They'll help to find you work, whatever your latitude

Emigrants can now find jobs abroad via an online employment service, says Roger Trapp
Fed up with the weather? Think your career is going nowhere? Then you could be about to join the quarter of a million British citizens who emigrate each year.

Many of them are drawn to the wide open spaces and sense of opportunity in the Commonwealth countries of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But while these countries together accept about 400,000 immigrants a year, there are still hurdles to be overcome. In particular, the governments demonstrate their keenness to attract skilled people by operating points systems that cover such areas as professional and academic qualifications and employment history. In other words, they want just the sort of well- qualified professionals who are least likely to head off to the far side of the world without a job to go to.

But help is at hand. Ambler Collins, a London-based "migration consultancy", has just introduced an Internet service designed to help would-be emigrants to match their skills to jobs in their chosen destinations.

The JobNet Employment Search launched at last weekend's Emigration Show at London's Olympia claims to offer weekly information relevant to 90 per cent of people emigrating by obtaining details of vacancies from employers, agencies and the recruitment pages of local newspapers. The service distributes CVs to employers and agencies in the city in which the migrant wishes to settle, and monitors and matches job vacancies.

Mathew Collins, managing partner of Ambler Collins, says the idea for the service came through the realisation that the problem after organising the visa applications was finding employment - "quite hard when you are 12,500 miles away".

Research carried out by his firm discovered that one of the biggest uses of the Net's World Wide Web was job search. As might be expected, the information technology and telecommunications industries are reckoned to be at the forefront of using a medium that easily crosses time zones. But other businesses are also looking at it.

"We contact agencies and employers; most of them are on the World Wide Web," says Mr Collins, himself a New Zealand-born immigrant to Britain. He set up Ambler Collins with his compatriot Stephen Ambler, a lawyer, in 1993, after market research confirmed his belief that the legal and logistical hurdles faced by migrants meant that there was a gap in the market for a professional, competitive and customer-friendly service. His conviction was based on his own experience in moving halfway around the world to Europe and those of himself and his wife and child when they "went through the quagmire of visa applications" when planning to head for New Zealand.

"We read the market right and have had three years of boom," says Mr Collins.

This success is not based purely on helping people to leave the country. Thanks to the fact that the firm also helps immigrants enter Britain, Ambler Collins has grown to a staff of 15 handling about 1,000 clients a year. Most clients stay on the firm's books for six to 12 months, the period it takes for the process to be completed. Depending on the complexity of the case and the value of the capital and possessions to be relocated, the fees charged to individuals, families or companies range from pounds 100 to pounds 5,000

Mr Collins says that if he and his colleagues judge that a potential migrant's work experience, educational background, family or financial stability are not enough to secure acceptance from the government of the country to which he or she wishes to move, the business will be turned down. In some cases, however, it helps with the resubmission of applications that are turned down.