Guide to working abroad

A comprehensive guide to working abroad including information on where to go, who to work for, work permits and the ins and outs of visas. Working abroad after graduation can have many advantages, from casual work to pursuing your career, you’ll get a tonne of both personal and professional skills and oozes of life experiences and memories!

Whilst working abroad isn’t for everyone, we’re going to give you as much information as possible to be able to work out if it’s something you’d enjoy. It can really boost your employability, whilst developing your skills and experiencing different cultures.

If you know you want to work abroad - but you’re not sure yet what you want to be doing, try thinking about some of these questions:

  • Why do you want to work abroad?

  • What do you want to achieve from the experience?

  • Where would you like to go?

  • What do you want to do?

  • How long do you want to be abroad for?

  • Will you benefit personally and/or professionally?

Employers can be particularly impressed by the initiative you would have shown by getting a job overseas, as well as your motivation to follow it through and make it a success. Communicating and working as part of a team with people from a range of cultural backgrounds is a really invaluable skill in the workplace.


Where are the best employment prospects of UK graduates?

It’s always worth checking the for the most relevant updates on for the most recent information on specific countries and living abroad (especially depending on Brexit negotiations!).

BUT - broadly speaking, EU nationals have the right in work in any other EU member state (incl. Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland) without the requirement of a work permit. However, unemployment can be higher in some of these countries, so it could be difficult to find employment there.It’s worth keeping in mind that immigration to Commonwealth countries is starting to become more difficult. Remember that they have large numbers of their own graduates coming through their systems as well!

Another potential barrier to overseas employment is that, employers are often only keen to recruit British graduates if they can’t satisfy their recruitment needs from hiring their own national. This is also the case the other way around - with it being difficult for non-EU nationals to be employed in the UK if British people can do the job at hand.

Applying for immigrant visas can be a really lengthy process. They are  usually only issued when you apply from your home country, if offered permanent employment you will more than likely have to return home to gain your visa. This can take up to 12 months.

It is good to know that, the US only issue work visas to individuals with definite jobs to go to, and the process for applying for a visa has to be instigated by the employer. Whereas, countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Japan can offer working holiday visas so you can work and travel for up to a year.

Always make sure you apply for any required visas in plenty of time as it can be a long and complicated process.

Options for UK students to work overseas

Voluntary work - with an endless list of credible organisations that run overseas projects, often in the developing world, working with local communities. These projects aim to tackle things that we often take for granted such as health, social care, education and conservation. Not only can opportunities as these be hugely rewarding on a personal level, but they can also be really great for your employability. Projects usually run for anywhere between 2 weeks to 12 months from countries like  India, Namibia, and Thailand to Fiji and China. There really is so much choice.

Teaching - TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teachers are sought-after and employed in language schools, state schools, and education organisations as well as large companies around the world! Once you have the TEFL qualification you can go around the world to teach english as a foreign language in destinations such as China and Vietnam. International schools are always in need of qualified teachers as well. So if working abroad is something you are interested in and teaching could be up your street, it’s definitely worth exploring your options.

Finance - being such a global industry with such major financial centres located around the world, is well renowned for offering opportunities to work abroad. That being said there is a noticeable decrease in numbers of visas available and it's becoming commonplace for banks to demand their graduates to have knowledge of the region they are working in. So it can be difficult to get your first graduate job overseas. However, once you’re established in your career, it will become easier!


Visas and work permits

Whilst UK and EU citizens do not need a work permit or visa to work legally in any other EU country ; for many other countries they are mandatory and can be difficult to obtain. It’s pretty standard to need a job offer before you can get the correct visa.

It can be quite common for countries to require your passport to be valid for a minimum period after the date you enter the country, so make sure you check this with plenty of time in case you need to get a new one!


Health, insurance and accomodation

Make sure that if you’re a UK citizen you have a valid EHIC card if working abroad within Europe, and within the European Economic Area. This will entitle you to free or reduced-cost medical treatment.

If you are working outside of the EEA, it it is usually the case that you will have to pay for medical treatment. It’s recommended to get health insurance or at least look in to healthcare costs.

If it is down to you to arrange your accommodation, can be a really handy tool, with housing in over 300 cities around the world. Additionally, when viewing properties it can be really handy if you have someone there who speaks the same language (if you don’t!). Don’t sign anything if you don’t understand it and be cautious about handing over money in advance. Try to speak to previous tenants if you are unsure.