Expat without a work permit? Where?

Many countries are incredibly careful around visitors’ intentions and behaviours. Staying for a month in China requires a detailed itinerary of what you’re doing there, and it’ll be even more difficult moving there unless you have work lined up. This tends to be the case with most authoritarian countries, in fact. On the other side of the coin, you have countries that understand the importance of immigration for their economy, and they’re a little less skeptical about your arrival. They don’t want to turn away tourists, or long-stay working people. 

Work permits are slightly different to visas  — in many cases you will need both. Visas grant you access into a country, and work permits allow you to legally become employed. Visas are pretty much unavoidable, though, unless you’re within a supranational bloc like the EU. Within the EU, it’s pretty much a matter of buying plane tickets. Here is a brief overview on some of the easiest countries to work in for expats.


Over 25% of Singapore’s current population is made up of foreign nationals. Off the bat, this is a good indication that the country welcomes expats. Singapore offers a particularly good opportunity for students or graduates, in which they can attain a Singapore working holiday programme which lasts for 6 months.

If you’re more serious about living there for years, then this is still a good head-start. From there, you can find a professional job which will give you a good chance of living here permanently. 


Whilst Georgia may not be the most developed country on the list, it’s certainly rich in culture and beautiful landscapes. Georgia is very welcome of not just expats, but long stays too. You can stay up to a whole 12 months without jumping through administrative hoops. There are 94 countries that are eligible for this visa. You may not get buzzing big business here, but what it lacks for in TNCs it makes up for in affordable living costs, beautiful natural wonders and a welcoming culture of guests.


Once you realize that most countries have visas and work permits, your expectations will adjust. Cambodia is no different — you can easily attain a business visa, which can be renewed indefinitely. Then, you’ll need a work permit if you’re after full-time work. The thing is though, it’s not really enforced. This isn’t to endorse trying to dodge it, because it’s not particularly difficult to attain anyway, but it’s just to highlight that Cambodia is a very accommodating country to move to for expats.

New Zealand

Unsurprisingly, where you come from makes a big difference surrounding how easy it is to be an expat. One of the advantages of being British or American is that it’s easy to get a 12 month working holiday visa in New Zealand. To move permanently isn’t easy, but this is a good opportunity to find a company that will sponsor you. However, New Zealand offers very unique opportunities of not just granting residency there, but extremely high salaries, if you’re willing to work a specific job in a specific part of the country. This is because some areas are seen as having an issue with (low) population.

As mentioned above, all EU countries plus Norway, Luxembourg and Switzerland do not have work permits. Being European or American can put you in an advantageous position because English is your first language, as well as these countries having many strong relationships with other countries (i.e. the commonwealth). If you’re not, then that’s still okay. They’re also looking for skill sets. If you have a trade (they’re always in demand), a strong education (i.e. a master’s degree), or if you own a business, then these factors can, in reality, give you the opportunity to move to almost any country as an expat — or at the very least for under 12 months.

Jacquelyn Vadnais

Jacquelyn Vadnais is a global traveler, blogger, writer, author, and entrepreneur with a JD/MBA/LL.M degree. To date, she has visited 50 countries, lived in 8, and hopes to see a great deal more of the world.

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