Are you soon going to be an NRI? Prepare well before the flight takes off
Be prepared for a settlement phase, skill upgrading, and yes, a unique language accent and, in some instances, learning a new language. Immigrating to a new country is much more than getting a visa. It is a life-changing decision.
Working or settling down abroad is a choice for many. The Middle East has been a preferred destination to live and work for decades. As for western countries, earlier years – especially till the early 1990’s – mostly saw family-based Immigration.
The trend has changed in the last three decades. Popular destinations like Canada, Australia, UK, and New Zealand have been permitting professionals and tradespersons to settle down with permanent residence status on point-based immigration process. More importantly, the procedures did not require a job offer from a local employer to be eligible to make an application under skilled professional Programs. Programs for entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals followed these. Today, they form a chunk of NRIs across the developed world.
But, when the PR visa is issued, most of them are not well prepared for what the author calls a settlement phase. Before you pack your bags to move out on a PR visa or green card, please check your preparedness as per the following checkpoints:
- Do you have enough settlement funds for the first 6-12 months? One cannot depend on relations and friends alone for assistance. And there are so many newly departing prospective immigrants who do not even have a known person with whom they are closely acquainted. One does not get a job from the day on landing. Also, you are waiting for crucial Social Identity numbers that the local employers often seek before giving you a job. All the while, you need money to pay rentals, living expenses, and transportations. Remember that Rupees converted into dollars become small amounts. The majority of the country inviting immigrants for permanent residence asks for evidence of the applicant’s ability to bear such expenses.
- Be prepared for, at least for the first 2-3 years, underemployment. Immigration is often granted under a particular occupation. The newly landing immigrants often think that their application under the PR is being approved because of the availability of abundant jobs in the chosen destination. That may or may not be valid. Even if true, it is doubtful that you will be hired at the same managerial position you were working in the country of origin. This is a huge shock for many, and they spend months declining jobs that do not meet their career aspiration. In the process, they become demotivated and start wondering whether their decision to immigrate was wrong? A few polite reminders in this context. The workforce is expensive in these countries, and expected work efficiency levels are very high. So, the number of staff managing the same profile or enterprise is less in these countries. Then the employers usually expect one to have local experience before giving them supervisory or senior managerial positions. In Canada, newcomers are often baffled on being asked about their “Canadian experience” when they have just landed!! There is also a question of acquiring a local language accent. It takes time.
- If qualifications and experience are in regulated occupations, you need to meet the licensing requirements before becoming eligible to work. Engineers, Chartered Accounts, Architects, Lawyers, Nurses, Doctors, Dentists, and many other occupations are all regulated. This is why one hears the stories about people working in unrelated unregulated jobs after landing as a resident. To be a licensed professional, you are required to appear in a series of examinations and, often, apprenticeships under licensed professionals before you get accredited as one yourself. The only exception could be the IT professional, who may be offered opportunities related to their skillsets. But even they cannot use the title of being an engineer unless they have not met the licensing requirements of being a Canadian Professional Engineer. Different regulated occupations have varied requirements for foreign-trained professionals. Also, licensing is often a provincial subject. So, depending on your choice of the province – where you plan to settle - it is appropriate to check the website of the provincial professional body.
- Be prepared to opt to train yourself in an occupation unrelated to your past qualifications and experience!! This is simply because they might be better paying and more in demand in the local job market. Remember that one of the key differences between developed and developing economies is the dignity of labor. All that matters is that you earn your livelihood in an honorable manner. To give an idea, Tradespersons like Plumbers, Electricians and Carpenters are amongst the highest wage earners in these countries.
So, Immigration for a better quality of life for self and family is a great idea but prepare yourself well before taking off to your new home. Be prepared for a settlement phase, skill upgrading, and yes, a unique language accent and, in some instances, learning a new language!! Immigrating to a new country is much more than getting a visa. It is a life-changing decision. You are about to start a new life.
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