A Practical Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Frank and Friendly Advice written by a Retired Teacher-Trainer, Experienced EFL Teacher
& Former Peace Corps Volunteer Living & Working Abroad since 1989

What's a "Visa Run"?

Will I have to do one?

It depends.

In some countries it is common to enter the country to look for work.  When entering the country people typically enter on a tourist visa.  Really, technically, you are not supposed to look for work on a tourist visa - but almost everybody does.  But . . . the problem is that it is usually the wrong kind of visa for getting a work and/or residence permit. 

So, you have to leave that country, with papers from your future employer, and go to another country - visit the embassy of the country in which you hope to work - and apply for the correct visa.  Only with that visa can you later get a work permit.

Confusing?!  Yes!

Example:  I go to Korea to look for a job.  I enter on a 30 day tourist visa (the number of days will depend on your home country).  I look for and find an excellent job.  I get the paperwork from my employer and leave and go to Japan.  In Japan, I go to the Korean embassy and apply for an employment visa.  The Korean embassy issues an employment visa - and I can now go back to Korea to finalize my hiring.  My new visa will allow me, once I have completed the work permit process - to stay in Korea for one year.

Still Confused?

Yeah, it's always a bit confusing and different for every country - and the vocabulary of what you need to get will also change.  Just get the general idea.  That's what is important.

Eternal Visa Runs

In some countries work visas are hard to come by and many people do visa runs every month.  For them, it is just a part of life.  This is common in Thailand and a few other countries but is slowly changing for the better.  There are ways to limit the number of runs you have to make - but talk to people working in the specific country to find out exactly how to do it.  Sometimes visa runs are an annoying fact of life.  But, luckily, in countries where this problem is common - businesses are set up to help you make your visa runs - easily and relatively inexpensively. 

Now you know about the two types of visa runs!


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