As an immigrant and having been a Singapore ex-pat, it’s not unusual for me to consider moving to another country. While living in Singapore I met and was embraced by many other wonderful African Americans from all over the world. Leaving my Singapore friends back in 2014 to return to the US, was a bittersweet time. Historically you can think of James Baldwin or Josephine Baker, to name just two of the famous black Americans who chose to live their lives overseas. In recent years the term “Blaxit” has become a familiar concept amongst African Americans considering the possibility of living their lives abroad, free from the racism and oppression they face in America. Here are a few realities for Americans who might consider leaving the US to live abroad.
Is the grass greener on the other side?
As fascinating as the concept of Blaxit is, the first step on this journey is to get a passport. I have heard many people talk about living abroad but do not even have a US passport. Additionally, if you don’t have a passport, it means you’ve likely never traveled internationally. How will you know if the destination you are seeking to move to even fits the imagined concepts that you have? Before anyone thinks about leaving the country, I think they should first get some international travel experience to see if the grass is indeed greener on the other side.
Ways to move abroad.
For those who manage to pass the first hurdle the Blaxit process, there are several ways to start the Blaxit journey. Historically, many black Americans have been exposed to living abroad from an overseas military assignment. Many more options are now available such as a student, a government assignment, an employee of a multinational firm, or simply packing up and leaving the country.
Whatever option you choose, know that a lot of paperwork needs to be completed. Many countries will allow you to visit as a tourist without a visa, but you are often allowed only a certain number of days to stay in the country. After those allotted days and you are still in the country, you will have overstayed your visit and be subject to whatever penalties the country sets. Those penalties could include jail time or a lifetime ban from the country.
Finding work abroad.
If you do not have the income to support your moving choices, you will have to find work. Working overseas is not as simple as applying for a job. Many jobs are reserved for citizens and not immigrants. If you find a job, you will have to obtain a work permit unless you become a citizen. Becoming a citizen is not a simple process as you may have to give up citizenship or become a dual citizen. In some cases, even though you are living abroad, you are still liable for US taxes.
Overall, the Blaxit decision is not an easy one, and there are many more considerations that must be made. There is no simple checklist of things you need to do to move abroad. Careful consideration and a broad review of the paperwork and fees required to complete the process are necessary and individualized. Be informed before considering Blaxit. Have you ever considered living overseas? Please let me know in the comment section below.