Friday, April 15, 2011

So Gusto mong Magabroad

jdomawa © 2011* All Rights Reserved



So you want to go abroad?

Well, it’s not surprising. Three out of four Filipinos want to work abroad. Two out of those three want to immigrate.

Let me just clarify a few things. To work abroad, one needs a VISA (not the credit card though). There are two kinds of legal work VISAs: one is the working visa which is tied down to a work contract. It means that as long as the contract is in effect, the visa holder can work. Once the contract is terminated, so does the visa. This is the most common visa for workers bound to the Mideast, Europe and increasingly in western countries as they realize that they save more on social benefits with these type.

The second type of visa which is more desirable is the residency visa. It’s usually a five year, renewable visa. The advantage of this is that you are not tied down by a contract so if you desire to look for a better job, you have the right to leave your job and get a new one without any repercussions with regards to your visa status. Also, you have the path to citizenship and you have all the rights and benefits of a citizen (except the right to vote and the right to hold an official passport). In short, you have the benefits and you have the freedom of choice with regards to employment. This visa however, is harder to acquire. Most get it through skilled worker programs, through marriage, through family or business sponsorships or through extraordinary means (like refugee status/asylum seekers). As time goes on, this kind of visa gets rarer and rarer.

Others opt to go the illegal way which is not recommended for many reasons. One, you are not protected. Second, you are prone to exploitative environments and lastly, its very risky.

Entering the Mideast is often easier than western countries or Europe. Although there is a security and human rights problem that underlie Mideast politics, if you are lucky, you can start there. Just don’t expect any kind of long term job security so you must put it in your mind that you should start saving once you land there. You will have to come back home, sooner or later and if you have spent all your money, you’ll end up with nothing.

Or go to Singapore. Singapore, among all the Asian destinations is the best in terms of career. Just don’t expect to have lots of freedom or have job security like what you have in the Mideast. Again you have to save and save a lot.

Hongkong is nearly the same as the Philippines except of course, you get to have higher pay. Usually for domestic help, HK has been the bastion of the Filipino OFW. You have to downgrade here which is hard for most professionals but one must face the facts. Certain sacrifices are necessary.

Taiwan, Korea and Japan and now even China look for factory workers or English teachers for Korea, Japan and including Indonesia and Malaysia. Again, these are mostly contract work, usually tied down to annual or biannual contracts.

Now going to the target countries of most Filipinos: the western countries. I’ll try to give you an idea how it works and then you just research on the details.

First, Australia. The country down under is open to immigration but they prefer skilled workers. Mostly people on their mid thirties or more. Note that western countries give more credit to experience than youth. Thirty in many western countries is relatively young so twenties makes for a teenager and you know the temperament of teens right? Australia usually requires a company sponsorship and rarely gives independent visas. It is great for machinists, engineers and technologists mostly. Of course, it also has contract workers for manual labor.

Second, New Zealand. You must understand that the economy of New Zealand is anchored on sheep. So most jobs are related to agriculture. The most common professional path there is through nursing but again, one needs to pass their licensure exams to earn the right to practice nursing there. Other professionals can get in through sponsorships, mostly by businesses there.

Third, UK. UK is notorious now for their student visa and their strict laws regarding immigration. Student visa holders are seriously hampered with regards to how many hours they can work and by the type of work they can get. Not to mention the fact that they have to pay the school where they will have to take their classes. And did I not say that the immigration path there is hard. Only a few get immigrant visas in the UK and the process for both the student visa and everything else is expensive.

Then the rest of Europe. The rest of Europe is hard to penetrate. Most go there as contract workers or as TNTs. Or as brides of Europeans. Word is, that jobs are hard to get and difficult to sustain since there are only small pockets of kababayans there.

Fifth, USA. This is the target of almost everyone, particularly nurses. Sad to say, US visas are very hard to come by nowadays. Don’t you know that most US visas take more than ten years to process (currently around fifteen years for pending US visa applications). Nurses who are lucky to get hospital contracts take less time but now that window is shrinking. With the recession and all, some of the laid off people in the mainland are taking nursing careers and not to mention the competition from Indian nurses would drastically alter this opportunity for the foreseeable future. The great thing about it is that, if you are lucky enough to enter the US, the path to citizenship is possible and highly probable; and you can practice your profession right of the bat. Bad news, healthcare is not universal and it is still recovering from the recession.

Sixth and I saved it for last is the Great White North: Canada. It has weathered the recession better than the US. It has largely untapped reserves of oil and gas, a very small and aging population (with respect to land mass), a large consumer market, a stable government, vibrant economy that is not one dimensional, and is open (at least for the moment) to immigrants. There are just two caveats: one, the unpredictable weather(winter is eight months out of twelve) and two, the fact that you will literally start from scratch since your previous experiences and education are really not honored here (which is a pain in the ass for professionals). Be prepared to work on entry level jobs (like food court assistants, laborers and walmart attendants). the good news: one, the social benefits are great; healthcare is universal – in Alberta, at least); and the processing time for immigrants is shorter than the US. If you wish to be an immigrant, you have to have four years of PAID working experience (that is paid, so di napo puede ang volunteer na experience); you must be part of the list of professions that are eligible for skilled worker status (check the embassy site for it – changes annually) this has a limit of 1000 slots per year per profession by last policy with a tendency to get lesser and stricter as the years go by. Once filled up-like nursing, di na puede you have to wait again. Other options include provincial nominee program but limited to certain Canadian provinces and family petitions (which is getting harder again as the years go by).

The trend is that immigration windows will probably narrow as the baby boomer population tapers off and the workforce stabilizes. Don’t expect the global market to stay open for many years to come. In time, other countries like Vietnam, china, the Balkans and India will produce graduates that will be superior than the Philippines. Since our English proficiency and the vaunted Filipino industriousness is fading with each new generation while others are constantly improving.

I must admit that the pastures here are exponentially greener than that of the Philippines. At least here, the hard work you do is properly compensated. As long as you work, money can be found as they say. I do not blame people from dreaming to coming here or to other places.

And nobody can ever stop you from dreaming.


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