By: Nick Callos
Is working abroad a thing of the past?
The answer is no!
For instance, Dubai’s population declined by 8% in 2020, as economic upheaval caused many foreign workers to lose their jobs (and therefore their visas). In Singapore, the foreign population dropped 2% in the first six months of the pandemic. In the second half of 2020, the United States, hit especially hard by COVID-19, witnessed a 90% drop in new immigration.
It’s true, movement across the world has slowed down considerably. But that doesn’t mean the days of working abroad are over. Even though the Coronavirus continues to impact daily life around the world, we see a way forward—especially as vaccines get distributed and medical treatments improve.
In this guide on working abroad after the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ll show you how to find the best employment opportunities overseas.
Option 1: Follow the Digital Nomad Visa Boom
Do you have a steady income as a freelancer or remote employee?
We have some good news: You can live and work abroad under a digital nomad visa scheme. More governments are offering digital nomad visas as a way to attract talent to live, work, and spend money in their country.
As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to remote working. Even as of May 2021, nearly 70% of office workers were still working from home (Gallup survey).
Through a digital nomad visa program, freelancers and location-independent workers can live and work in a country anywhere from six months to two years. When applying, read over the visa program’s guidelines and rules. Along with a complete application, requirements often include:
- Proof of employment and income
- Proof of health and travel insurance
- Proof of financial resources (like bank statements)
- Paying visa fees and taxes
- Passing a background check
- Doing a COVID-19 test and quarantine and/or showing proof of vaccination
Since early 2020, we’ve seen dozens of countries join the digital nomad visa boom. Some popular choices include:
- Spain: They have a self-employment visa that offers long-term stays for non-EU residents. Soak up the history, culture, and beauty of Spain! Here’s the application.
- Bermuda: They have a digital nomad visa for foreign freelancers and remote workers. Lay low on a beautiful island! Begin your application on their government website.
- Croatia: They offer a digital nomad temporary stay visa for up to 12 months. Enjoy a Mediterranean getaway like no other! You can fill out the application here.
Other destinations offering digital nomad visas or similar visa programs include Germany, Thailand, Iceland, Mexico, and others. Simply put, you have options across the world.
For a complete list, check out our digital nomad visa guide. There, you’ll find the most updated information.
Option 2: Working Holiday Visa Schemes
Depending on where you’re from, where you hope to go, and what you want to do, a working holiday visa (WHV) program may be your best option for working abroad. WHV schemes combine work with vacationing, allowing you to make money as you travel and experience life abroad.
Quite common in places like Australia, Canada, and Ireland, working holiday schemes are formed by agreements between two countries. This agreement simplifies and streamlines temporary work visa applications for citizens of both countries. Before applying, check if your country has an agreement with the country you hope to visit.
For example, New Zealand’s working holiday visa program is one of the world’s most popular. You can travel and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months (23 months if you’re from Canada or the UK). Folks from across the globe can apply, whether you’re from Chile, the United States, France, or Japan. See the list below.
Working holiday visa programs have strict rules about the type of work you can do and how long you can stay, as well as age and education requirements. Other standard guidelines include:
- Education: Most countries require you to have a college degree or be a graduate student to qualify for their working holiday abroad visa.
- Age: 18—30 or 18—35 years old seems to be the typical age range restriction.
- Job category: This varies by country. The most common WHV jobs are in hospitality, agriculture, au pair, skilled labor (like construction), and even professional work like marketing. Some countries have employment restrictions too, so please be aware of that. For example, South Korea’s working holiday program restricts employment in a range of job categories, from dance and music to journalism and religion.
- Time period: Most programs allow for stays of up to six or 12 months. Some countries offer longer stays.
- Language skills: You probably need a certain level of English fluency. Some countries require at least basic proficiency in the local language.
- Health requirements: Most countries are requiring COVID-19 vaccination or at least testing and quarantine before entering the country.
As long as you meet the qualifications, working abroad through WHV programs should be a quick, easy way to get started on life overseas after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Option 3: Traditional Teaching and Company Jobs
Since so many expats returned home during the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries have been left in need of foreign talent across all sorts of industries. No matter what your specialty is, you can find work abroad in your field—as long as you’re a bit flexible.
For instance, teaching English abroad has long been one of the most popular employment choices for expats. If you work in education, it shouldn’t be difficult to find employment abroad. Here are a few examples of what you could do:
- Apply to the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET): Managed by the Japanese government, this teaching program has placed more than 70,000 teachers in positions in Japan, including 35,800 Americans.
- Apply to a job through English First: As one of the largest international education companies, English First can get you teaching work abroad in locations like China, Russia, and Indonesia.
- Search job boards and apply to a position yourself: Just make sure to research thoroughly! Some reputable job boards include Bridge TEFL Jobs and ESL Cafe.
For those with education, experience, and expertise in other industries, you have many options to find work abroad as well. Here’s a good strategy:
- Start searching on LinkedIn: 80% of jobs are filled through personal and professional connections, according to research. See if you can leverage your network to find work abroad. LinkedIn has job postings all over the world, and you can see who in your network is connected to that job or company in the posting.
- Search job boards like Indeed and Monster: You can easily change locations on these sites to find opportunities in certain locations. Even better, you can upload your resume and apply quickly to many jobs.
- Search country-specific job sites: Each country has certain apps and sites they like. Find out what they are and search there. Recruiters and HR departments will be more active on such sites. For instance, JobsDB is great for searching for work abroad across Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Careers24 is the site to find a job in South Africa. And SEEK is one of Australia’s top job marketplaces.
Whether you work in software engineering, digital marketing, finance, or hospitality and tourism, you should be able to find work abroad in your field. The key is to be a bit flexible, leverage the power of your network, and utilize all available resources, including recruiters and headhunting agencies.
The Future of Working Abroad
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a decline in working abroad, but opportunities have begun to reemerge. A quick search for jobs abroad will tell you that.
To find your dream opportunity, you just have to plan ahead, stay flexible, and look in the right places. Also, keep updated on the latest travel guidelines (as the pandemic isn’t over).
Going forward, more opportunities will emerge, and finding work abroad opportunities will get even easier. So, this is a time for travelers to rejoice! The future of working abroad looks bright.
Planning to work abroad? Join our community and start the conversation.
About the Author
Nick Callos has always had a passion for reading, writing, and discovering the new and unknown. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Nick holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Boston College. He currently splits his time between his hometown, Chengdu, China, and the open road. A full-time travel writer, Nick hopes his work can inspire others to explore the world more deeply and enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle.