For professional development and/or personal purposes, some Actuaries may investigate career opportunities abroad.
We at DW Simpson frequently field inquiries about making such a move, and have provided several examples showcasing our responses below.
I am looking to work in the U.S, but require visa sponsorship. What does the process entail?
For those outside of North America looking to work in the U.S., you likely will need a new H-1B visa, which is sponsored by the prospective employer and is initially granted for three years with an option to renew for three additional years. The U.S. limits these visas to 65,000 per year, with an additional 20,000 for people holding a master’s degree or higher; these are awarded via lottery April 1st of each year. H-1B applications that are approved for each fiscal year receive an employment start date beginning on or after October 1st.
In recent years, there has been a dramatic upswing in applications for new H-1B visas, which means that applicants are not guaranteed a visa.
I have three years of work experience in my home country and am still completing exams to become a designated Actuary. What is the likelihood of finding employment outside my home country?
In a number of countries, there are guidelines that require a company to justify hiring a foreign candidate by proving that the position cannot be filled domestically. With that in mind, if companies look to international candidates, it tends to be those at a more senior level. These Actuaries often have achieved their designation, gained years of experience with both people and project management, and developed an in-depth understanding of the global marketplace via their professional roles to date.
I’m a Health FSA in the U.S. originally from Beijing. I’m hoping to move back to be near family. What are my options?
Simply put, U.S. health experience is not relevant in the Asian markets. You may want to consider alternative locations or transitioning into a different actuarial industry (Life or P&C, for instance). Do extensive research—even if you’re only entertaining the idea of moving internationally, it’s important to know where your professional background would add the most value.
I would like to grow my career internationally, but I only speak English. Are there global companies who would hire me?
Depending on your background and area of expertise, there are international markets that generally may be more accepting than others when it comes to hiring Actuaries without native language skills. In many locations, English is the language of business, including Germany (Munich), Switzerland (Zurich) and Hong Kong, to name a few. Exceptions can occasionally be made internationally, too, for those with very specialized skill sets.
If I join a multinational company, will I have the opportunity to work abroad?
We often advise Actuaries–particularly those who are earlier in their careers–that a multinational or global company will offer a better chance to gain some international work experience. It can afford you the chance to build internal equity, which may put you in a good place for an internal transfer abroad. Often visas for intra-company transfers are easier to obtain than a brand-new visa for a new employee. Even if you do not end up working in a different country, you may have the opportunity to work on globally focused projects and/or travel abroad.
I have heard there is a large disparity in compensation levels between regions and countries, such as between Asia and the U.S. Shouldn’t I expect a new employer to match or increase my current salary?
We encourage candidates to remember that taking an international position is most often primarily for the new experience, the growth in product and market knowledge, and the cultural awareness–not for the salary. While some very senior-level candidates may still expect to be wooed by the expat compensation package, more junior-level Actuaries may need to adjust their salary expectations to that of the local market rate, and understand that the cost of living and development of the actuarial profession is not necessarily aligned from country to country.