating work history or a letter from a company based in Thailand. Completed application forms can be send to the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington D.C.

Big Ben, London (credit: Randy Yagi) Big Ben, London (credit: Randy Yagi)
United Kingdom

The United Kingdom offers one of the most straightforward processes for Americans to obtain a work visa. Americans who wish to work in the U.K. for six months or less will need a temporary work visa for a number of occupational roles, such as a skilled worker or working in an employer's U.K. branch. Beyond a six-month stay, a Tier 2 or general visa is required for the majority of skilled worker occupations. As with Japan, a certificate of sponsorship is required in advance of working in the U.K. The application for a work visa can be made up to three months prior to arrival and a decision is typically made within three weeks. Tier 2 workers who have been approved are eligible to work in the U.K. for up to five years and 14 days, or the time authorized on the certificate of sponsorship plus one month, whichever is shorter.

Related: How To Save Money On Traveling - Taking Public Transportation

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on
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