How to Immigrate to Europe

Updated on November 10, 2016
TessSchlesinger profile image

Tessa left her home country for Lesotho in 1973. Since then, she has travelled extensively, and has no plans to stop.

A Choice of Twenty-Eight Countries in the European Union

Just as the United States of America has many states, some of which are more prosperous than others, so the European Union has many countries, some of which are more prosperous and others less so. There are twenty-eight countries in the EU, and if you have citizenship in one, you can live and work in any of the others. This is akin to being born in one state in America, but still able to live and work in other states. However, just as that right does not apply to someone who is not an American, so the right to reside in Europe is only for those born in Europe.

Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium.
Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium. | Source

The European Economy

The GPA of the European Union is the largest economy in the world, being nearly twice the size of the GPA of the USA and China combined. This means that the immigrant is assured that somewhere in this vast economical system, there will be jobs and opportunity. The percentage of unemployment in Europe is, therefore, far lower than in America. The reason why this might appear otherwise is that, in Europe, if someone is unemployed, they are paid out by the state until they find new employment and are counted as unemployed. In the United States, when six months of unemployment payment is up, then the person is no longer counted as unemployed (even when they are).

Living in Italy

How Immigration Generally Works

Immigration into most countries is difficult. Virtually all countries use a point system: a sought after university degree or a rare skill will give the future immigrant a high score. There are exceptions to this, for example, in Australia, trades are sought after, and some of the South American countries simply need proof of a regular income. However, the general rule for Europe is that you have something to offer the country of your choice – a skill or expertise that is in short supply in that country.

It is also true that, as with anything else, immigration is easier for the rich than for the poor. In fact, it may be impossible for the poor as no country is willing to accept those who will be a drain on the country’s finances.

Investors with more than a million dollars to invest in a business that employ locals will find immigration to Europe a lot easier than someone who is an economic refugee from the heart of Africa.

Whereas once upon a time, all it needed to enter another country was a marriage certificate, this has not been so for some time. I know of several Germans who are married to South Africans who can find neither permanent residency in either Germany or South Africa. Immigration officials are no longer keen to accept that marriages are genuine. Too many have proven to be simply a means of bypassing immigration requirements.

Other categories for successful immigration include, work permits (which can convert to permanent residency after five years), exceptional artistic or athletic talent, political asylum status, or retirement.

Acquiring a work permit generally means that you already have a job with a European company lined up, and that the company which has hired you cannot find someone locally to do the job. This generally means that there is a shortage of people with your qualification.

Lastly, if you chose to retire in Europe, as long as you have sufficient money and health insurance to live there, apart from extensive paper work, there is little to worry about. It’s more than doable.

America is unique in offering two other options. The first is that close family members will be allowed to join you if you are a citizen of the United States. This can take between eighteen months (if you are a child) to thirteen years (if you are a parent). The second option is to win the Diversity (Green Card) lottery.

The only way I could qualify for acceptance into the United States was to win the Green Card Lottery. This I did in April, 2002, and I stayed in America for eleven years until I left in 2014 to return to Europe (I am a dual European/South African citizen).

Some South American countries will accept proof of a permanent income (over $500 per month) as acceptable for immigration.

Why Vienna Is the Best Place in the World to Live!

or the fourth consecutive year, Vienna was ranked as the number one city with the highest quality of life in the world, surpassing cities in Switzerland, Denmark, and the U.S.
or the fourth consecutive year, Vienna was ranked as the number one city with the highest quality of life in the world, surpassing cities in Switzerland, Denmark, and the U.S. | Source

My Great Grandfather Was Italian...

Nope! It doesn’t count. In order to live in the European Union, you must either be born there or one of your immediate parents needed to be born there. Half a century ago, if one of your grandparents had been born in Europe, you could have used that to acquire European residency No longer. There are some exceptions, but you would need to look for them. An example would be if either of your parents were Jewish and they were stripped of their German nationality by Hitler. If one of your parents does have European nationality, you would need to apply before your 18th birthday (for some countries, that’s your 16th birthday and for others it’s your 21st).

Living in Greece

Some Benefits of Living Within the European Union

  • Easy relocation to another country within the European Union without the need to immigrate. In some countries, you may need to register and you may have to have either an income or a job, but that’s about it.
  • Exposure to many new cultures, ancient architecture, and new languages. The twenty member countries of the European Union are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxenbourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and (until 2018?) the United Kingdom.
  • There is an enormous range of climate systems, so if you are working in Finland and the cold gets too much, it’s very easy to jump on a plane, plane, or bus, and visit the Med for warmer climes.
  • Some countries are much cheaper to live in than others. This could be very useful if you are an artist or a writer or someone who needs cheap rent and cheap (but healthy) food. Spain, Portugal, and Greece come to mind.
  • Inter-country travel is inexpensive. Unlike the train trip from San Diego to Los Angeles (a mere 100 mile (160 kilometres) journey which will set you back some $150, a trip for a similar distance in Europe can be had for substantially cheaper. I travelled from Edinburgh in Scotland, through London, to Dover, caught the overnight ferry, then back onto a luxury bus, through France, until I eventually reached Amsterdam. The entire return journey cost me under $50. The total distance travelled was 750 miles. Bus, train, and plane services are fully developed and even living in a small a small village in the heart of Andalucía (Spain), I found daily return buses to the bigger cities (Malaga, Seville, Cordoba, Cadiz) for between $8 and $11. Bullet trains are particularly useful as they cover large distances in relatively little time. An example would be London to Paris in a hour and a quarter at a cost of $110 (return) for a distance of just over 300 miles (500 kilometres).
  • There is a vast difference in culture between that of Europe and that of America. The American Dream is one of self-sufficiency, and if you work hard enough, then you may be able to buy a house and live well. The European Dream is excellent quality of life for all people, and if you don’t quite earn enough, then the state is so set up to help you do that. Some countries, like Germany, Holland, etc. offer free university education, while all have affordable medical care.
  • Living in a country where English is not the native language gives you the opportunity to learn a new language. It is far easier to learn another language when you are surrounded by it. Most Europeans speak two or three languages with English being of the most popular spoken.
  • The Charter of Human Rights protects the civil rights of all Europeans. It is the most extensive legislation of human rights in the world. Human rights are different to civil rights. Human rights mean that you have those rights just because you are human whereas civil rights are granted to you by law. Americans have civil rights granted to them by their constitution. Europeans have human rights granted to them by the Charter of Human Rights.

Before deciding to live in Europe, it's important to have visited many times.
Before deciding to live in Europe, it's important to have visited many times. | Source

Immigration to France or Germany

France is the country most sought after in Europe. It used to be the easiest to immigrate to but the influx of enormous numbers of unskilled workers from the third world has seen tougher immigration requirements. Whereas, there initially used to be a sympathy for these unskilled workers, too many unskilled workers have had a negative effect on the economy and the living standards of the French. If you are unskilled and wishing to live in France, it’s probably best to find an easier country for initial immigration and when you are settled there (and perhaps learnt new skills), relocate to France.

Those who are qualified in Information Technology will find a ready home in Germany as it has a shortage of IT professionals. Anyone with IT qualifications will find it relatively easy to be accepted for immigration in Germany. Germany has the third largest economy in the world and probably also the neatest country in the world. I recall driving along the Autobahn (no speed limit) and marvelling at the way machinery was covered up. Not an untidy object in sight!

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Brief Summary of Requirements for Immigration to Europe

If you wish to immigrate to a European country, you need to have a sought after qualification or be exceptionally talented in your field. You could also have a job to go to, loads of money to set up in business so that you can employ European nationals, or be a political figure seeking asylum.

© 2016 Tessa Schlesinger


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    • profile image

      Abdul hussain korai 5 months ago

      Europe is such a beautiful n attractive part of the world n indeed every body wants to move towards Europe ,Hope to have the chance to move towards wonderful part of world.

    • MicahI profile image

      Micah 13 months ago from Central Florida

      Europe is such a beautiful place with deep culture and history. I hope to one day visit each country. Thank you for sharing!

    • threekeys profile image

      Threekeys 13 months ago from Australia

      Tess the timing of your article is amazing to me. To me you just opened up a door of possibilities at least at this stage. I thank you for writing this article.

    • TessSchlesinger profile image

      Tessa Schlesinger 13 months ago from South Africa

      The way the internet works is that people search for something. In other words, the only way the article can be found is if people search for "how to immigrate to Europe." I am hardly encouraging anyone - just writing an article that hopefully fulfills a need. If anything, most people do not have rare qualifications or are millionaires, so they are unlikely to qualify for immigration to Europe.

    • F-Menchise profile image

      F-Menchise 13 months ago from Brisbane Australia

      I have to say that what you have written is very interesting, as it has a lot of information about migrating. But, is it really necessary to encourage people to move to Europe, when the world population would be better off, if they stay in their own countries, because, in my opinion, there will be a lot of future problems, wherever the population becomes too large to be sustained.

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