Getting a job in Greece

Greece is a country which is much loved for its culture and its way of life, as well as the place itself. Even Athens traffic doesn't diminish the Greek experience for most visitors. However, the visa situation and the high unemployment are real obstacles for non EEA nationals looking for work. Unless you have family ties, ancestry, or some other Greek connections, it's just plain tough. Illegal entrants, again, have added a lot of restrictions on entry to Greece.

Visas

The Greek visa policy is much like other countries. Short stay is OK, but longer stays require a full documentation process.

Short stay visas for up to 90 days aren't required for many countries. You're advised to check with the Greek Embassy regarding these requirements.

For most countries, all you need is your passport, but:

Remember you're your passport must be valid for at least three months after the end of your stay in Greece.

The one concession made by the Greek visa system is to business trips, where the provisions for that 90 day period also apply. That's handy for a wide range of applications when doing business in Greece.

After the 90 day period, things get serious.

The Greek Embassy in the UK has a very useful page which lists all the requirements, including Schengen visas.

Longer term visas and permits

For longer term visas and permits, there are many possible requirements for supporting documentation regarding your application.

For those intending to work in Greece, you will need to apply for a National Visa, and you will also need to have an interview at the Greek Embassy or consulate.

The Embassy advises that you should also be in contact with the parties inviting you to Greece for issue of relevant documents prior to the interview. See below, because this can get messy.

The nature of your business in Greece will determine what other documentation you require.

Because of the variable nature of visa arrangements with other countries, this can get complex. It can also be very time consuming. You will need to have some reliable working time frames for the process, and make sure you don't sabotage yourself by not providing what's required.

You need to:

  1. Make direct contact with the Greek consulate and get the basic requirements for your country of residence.
  2. Organize supporting documents with the Greek end. Make sure you're giving them enough time to arrange issue of documents, etc, prior to your interview. These documents must be provided, and your application will come to a screaming stop if they aren't.
  3. Have an original, valid, passport which will be valid for 3 months after the end of your stay. This is a standard requirement, but as you can see, you'd also be in technical breach of the requirement if you over-stay. Don't be vague about your times.
  4. Have a criminal record issued by your country of residence. (Again, no record = no visa.)
  5. Two recent passport sized photos.
  6. According to the Greek Embassy visa page you are also required to 'Have a health certificate issued certifying you do not have any contagious diseases threatening public health according to the International Health Organization.' Ring them and ask them exactly what certificate is required, and who are the authorized issuers of the certificate in your country. You could spend a few weeks getting the wrong certificate, otherwise.

Despite some criticism, the Greek visa requirements are actually pretty much standard procedure, globally. They're based on immigration law, which is the primary law enforcement mechanism relating to visas. Compared to other countries, they're not particularly onerous.

Residence permit: To work in Greece, as an EEA national, you do require a residence permit, which can be obtained from the local police station or Aliens Bureau.

Non EEA nationals should follow the visa procedure above, and check out requirements for residence permits for workers at the same time. Because the nature of your visit and the visa application requirements are closely related, this isn't too difficult to do, but be very clear from the start about your work, and ask any questions at the beginning.

You can apply for a residence permit when in Greece, if you've been there for less than two months. (It's advised to apply as soon as possible, however, because of the time frames, you could find yourself still waiting for your application to be processed after expiry of your visa.)

Applications for Residence Permits are similar to those for your visa. You'll also need to supply your visa, proof of address and financial support with your application.

Job search in Greece

Because of the high unemployment issue, and the requirement to employ EEA nationals, normal job search can be a bit difficult for foreigners. Greece, obviously, is trying to add value to its economy, and skilled workers are the preferred foreign workers for that reason.

The general view is that local networking is the better option for job seekers.

The job environment is challenging for Greeks, let alone foreigners. Athens is a big place, and one of the main employment areas, with a highly competitive job market. Greece is a bigger place, and there are regional factors involved in the employment market. It doesn't necessarily follow that jobs in a region are advertised nationally. Local knowledge is particularly important.

You can search the internet for jobs in Greece, but be aware that a lot of the jobs advertised are for seasonal work, some are also for relatively low wages which may not pay the plane fare. There are also a lot of services jobs, which if a bit more stable and upmarket than the seasonal work, are still low-end wages. As subsidies for a working holiday, these jobs may be very good indeed, but as full time employment, no.

You need to cost things properly when looking at these jobs. Because the cost of living in many countries is so variable, what pays relatively well in Greece may not be paying for things back home. Watch expenses, and watch your budget.

Full time work, however, is findable:

EU Jobster.com has a lot of non-seasonal jobs.

Also be aware that if you search Greece+Jobs, you'll get a lot of rather disorganized looking sites with some old ads in them.

There's also some potentially dangerous disinformation on the net about some nationals not needing work permits.

Don't believe a word of it, check with the Greek consulate.

That visa procedure is there for a reason.

Never trust anything that says you can go around a law.

For internet searches, you're advised to check out with your Greek contacts about the place, the work, and the employer.

Language skills.

Pretty basic: learn Greek. Your native language may have its uses, but everything in Greece, including legal documents like your contract, is in Greek. You will need trustworthy conversational skills, and to be able to read and write the Greek alphabet.

Do not, under any circumstances, underestimate the importance of your language skills.

Greece is a quite different country, with different culture, different social traditions, and different religion.

It's a social obligation on foreigners to understand all of these factors, which are integral to the Greek way of life and business. Even swearing, in Greek, has a social context. You do need to speak good vernacular Greek.

Job applications

Greece has a different work culture. There are online applications, and the common form of job application is quite literally done on an application form, rather than the international style.

A CV may be requested for some positions. The Greek form of CV is in chronological order, and signed by the applicant.

Also required are:

  • copies of diplomas;
  • three references
  • a health certificate;
  • a certificate of absence of a criminal record

Working in Greece

Employment conditions:

Working week: 40 hours (private sector) 37.5 (public sector)

Annual leave four to five weeks, not carried over to the next year.

Maternity leave 8 weeks pre-natal, 9 weeks post-natal.

Mothers are also entitled to work one less hour per day with no loss of regular pay for a period of two years after birth. Mothers are furthermore protected from dismissal during the pregnancy and for a year after the baby is born.