How to Get a European Work Visa

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Getting a visa to live and work in a European Union (EU) country is no easy feat, but if you are dedicated to finding a job abroad, there are ways to secure a work visa. Requirements vary from country to country, so be sure to look specifically at the country where you want to work. Below is an outline of the general requirements needed to qualify for a visa within the EU.

Step 1

Find an employer. If you're a non-EU citizen, to be eligible for a work visa you must have an employer who is willing to sponsor you. Finding a job that will sponsor you when you don't already have a visa can be difficult; your best bet is often to look for multinational corporations within your own country who would be willing to transfer you overseas and sponsor your visa application. If you have professional experience within an in-demand field (international business and specialized technology professionals are commonly recruited abroad), there are placement agencies available who can help market you to European employers.

Step 2

Gather the necessary documents. In addition to the work visa application, you will probably need to fill out a general visa application and perhaps a residence visa application as well. In most cases, this will require that you provide proof of a clean criminal record, a passport that is valid six months past your requested visa period, and sometimes bank statements, along with your employment contract and other country-specific materials.

Step 3

Be very careful with your paperwork. It is extremely important that all your documents are present with the right number of copies in the right order; any mistakes in organization or missing documents can drastically slow the processing of your visa, or lead to your request being denied. Make sure your handwriting is clear, and the name you list on your application matches your passport, contract and other papers exactly.

Step 4

Follow through. After your visa has been approved, there are still things to do once you arrive in Europe. Most countries require you to register with the local authorities as a resident immediately upon arrival, and renew this residency every year. Check with the embassy of the country that issued your visa to see what they expect from you. Not meting these expectations could jeopardize your legal status in Europe.


  • Do not try to work in Europe without a visa. This can result in heavy fines, jail time or deportation, all of which will make it very difficult for you to obtain a visa or even travel internationally in the future.


  • Personal connections are the best way to break into the European work force. See if your associates or friends at home know anyone in Europe who might be willing to sponsor you for a visa. If not, try heading to Europe without a visa (residents of most countries are allowed to stay for up to 90 days without a visa) to apply for jobs in person. If you are successful, you will have to head back to your home country to apply for your visa.
  • Consider a student visa. In most countries you are eligible for a student visa if you register for a certain number of class hours per week. These classes could be anything from a graduate degree to a language course, but in some countries student visas also allow you to work part time. If your goal in working abroad is to gain cultural experience, a student visa can be a good option, and working part time can finance your stay.

About the Author

After graduating college in December, 2008, Lorraine O'Neil began working full-time as a freelance writer. Since she has been working professionally, O'Neil's articles have been published on websites such as DIY Chatroom. O'Neil holds a Bachelor of Arts in legal studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.