Now on his second long-term visit pass, he hasn’t been able to find work because many employers don’t understand that spouses can work legally and are reluctant to hire them. Opening a bank account, buying a car and other things Pedrin “took for granted in the US” are difficult. He has taken to blogging about his experiences, but he doesn’t regret anything.
“If I was able to transport myself back to 2012, knowing what I know now, I would do it all again,” he said. Other couples should be familiar with the rules in the country where they want to settle, make sure they have all the proper documentation, and persevere. “There is nothing that can get in the way of true love.”
Open to the right ‘talent’
Despite all the bureaucracy surrounding foreign spouses, many countries are extremely welcoming to what they call “foreign talent” or “highly-skilled” people. The “brightest and the best” as British Home Secretary Theresa May put it in a 2010 speech announcing more restrictive migration policies.
Malaysia is also becoming more open to talent. In 2011, the government introduced a 10-year residence pass giving those who met the qualifications — that is, people who had already been working in the country for three years as an expat and were earning more than 12,000 Malaysian ringgit ($3,070) a month — the opportunity to work for whomever they wanted (it also allows their spouses to work). Foreign spouses are among the 4,000 people, including me, issued passes since launch.
The foreign spouses of highly-qualified Malaysians returning from years overseas under a special brain-gain programme are also given PR within six months. About a fifth of the 3,700 people who’ve returned so far have non-Malaysian partners.