how to emigrate

TransEmigrate aims to help transgender people who are looking to move to a safer country. We do this by providing resources, whether the move is immediate (due to emergency) or planned for the future.

Moving to a new country is fundamentally different from an in-country move. Besides facing culture shock and perhaps a new language, you'll face barriers to legally reside, work, and receive government benefits. It's not a decision to be taken lightly.

The European Union (EU)

Some of the best countries in the world for trans people are in the EU. If you're a EU citizen, you're already allowed to live and work in other EU countries and are generally eligible for benefits as well.

If you're lucky enough to have a parent or grandparent born in an EU or another desirable country, you may be eligible for Citizenship by Descent in that country. Most countries will only allow you to become a citizen if one of your parents was born in that country, but some generously offer citizenship based on grandparents or even great-grandparents born in the country. (Ireland, Italy, Poland, and Hungary have some of the most generous Citizenship by Descent rules in the world.)

Worldwide paths to emigration

But not everyone has EU eligibility -- or wants to move to the EU. Some emigration paths that are common around the world are:

Work visa

Many countries' governments list types of jobs that can be filled by foreign workers. These are generally for high-skilled professions, such as engineers and professors. One usually needs to find a job with an employer who's willing to sponsor them in advance of their move. However, some countries such as Germany will allow immigrants to move to the country and offer them a certain grace period to find suitable employment through a tourist-to-work visa progreamme.


EDUCATION VISA

Going to university in your country of choice can be a great way to move. You have to be accepted into the university first, and might need to prove that you can afford both education costs and living expenses. Some services (such as student living arrangements) might not be available to you if you're above a certain age. And although some countries offer cheap or free higher education to their own citizens, they usually charge a much higher price to educate foreigners.


TOURIST VISA

In some countries like Germany, citizens of select countries, including Japan and the USA, can arrive to the country on a Schengen 90 day tourist visa and be free to seek visa-free legal employment and permission to remain as long as their employment persists. Non-EU citizens actively seeking employment longer than 90 days may use "Schengen hopping" as a loophole to legally keep moving between two European countries every 90 days indefintely or until funds run out, to maintain their legal status while jobseeking.


RIGHT OF RETURN

You may have a legal right to citizenship in a safe country based on your ancestry. This is especially true if you have one or more grandparents born in Europe, that may qualify you for European citizenship. When you apply with TransEmigrate, we will help you to explore all possible Right of Return paths.


Family Relations

If a de-facto spouse or another immediate family member of ours is a citizen of a safer country, then you may qualify for residency based on your relationship to that person.


Marriage

If you're in a relationship with a citizen of a safe country, marrying that person might (depending on the country) automatically grant you citizenship status or residency permission in that country. Usually, it will at least facilitate getting a residency permit and beginning a path to citizenship. If you're not married, a wealth of documentation of your informal relationship, possibly including engagement status, might help. Many countries are wary of 'token' relationships and marriages, and may require further proof of your established relationship. If you wish to use your relationship with someone to move to a safer country, then collecting as much documentation as possible is key.

As an investor, businessperson, or freelance worker

Many countries offer economic-based residency or citizenship, where one can obtain residency or citizenship status by investing, buying real estate, or proving that they have a sufficient income source.

While the costs put this out of reach of most trans people, there are some exceptions. For instance, Nicaragua, one of the most trans and LGBT-friendly countries in Central America, only requires an income of about US$600 per month to reside as a retiree if you're over 45. Citizens of the US and Japan can maintain long-term residence by showing sufficient assets (currently €4,500) and income, certified by an accountant in the Netherlands. Portugal has a similar programme for freelancers and small business owners.

On a "working holiday"

Some countries have Working Holiday visas that are generally 6 months to 2 years in duration and are targeted towards young adults with age requirements. These allow one to roam the country and work odd jobs as they like.

As an asylum seeker

If you're from a country with truly hostile conditions, you may wish to claim asylum in the country of your choosing. This is an option for the truly desperate, and you should be aware that asylum seekers are never treated as equal to citizens in the receiving country.

The process of seeking asylum typically takes years, and you will be asked to prove that you're truly not safe in your country of origin. If you're from a country where conditions are deteriorating, and you think that you might need to seek asylum in the future, start preparing and documenting for your asylum claim well in advance to increase your chances of a successful claim. It's also best to choose a country with a strong track record of accepting LGBT asylum seekers, such as Switzerland or New Zealand.