IT relocation process - Moving to another country for permanent residence

Where IT specialists live well. Experts on where IT professionals relocate to and where there is a willingness to accept them

The words IT and relocation are increasingly found together, especially lately. We learned which countries are the new home for many IT professionals in 2022, where the special IT visa is issued, what to consider when relocating, and why some countries are more suitable for relocation than others. Read about it all in a big reportage from Realting.com.

Over the past six months, IT emigration has reached unprecedented proportions. Only from Russia in February-May about 40 thousand professionals in this field left the country. However, it is worth separating the directions for relocation that are the most popular at the moment and the directions where the conditions for life and work of IT specialists are the most comfortable and suitable. Both sides of the coin of relocating IT professionals are covered in our big article. 

Content:

  • Part I. What are the most popular areas for relocation for IT professionals in 2022.
  • Part II. Which countries are the most suitable for IT professionals to live and work in.
  • Part III. Experience of IT-girl who has already been living in Germany for 3 years.

«In the spring and early summer, there were traffic jams at the migration authorities»

Which countries are most often chosen by IT professionals to move to in 2022? And why? Varvara Shatova, Co-Director for Outbound Relocation Services at Intermark Relocation, shared all the details with us.  

Varvara Shatova, co-head of international relocations at Intermark Relocation— In the spring and early summer, the migration authorities faced traffic jams due to the large number of relocated persons: in March and April we saw a peak in the processing of files from Ukrainian citizens, followed by Russians and Belarusians.

There have been some innovations due to the tense situation in the world. Some European countries — for example, the Czech Republic — have stopped accepting new applications from Russians for residence permits and permanent residence permits, and Spain has suspended a number of programs, including start-up visas with domestic applications. Recently, however, we have seen an improvement: Germany has eased visa programs, Portugal has «unfrozen» immigration processes, and many specialists in Spain expect to receive a nomad visa.  

In fact, there are a lot of popular destinations for relocation. The most popular, according to our observations, are Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Serbia, the UAE, Israel, and Cyprus. But the list of countries is constantly changing. Initially quite numerous IT specialists went to Uzbekistan, and Montenegro is also not losing its popularity due to its attractive climate, location in Europe and the easy process of opening a sole proprietorship. 

In 2021-2022, dozens of countries have launched the Digital Nomad visa program. The indisputable advantage of such a visa is the ability to stay in the country for up to 1 year, extend the visa for the following year, and in some cases to relocate your family. And in Portugal, it is also a direct path to obtaining a permanent residence permit and a passport. 

In addition, many IT professionals began to look at Asia and Latin America — for example, Indonesia is developing a new visa for digital nomads, which will be issued for five years. Therefore, this direction will certainly become popular in the future as well.

Things to think about before relocating

— There are a huge number of reasons why IT professionals choose these countries for relocation. Among them are the opportunity to work remotely, to expand their opportunities, horizons and social circle, mobile and dynamic lifestyle. IT companies select these locations as safe jurisdictions from which they can conclude international contracts.

It should be noted that all of the above countries are also quite «budget-friendly» locations. That is, if you need to relocate just a few top managers, Dubai may be fine, but when it comes to a large team with families, it is worth wondering: where these families can live at the same (or even better) level, where they will work effectively, remaining happy with their compensation after taxes, where they will be satisfied with the standard of living.

From the company’s point of view, when transferring employees, it is worth paying attention to such nuances: how much the employees’ salaries will have to be indexed, what compensation will be included in the relocation package and how much it will all cost in the end, etc. 

Grounds necessary for relocation 

— The list of requirements in each country will be different. We can identify a few common grounds for the «digital nomad» visa type and its counterparts:

  • citizenship of a third country;
  • availability of a domestic contract (in the country where the foreigner is moving from) and confirmation of the remote format of work;
  • availability of a long-term rental contract;
  • minimum confirmed stable income;
  • health insurance;
  • certificate of no criminal record.

And if it is a corporate moving, the basic requirements will be different: 

  • the basis of everything is a work contract;
  • applicable form of registration at the place of residence in the country;
  • insurance;
  • often the compliance with the minimum wage of the country of destination;
  • often proof of qualifications;
  • for visa countries — visa and work permit (not EAEU).

Timeframe for relocation

— It is hard to say how long the process of IT specialists’ relocation will take — it all depends on the country.

Registering a company in Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Turkey, and Cyprus is very fast and can take literally a few days. In these countries, there is also an option to register a firm by power of attorney. As for opening an account, it is now a complicated and not fixed in time process.

The fastest and most realistic scenario for business relocation is 1-1.5 months (taking into account closing all household issues). In the case of Serbia, Turkey and Cyprus, add another 2+ months.

A universal set of steps for relocation

— To be specific, we will proceed on the basis that we are entering the country with a digital nomad visa.

The general checklist of steps will be as follows:

1. Find out if your profession falls into the list of «digital nomads.» This list includes, for example, categories such as accounting, marketing, creating online courses, consulting, and others.

2. Identify a source of income that will enable you to live and work remotely in your chosen country.

3. Select several priority options by country of deployment.

4. Think about a number of important everyday things: informing the relevant authorities in your current place of residence (tax, housing, and utilities) about the long-term departure, banking issues, buying a local SIM card, health insurance, the availability of Internet and Wi-Fi, etc.

5. Make a detailed plan with deadlines for preparatory steps in the current country and in the country of deployment. Set aside extra time for force majeure factors.

Nuances you need to be prepared for

— The nuances in the process of IT-immigration can be different, as the requirements for documents for entry visas and the timing of their consideration are constantly changing; very fluid tax laws and migration aspects, the conditions for opening bank accounts, transporting family; constantly updated list of countries where you can go and where entry is complicated. 

To summarize, you have to be prepared for new requirements and quickly look for alternative solutions.

«No country promises to make someone rich. If there are such illusions, you will be disappointed»

Now let’s move on to the directions that are most suitable for relocation of IT-specialists at the moment. Yuliya Medvedeva, an expert on migration and founder of Emigrantista — conscious migration project, helped us understand this question.

Yulia Medvedeva, expert on emigrationThe first direction worth pointing out right away is, of course, Germany. Foremost, because it is quite a big IT hub in Europe. Besides, Germany is different, because in addition to visas for highly skilled workers and for job search, they have separate, special visas for IT-specialists. The country has an accelerated procedure for obtaining this visa, and then it is possible to exchange it for a residence permit. Also, this visa provides very good conditions for the move: there is a lower bar on wages than the Blue Card, and when moving is not necessary to pass the German language. In general, the main requirement is to have a work contract with an employer in Germany.

The second destination that I can mention is the Netherlands. This European country does not have separate IT visas, but there are visas for highly skilled workers, and if the salary level matches, you can get a Blue Card.  

The Netherlands has sufficiently high requirements for salary, as it is an expensive country and it has a high standard of living: in the case of visas for highly skilled workers the minimum bar is around 2.5 thousand euros, for Blue Card — more than 4 thousand euros. This is the level of salary, which must be spelled out in the employment contract. 

The third direction I would call New Zealand. It may not sound very mainstream, but some time ago New Zealand was very popular among Russian-speaking IT people. Then its popularity declined, but the country is still a very good place to move to. 

Firstly, New Zealand provides many opportunities for finding a job, in particular, due to the fact that a huge number of interesting startups are based here. 

Secondly, getting a visa as an IT specialist to New Zealand is quite realistic, albeit a bit more difficult than, for example, to Germany. Moreover, it will be immediately a long-term visa, which implies that you will stay in New Zealand. 

You can also try to get the equivalent of a talent visa in New Zealand, without a specific job offer. That is to get an immigrant visa, which allows you to enter, stay in the country and look for work on the spot. But to do this you must have a high level of education, a good in-demand specialty and a long enough experience — and all this will need to be confirmed. 

Timeframe for relocation

— It is possible to move to Germany and the Netherlands very quickly — within a few months from the moment of receiving a job offer. The main thing to meet the title of a highly qualified specialist: have a higher education in their field, have experience in the field of 2 years (if you have more experience — great, that’s your plus). The process of relocation to New Zealand will already take longer, especially if you intend to get the equivalent of a talent visa. So in this case, I can not talk about any exact timeline.

A universal set of steps for relocation

— We can offer such a checklist if you are planning a work-related move to Germany, the Netherlands, or another European country:

  • you put your resume in order;
  • you organize the information on your LinkedIn;
  • you start actively responding to jobs, and you look at the feedback. In line with this, you change something on your resume, improve your LinkedIn profile, write new cover letters, etc.;
  • you get several invitations for interviews, go through some of them and choose the best job offer;
  • at this point, your employer takes the key steps. He submits an application to the migration service, and then from there they contact you and ask for minimum documents from the series «passport, questionnaire, photo»;
  • you bring all this to the consulate of the country where you now live, you wait for some time — and you are stamped in a passport visa D. Then you enter with this visa to the territory of the country where you will live and work, and exchange, roughly speaking, this visa for a residence permit. The first residence permit you can be given for a year, two, or three — it depends on what kind of immigration program you entered the country. 

Nuances you need to be prepared for

— You may encounter various kinds of subtleties in the following areas:

  • Local language. Since the IT sector speaks English, you will only need to know this language to work in many countries. That said, if it’s not an English-speaking country, you’ll probably start to feel uncomfortable after a while. You have to understand that you won’t feel completely at home until you speak the local language.  
  • Money. You should be prepared to pay several months’ rent in advance for your first apartment, plus leave a fairly large deposit. In addition, at first you will have a lot of expenses for paperwork, transferring bills to your name, etc. It is better to prepare this money in front of time. Here’s a rough budget, which is desirable to have for a comfortable move: about 10 thousand euros for one person, the second adult plus 5 thousand, if you move to another country with a child — put another 3 thousand euros. 
  • Standard of living. You are likely to experience a deterioration in your standard of living in the first year after moving. First, the financial aspect (those very expenses) will throw you a bit out of balance, and you will need some time to recover. Second, it will be hard mentally, which of course will also affect your quality of life. It doesn’t mean that you made a mistake or chose the wrong country — it’s just a period that you need to get over. The hard times will end, for sure, and everything will be fine. 
  • Moving with your family. If you are not moving alone, but with your family, you probably need to think about what your loved ones will do. Because if you do not decide on this in advance, it will increase the migrant adaptation crisis many times over and will impact your overall well-being.

Bonuses for those moving in

— You have to keep in mind that no country gives any super-bonuses or promises to make someone rich. If there are such illusions, you will be disappointed. 

But if you move for work, you get all the social perks that locals get. That is, you get all the social support, some benefits, free health insurance. Most likely, you will get a pension, but it depends on how long you work in this country. And, of course, subscriptions, education for children, etc. — all this you will also have exactly the same amount as all the residents of this country.  

«I advise you to contact as many listings as possible when looking for a place — not all of them answer»

Here’s what program engineer Katerina told us about her personal experience with the move:

Photo of software engineer Ekaterina— I moved to German Stuttgart from Ukraine in 2019. I chose Germany because it has always been known for its standard of living and safety, and for a programmer it is also the prospect of working with such giants as Porsche, Mersedes Benz and Bosch.

My relocation process to Germany consisted of the following steps: finding a job — interview — internship 2 weeks — getting a work contract — submitting documents to the embassy — waiting for a visa / looking for accommodation in Germany — getting a work visa — moving to Germany. I came here already with work visa, doing it in Ukraine. My employer at that time fully accompanied me in the questions of bureaucracy and contacted the embassy.

Since apartments in Germany are rented empty, practically all the furniture and appliances had to be bought from scratch. Something I brought from Ukraine, something I bought here. If we take into account the first payment for the lease of the apartment (for 3 months), plus cosmetic repairs — the move cost me about €5,000.

I looked for my first apartment through sites like Ebay Kleinanzeigen, Immobilien DE. The difficulties were at the beginning, because I did not have a German card or credit history in Germany. I found my apartment in about three months. I advise contacting as many listings as possible when looking for an apartment, because out of 100 listings, you will only get 20 replies.

As for expenses, I spend €650 a month on accommodation (I rent half-and-half with my partner). If I take into account all the expenses, taxes, going to restaurants, gyms, and shopping for the soul, I spend about €1500 a month.

In general, I have settled in a new country well. I like the local mentality, I quickly made friends and do not regret my decision. I recommend to IT professionals moving to Germany not to be afraid of the move and to calculate the budget carefully.

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