12 reasons people find it difficult to find jobs though they have a visa, and 10 ways to overcome the challenges


This article covers challenges that visa holders or their dependents (spouses) face finding a job in any foreign country and what steps to take to overcome them. Most views covered apply to any new visa category or country. The UK’s Tier 2 ICT dependant visa has been chosen as a use case. After painstakingly completing the paperwork and obtaining a visa, people arrive in a foreign country with high expectations of improving their careers and lives. In many cases, people find it difficult to find jobs although they are well qualified and have relevant work experience. Frustration sets in when they keep applying for jobs but are never called in for interviews or interviews do not lead to offers. Ultimately, this fuels doubts and insecurities about their skills and qualifications.

Let’s examine these issues by phase.

Eligibility Phase

The problem could be your visa category

The problem could be the type of visa you have. Typically, it will be either a work visa or work permit, as it is called in some countries, such as the UK. If you are a Tier 2 ICT visa dependent, it does not lead to an ILR (indefinite leave to remain or permanent residency) depending on when it was issued. Employers view this as an unattractive option for a long-term investment to hire and train an employee only to lose them as their visa allows them to work only for a specific timeframe. Visa extensions depend on numerous factors, so employers avoid investing time and money in hiring and training. Applying for short-term contracting jobs may not work because recruiters and clients prefer employees with local experience. Some contracting jobs also involve background checks requiring at least 5 years of work history in their country, as most public sector roles in the UK need an SC clearance level, which new immigrants may not be ineligible for. If you hold a student visa, it may allow you to work only a specific amount of hours per week. Such visa holders may be hired for part-time jobs only so your visa category may either offer or limit opportunities.

Application Phase

You may be applying through the wrong sources

In your target country, search for job portals suited to your industry. For instance, educational jobs are listed primarily in job portals frequented by academia rather than global giants like Indeed or Monster. There is a portal for each industry. Google them to find at least 3-4 relevant portals and upload your CV onto all of them. Frequently monitor the sites for new jobs and avoid looking at unsuitable job portals that do not provide enough listings for your industry. This may give you the incorrect impression that the 'market isn't good' or 'there aren't enough jobs in the market at this point of the time'. Applying at the right place is key. Check the privacy settings of such portals, as most allow you to let recruiters view your CV. Place your CV on ‘public’ to gain the most views. Recruiters search by CV and sometimes may contact you regarding jobs that have not yet been advertised. Update your CV regularly and submit frequently to all the portals as most recruiters tend to view the most recently updated CVs. An older, outdated CV indicates you may no longer be active in the market.

Applying from the wrong location

Never apply from outside the country where you intend to work. Not having a local physical address or local contact number can significantly reduce your chances of getting a response. Living in an EU country and applying for another EU location is slightly different. However, if you do not live in the country, recruiters are less likely to spend the time and expense dealing with foreign candidates regardless of whether you are eligible to work there.

Using the wrong introductory approaches

While approaching someone for a job or when writing a cover letter, use professional language. Never write phrases like "here is my CV, please review", "if you have something, then let me know”. The recruiter is there to hire someone for a specific position, so write something that clearly defines who you are, what you do, and how you are suited rather than generic statements. Anyone committed to finding a job should set email job alerts rather than ask someone to "let them know when there is a match". It is frustrating for recruiters to deal with such unprofessional applications and your CV can be rejected. The topic of writing good cover letters is covered  with more detail in this article and be mindful to avoid these mistakes. When applying, be clear about which job you are applying for to avoid confusing the recruiter. Otherwise, they may proceed with their pool of already shortlisted and qualified candidates. Please remember that yours is one amongst many applications so introduce yourself to sell your skills above other candidates

Your CV may not be written properly

In 90%+ cases, the first line of rejection is a poorly written CV. Due to cultural issues, a format that may work in one country may not work in a western country. Do not merely add few more lines to your older CV and send.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Choose the proper CV template. There are some professionally written CVs free to download in jobsRmine portal. Write a clear and concise CV. Avoid filler and flowery language. Writing a simple sentence like "seeking a mid-level Java developer position in London" works perfectly well. Include achievements and accomplishments rather than mundane roles and responsibilities. Do not include personal details like your DOB or marital status. They are irrelevant and offers are not made based on this information. Include statistics like "improved memory footprint of an application by 200 MB" rather than "improved performance of an application". Such achievements backed by statistics catch the attention of the recruiter and ATS software quickly and shortlisting becomes easier. Getting shortlisted by a recruiter is one of the greatest challenges of the process. Once you get past the recruiter and reach the interview stage, you can impress the employer and get an offer, but you need a stellar CV to get you there. Use a professional CV writer to revamp your CV if necessary. Customize your CV for every job that you apply for with relevant keywords correctly highlighted. Include your visa status on the CV as it will confirm that you can legally work in that country. It is critical to assure the employer that you are not only qualified for the job but have the right to work in the country. Otherwise, you can be setting yourself up for rejection. Be prepared and organised.

A well-written CV reflects care and attention to detail. If an employer asks for a CV, don’t send a resume, and vice versa. They are not the same. This infographic explains the differences.

Not having the right credentials

Your qualifications acquired in another country or certifications to practice a particular profession may not be enough to perform the same job in another country. Not having the required certifications or training could be a reason for rejection. This is particularly important in professions like accounting, teaching, or healthcare.

Not networking on professional forums

Having no or an incomplete presence on professional forums like LinkedIn is not going to help you. Nowadays, most recruiters look up your LinkedIn profile to check who your connections are and verify any recommendations. Apart from job portals, many jobs are listed exclusively on LinkedIn, so use its search and apply feature. There is an option on LinkedIn’s privacy settings that alerts only recruiters that you are looking for a job and not your current employer or colleagues. Make sure you enable it in your profile settings. Be aware of unprofessional behavior to avoid on LinkedIn that may hinder your job search. There are also other informal but highly effective forums where you can find jobs.

Targeting the wrong job

Check if you are targeting the wrong kind of job. If you were a ‘Team Leader’ in another country, in the western world, it has more meaning and involves more technical responsibilities. In the software industry, an architect outside the country is equivalent to a senior software engineer in the western world. If you have consistently applied for the wrong jobs, this could be a reason for failure. Scale down and apply for a slightly lesser job than you have done in the past to be more competitive.

Having obsolete skills

You may have been working in your comfort zone on skills classified as legacy technology. The western world is at the forefront of adopting emerging technologies. Check if you need to upgrade your skills to compete with what the market demands. In roles such as testing, manual testing is becoming obsolete. Learn automation skills, which lead to increased productivity. There are so many online portals available for training like Udemy, which lists fantastic courses at affordable prices. They have even been rated by course users. Making an informed decision to choose the right training is easy. In some jobs, acquiring certifications add significant value rather than merely stating that you have certain skills.

Interview Phase

Once you reach the interview stage, seize the opportunity to make your best impression. The first question in most interviews is "what do you know about our company”. This will indicate to the interviewer how much you have researched the company and its goals and objectives and how its line of business aligns with your career objectives. If you have not done your homework and cannot properly answer the question, you will be setting yourself up for failure. Most interviews for permanent positions in the UK will be competency-based, so prepare to give specific examples when replying. Do not give vague answers but rather specific examples from your most recent job. At the end, you will be asked if you have any questions. Prepare a few good questions about the company and its operations. These can impress the interviewer and give you an advantage. Read articles like the following to help you prepare for some tough interview questions: https://blog.jobsrmine.com/killer-interview-questions. Also, avoid overly-emphasising salary expectations.

Follow-up Phase

Once the interview is over, write a Thank You note for the interview opportunity and express your interest in the job. The following article reviews this: https://blog.jobsrmine.com/10-important-tips-when-writing-a-post-interview-follow-up-letter. Avoid nagging the recruiter for updates. Once they have an update, they will inform you as it is their job to place you and get their commission. Even if you do not get an offer, stay in touch with the recruiter. If they received positive feedback about you, they will continue to try and place you with other clients.

How to overcome challenges

Now that we have discussed the challenges you will face when looking for a job, let’s look at some positive steps you can take to overcome those challenges.

Switch visa category

Can you switch your visa category to another, less-restrictive category? In the UK, in rare cases, if employers can't find suitable job candidates within the EU, they may be willing to sponsor a Tier 2 general visa. Search the internet with keywords like ‘visa sponsored jobs’ to find out who is sponsoring such visas and switch over to that category if possible. Such visa categories lead to ILR (permanent residency). Review the visa options in the country where you are trying to find a job.

Effective CV

Write an effective CV, even if you have to use a professional CV writer. Do not simply add more pages or mundane content to your current CV. Get creative, use the correct vocabulary and keywords to catch attention, and properly format. These career infographics are a useful reference. Always include your local address and local contact number.


Some primary reasons employers avoid hiring foreign workers is the lack of trust in the qualifications of the worker or inadequate references from local employers. Volunteering is an excellent way to gain experience, confidence, and generate local references. It keeps you occupied, allows you to make new contacts and references, and demonstrates your commitment to social causes. Regardless of whether it pays a little or nothing, it is a valuable asset on your CV.

Try contracting

In many businesses, there are often positions for temporary contracting or part-time jobs. This could be due to heavy workload, covering for workers on holiday or maternity leave, or the job may require specific skills that none of the current employees have. Since you are immediately available and have the right skills for the job, you have a good chance of being hired. If the company is happy with your work, the temporary position may eventually lead to a permanent position.

Be flexible with salary and location

You will have more success starting a new life in a foreign country if you are flexible with salary, location, and working hours. Local residents may be less willing to work elsewhere as they are already be established through work, family, and social ties. Also, if your suggested salary is reasonable, that may give you an advantage over local candidates seeking higher salaries. After your first job, you can use local references that will help you obtain future jobs. You may also find fixed-term contract work that includes benefits that are hard to fill because locals may not prefer those jobs. Explore all options.

Ask for help

There is a saying, "You don’t get something unless you ask for it". Everyone needs help sometimes, so when you need it, why not ask for it? It could be as simple as changing your LinkedIn headline to "Available immediately for new positions" or pinging your network to inform them you are looking for work or posting a message on LinkedIn. Tweet about it or post in relevant FB groups describing your situation and ask for help. Believe me, professional people are in general very helpful, and they will tag someone or provide leads that can help you in your situation. You have nothing to lose by asking. Just do it!

Be pleasant and positive

Always be pleasant, positive, and confident in all interactions with recruiters or potential employers. Sometimes recruiters might talk to you in a way that challenges you to determine how you react or respond to stressful situations. Without taking it personally, answer politely and confidently.

Required certifications/qualifications

Find out what local exams you need to pass in your profession or if any additional training is necessary to compete with local talent. This is an absolute must.

Apply directly on employer sites

Not all jobs are advertised on job portals or placed at agencies, e.g., start-ups. Many jobs are advertised directly on company websites in their ‘careers’ section. To find jobs in your profession, make a list of employers you would like to work for, visit their website, and search the careers section to apply for any suitable jobs. These jobs are not advertised elsewhere because they may involve higher costs and recruiter fees.

Takeaway points:

To summarise key recommendations, follow the below:

•           Prepare a good CV

•           Apply on several job portals and employer website career sections

•           Apply only from within the country with a local address and contact number

•           Maintain an active presence on professional networking platforms like LinkedIn

•           Thoroughly prepare for interviews by researching the necessary skills and information about the company

•           Try volunteering, part-time jobs, or temporary jobs

•           Price your skills correctly by studying the market

•           Apply for the right job

•           Retrain to add additional skills

•           If possible, change your visa category to a visa type allowing more flexibility

•           Remain positive, pleasant, and never lose hope

Author Mohammed Rafeeq is a software engineer and founder of the career portal jobsRmine. He has worked in four different locations in India, Greece, the USA, and the UK. Having seen the hiring pattern in different countries, he shares his thoughts on improvements possible, through articles that are published in jobsRmine blog: https://blog.jobsrmine.com and via informative infographics at: https://www.jobsrmine.com/useful-job-search-infographics.

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