Immigrating w/o a Waiting Job

Every year immigrants, at least according to conventional social notions about such things, successfully leave behind their poor and/or oppressive countries of origin and make it to better places such as the US or the UK or France, etc., and often arrive with nothing but the shirt on their backs, but persevere and get a toehold, get jobs, get settled, etc…

OK…realistically speaking, what’s the straight dope on how one relocates to another country for more than a visit to photograph the pretty tourist attractions? Assuming that one has a passport, I guess it’s pretty easy to cross the border. How long to you get to stay?

[you may point and laugh if you wish. I’ve no doubt that I should know the answer to that. but I don’t]

Aren’t there a lot of complexities involved in getting that toehold? How do you become employable in the foreign country you’re visiting? I’ve heard of things called “work visas”, and I assume they are different from ordinary passports.

Meanwhile, formal permission to work or no, suppose you don’t quickly succeed in negotiating a job for yourself. There you are, unemployed in a foreign land. With or without a roll of bills in addition to the proverbial shirt on your back, I’d think you’d be at heavy risk of ending up unemployed and dead broke. Does this amplify the likelihood that you’ll simply be sent back to be a burden on the society from whence you came, or do they let you stay and be an unemployed alien?

In western industrialized-modern nations, if one should end up unemployed and dead broke there, are there services available to help one obtain employment and/or financial assistances of some sort?

I’m sorry that I can’t help as much as I’d like to, but I was only six when my Dad moved us from Germany to the United States. My Mom had a cousin who already lived here and lined up a job for my Dad, and that employer was also his “sponsor”. I’m not sure about whether we had to show that we had a place to live, though…we lived with relatives for the first few months here. Oh, and there was no help from the government as far as I could tell. We arrived in June and in September started going to school in a “sink or swim” situation.

I strongly doubt it’s that easy. Generally speaking, if you come from a develloping countries you won’t be allowed to enter a western country with only your passport. You’ll need a visa. And the “target” country will make sure it will be very hard to get one (you might be asked to provide evidences that you don’t intend to stay. Like for instance that you’ve in your own country a job, a family, lot of money, etc…).

If you don’t have a visa, airlines won’t let you onboard because they don’t want to have to repatriate you at their own expenses, according to many countries’ laws.

So, you’ll have to enter illegally. Which generally means crossing a desert on foot, a sea on a raft bringing three times as much people as it should, crossing a dozen borders without being caught, and so on. And of course paying the people who will help you doing so. And they’re going to want a significant amount of money, even by western standards, an enormous amount by your third world standard.
As for the “how long can you stay” part (assuming that you managed to get a visa and enter legally) it will of course depend on the country you want to immigrate to. Generally some months at best.
If you’re from a western country, of course, it’s much simpler. In most cases, you will indeed only need a passport and enough money to pay for your plane ticket.

A passport is only a specific kind of ID. It doesn’t grant you the right to enter a foreign country, let alone to work in this country.

A country may let in people from specific other countries with only a passport. If you’re an US citizen a passport is enough to enter France, for instance. But if you’re from Zimbabwe, forget about it. You’ll need a visa, ie an authorization to enter the country. Visas can come in any shape and form,. It can be a tourist visa, a business visa, a student visa, etc… Each visa will include various limitations (how long you can say, whether or not you can work, etc…) and obligations (actually attending courses if you got a student visa, for instance) . And of course, each country has different rules.

If you intend to work legally, you’ll probably need some form of work permit, green card, residence pemit, etc… that the host country will generally be reluctant to hand out if it doesn’t think it needs you or your competences.

Other solutions might include : asking for political asylium, a refugee status, marrying a local, etc… None will be made easy.

In all likehood, if caught, you’ll be deported not only if you didn’t find a job but also if you found one, in the case you don’t have a formal permission to work. If you do have one, it will depend on the country and the type of work/residency permit you got.

Generally speaking, if you’re an illegal alien, you don’t have access to such services, with the exception of short-term medical treatments. You might, depending once again on the country, have access to some kind of help, but don’t expect full walfare benefits, or the help of the local unemployment services. What you’ll probably try to rely on to find a job is fellow countrymen, relatives who previously immigrated, etc… Charities or associations dedicaced to the support of immigrants might also provide help, of course.
If you’re lucky, the host country might have laws allowing you to get a legal status if you can prove you’ve been living there for a long time or will pass a law granting such a status to illegal aliens currently present (Spain did so some months ago, for instance, giving a work permit to all aliens who could prove they’ve been working there for a given duration). Otherwise, you’re condemned to rely on low-paid under the table jobs.

clairobscurt makes it sound as if it’s impossible to pull it off. Maybe that’s the case in France, but in Canada, it’s ceretainly possible to come here and build a decent life.

First of all, as indicated, you can’t just get in on your passport; you have to apply to become a “landed immigrant.” That’s the Canadian term; other countries use different terms but have the same concept. Entry to Canada is based on a point system. Most immigrants to this part of Canada (and we get most of them, by the tens of thousands) come with at least a little bit of money, enough to rent a place to live, or they stay with relatives. If you passed the entry process, you’ll have been issued a social insurance number (Canada’s version of the SSN) and can legally work. I’m simplifying enormously to the sake of clarity but that’s basically how it works.

If you can’t find decent work you might have to go home. It does happen. You can’t draw on much social assistance, so you’ll have to sponge off your relatives or your ethnic community. If that doesn’t work I guess you’re screwed.

But the reality is you’re much LESS likely to be screwed in Canada than you were in your home country, which is why so many people do take the risk.

[you may point and laugh if you wish. I’ve no doubt that I should know the answer to that. but I don’t]

Aren’t there a lot of complexities involved in getting that toehold? How do you become employable in the foreign country you’re visiting? I’ve heard of things called “work visas”, and I assume they are different from ordinary passports.

Meanwhile, formal permission to work or no, suppose you don’t quickly succeed in negotiating a job for yourself. There you are, unemployed in a foreign land. With or without a roll of bills in addition to the proverbial shirt on your back, I’d think you’d be at heavy risk of ending up unemployed and dead broke. Does this amplify the likelihood that you’ll simply be sent back to be a burden on the society from whence you came, or do they let you stay and be an unemployed alien?

In western industrialized-modern nations, if one should end up unemployed and dead broke there, are there services available to help one obtain employment and/or financial assistances of some sort?
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The OP (people from poor/oppressed countries crossing a border without a visa and with only a shirt on their back) made me think mainly about unskilled illegal immigrants, not about about young people, educated, fluent in the local language with skills very much sought after who will easily get enough points to immigrate in Canada or get a job in a high tech company in Germany…

It’s true however, that you essentially can’t immigrate legally in France without a “waiting job”, as per the OP’s title (except in some specific circumstances like student visa holders working part-time, asylium seekers, etc…). You won’t get a work visa without a having first found a job, and you can’t work legally without said work visa.

Which of these things change if the country of origin is a nicely modernized western nation itself? Continue to assume the lack of a waiting job. I gather from what’s already been said that it’s easier to cross borders with just a passport. If one’s goal were to relocate permanently, how would one pull it off? Is there a time limit for a citizen of one modern-western nation visiting another? Could you dodge the immigration folks and find enough resources to make do until you found someone who’d employ you, and then go through the process of applying to become “landed” or whatever it’s called?

I’m only going to answer concerning France :

Yes. On a tourist visa, 90 days. Not specifically in France but on the territories of the Schengen countries (Schengen being a treaty between a number of western european countries, notably not including the UK and Ireland. Basically, if you get a visa to enter any of these country, you can travel freely between them). But you could also get a long stay visa (for instance, you intend to retire in France) providing you prove you’re financially able to take care of yourself (income, medical insurance…). In both cases, anyway, you’re not allowed to work. You could also apply for a student visa, valid I think for one year, and that allows you to work within some limits.

You could easily dodge the immigration folks. As for finding ressources, if you’re resourceful, probably yes. Typically, people pulling this trick are backpapers who want to overstay and make some money on the way. There might be an issue here because employers willing to offer you a permanent legal job might be put off by the fact you’re applying while you’re in an illegal situation. They’re likely not to be the same that accepted to hire you knowingly, since the latter probably did so because they intended to dodge the taxes or for a similar reason.

You would have to come back first to your country of residence and apply from there for a work visa. There’s a new issue here, because you’ll have to leave at some point, and if you overstayed, it might be noticed and you could not be allowed to reenter. I noticed on travel boards a number of people stating it’s a non-issue (the immigration officer not checking closely when you leave, or you pulling some lie about your passport not having been stamped when you entered the Schengen area), but I couldn’t tell if these comments are reliable, especially with the increased border controls related to the terrorism threat.
Besides, finding a job is no a guarantee that you’ll get a work visa. In theory, you’re supposed to get one only if the potential employer can’t find in the EU another qualified candidate. It seems that in practice if the employer really wants to give you the job, you’ll get the visa. Though most expatriates are educated and qualified people. I’m not convinced it would be as easy if your best qualification is lawn-mowing.

However, I’m not sure if entering as a tourist and searching for a job is a really common way for westerners to get a job in France. I think that most expatriates will rather apply for a job in France offered by some multinational company in their own country, or will just apply for a job in a french company from their own country.
But we’re long away from the poor immigrant with only a shirt on his back.

Checking it, I noticed that the countries for which France don’t require a visa, besides western countries (Switzerland, Israel, USA, Canada, Australia, New-Zealand, Japan) are typically Latino American countries and some wealthy asian countries (like South Korea). There’s no visa requirement for instance for Mexico, whose citizens, too busy crossing the Rio Grande, are unlikely to try to immigrate illegally in Europe.