Friday, January 29, 1999

Moving and Living in Europe?

I'm going through a divorce and I've always thought about living in another country. I've thought about Canada, but more about some of the European countries. In particular Italy, UK, Ireland, Greece, and Poland.

I'm an EMT here in the US but I imagine that I could not do the same in another country unless I went through some type of training there. Which would be a problem financially. I've heard that some countries require you to be a citizen of that country in order to get any type of medical certificate. So I imagine that's out of the question.

I only have a high school diploma, a class A commercial driver license (useless over there), and my EMT certifications (again, useless over there). I would like to go back to school and spend about a year to learn a trade that could help me land a job over seas. I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions and ideas about what to study and the best way of landing a job over seas?

I was thinking about studying to become a diesel mechanic. You can go anywhere in the world, from the richest country to the poorest, and you'll find diesel engines everywhere. From cars, trucks, marine engines, to water pumps, generators and many more applications. Would this be a good idea?

I would also like to hear about other trade ideas. Including trades that aren't so much male dominated trades. I was born a male but I'm a transsexual. My Sexual Identity is female but my Gender Role is somewhat androgynous or more what I call bigender (not bisexual). So I'm open not only to male dominated trades, but also to neutral and female dominated trades as well. Except for office work, I find that way too boring!

And like I said before, I would like suggestions how how to find the jobs and on moving. When it comes to moving, I don't mind packing my clothes and leaving everything else behind. My concern is how to move there and find employment. Oh and of course, and immigration wise, how can you stay there and work legally? Is that possible or do people stay there illegally?

Answer on Moving and Living in Europe?

Moving here isn't particularly easy especially with the current economic conditions. Your background as an EMT could potentially be useful since various aspects of healthcare constitute the most likely industry to find a job as a foreigner, but the lack of a degree and the local certification would be an issue. You might consider transitioning that into being a care provider for the sick/elderly - there seems to be some market for that in this area. You would obviously need to speak the local language.

You would first need a visa to live & work here legally. EU citizens have the right to live and work freely within the EU, others cannot automatically live and work here. The site for visas here in Italy is: http://www.esteri.it/visti/index_eng.asp . The site has links to the application, the additional information you need to supply in order to get the visa and where to apply. It also includes education visas which are somewhat easier to get than work visas. However, you cannot work on an education visa other than on a very limited part time basis. You would need to be accepted by a school here and demonstrate that you have the funds to support yourself while you're here and a place to stay. One advantage of coming for school if you can swing it economically, is that you may be able to make contacts while you're here that might improve your job prospects when the economy has improved.

European regulations require that a company has to be able to demonstrate that there is not a viable European candidate for the job before they can get a work permit for a foreign worker. As a result, jobs for foreigners including Canadian or US citizens are pretty much restricted to people with special education, knowledge, or experience ... and you would have to be able to speak the local language. When I got my visa for Italy, the process took about 8 months even though it was a transfer of a job I already had in the US.

With the economy now, jobs are scarce - a lot of companies have a hiring freeze in place. The unemployment rate in Spain is around 20% for example and almost 50% in the 16 to 24 year old age group. It's not quite so bad here in Italy, but still behind some other places in terms of recovery. Many of the recent university graduates I know here are either unemployed or working jobs like cashier at groceries. Consequently, companies are not looking for an influx of foreign workers right now.

It's useful to check the expat sites for information about living and working in the places you might be interested in. You can find sites by searching for "expat" and the name of the country. For Italy - http://www.expatsinitaly.com/

As an expat, you would still need to file US tax returns as well as Italian returns. There are people living here illegally; however, there has been a crackdown on this and employers don't need illegal workers with the current unemployment rate and political climate. You also would not be able to get into the healthcare system.