When considering an international move it is essential that you speak to your partner/spouse about their thoughts of the subject first. If they aren’t able or willing to move with you, you may need to reconsider your plans (or relationship!) entirely.
It may sound obvious, but we have seen situations where lawyers are made very good offers in their dream location before their partner has even realised they are serious, and occasionally, before they had even mentioned the idea at all – it doesn’t tend to end well!
Once you have decided that an international move is right for you both, contact a specialist recruiter who can advise you on your options and on the logistics of moving as a couple. If your partner/spouse works, it is important to identify whether their career will transfer to your chosen location. Next, consider whether they will need to find a job prior to the move, or if they are happy to look once you arrive. Co-ordinating job searches can be difficult, and depending on the market, you may prefer to consider moving alone to begin with and your partner joining you once they secure a role.
It is also critical that you consider the specific requirements of the location – for example, in some jurisdictions it is difficult for unmarried couples to move and live together due to work permit or visa limitations.
If your destination is the Cayman Islands for example, your spouse will need to be added as a dependant on your work permit if they are not working themselves. If you are not married, your boyfriend, girlfriend or fiancé(e) cannot be listed as a dependant and so will only be allowed to enter as a visitor. Visitor visas permit a 30 day stay and so anyone on the island on that basis must leave periodically - not too problematic as Miami is only 1 hour away. Note that the Cayman Islands recognise legally married same sex spouses as dependants.
In Middle Eastern countries such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, it is against the law for unmarried couples to live together. That being said, plenty of non-Muslim couples do cohabit without any problems, but they do so at their own risk. The police in areas such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi have better things to do with their time than hunt for cohabiting couples, but problems can arise when unmarried couples are brought to their attention for other reasons and are investigated, so stay in your neighbours' good books! If you are married, you will sponsor your spouse to get a residency visa.
Finally, as well as being integral to your decision-making process (and a happy home life!), having your partner on board may also be crucial to your chances of securing a role. Many hiring firms take the view – rightly or wrongly – that a dissatisfied ‘other half’ is the most likely reason for a new hire to leave so expect to be quizzed on your plans throughout the interview process.
The Origin Legal international team have over 20 years' experience of helping lawyers to make life- changing and career-defining international moves. To discuss this article or to find out more about your options in general, please get in touch.
Jason Horobin - [email protected] or +44 (0)1206 233 514
Charlotte Hooper - [email protected], or +44 (0)1206 233 515