My friend and I are planning on moving to first Italy to work and travel for about four months and then to France (work and travel) until July 2011. We're both from Canada and university graduates (I'll have degrees in English, biology and psychology) and I was wondering if anyone could offer any tips on housing (where are the best places to live while doing this), best job opportunities etc. I can travel on my Canadian passport or Polish passport (would mean I was part of the EU). Which would you suggest + any other tips. Thank you so much!!
Answer on Moving to Italy for a few months then France (Nov 2010-July2011)?
There are not many jobs available right now here in Italy; the unemployment rate is high. You may have a relatively easy time staying here with a Polish passport, but unless your friend is a citizen of the EU, it won't be so easy for him/her. The cost of living is lower in the south, but the unemployment is higher.
The following applies to non-EU citizens who want to work in the EU in general and Italy in particular, for example. Similar rules apply for other countries; check their consulate websites for specific details. Note that in order to work in France, your friend would need a separate visa there. There is a working holiday visa availavble to Canadians here, but it's intended for stays of over 90 days.
EU citizens have the right to live and work within the EU, but others need a visa to live and work here legally. You can't just decide to relocate and go. The site for visas here in Italy is: http://www.esteri.it/visti/index_eng.asp . The site has links to the application, the additional information you need to supply in order to get the visa and where to apply. You can find similar information for other countries here on their consulate websites.
The rules in much of the EU have been harmonized and will be similar; there really aren't many easier places. You cannot apply for the visa from Italy; you need to do that before you arrive. When you get here, you will have to apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno (Permission to Stay) from the authorities. Note that you also have to apply for the Permesso. With the economy now, jobs are scarce - a lot of companies have a hiring freeze in place. The unemployment rate in Spain is around 20% for example and almost 50% in the 16 to 24 year old age group; it's not that bad here, but still higher than the US.
A work permit is separate - you cannot apply for that yourself. The company has to apply and they have to be able to demonstrate that there is not a viable EU candidate for the job. As a result, jobs for foreigners including Canadian or US citizens are pretty much restricted to people with special education, knowledge, or experience. The medical/healthcare field may have the most demand right now. You will need to know the local language where ever you would move. I'm not aware of anyone who is hiring currently in the city where I live and some business are cutting back on employees.
When I applied for a visa several years ago, the process took about 8 months even though it was just of transfer of the job I was already doing from the US to Italy. Actually getting the visa after the paperwork was in place was pretty quick though (about a week). You would, of course, need to be able to speak Italian here and the local language of any other country you might choose to have a realistic hope of landing a job if you can find one available.
It's useful to check the expat sites for information about living and working here or other places you might be interested in:
There are similar sites specific to just about any country you might be interested in that you can find by searching for "ex pat" or "expat" and the name of the country. Generally, these will have a lot of good information on daily life and negotiating the bureaucracy when you arrive and provide you with useful information you should know before you make the transition. The websites of the consulates of the countries you might be interested in are also a good starting point.