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How to Tell Your Employer You’re Emigrating

So many people dream of leaving their mundane lives behind in favor of a new life overseas. But with so many restrictions on emigration, the process is often long and complicated. Paired with the fear of leaving behind family, friends, and a stable career, emigration is physically and emotionally draining.

There is so much to think about when you decide to pack up your life and move away – some things will naturally take precedence over others. Informing your current employer of your decision to move abroad can often be done hastily, but it is an important part of the emigration process, as backing from your boss early on can support the transition.

Sam Eltringham experienced first-hand how the support from management can positively affect the expat process. A year into her employment with North East tech firm, tombola, who specialise in bingo games, Sam engaged in an informal chat with her line manager about her intentions to apply for emigration to Australia.

“I had concerns about informing my company so far in advance, in case attitudes towards me changed & fewer opportunities presented, because they knew I planned to leave in the future,” Sam explains. However, this was not the case at all. Sam’s open and honest approach worked in her favor, as her company agreed to support her application in any way they could.

In June 2016, when Sam started her visa application, she required support from management to write a reference for the Australian Computer Society, to prove that her skills met the criteria of the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).  

Sam says, “A significant milestone in my application was my job title being updated from ‘Web Developer’ to ‘Platform Developer.’ This was very fortunate, as a title of ‘Web Developer’ would significantly limit my options. I would have had to opt for state sponsorship and would be required to have a substantial amount of financial backing to migrate with. Because of the title change & the support from my managers, I could apply as a ‘Software Developer’ (a position which better reflected my skills, anyway) and meant that I could choose where I wanted to live in Australia, which was very important to me and my family.”

Sam’s employers were grateful for her honesty about her plans to live overseas – as such, they ensured her development would serve well in her current role while preparing her for the road ahead.

Terry Brown, Sam’s boss, says, “We have ensured that Sam’s training program will help her hone her skills, and we have strived to offer Sam the opportunity to work on innovative projects within the organization to help her on her path forward.”

Sam was very fortunate to receive so much support from tombola, she received her visa approval in April 2017, and will be flying in August to start her new life!Consumer Resource Guide

Sam and Terry have worked together on some top tips to help others in the same position:

  • Bear in mind what kind of relationship you have had with your employer in the past. Aspire to treat your employer with the same respect they have shown you during your employment.
  • Although, it is important to remain professional, delivering the news in person is a lot more pleasant than sending an email. Discussing your plans in person will allow your employer to empathize with you and your reasoning.
  • While saying thank you is common decency, expressing gratitude to an employer can be overlooked. Thanking your boss and highlighting your aspirations to continue your personal and professional development while under their employment will resonate well.
  • For employers, it’s important to keep an open mind when an employee wants to live overseas as an expat. Supporting an employee will bode well for the company’s reputation and says a lot about the culture surrounding your business.


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