Moving abroad can be intimidating. It feels like you have to start over in another country, learn the culture, learn the language, and many more. This process can be easy, as long as you prepare in advance. Remember, you’re not alone in this process; a lot of people have probably experienced this so take time to read, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.
You can move abroad in different ways. But, I’m going to focus on moving abroad for work since that’s how I moved to Sweden. This varies on which country you want to move, but some of the steps in this guide are specific to moving to Sweden.
Moving Abroad: Step-by-step Guide
- Moving Abroad: Step-by-step Guide
- 1. Secure a job first before you move
- 2. Renew your passport
- 3. Apply for a Visa
- 4. Prepare your Exit Clearance – Philippines
- 5. Contact your bank
- 6. Find an accommodation
- 7. Register as a resident
- 8. Open a bank account
- 9. Get a life/health insurance
- 10. Join the Union and Social insurance agency
- 11. Learn the language
Before I move, I watch videos on YouTube about people moving to another country. I read a lot of blogs about their experiences and tips. I also read a bunch about Sweden, so I know what to expect – and avoid culture shock. Also, I know for a fact that the Philippines and Sweden are different from each other.
The 4 seasons scared me a bit because I have no idea how to prepare and deal with it. But, eventually, I got accustomed to the weather, and I love how cold it is now. I’m not sure if I’m going to say the same thing about winter, though!
The hiring process took me two months, and the overall process from applying for the visa to moving to another country could take two months if everything goes well. It was fast, right? But, don’t relax yet because there are too many variables that could change the estimated time. I hope that this guide could help you prepare better.
1. Secure a job first before you move
You need to find a way on how to support yourself in another country. I may have made it look easy to look for a job in Sweden, but it’s not. I guess I only got lucky when I found a job here.
With the technology, interview over Skype or any communication tool is possible. That’s why it’s also possible to get a job or start with the hiring process without going to that country. It took me only two months before I got an offer.
This varies on companies, but usually, the first step in the hiring process is an examination.
As a Test Automation Engineer, I had to create my own project and testing framework without using JUnit, TestNG and such. I was given 1 week to do the task.
- Several interviews over Skype
I had my first interview with the hiring manager. This is not a technical interview yet, but it’s more like an interview about my work experiences. After passing the first interview, I had my next interview with my teammates. It’s a combination of technical interview and your ways of work. It’s a significant interview since this helps them know if you’re okay to work with or not. Lastly, interview with the HR where the HR assesses you and sees if you are fit to the company’s core values.
The HR discussed the benefits in the company, relocation process, and also asked about my expected salary. Then, I got invited to the onsite interview! Gaaaah! I couldn’t contain my happiness at that time. I literally cried after my interview.
- Onsite Interview
If you are done with everything, then you’ll be invited for the onsite interview. This is the most exciting and best part of the hiring process because it’s the final step in reaching your dream to work abroad! It’s good to have an onsite interview because you’ll get a feel of what it’s like in Stockholm during your stay before you really move for good.
It’s the reason why I went to Sweden last year. Of course, it’s still important to talk and meet in person not only over the internet. It took me almost half a day at the office.
Face-to-face interview with the manager
Discussion about the relocation process
I got excited when the HR discusses the relocation process and explained to me the cost of living in Stockholm.
Tour of the office + meet your teammates
I met my teammates too, and they toured me to the office. My teammate also showed me the scripts and gave me an overview of what he is currently doing at that time. It still didn’t end there! I had lunch with them too and we talked about anything under the sun.
I still didn’t get an offer, though! So, at the end of the day, I got anxious because I don’t know if I will be accepted to the job or not. Good thing I got an email soon and my manager scheduled a meeting a few days after (I already got back to the Philippines then) for the job offer. ❤️❤️
After getting a job, and signing the contract, the next step is the visa application!
- Use a one-page resume (it’s preferable).
- Update your CV according to the CV style in the country you’re applying to.
- Avoid applying in summer or during the Christmas season. Work is slow during that time, and people are usually on vacation.
- Research on the working style in that country.
- Respond to emails as fast as you can.
- Learn more about life in that country.
- Prepare to answer the question: Why do you want to move to ______?
2. Renew your passport
If your passport expires in a year, you should renew your passport first before applying for a visa. The validity of your visa is up to two years, but it can never go beyond your passport’s validity.
3. Apply for a Visa
If your employer can help you with the relocation, then you don’t have to worry about visa application. Your employer can hire a third party that processes your visa application and relocation itself.
Regardless if you have someone to help you with the visa application, still try to research too so you’ll get an idea of the entire process. I’m lucky that the process in Sweden is easy and straightforward.
Here are the steps on how to apply for a work permit in Sweden:
- You must have an offer of employment.
- Your employer initiates the application.
- Enclose your documents:
- Power of Attorney to represent you
- Filled-out application form (this is 4 pages only, and it only contains information about yourself and previous employment)
- If your family/spouse/partner is applying with you, you need to provide more documents
- Pay and submit your application
- Biometrics for residence permit card*
- Receive your decision
Residence Permit card
If you are granted a work permit of more than 3 months, then you will receive a residence permit card. This will serve as your visa to Sweden (and in Schengen area). The process is different if you are from an EU country. I’m going to elaborate only on the process for non-EU.
If you don’t need a visa, you can apply for a residence permit card upon arrival. You only need to show the copy of the decision to the immigration upon arrival. Then, you can book an appointment for your biometrics.
NOTE: Book as early as you can because it’s difficult to find a slot especially in Stockholm.
If you need a visa, you need to have a residence permit card first before traveling to Sweden. This usually takes up to 4 weeks before you get your residence permit card.
- Contact the embassy in your country, and confirm if you could have your photograph and fingerprints taken. If not, then they’ll suggest you contact another embassy. For Filipinos, our photograph and fingerprints can be taken in the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.
- There’s no need to book an appointment; you can go to the embassy as soon as possible.
- Wait for up to 4 weeks; they will send you an email if your residence permit card is ready for pickup.
- Previously, it can be delivered to the Swedish Embassy in Manila. But, unfortunately, they changed the process, and you need to go back to Bangkok again to pick up your residence permit card.
If you already have this, then you’re good to go! But, wait! If you are a Filipino, and you’re leaving from the Philippines, you need to do more for the exit clearance.
NOTE: I’m not sure if you can have your biometrics taken while waiting for the decision. I’ll update this post once I got the confirmation.
4. Prepare your Exit Clearance – Philippines
NOTE: I will instead make a separate post about the process of getting an exit clearance (OEC) from POEA.
It depends on where you are from, but if you are a Filipino and you’re leaving the country on a work permit, then you need to secure an OEC. The OEC or Overseas Employment Certificate serves as your exit clearance in the immigration. This ensures that you are properly documented and protected in case something happens to you at your host country.
And, of course, POEA is so proud of this, you will be exempted from paying the travel tax and the airport terminal fee.
5. Contact your bank
To be able to use your debit or credit cards abroad, give notice to the bank and inform them about your move. It’s better to keep your account open too. I still have some bills to pay back home, and that’s where I transfer my money from Sweden as well.
6. Find an accommodation
Most companies provide free accommodation for a month until you find a place to stay. Don’t make the same mistakes I did; grab that free accommodation and do not sign any contract unless you are 100% sure of your arrival.
It’s difficult to get an apartment in Stockholm. You don’t need to live in the city center because almost every place is accessible by metro, commuter train or bus.
7. Register as a resident
Before anything else, register as a resident. The steps on how to register as a resident depends on the country. In Sweden, the Skatteverket or Swedish Tax Agency is responsible for national tax collection and administering the population registration.
You need to prepare some documents:
- Residence permit card
- Employment contract
- Filled-out questionnaire
Once your application is approved, you will get your personnummer or personal identity number.
In Sweden, they only accept passport, Swedish driver’s license and Swedish ID card as valid ID. In some cases, only the Swedish ID card is allowed. Once you received your personnummer, you can now apply for a Swedish ID that costs 400 SEK.
Your Swedish ID card contains electronic-ID for internet transactions. If you think you can unlock everything in Sweden with just by having a personnummer, think again. 😜
8. Open a bank account
Once you have a personnummer and Swedish ID, you can now open a bank account without any problems. Aside from that, you can also apply for credit card. More importantly, you can have a BankID and Mobile BankID. Since I don’t have a BankID and Mobile BankID yet, all I know (and based on what I encountered) is you use BankID to login to almost every site in Sweden especially when making transactions.
In case you don’t have your personnummer or Swedish ID yet, you can still open a bank account. This is what I did when I first arrived here. I visited the bank and explained that I need to open a bank account so I could receive my salary. I only provided my passport, residence permit card and employment contract, then I got a bank account for payroll.
Read more about it here.
9. Get a life/health insurance
Aside from getting yourself insured during your stay in your country, insurance is also one of the requirements of the migration agency once you apply for an extension of your work permit. If you got a job in Sweden, you don’t have to think about this because your employer will provide that for you.
10. Join the Union and Social insurance agency
I haven’t submitted my application for the social insurance agency. 😜
You might find this unnecessary, but it’s better to have more. Being part of the union gives you more security with your job. One of the benefits of the union is income insurance where you can get up to 80% of your income when you become unemployed. The union has a monthly fee of around 200+ SEK, while the social insurance agency is free. You can apply for both.
11. Learn the language
Lastly, learn the language and act like a local. Although most people in Sweden can speak in English, it’s still easier to socialize with other people when you know how to speak their language.
I still have a long way to go! As people always say, it takes two years to finally settle in another country! At first, I thought that it was too long, but I was wrong. I feel like I could only settle properly if I could speak Swedish already, and if I survived winter for the first time.
I hope this post gives you an idea of how to move abroad. To my fellow Filipinos, I will also create a step-by-step guide on how to get the exit clearance. Just hang in there. 😄