You’ve finished up school
and you want to see the
world, camera in hand.
Some photographers want
the cultural experience
away from home, while for
others—such as budding
almost a prerequisite of
the industry. However,
making that dream a
reality does entail quite
a bit of forethought and
preparation. Here’s a
brief overview of what it
The first step is to obtain a work permit,
though the laws and rules that regulate the
entrance of foreigners are complex and vary
from country to country. The majority of
countries require you to apply for one from
your home country—not after you arrive.
FIrst, contact the consulate or embassy
of the country in which you want to work,
and meet with an immigration official to find
out what the country requires of you to work
there. The U.S. Department of State provides
links to foreign embassies in the United States
( bit.ly/2hto1fP), which will help you get started.
Typically it takes three to six months to obtain a work permit. Showing familiarity with
a country and its culture is key during the
process. To lessen the likelihood of surprises
and delays, “plan early,” immigration attorney
Peter Zhang says, “and engage local professionals for guidance. This is particularly important as the process for relocation can be
very different based on the applicant’s nationality and the purpose for the relocation.”
After you’ve set in motion the process of
obtaining a work permit, start chipping away
at the following tasks:
• Start learning the language.
• Make sure your passport is valid for at least
six months longer than you intend to spend
in the foreign country.
• Gather important documents (birth certificate, driver’s license, medical records, etc.).
You’ll need these for many reasons, including to set up a bank account.
• Get immunized and make sure your medical records are up to date.
• Determine the tax laws for working abroad
in both countries.
• Find out if your current health insurance
will cover you abroad. If it doesn’t, ask your
new country’s embassy or consulate what
kind of health coverage will be available to
you and purchase it.
• See if you’ll need entrance and exit customs
forms. If you’re traveling light, you probably
won’t, but check with your new country’s
embassy or consulate to find out.
• Make sure you have access to your funds in
the U. S. while you’re abroad.
• Research the local culture and begin absorbing it while still in the U. S.
• Find a place to live. Consult websites that offer apartment listings in your new country
and/or that are expressly for international
travelers. Ask advisers in study abroad
programs at your alma mater if they recommend any agencies or apartment brokers
overseas. Also ask your family and friends
and post on social media; often word of
mouth is the most fruitful.
• Meet with photographers who have accomplished what you are setting out to do. The
advice and experience of a fellow photographer can’t be underestimated.
It can be challenging to find work in a new
country, but with determination, it too can be
By AMY TOUCHETTE
A Photographer’s Guide working outside
of the U.S. after graduation