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I received a job offer by email from the head recruiter at a company. It included my salary, start date, position, vacation, when I should pick up work-from-home equipment etc.

Since the company is hiring many people at the moment, my start date is 2 months away, and they need to sponsor me for work permit, they are prioritizing the sooner starting candidates for contract creation.

Is it risky to sign apartment leases before I receive my contract? I would have to tell my current landlord now that I won’t be staying after this month. And I would have to notify my current job in about 2 weeks.

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  • No, also "No", "no", "No!!!", no and also No.
    – Fattie
    Jan 25 '21 at 12:15
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They sent you an offer letter. Presumably, you sent a reply, acknowledging and accepting their offer. UNTIL AND UNLESS THEY HAVE TOLD YOU THAT THEY RECEIVED AND ACCEPTED YOUR REPLY, you do NOT have a job.

Many years ago, I saw a case at my employer at the time, where an offer letter was sent, the candidate telephoned to accept, and THAT was when the employer learned for the first time that the candidate was essentially unable to communicate verbally in English. His accent was too thick. Unfortunately, the reality was that fluency in English was an absolute requirement for the job. The offer was rescinded.

Contact them and explain that, because of lease issues and notice requirements, you need them to expedite your contract. Explain that, without an expedited contract, you will not be able to start on the intended date. Explain that this is a difficulty for them, but you are certain they will understand.

WORST CASE, the job offer evaporates. At that point, you will have dodged a bullet.

If you resign and terminate your lease and start your relocation, without a signed, enforceable contract in your hands, you are over the proverbial barrel when they decide to modify the agreement, as Darth Vader put it.

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    OP, You might also find that you cannot lease an apartment without a signed contract. I would use that as the reason for your new employer to expedite one.
    – Justin
    Jan 24 '21 at 9:33
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Should I begin relocation before receiving official contract?

No, without an official contract you have no job so it's a risk that you have no reason to take.

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  • Sorry, I disagree in this case. Contract is always contingent on a work permit. By far the biggest risk here is the permit, not the contract
    – Hilmar
    Jan 24 '21 at 13:16
  • @Hilmar work permit is also a risk, but sponsoring work permits is fairly routine, still no good if there's no contract, anything can happen. I once went through a lengthy and expensive process and got a visa to go overseas, something happened and I never went.
    – Kilisi
    Jan 24 '21 at 13:23
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Emails are regarded as contractual commitments in the UK where I work and I would guess the same is true of Canada. I also guess that you are not expecting to see anything you can not accept when you do see the contract so perhaps you can relax slightly on the contract front.

To answer your question on relocation specifically, no do not start relocation yet wait until you have done the job for a week or two and ask around at work about commuting and housing. You will get a much better impression of the lie of the land when you work in a place. Live in a hotel near work for a couple of weeks.

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and they need to sponsor me for work permit,

Depending on what country we are talking about, this is often the biggest risk. Offers do get rescinded but that's very rare. Work permits involve government agencies and delays are are the norm and refusals, deferrals, do-overs, snags and hold-ups can be common.

Here is what I suggest.

  1. Research the work permit process: what are the steps & key milestones, how long does it take officially, how long does it take in reality, what's the success/failure rate, what are typical reasons for refusal or delays
  2. Reach out to the recruiter and compare notes. Ask the recruiter about their current plan and status of the work permit. Make sure that the recruiters plan/assumptions matches your research. If not, discuss. Ideally agree on regular updates.
  3. If the risk of refusal is very low, then pick a milestone in the approval process as a trigger point for starting the job transfer.

The alternative would be to wait until the work permit is fully approved. If this works with the current dates, that would be awesome. However, it's also unlikely. In almost all cases that I have seen, the work permit process runs in parallel with notice + relocation and comes in "just in time" or "a little late" for the start date. If you want to be fully safe, you might have to push your start out.

I wouldn't worry about the contract or rescinding the offer. Once the company has started the permit process, they are committed.

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