We’ve got a new guest post near and dear to my heart! It’s been a while since post-grad travel has been covered on this blog. Today, Sara from College Apps Abroad is sharing 7 ways to move overseas as a recent grad.
As someone who studied abroad in college and continued traveling post-grad, I know just how powerful it is to see the world before you “settle down.” Heck, as someone who works full-time online, I still do a lot of traveling while I work. At least, I did in a pre-COVID word.
I think a lot of people wonder how to travel legally after college, and it’s definitely a tricky topic. There are visas, laws, and confusing immigration rules galore, so Sara has everything you need to know about how to move overseas as a recent grad.
If you’re like me and you started thinking about moving abroad just minutes after your college graduation, there’s good news—you’ve got a few different options to make that dream a reality.
They’re not all easy, and they do come at a cost.
But would you rather be pinning photos of empanadas to your Argentina dream board or actually taking in the flavors while strolling through the Recoleta neighborhood in Buenos Aires itself?
I know what I’d choose, and it has nothing to do with sitting behind a computer screen.
And it has everything to do with having one of those warm, flaky pastries in one hand and a nice Malbec in the other.
There’s simply no better way to gain your independence, change your perspective, challenge yourself, enhance your resume, and embark on an adventure than by leaving the comfort of your own borders.
Sure, COVID makes things a little tricky, but travel restrictions are starting to lift. The least you can do during lockdown is to plan your first move post-lockdown.
You don’t have to go far; you don’t even have to leave your native tongue. But you do have to go somewhere, at least for a few months, and here’s how to move overseas as a recent grad.
1. Employer-Sponsored Work Visa
This is probably the hardest way; competition for jobs abroad is fierce when you’re competing against talent in the local, national, and international pool.
But if you did get a job offer, you’d receive an employer-sponsored visa, and although you’d be tied to that company for a certain period of time, it’s no secret that many jobs overseas pay better than in the U.S.
Even more attractive are the benefits overseas.
This thing about only one to two weeks of paid vacation a year, as well as health insurance tied to your employer? It simply does not exist in other countries, and for good riddance.
Just think of what you could do with four weeks of paid leave…
2. Teaching English Abroad
On the other hand, if you’re no longer interested in working in the field in which you graduated, as was the case for me with sports journalism—or maybe you aren’t yet competitive enough in your field—all hope is not lost.
The only qualification you need to be an English teacher overseas (besides a bachelor’s degree) is to be a native English speaker.
If you check that box, language schools worldwide will snatch you up in a heartbeat, taking care of all the necessary details to legally work, live, and teach English overseas.
And don’t worry; they’ll train you on the teaching part, too.
3. Skilled Worker Visa
Many countries with populations the size of some U.S. cities alone have various skill shortages for which they’re willing to offer visas.
The lists are constantly evolving, and just because a particular profession is on the list one year doesn’t mean it will be there the next.
In fact, years ago, marketing was on the skilled worker list in Australia—but not anymore sadly. If you have a skill, who knows? It might be in demand!
4. Paid Immigration Schemes
Unless you’re the founder of a successful start-up or happened to make it big on TikTok, this is probably not the most viable option for you.
But the number of people trading large donations or investments in property for foreign residency has skyrocketed during the pandemic, with New Zealand, Australia, and Portugal being top of the list.
For example, Portugal’s “Golden Visa” program grants residency to people who invest €350,000 (about $420,000) in property there.
Buy a house? Get a visa. Easy…
5. Partner Visa
Ever watched 90 Day Fiance or its spinoff, 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way?
I highly recommend, not just if you want to move overseas.
Not only does it give you a glimpse into the intricacies related to the cost and bureaucracy involved in a partner visa, it also highlights the many problems international couples may face on the daily.
This type of visa is easier said than done though; to qualify, you would need to be in a relationship with a foreign national—and someone willing to sponsor you.
We’re talking about shared bank accounts, affidavits from witnesses, evidence of the relationship, photos, letters, etc.
It’s quite invasive.
But if that hasn’t scared you off, you’ll be happy to know there are tons of international dating sites and even more couples meeting on Instagram.
My recommendation, however, is to please ensure you meet in person before going to the expense, and definitely do not send anyone money.
Sam’s note: As someone who has personally worked with immigration attorneys and spent endless hours of my life reviewing this for my own partner, let me tell you it is no walk in the park!
6. Student Visa
Perhaps the most viable option for a recent college grad to start a life abroad is by enrolling in a graduate program (or postgraduate as it’s known elsewhere).
In many cases, you can save time and money, as most master’s degrees abroad can be completed in just one year.
Applying and getting in? Well, most programs don’t require an essay or the GRE.
Not having to do the GRE alone was enough for me; I completed my Master of Education in Australia in just two semesters.
This was incredibly useful since it appears master’s degrees have become the new bachelor’s; the new entry criteria into the job market.
Many people also don’t realize you can use U.S. Federal Financial Aid at more than 200 universities worldwide, and there are certainly way more scholarships available at this level than for undergraduates. It could be more affordable than you think to move overseas.
You may not even have to pay any tuition at all in certain countries.
But one of the key benefits of enrolling in a full-time degree overseas is the post-study work visa you can get upon completion, granting you unrestricted work rights and access to that country’s job market for one to three years.
It’s important to be aware that each country has different schemes with different rules; for example, in Australia you have to complete at least a 2-year program, while in Ireland, a 1-year program is sufficient.
Either way, if you’re going down this route, you’d have a higher chance of being successful with one of the other above options later—such as employer-sponsored or even the partner visa—since you’d have plenty of time to network and get work experience (or date).
7. Nomadic Tourist
If all else fails and you just can’t imagine going back to “uni life” so soon and you weren’t able to snag an international gig, there’s one last option to move overseas.
Why not rent an AirBNB or stay in a hostel and spend up to three months at a time getting to know a particular country of interest and its people on a tourist visa?
Follow the wind; see whom you meet and where they take you.
Maybe even blog about it, too.
Because no matter which path you choose, moving overseas as a recent grad is one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences, and if nothing else, it will no doubt lead you to your next destination.
Just make sure you do it legally.
Sara Cavalieri is the Founder of College Apps Abroad, an educational consultancy that specializes in helping students apply for grad school overseas. She herself used three of the above tactics to live abroad and has more than 10 years of experience working in international admissions and recruitment for some of the world’s top universities, including The University of Edinburgh in the UK and the University of New South Wales in Australia. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.