How far would you relocate for work? This is the subject of the latest poll on the Career Development website at jobs.ac.uk. Having just cast my vote, I see that 40% of us are quite willing to relocate to anywhere in the world for the right job. Unfortunately, as happy as we may be to move, the process of actually relocating is, invariably, time-consuming and challenging. I had this point brought home to me recently when I applied for a Japanese work visa.
Teaching English abroad is a career choice that inherently requires relocating. Not long ago, I had to get a visa in order to come and live and teach in Japan. Obtaining a visa generally requires a sponsor, normally your employer, to apply for your visa in the destination country. In the world of TEFL, this is a fairly common occurrence and most schools are used to the experience of sponsoring a visa application. This makes the workload for you, the employee, minimal. In fact, my part in the application process was merely to provide some personal details (such as work experience and education) and a few photos. Job done. If you don’t have a sponsor it is, at least in Japan, a complicated procedure that may well fail. Although I had to wait some time for my visa to be processed (a nervous two months that tested my patience, I can tell you), it came through without a problem!
The task of relocating doesn’t end with the visa. Today I had to register at the local City Hall for an Alien Resident’s Registration Card. More forms in Japanese, more waiting in offices. For all that, you have to expect both monetary expense and endless bureaucracy when you move to a new country. It’s part of the whole experience, I suppose. Fortunately, my employer and my contacts in the city are very helpful people. If you are planning to move abroad, it’s invaluable to get some experience from other ex-pats in the area. Just check the local Irish Pubs for experienced foreigners who, generally, will be happy to share their advice and probably their story.
If you’ve experienced the whole visa application process let me know. Did it go smoothly? Was your employer helpful? Let us know!