Worldwide Work Visa Journey Experiences Shared By Travel Bloggers

This is part 2 of my mini series of worldwide visa journey experiences shared by travel bloggers!  This post focuses on work visas which are employment based, rather than permanent resident visas which the majority of the time are granted to those married to a foreign national.  When it comes to work visas, there are typically 2 categories.  Work visas for those that are looking to emigrate for a more long term basis and temporary working holiday visas (such as the USA J-1 visa which allowed me to work for 3 months on an American summer camp and then travel for a little while afterward).

Worldwide Work Visa Journey Experiences

Quick Links

Australia to China (Z Visa Work Visa)

South Africa to South Korea (E2 Work Visa)

Spain to Singapore (Employment Pass Work Visa)

Germany to Maldives (Work Visa)

UK to Canada (Canadian Working Holiday Visa)

Canada to UK (Tier 4 Student Visa) *Bonus*

Australia to China

Visa Type: Z Visa Work Visa

Erin – Down Bubble

We are expat professional teachers from Australia who now live and work in China. Our experience of applying for the Z Visa (skilled professionals work visa) is that it was a lengthy, expensive, bureaucratic, and often tedious process, and that being lengthy, the Chinese government even had time to change their regulations twice which made some of our notarized documents invalid thence needing certification instead… Our top tip would be to get around 12 passport photos, you need one for your medical and you need them once you arrive too.

One more thing to know is that once in China you will need to apply for an Expert Card and visa renewals, all of which will require your passport to be sent off for a couple of weeks about every six months, so plan carefully or you will be grounded (unable to fly out of or within, or even get the train around China internally!). The good news? It’s a less intensive process for an accompanying spouse of a Z visa applicant: medical and photos are all that’s required of you!

South Africa to South Korea

Visa Type: E2 Work Visa

Callan – Singapore n Beyond

A few years back I chose to teach English in South Korea, so that I could pay for my second degree, which I did through correspondence. Korea allows participants from several countries to enter as a teacher on an E2 visa. Passport holders from the following countries (with a degree) are allowed to work on an E2, as long as they are employed by a legit educational institute: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the United States. As I am a South African, I qualified.

The Korean side of things is a pretty simple process. Go on various thread boards and choose a job. While a simple process of selection, where you choose to stay will highly impact your experience. I chose a place called Bundang, just South of Seoul. It is a great choice for first timers as it is a fairly new town that is just outside central Seoul’s pollution and is filled with nature. I have heard horror stories of people being placed on a small island as the employer lied about the destination. So please double check.

You will need to send in your resume, any educational certification, police clearance from your country and hold a Skype interview with the potential employer. Once accepted, you send in your passport with a photo and all documentation of employment to the Korean embassy in your country. Korean culture is very fast and efficient. The processes are also very cut and dry, so there is no maybe. If you are given a date, you will receive your item on that date.

Seoul Photo Credit Callan from Once In A Lifetime
Photo Credit: Callan from Singaporean Beyond

The difficult part was on the South African side. The government is notoriously slow and painful. An example is when my Korean wife applied for her South African spousal visa, it took a year and loads of lawyer fees only to be rejected for no reason (they said we didn’t submit a form which we did). Luckily I was able to contact the head of the visa department and persuade her to change her mind. But that is a whole other story of visa nightmares. Back to the Korean visa, the item I had to wait for the longest was the police clearance, which took 2 months and a lot of correspondence and pushing. That was several years ago. If you need it faster, you can email the SAPS police clearance department and ask for expedited services stating your reason. My wife applied for hers in January 2018 and got it in 5 days. So it seems that things have improved.

My advice for anyone going to Korea on an E2 to teach English is to make 100% what forms you need. Don’t only trust your potential employer, they may be new to the situation and not have updated information. Ask the South Korean embassy in your country and visit updated forums to be sure. If you are missing a form, you will be rejected.

Bonus tip: Passport holders of some countries are allowed to enter South Korea without a visa (non-working holiday) for a period of between 30 to 90 days. You are allowed to apply to extend your stay without a visa, BUT you cannot do it in the country. Even if you are married to a South Korean. You have to apply outside the country for this extension through the South Korean embassy. I found out the hard way and had to skip over to Taiwan so that I could enter for another 30 days. Not a bad place to skip over to though. Some people even visit Korea with no visa, find a job and then hop over to Japan to apply for a visa. Yet I would not recommend this unless you have researched it thoroughly and have spoken to someone who has done this before.

Spain to Singapore

Visa Type: Employment Pass Work Visa

Mar – Once In A Lifetime Journey

In Singapore, there are two main work visas and the difference lies in the salary and the the types of work. If you earn more than a changing amount around S$5,000, you are eligible for an Employment Pass. If not, you can apply for a Work Pass.

Employment Passes are approved by the Ministry of Manpower based on the qualifications, experience, salary and type of work that the employee will be doing. To apply, you only need to provide your education certificates, translated into English, your CV and a form filling your professional details.

The company will have to have a good standing to apply for the work visa.

Singapore being one of the best places to do business, the entire process is very efficient and can be done online directly by the employer. Many people will hire agencies to ensure they have a higher success rate. As there tend to be ratios of locals and foreigners per company, applications can be rejected in which case the Ministry can request further documentation including client contracts, annual reports, further references from the employee, etc. The first response from the Ministry usually takes two to three weeks by which time you will know if further documentation is required.

Once a visa is approved, the employee gets an In Principle Approval letter which they can use to enter into the country. Once inside, they will go to an appointment with Immigration office to give a photo and fingerprints and get the Employment Pass.

Singapore is an expensive city to live in so most people would not have a comfortable life below the minimum salary requirement for an Employment Pass therefore just make sure that you are offered at least that before applying which should not be an issue as companies would not usually try to hire foreigners for less than that.

Germany to Maldives

Visa Type: Work Visa

Vicki –


In 2016, I decided to do the obligated internship for my university major in Tourism Management in the Republic of Maldives. I mean, how else would I ever get the chance to spend 3 months in this amazing country, right? With my German passport, for my working visa basically, all I needed was an invitation letter from my work saying where I will be working and what my tasks will be. In the end, I received my letter just around 10 days before departure. I had to push them a little by sending a lot of emails reminding them to send me the letter. The only problem was: The letter was written in their script and I couldn’t understand a single thing. I just had to trust that everything was correct. After showing this letter, I got a temporary working-visa in order to enter the country and start to work the next day. After some days, I had to do a medical check-up which was needed to apply for my visa. After the medical tests had shown that I didn’t have any contagious diseases, I finally got my working-visa.

UK to Canada

Visa Type: Canadian Working Holiday Visa

Shannon – Sole Seeking

A British citizen currently living in Canada, I applied for the Working Holiday visa which is part of the International Experience Canada program. This permit lasts 1-2 years for those participating countries that have an agreement with Canada. The process uses a lottery system where applicants complete a profile and register to enter a pool, from which candidates are randomly invited to apply for an open work permit. It is not mandatory to have a job offer from a Canadian employer in order to apply for this visa.
Candidates remain in the pool until the end of the season, after which a new profile must be submitted. Most successful applicants typically wait around 8 weeks before being contacted with an invitation to apply, after which you have 10 days to accept the invitation and 20 days to submit your visa application. With this tight time restriction in mind, it’s worth organizing your police certificate early as it may take a few weeks to get processed.

Within the online application process, I had to upload my CV and a copy of my passport, get a police certificate confirming I didn’t have a criminal background, and fill out a form detailing addresses and occupations of myself and my immediate family from the past 5 years. (Having 4 siblings based all around the world made this fun!) I then paid a fee of $250 and 3 days later, received an email confirming my application had been approved!

Canada Photo Credit Shannon From SoleSeeking
Photo Credit: Shannon from SoleSeeking

After being approved for the visa, you have a year in which to activate it. It’s important to note that receiving the approval doesn’t guarantee you will be allowed to enter Canada. Before issuing you your permit, the immigration officer will ask to see proof of sufficient funds to cover you until you find work, as well as proof of travel insurance that will last the duration of your stay.

Receiving an invitation to apply for the Working Holiday visa can take a while, but the application process itself is relatively stress-free. Patience is key, and getting the visa is worth the wait! Whether you want to spend the majority of your time backpacking with the odd period of labour or waitressing work to maintain your funds, or you intend to advance your professional career in a full-time role (like me), this visa provides a fantastic opportunity to experience a beautiful country.

Canada to UK

Visa Type: Tier 4 Student Visa

Eric – Penguin and Pia

As a Canadian, getting a Tier 4 Visa for Studying in the United Kingdom was a lengthy, nightmarish process. Ultimately, I was successful in getting it and enjoyed a year abroad in Edinburgh. With the Tier 4, you can attend university and live in the United Kingdom for a total of 18 months. Holders of this visa can also work part-time during the semester months to a maximum of 20 hours/week.

The process itself is a straightforward set of logical steps: receive university acceptance, apply for the visa online, pay the appropriate fees, book an appointment for biometrics, visit the visa centre in your city, and await approval.

Edinburgh Photo Credit Eric from Penguin and Pia
Photo Credit: Eric from Penguin and Pia

My advice is two-fold: 1) Obtain your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) number as soon as possible from your university. Without the CAS number, the process cannot begin. 2) If you have additional questions about forms, documents, etc. check with the International Office of your university.

Overall, apply to the university early, start the visa application as soon as you can, and book your appointment for as soon as possible. Appointments can be booked solid close to the end of the summer time!

Can you relate to any of these experiences?  You can find part 1:  Worldwide Permanent Resident Visa Journey Experiences Shared By Travel Bloggers here!

Kylie Signature

Dream of working abroad? Travel bloggers share their worldwide work visa journey experiences. Sharing tips and tricks on how to have a smooth process for obtaining a work visa!

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