How to Become an Expatriate

What does it mean to be an expatriate? How does this impact your lifestyle, job, family and finances? Let’s explore the ins and outs of how to become an expatriate and what that all entails.

Firstly, an expatriate, or expat, is a person who leaves his or her home country to reside in another. The word itself is derived from the Latin word expatriatus. The first mention of “expatriatus” appeared in Medieval times. Whether you plan to live in your host country temporarily, fully intending to return home later, or you decide that the standard of living is higher in your host country and decide to stay forever, becoming an expatriate takes time and planning.

There are four basic reasons why you would become an expatriate:

  • As a student
  • As directed by your government or military
  • As a private employee
  • As someone who just decides to pack up and leave

No matter which category you fall into, the reality is you need to embrace the change and engage in some preparation before moving overseas.

First, you’ll need to do extensive research on the country you want to move to. Check out expat message boards and social media groups online, browse areas of the country that might interest you, and look at apartment or home listings. Read up on the host country as much as you can. Secure a job or put out feelers about possibly transferring from your existing location to another within the same company. Be prepared to take a pay cut, or even a raise, depending on the financial situation in that country and in your line of work. You will have to adjust your lifestyle accordingly. Connect with a recruiter to make the job search go more smoothly.

Check out day cares and schools if you have children. Look into employment for your spouse as well, and stay organized with all paperwork for both of you. Invest in a notebook and folders to keep track of everything.

Then, you can move onto the next step of contacting the embassy of the country you want to travel to. Call to speak to the contact person about what needs to be done and what paperwork needs to be filed. Inquire about visas and how to obtain one, as well as how long it will all take. Fill out all the necessary visa applications with help from your embassy. This is not an easy task. There is a lot of paperwork involved, so take your time and fill out everything completely and honestly. You’ll also need to complete forms regarding your personal, work, financial and tax history.

The process of waiting for a visa, and ultimately, a green card, can take an immensely long time. While you’re waiting on approval, learn the language of the host country in detail. Start with BRIC Language Systems for an innovative, successful way of learning a new language. We can effectively teach you Mandarin Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese or Spanish by connecting you virtually with native speaking instructors. We also offer Expatriate Services to help ease your transition.