Each country has its own distinct set of visa options determined by their immigration and residency rules, restrictions, and regulations. Below is a list of generic options that most countries make available for foreigners to become legal residents – as well as some general guidelines on how best to move forward to create your new (legal) life abroad:
Countries such as the Philippines allow you to become a resident if you can furnish proof of a valid marriage that is compliant with the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940. In short, your home country must have a marriage reciprocity agreement with the Philippines in order to obtain legal residency solely on the basis of your marriage.
Spain allows you to obtain residency through an ancestry visa if you have a parent or grandparent that was born there, and their situation complies with their specific guidelines. You will need to provide evidence through your relative’s birth certificates, passports, and in some cases proof of exile status.
Attending an international university is a great way to start a new life in another country. In most cases, you will need to be accepted by an international school prior to applying for a student visa.
Many countries such as India have an option to pursue residency through missionary visas to live and work in a country for religious purposes. These visas can take several months to process.
The US has options to allow family members of existing residents into the United States. In order to pursue this option, a family member (with specific types of relationships as outlined here) would have to already be a legal resident in the country.
Freelancer Visas / e-Residency and Working Online
For entrepreneurs, Estonia’s new e-Residency option enables you to open a business based in Estonia – however it does NOT allow for actual physical residency, which needs to be pursued separately.
The areas for online work in other countries are often gray as the workplace via the internet explodes faster than countries can keep up with the need to put policies in place to clearly define what is acceptable to them. In some cases, generating revenue in another country while you are there on a business or tourist visa is breaking the law, an offense for which you could be detained or deported. In other cases, working online while living in another country is normal practice, and even encouraged, since the country recognizes the value of the revenue stream that comes into the country via resident remote workers.
Understanding Your Visa Options
Know Your World advises that you pursue life and work in a new country in a legal way. While useful information and guidelines exist on a country’s immigration office website, many of the specified statues and statements are vague and widely open to interpretation – or are used differently in practice. While social media provides an excellent mechanism to see what others are doing, their advice is neither legally-binding nor specific to your own work/life and financial situation (as well as your timeframe needs).
If you are considering living and working abroad, it is most efficient and cost-effective to work with an immigration-focused company and/or attorney, tax professional, etc. that can help you understand the options available, and ensure that you pursue the right path to residency. Doing this will also help you avoid costly mistakes – for example, if you cannot obtain the proper residency in time, you may find yourself changing flights, relocation plans, or having to exit and re-enter the country on the correct status.
For more information on how we can help navigate your visa options and guide you in the right direction to living and working in the country of your choice, please click here to learn about our mentoring program, where you can leverage our network of professional contacts worldwide to help set up your new life abroad.
Tracey is the founder, visionary and leader of Know Your World and has lived and worked in various locations in the US, UK, Europe, Africa and Asia.
Tracey has held a long-standing, successful business management and IT consulting career, helping large and small global organizations deploy new technology solutions to transform their business. She is also an entrepreneur, coach in career change and international job/life transition.
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