An extended visa or residency is issued to grant international travelers entry into a country, and the ability to live (and sometimes) work there for an amount of time beyond the limits of a tourist visa.
Each country has different requirements. Your intended occupation, your country of origin, and your intended length of stay are all factors in acquiring an extended stay visa. This article is written from the perspective of a traveler with a US-issued passport applying to live in another country for a period of time.
While some visas are a bureaucratic nightmare to obtain, others are comparatively easier with some patience and attention to detail.
Get inspired to live abroad with these countries’ (relatively) painless visa requirements.
You can travel and work for a year post-graduation from college.
U.S. visitors to Ireland with a passport can stay in the country for under 90 days with no additional documentation.
Ireland offers a working holiday program for recent graduates and grants a stay of up to one year as well as working privileges. Applications are sent to the Irish Consulate in the U.S. for consideration. Carefully review the documentation you need by using the link above before applying to avoid delays in processing. If the New York Consulate does not accept applications from your home state, reference this map to find your appropriate location. This application will cost you around $337.
Upon entering the country, you must register with immigration for an Irish Residence Permit which costs $369. This must be done in the country after your arrival. Check here and follow the links for detailed instruction on the documentation you will need at the immigration office. Requirements are different based on the reason you are staying in Ireland for an extended period such as volunteering, working, religious services, or academics. This website gives a point by point idea of what to expect during your appointment at your regions immigration office.
Alternatively, travelers that do not meet the working holiday program requirements and wish to stay in Ireland for longer than three months can fill out a Long Stay Visa Request here. This visa applies if you are joining relatives in the country, studying, or hoping to live permanently in Ireland. Apply before making plans, as it will need to be approved before your travels.
Working in Ireland outside of the working holiday program is more difficult. Applicants are required to apply for an employee permit here which is valid for two years of employment. These are more difficult to obtain because they require the Irish employer to provide proof they have “made every effort to recruit an Irish or EEA national for the post”. You must have a job offer lined up prior to moving to Ireland for this application process that pays a minimum yearly salary of €30,000 (there are some exceptions to this rule). The fee for this permit is €1,000 and it is important to note some careers are not eligible for any sort of work permit. This website summarizes the basic requirements to see if you qualify and lists some available jobs in Ireland.
2. New Zealand
New Zealand has a visa that helps you work towards permanent residency.
A visitor visa to New Zealand typically lasts for a maximum stay of nine months. If you are considering living in New Zealand for an extended period of time this government-provided website is a good place to start. The immigration office will email you personalized information based on your goals.
If you want to work during your stay, you can apply for a temporary work visa. Check here to see if you qualify and to better understand the restrictions. There are several types of visas, but they are all similar in that the government of NZ is seeking employees that fill a skill shortage from this list in the country that is currently not being filled by NZ citizens.
The essential skills work visa can be valid for up to five years when the proper requirements have been met. There is also the long-term skills shortage visa which can grant you work permission for up to 30 months.
NZ also has a working holiday visa for young people ages 18-30 for up to twelve months. You can see if you qualify for a holiday visa here and begin your application.
None of these visas provide the traveler with a residency permit. If your longterm goal is to live permanently in NZ, you should apply for a talent work visa. After holding the job from your talent work visa for two years, you can apply to live in the country indefinitely as a resident if you meet qualifications.
3. Costa Rica
A tropical home for retirement living or remote work.
Visitors can stay in this country for up to 90 days without a visa. If you wish to live in Costa Rica, you need to have proof of income before relocating.
The pensioda program grants residency with an approved fixed retirement income of at least $1,000.
There is also the rentista program, where residents must prove long-term income from a remote business or can alternatively move $60,000 to a Costa Rican bank account to prove financial stability.
You can find extensive information on applying here, scroll to the bottom for instructions in English.
These visas do not give you permission to work as an employee in the country of Costa Rica. You can own a business as a resident in the country, but you must hire local labor as employees.
There are exceptions that allow a resident to work in the country in the form of a specialized skill work permit. You can read in detail the regulations for acquiring this type of visa on the Ministry of Labour website.
The government wants to see that your residency will be beneficial to the economy of Costa Rica, such as ownership of a business that provides jobs for Costa Rican citizens or having a stable monthly income to inject into the economy. You can gain residency for other reasons as well such as having a native spouse or working as a missionary.
For the application process, you will need passport photos, fingerprinting with the Ministry of Public Safety, a birth certificate with apostille, and several other forms of documentation. If you apply and pay the application fee while still in the U.S., the fee drops from 250 dollars to 50 dollars and is recommended by their government for an easier transition.
Unless you are a fluent Spanish speaker, this transition will be more difficult because most of the authorities you are interacting with will speak limited English. Hire an English translator or lawyer to smooth the process.
The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica can help you sort through all of the necessary documentation and paperwork required to acquire residency.
Live a high-rise lifestyle in a rapidly growing urban environment.
Singapore’s immigration website is refreshingly user-friendly for U.S. travelers. Travelers have several options for extending their stay in the country and all applications are completed online. There is a $100 application fee, and if you are accepted, additional fees ranging to $250. The site warns that application processing time may take six months are longer. You will have to be organized and plan ahead before you arrive in Singapore as a traditional visitor pass is a maximum 30-day stay.
There is the Long Term Visit Pass, which applies if you are a direct family member of a citizen, about to give birth in the country, or if you are a graduate from an approved higher learning institute seeking employment. The list includes various local universities as well as international institutes that have local campuses in Singapore. Most of these specifications probably do not apply to the majority of travelers.
Singapore also offers a student pass if a student is going to be studying in Singapore. A pass is required if your stay in the country will be longer than 30 days. You have to be enrolled in courses as a full-time student, so there is no loophole to take a course or two and obtain a pass.
Another avenue is the global investor program, which applies to business owners interested in spending large amounts of money in the country and moving their business to Singapore. The government is interested in businesses or people with a proven track record that are going to boost the economy of Singapore.
And finally, a person holding an employee pass permitting you to work in Singapore is eligible to apply to become a permanent resident.
Employee Passes are granted by the Ministry of Manpower. This website is also very easy to navigate and answers questions about eligibility and the application process. You must have a job offer lined up in a specialized field, your employer must apply for the pass on your behalf, your monthly salary must meet or exceed $3,600, and if you qualify, the pass lasts for two years and is then eligible for renewal. They also provide a handy self-assessment tool to gauge if you are eligible. The entire process will cost you about $220 and turnaround time is quicker, taking about three weeks.
Interestingly, your employer is not required to provide you with health insurance as a pass holder, so maybe do some separate research on the topic of health insurance in Singapore while you browse for your dream penthouse.
Road trip to your new home.
A move to Canada from the U.S. is the most logistically easy country from our current list due to proximity. Canada is similar to other countries in that it allows individuals to become residents for a variety of qualified reasons such as close relatives, employment, or starting a business. They provide a tool that calculates if you are eligible to apply.
One unique category is the self-employed person program. This program targets people that work in cultural activities, athletics, or farming. Yet at the time of writing, applications were not being accepted for farmers. If you are accepted into the program, you are eligible to become a permanent resident.
Interestingly, this process requires applicants as well as their family members to undergo a medical exam in the application phase. You may be turned away if you could be considered a threat to the nation’s health or if your medical care will cost the country a significant amount of resources and funding.
Another way to move to Canada permanently is the express entry program. The application process for this program sounds a bit like a game show, with applicants receiving points for various qualities, and the highest ranking point holders earning permanent visas. You can gain points for speaking French, having a sibling living in the country, and relevant work experience.
Another program offered that applies to humanitarian career fields is the caregiver’s program. After working in Canada for a period of two years as a nurse, nurse orderly, home support aid, or child caregiver, you become eligible to apply for permanent residency.
Once you are accepted as a permanent resident you will need to obtain a permanent resident card, a travel document, learn Canada’s taxation system, and other details. This page should help you with the info to get your new life started in Canada.
If you are more interested in a temporary stay in Canada, the country offers temporary work visas, you do not have to have a job lined up ahead of time, and the requirements are very relaxed compared to other countries on this list. However, according to their website you can “not plan to work for an employer, who on a regular basis, offers striptease, erotic dance, or escort services”, which seems very specific. Your employer must also not be listed on this banned list, which is maybe how the previous rule came about. These permits are usually valid for six months, you canextend your permit 30 days before it expires.
Studying in Canada involves acquiring a study permit. You can stay for the course of your program and 90 days after. You can apply for additional privileges such as work and travel. You are able to work part-time on campus if you are registered as a full-time student with no additional documentation needed. If you are studying for a period less than six months, you do not need to apply for a study permit.
6. Svalbard, Norway
The easiest thing about moving here is the immigration policies.
Svalbard is a chain of islands north of Norway with incredibly relaxed immigration laws. The main requirement for being accepted into Svalbard, besides a passport, is that you can show the governor that you are financially capable of housing and caring for yourself. In other words, if you can survive living there, you can stay.
Life on Svalbard is tough, really tough. The weather is dark and cold (into the negative twenties in the winter with 24 hours of darkness), polar bears stalk the fields, and jobs are highly competitive. Their largest town, Longyearbyen, has a population of just over 2,000 and there are no roads connecting it to the smaller towns. Housing is usually only provided by employers as most of the land is state-owned and not for private purchase.
This is only a move for the bravest explorer. So, if you have ever dreamed of riding your dog sled team across open tundra under the northern lights while discussing reindeer hunting with your neighbor in the Norwegian tongue, all you need to do is prove to the Svalbard governor you are financially stable and you are on your way!
Take your volunteer hours abroad and work for a non-profit in Spain.
A temporary residency in Spain can grant you anywhere from 90 days to under five years in the country, depending on your situation. The Ministry of the Interior handles immigration affairs in the country and their websites are entirely in Spanish. Using a Google Chrome browser, Google can roughly translate the information for you into English.
If you are interested in humanitarian efforts during your stay, you can apply for a non-profit temporary residence. You will be able to work with the organization you are applying for, however, you cannot receive any financial compensation and must be able to support yourself while living in Spain by other means. Applicants must also have health insurance and meet health code regulations. On arrival, a corresponding visa and foreigner identity card will need to be acquired from a local consulate. This initial residency can last up to a year and has the potential for renewal for another two years.
Working in Spain to support your relocation is also possible. To add a temporary work authorization to your temporary residency visa, you must meet the requirements of employment. The country is seeking teachers, scientists, researchers, media correspondents, artists, etc.
These websites seem to be more challenging than others to navigate and comprehend the rules and regulations. A native Spanish speaker may find them more user-friendly. You can find fees and further application instructions on this page. Fees are listed in the form of Euros. The Law Library of Congress has some articles and information in its archives that may also be of help.