Getting a job at an overseas location can be a delightful feeling. Working abroad can not only lift up your resume, but also provides an enriching, life-altering experience. The number of students looking for work abroad has seen an impressive growth in the last decade. Some of these jobs or assignments are organised by agencies, and, in some cases, a large sum is asked for in exchange for their services. Therefore, before accepting the position, it is advisable that you sit and ponder over the position, and the associated terms and conditions. Make sure you ask the following questions to your employer to be sure of the big step you are planning to take.
1. Who Will Manage My Visa Requirements?
Always remember that visa requirements for those who go to work abroad are quite different. The first question to ask your employer is whether the formalities will be covered as part of the job offer.
- The stark reality is that in most cases, the answer will be a ‘No’. Companies often hire employees from different locations but don’t want to go through the pain of fulfilling visa requirements.
- Sometimes, a company will require you to travel on a tourist visa, and then if you are selected for the position, they will sponsor your work visa. This is the most common method for getting into a company abroad.
- Consider yourself lucky if the company is willing to handle your visa. In other cases, the best solution is to rely on yourself or a professional agent to handle the complex process.
However, some of the pertinent questions to be asked about your visa are:
- Do I need to have a confirmed job? Some visas might not be valid if you don’t have a confirmed job. Go through the documents and copy of your contract carefully before getting on a flight.
- What type of visa do I need? There are a number of work visas available. Make sure you obtain the visa that applies to you and be aware of the terms and conditions of the one that is applicable to you.
- Can I travel once I reach the country of work? Depending on the visa and the country, you’ll most likely not have a lot of time to stay in the country once you’ve finished your contract, as a lot of work visas state that once you leave your employer, you will also have to leave the country in a certain period of time. However, options to travel during off days during your working period are often available.
- Can I change employers? Some work visas restrict you to one job. If you are not okay with this condition, you may have to take the next flight back home.
- How long is the visa valid? Don’t let your visa expire or you might have a tough time getting back home. Don’t depend on your visa being renewed or extended, as the rules are different for every country.
2. Will The Cost Of My Flight Be Covered By The Company?
This is another important question to ask, especially if you are working abroad on a short-term basis. Generally, companies cover the cost of travelling for employees whom they are hiring for long-lasting projects. You might be provided with a one-way ticket since the company may not have an end-date of your employment.
3. Will I Be Provided With Accommodation?
Living expenses consume a major portion of your salary during your stay abroad. It is wise to ask if the company will provide you with accommodation, or at least assist in looking for an affordable accommodation. Generally, companies don’t provide accommodation when working abroad. However, they might connect newcomers to certain property dealers or brokers for guidance. The following costs may have to be incurred with respect to accommodation:
- Rent: This is the amount that has to be paid, mostly on a monthly basis, for as long as you are going to stay in the house, as per the agreement.
- Deposit: Upon arrival, the landlord might charge a sum by way of security deposit which will be returned once the house or apartment is vacated after the lease period is over. Always carry extra cash since this amount can easily range up to or over $1,000.
- Pre-Existing Damages: Bring to the notice of the landlord any damages that might already exist to avoid any liabilities later on. Take pictures or make videos as proof of the same.
4. What Kind Of Medical Insurance Will Be Provided?
Different countries have separate medical plans for expatriates and most of them require taking private policies for better medical benefits. Generally, employers are also required to deposit a minimum amount into a fund for covering the medical expenses of all the employees. While hospitalisation and in-patient care are covered, the employee will have to undertake a plan separately for health checks or dental care. You need to negotiate this aspect with the employer as well.
5. Do You Have Any Other International Employees On The Roll?
Finding someone who hails from a foreign country and has already worked in that company before can be a relief for an expat. Moreover, talking to employees who work in that department or hold similar responsibilities will help gain a better understanding of the nature of work and workplace ethics. The company should be able to provide you with the contact details of such persons for assistance. Watch out for any undue delays at the end of the HR personnel as it might be indicative of the company’s lackadaisical attitude. However, many organizations may never have hired a foreign employee before. In that case, they won’t be able to help you.
6. How Many Paid Leaves Will Be Granted?
The local laws and regulations of a particular country will govern the paid leaves. The regional, national, as well as international holidays, are also instrumental in defining the working days. Companies do have a separate holiday calendar that contains a list of off days at work. That apart, they also have a leave policy that you can ask for before consenting to join.
7. How Much Could I Save Over Time?
More often than not, job aspirants ask for a salary that they find most appropriate according to their skill set. What they don’t take into account is the actual amount of savings they will be able to make in a month considering the cost of living and other expenses. What you are currently earning at your present location will be way different than the pay scales of other countries, given the difference in currency.
For example, if you are earning $2,000 in the US, it might seem lesser than Rs 50,000 that you received as compensation when you were working in India. However, $1 is equivalent to INR 64.91, meaning your US salary is actually equivalent to INR 129,160.
However, the cost of living would also be different for India and the US and you will be able to strike the right deal only when you know how much you want to save in the new country for a comfortable living.
Therefore, ask your employers if the pay would help you save a certain sum of money so that they too get an idea whether they will be able to afford you or not.
8. How Much Tax Will I Be Able To Save?
One of the major drawbacks of working abroad is that expatriate employees have to pay tax in multiple countries. Don’t forget to ask these two essential questions to your employer:
- How Can You Save Tax: You can take advantage of double taxation agreements, foreign tax credit, income exclusion provisions, etc. You will not be able to know about the details unless you get in touch with the employer or tax advisor.
- How Much Tax Will You Be Able To Save: This depends on the taxation rules of the country you are seeking a job in. The deadline to file returns, conditions of residential status, tax slabs, exemptions and deductions should be discussed with the employer or tax advisor.
9. What Kind Of A Social Life Will I Have Abroad?
One reason for moving to a different country for work is to experience a new lifestyle. If you are not aware of the culture of that region, ask the employer and then decide whether you will be able to adapt yourself to it. It is important to know about people from your community residing there, the momentum of the city, places to visit and chill, etc. Work is important to earn a living, but so is social life to stay sane.
Three Golden Rules
Get everything in writing.
Speak to someone who has worked for the organisation already.
If in doubt, ask the Careers Service if they have come across the organisation before.
After going through the ordeal of looking for a job overseas, the temptation to take up the first offer you receive is understandable. But it is important to make sure that you are taking the right step, by asking the above questions. Discussing these issues with your future employer may not only save you some unpleasant surprises down the road, but also turn the offer in your favour.