I hope this is the right place to post. In recent months I have been finding contracts or skilled-volunteering after I quit my job. Now I'm searching for new opportunities and I saw few in countries that I can't work legally without a visa permit.

Sometimes, though very rarely, employers are explicit about being able to sponsor a visa for the right candidate. More often than not they will not say anything, and sometimes will say that you need the permit first.

I am a believer that if a company finds the right candidate they would be willing to bend such rules. It could be wishful thinking on my part but why not?

I lost two possible positions when I got through the interviews, references, and then the employers said they can't hire me. One of them politely said they would really want to but their budget doesn't let them sponsor anybody. The other one was angry that I didn't disclose that information earlier (they never asked).

Right now I am in a bit of an ethical pickle.

Personally I think it's silly to send my job application along with the information that "hey I need a visa to work for you" as that might be something they read even before my application. It's like shooting myself in a foot. But at the same time I want to be honest and want them to understand I do it only so that I am first judged by my qualifications and then by my passport..

Where is the balance then?

What do you think is the right place and time to mention this if an employer did not specifically say anything on the matter?

And now the extreme case, let's say job says I need a permit. I don't have one but at the same time I am very qualified for the job and it's a perfect company/organisation.

Where do I mention it (if at all?) but without compromising my chance before it even begins?

  • 5
    Remember that not all employers are even set up to sponsor work visas. (Mine is not, for example). By letting them getting far along in the process before they find out they can not hire you, you've wasted their time. This might explain the anger you encountered. Good luck in your search!
    – Kathy
    Sep 7, 2018 at 19:18
  • 2
    Yes I totally understand both sides. I come from a background where international work movements are normal but at the same time I understand it's not always the same for employers, hence trying to find some kind of good middle ground here..
    – user91995
    Sep 7, 2018 at 19:24
  • "I am a believer that if a company finds the right candidate they would be willing to bend such rules." Your belief is wrong for most countries. These rules are based on strict government regulations and they don't bend one little bit. For most countries, these days, getting a work permit is very costly in terms of time & money
    – Hilmar
    Sep 9, 2018 at 16:55
  • 1
    "Bending the rules"? Really? What kind of work are you looking for?
    – solarflare
    Sep 10, 2018 at 1:18
  • @Kathy: While work visa are fairly common, and so is employer sponsorship, it seems that the need to "set up" the employer is less common. I think in most countries a prospective employer can just approach the government and directly request a visa for a named candidate.
    – MSalters
    Sep 11, 2018 at 13:26

5 Answers 5


It's not about "bending the rules." I don't know how to get you a work permit. I bet it costs a ton of money and involves knowing an immigration lawyer. I can't add "learn how to get somebody a work permit" to my todo list this week. I just can't. I can only hire people who are already authorized to work here. I know this rules out some great candidates, but I have to live with that. I also can't pay you to move here from thousands of miles away -- and I live in a big country, so people who are authorized to work here could easily be living 2000 or more miles from me. Again I may lose some great candidates but I don't have a budget for that.

If you don't mention that you need a permit until quite far into the process, I'm going to be angry. But angry or not, whether I show it or not, I won't hire you. I can't hire you because I don't know how. You seem to think it's a case of "the boss says don't help with work permits, but this candidate is so great, I'm going to do it anyway." I am willing to bet cash money that no-one has ever done that. Ever. Because we don't know how, and there's nobody in the company who knows how. Even though this costs us some great candidates.

Do you have to tell me right away? No, you don't have to do anything. You can use all our interviews as practice to get yourself better. But it's kind of selfish. If the ad doesn't say that you must already be authorized to work here, and doesn't say "we'll help you get permission to work here", then you should be asking about that help as early in the process as possible, to save us all time. Waiting to ask won't change the answer, that's the key. So why wait?


Personally, I usually mention it to the person in the company who contacts me for the initial phone call, along with things like asking about the details of the position, the company culture, structure, projects, etc. If they can't hire you due to visa-related issues, then it's no use wasting everyone's time (both yours and theirs) going through the interview process. Remember, for the company, time is money, and if you're wasting their time then you're wasting their money.


I am a believer that if a company finds the right candidate they would be willing to bend such rules.

Hiring foreign workers is a really big deal in most countries. There are quite a few legal and financial issues surrounding this which goes well beyond any "rule bending".

By waiting until very late in the process you are causing problems for everyone. This is something you need to be upfront about. It should be a line on your resume stating that you need visa sponsorship and you should bring it up with the first person you speak with. If they have the capability of sponsoring a visa then they'll dig deeper with you. If the don't then you've done the courteous thing and not wasted everyone's time.


I am a believer that if a company finds the right candidate they would be willing to bend such rules. It could be wishful thinking on my part but why not?

The company's HR and, probably, the hiring manager know how likely it is that they will be able and willing to sponsor. That will depend on the cost of doing so - very high for some countries such as the US, lower for others - and on how easy or difficult it is to find suitable employees locally.

If you give them the information at the start of the process, they can make a reasoned judgement on whether they are likely to hire you despite the need for sponsorship. If you hide the information, you risk wasting both your time and theirs on an interview process when there is no possibility that you will be hired.

"Why not?", even ignoring ethics, is that there is a serious downside to wasting their time. They will be less likely to consider you in the future if their policy or your situation changes than if you had given them the choice. You cannot compromise your chances if there never was a chance, which will usually be the case with companies that do not sponsor foreign employees.

My own approach to this was to list my nationality and the fact that I am a US permanent resident at the top of my resume. In addition to work permit issues, there are some jobs in the US that require US citizenship.


In the UK, if the company allowed you to start work without having checked that you have permission to work in the country, the would be in deep legal trouble if that was ever found out. So no, no reasonable company will allow you to work in the UK if you don't have the right to work. You might get as far as being hired, but that is worth nothing if you have no permission to work. No matter how good you are, they won't "bend" the rules for you. Much too risky.

On your first day at work, you will be asked to bring evidence that you are allowed to work. For UK citizens, that's your UK passport. For EU citizens, that's currently your EU passport. For others, that's probably your visa. Someone will check it and make a photocopy of it. Photocopy because the company might be asked to prove that they checked it.

If you tell the company at the first step that you need a visa sponsor, half the companies will reject you. If you tell the company when they offered you a job that you need a visa sponsor, 100% will reject you.

PS. For everyone else, that's why you stay polite if you don't get the job. Because you might have been their number two choice, and suddenly you are back in number one position.

  • 2
    I think the rule bending is referring to internal policy against sponsoring visas, not local laws.
    – Eric
    Sep 9, 2018 at 15:48

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