- Check out: EU immigration portal, EU Freedom of Movement, and European Blue Card Programme.
- Those married (traditional/same-sex/common law) to an EU citizen can live, work, or study in the EU.
- Escape Artist has info for those with money or who want to retire in Europe.
- Overseas Digest tells you about teaching English, getting a job, and how to move overseas.
- Overseas Exile is written by an American who now lives in France.
- Transitions Abroad has info on teaching, au pair jobs, and more.
- Money Matters
- Europe: EU, Schengan, and more
- Getting Citizenship
- Living Legally in the EU
- Working Legally in the EU
- Country Specific Information
Money MattersEurope is expensive there's no doubt about it. Elliot_spencer from Dave's ESL Cafe says that "it's hard to live on 1200 euros in Italy and you often lose a month or two of work during the summer." Someone else said that they spend 500 euro on rent, 100 on utilities, 250 on food, 80 on transport, and taxes are often around 40%. Many Europeans prefer the Middle East or Asia over Europe. Europe - not a living wage to be found.That being said when there's a will there's a way and most people go to Europe for the culture rather than the money.
Europe: EU, Schengan, and moreIt's easier to get visas for the new EU than the old EU. Check the official EU expansion website. Any EU country is possible if you have a sponsor such as an employer or spouse. Studying, starting a business, or retiring is also an option. These discussions have more info: the EU for Americans, getting a job in the EU without an EU passport, and a North American teaching in Europe.
Old EU Member States
- United Kingdom
- Czech Republic
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Serbia (Kosovo)
Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland have all elected not to be part of the EU. However, some countries have agreements that let their citizens live in EU member states.
There are 25 Schengen countries. Bulgaria, and Cyprus, Liechtenstein^, and Romania are scheduled to join shortly. You can find information more information in free travel in Schengen countries.
- Czech Republic
- France (Monaco*,**, ^)
- Italy (San Marino^ and Vatican City^)
- Spain (and Andorra**,^, ^^)
- Switzerland** (and Liechenstein*,^)
**Not European Union members.
^ Andorra, Liechenstein, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City are microstates. San Marino and Vatican City are de facto EU members. Andorra and Monaco aren't EU members; Liechenstein is a future member. Of these only Monaco can issue Schengen visas.
^^Not a Schengen member.
Time in the Schengen Area
According to the Schengen Agreement, if you're not from an EU country or don't have a resident visa you can only stay 90 days out of 180 in the Schengen countries. Overstaying, living or working without a visa, could result in fines, arrest, deportation and/or being banned from entering Schengen countries in the future. If you're looking to travel, ITTP has lots of tips in his post that he wrote.
Getting CitizenshipThere are 4 common ways to get citizenship: birth, marriage / civil partnerships, ancestry, and permanent residency. You can compare citizenship requirements through Canada Metropolis. You may also have to language, cultural, or history tests. In addition, some countries require you to give up your original citizenship. Here's info for France and Greece.
- Birth: At least one of your parents will have to be a citizen of the country at the time of your birth.
- Marriage (civil union, traditional / same-sex / common law marriage): Many countries (such as Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK) accept common law marriages, same-sex marriage, and/or same-sex unions. In Madrid Magazine has information about the pareja de hecho law which gives you a 5 year resident visa and after that you can apply for permanent residency. Italy and France do not require residence. France requires you know French and to be married for 5 years if the French spouse is not registered with the French embassy or 4 years if the French spouse is registered. Italy requires those who live outside of Italy to be married for 3 years if you don't have children or 1.5 years if you do. If you live in Italy, the requirements are 2 years of marriage without children and 1 year of marriage with children. In Spain, it's only 1 year of marriage and residency. The UK requires you to live in the UK for 3 years.
- Ancestry: Some places like Italy may go back to your great-grandparents (look for "Cittadinanza italiana per discendenza / Italian Citizenship through ancestors (iure sanguinis))". The UK has a five year ancestry visa. Just because one of your parents was born in an EU country doesn't mean that it's easy to get citizenship. Here's my quest for Romanian citizenship.
- Permanent Residency: After getting permanent residency you can get citizenship. It may take up to 10 years to get permanent residency though. You can compare citizenship requirements through Google Answers and this link. Studies can also help you get citizenship. France cuts the 5 year residency requirement to 2 years if you are working towards a degree in France.
Living Legally in the EUThere are many ways to live legally in the EU. Try also looking at teaching in eastern Europe, teaching in Europe, and UWEC. Here are the 3 most common.
- Study: Learning the language isn't as hard as you may think it is. Take a look at the language hacking guide by Benny the Irish Polyglot. France cuts the 5 year residency requirement down to 2 years if you are working towards a degree in France. CSIET information about studying abroad. Some countries will let you work part time while studying at a university. Italy for example, will allow you to work up to 20 hours a week. See this thread for info about studying in Italy. Universities in Europe are often cheap and may even be free, however, don't forget that you'll still have to pay for rent and food. In France, tuition for public institutions is less than 1000 euros a year. The Czech Republic, Iceland, and some Scandanavian countries, such as Finland, Iceland, and Norway have free tuiton. Here's a BBC article about Germany's offers free tuition. Here's information about Norway: free tuition, living in Norway, permanent residency, scholarships, and work / residency permits. There are also lots of scholarships out there, such as EURAMUS (geared towards health studies).
- Marriage (traditional, civil union, same-sex, and common law): If you're in a marriage, (traditional, civil union, same-sex, or common law) with an EU citizen or resident you can get residency. Many countries, such as Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France (PACS), Germany, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK accept common law marriages, same-sex marriage, and/or same-sex unions. In Madrid Magazine has info about the pareja de hecho law which gives you a 5 year resident visa and after that you can apply for permanent residency.
- Work: See the section below "Working Legally in the EU".
Working Legally in the EUCheck out EURES. The skilled worker permit (also known as the Blue Card) has started. Some places like New Employment, i-to-i, CIEE, and World Teach all offer help with visas. Some countries, such as Holland and Belgium have straight forward methods to getting work visas. If you find an employer who will will a letter confirming you you'll be hired and you'll get a one year resident visa.
- Au Pair: More information can be found in the article on working holiday visas.
- Licensed Teachers: Qualified teacher might be able to work at an international school. Specialised schools such as Summer Hill School are also an option. See teaching exchanges for more info.
- Find a Niche: If you have a high-demand career then you have a good chance of being sent to Europe. Technical, science, and engineering jobs are always in demand. Being sent abroad is one of the easiest ways to get into Europe.
- Internships: More information can be found in the article on working holiday visas.
- Get Sent Abroad: Work for a company that has branches in the EU.
- Investor / Entrepreneur Visas: An investor is someone who invests a large amount of money. An entrepreneur is someone who starts a company or business. Bulgaria requires about 500,000 euros for their investor visa. Invest Bulgaria Agency (a government run site) and Invest Bulgaria have information about residence and citizenship. You might want to hire a company such as Arton Capital to help with paperwork. France offers a skills and talents card and anyone could get it if their project is accepted. Or you could invest 300,000 euros and hire 2 French citizens. The Netherlands has an agreement with the US called the Dutch American Friendship Treaty. You have to create a business plan, have health insurance, invest at least 4,500 euro, and practice a "free profession" like law or medicine. Here's more information about the programme in detail. Switzerland offers an investor visa for those from non-EU countries. Those from EU countries can get a self-employment visa or an independent visa. The United Kingdom has an investor (1 and 2 million pounds)and entrepreneur visa (200,000 pounds).
- Teaching at Camps: Some of them list you as a volunteer and you get a weekly stipend thus eliminating the need for a work visa. You will often be teaching English or performing in an English Theatre. See summer and winter camps for more info.
- Teaching English: See teaching exchanges for more info. Some TEFL courses will let you work in their institute after you pass their TEFL course. You can find jobs in TEFL.com, Euro Jobs, and Dave's ESL Cafe. Saxoncourt, SOL, IH, Bell, Berlitz, and ILS have been known to help with visas. Berlitz will help with visas allowing you to work in Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Norway, Poland, and Slovenia. Basically you will have to go there for an interview and will only be given a freelance position.
- Volunteer: Many volunteer agencies provide you with a visa and a stipend. Check out: CUSO, Geovisions, My Pro World, Peace Corps, Volunteers for Peace, VSO, and World Teach. CSIET has good info.
- Work Online: If you're willing to move around you could work online. You'd have to leave the Schengen Area every 90 days. Try looking at teaching online and making money online.
- Working Holiday Visas: Read the article on working holiday visas. Expect to earn about $700 to $1500 in Europe.
Country Specific Information
- Austria has teaching assistants through Fulbright. InterExchange has teaching English programmes.
- Belgium has Best Programs which can help you get visas. Fulbright also has teaching assistantships.
- Bulgaria has teaching assistantships through Fulbright.
- Croatia has SOL which places teachers in local schools. Housing is provided, but no families are allowed.
- Cyprus offers teaching assistantships through Fulbright.
- The Czech Republic has a blue card scheme for citizens of 12 countries. You'll need a university degree, to earn 150% more than the average Czech, and to intend to stay in the Czech Rep for at least 5 years. It also has teaching assistantships through Fulbright. SOL places teachers in local schools. Housing is provided, but no families are allowed. If you want to teach English all you need (for Americans) is: a Bachelors degree, a TEFL certificate, a D-Visa, and a Trade License (Zivnostensky List), see the fifth post on this thread at Dave's ESL Cafe for requirements for a Zivonstensky List. You will need a minimum of $8,000 in the bank to prove that you can support yourself while in the Czech Rep. Try reading Chris Westergaard's info on teaching in Prague as well. The Czech Ministry of Interior has info about staying in the Czech Republic. Alexio Accountant and Easy Visa have been recommended for help with paperwork.
- Denmark has a blue card programme. If you're a teacher look at DECS and DET.
- Finland has the blue card scheme, but the requirements are difficult to meet. Finland also offers Americans the chance to teach English or do an internship if you're over 21 and either a college junior, senior, or have graduated in the past two years. See AMSCAN for more info.
- France has a blue card scheme. You'll need a university degree or 5 years experience in your field, to earn 150% more than the average Frenchperson, and have a contract for at least 1 year. France also offers assistant teaching positions for those aged 20 to 29. Here's the info from the French embassy in Washington, Escape Artist, a short summary, as well as a description of the programme. While teaching assistantships may be great experience, there are downfalls as well. Try reading this post by Trinley to find out more. Fulbright also offers teaching assistantships in France. DECS and InterExchange have programmes for English teachers.
- Germany has a blue card scheme. You'll need to earn 44K euro and have a university degree or experience in your field. Germany also has grants for teaching assistantships through Fulbright. If you're an American, you might get work at Deutsch-Amerikanisches-Zentrum. DECS and InterExchange have programmes for English teachers. Germany also has freelance visas. You can find info on Toy Town Germany, How to Germany, and this page. Steps can be found at How to Germany, the German Immigration website, and this post. From Berlitz Germany: You can enter Germany with a three-month tourist visa and receive a restricted residency permit. Once you sign a contract, go to the federal office and have your visa extended to one year with permission to work as a freelance instructor. You may begin working when you receive your residence permit, but you will need to go to the tax office (Finanzamt) to get a tax number. The book Painlessly Relocate to Germany also has some good tips.
- Hungary has a blue card scheme. You'll need to be highly qualified and have a job offer. Hungary also has teaching assistantships through Fulbright. SOL places teachers in local schools. Housing is provided, but no families are allowed. CETP (Central European Teaching Programme) is another option.
- Ireland has working holiday visas available, a special agreement that allows Americans to work there, and a green card scheme. SeeWorkpermit.com, which has more info about the green card.
- Italy has teaching assistantships through Fulbright. InterExchange has teaching English programmes. ACLE (endorsed by the Italian Ministry of Education) has an English camp and an English theatre. Lingue senza Frontiere (Language without Borders) also has an English camp and an English theatre. Best Programs has been known to help with visas and getting internships.
- Latvia: You can get a resident permit for 5 years provided you buy property (or invest in a business( worth about $135,000 usd and pass a criminal background check. After that you can apply for citizenship provided you can pass the language, culture, and history exam. There's more info at Overseas Exile.
- Luxembourg offers teaching internships through Fulbright.
- Malta offers teaching assistantships through Fulbright.
- The Netherlands: here's some info about a good salary in Amsterdaym.
- Norway has teaching assistantships through Fulbright.
- Poland has teaching assistantships through Fulbright. You can get temporary residence. See what documents you need at ESL Cafe. You can live in Poland without a work visa but in order to do so legally you need a visa or a residency card and this can be done by opening a business or getting a job.
- Portugal has the blue card scheme. You'll need to have at least a 1 year contract, a university degree or 5 years experience in your field, earn at least 150% more than the average Portuguese, have health insurance, not be registered with the Portuguese Social Security, have a diploma or certication. Portugla also has teaching assistantships through Fulbright.
- Romania has the blue card scheme. You'll need a university degree, to earn 4 times the average for that position, and have qualifications or experience. Romania also has teaching assistantships through Fulbright. SOL places teachers in local schools. Housing is provided, but no families are allowed.
- Slovakia has the blue card scheme. You'll need a university degree or 5 years experience and to each 150% what the average Slovak does. Slovakia also has SOL which places teachers in local schools. Housing is provided, but no families are allowed. Slovakia alsohas teaching assistantships through Fulbright.
- Spain: the Ministry of Education has a language and culture assistant programme for those with a college degree. You'll earn more if you're in Madrid. However, some people have gone months without being paid. See this post for more info. Some people have earned extra money by working at universities, language institutes, giving teacher training courses, giving language assistant training courses, giving presentations, or getting private students. They also have a visiting professor programme. You have to be able to write in Spanish, have teaching experience, be a college graduate and go for one semestre. Fulbright also has teaching assistantships. Working on student visas is also a possibility. See Spain Expat for more info. Franklin Institute's Master in Bilingual and Multicultural Education that allows you to teach in schools and earn a masters degree in the process.You might be able to get a self employment visa as well. See Transitions Abroad for more info.TtMadrid offers a TEFL course and a student visa. InterExchange has programmes for English teachers. If you're willing to pay for a visa look at CIEE's language and culture assistantship programme in Andulucia, English Unlimited, and Best Programs.
- Switzerland: With a BA and two years teaching experience you could work at TASIS Switzerland. DET and DECS have teaching programmes.
- The United Kingdom: If you have a BA and 3 years experience you can work at TASIS England. DECS has teaching programmes. You might be able to get the five year ancestry visa. If you are highly skilled try the highly skilled migrant worker programme. Here's how to apply. If you'd like to do a paid internship that leads to an MBA, check out the Mountbatten Institute.
Parts of this article have been published in the Turkish University Press.
Updated 17 October 2012