There can be plenty of red tape, but getting a visa doesn’t have to be a fraught process.
If you are thinking of teaching at a British international school abroad, you should consider carefully if your visa status will affect your ability to do so.
Most countries outside of the European Union have unique visa processes and teachers can find the red tape overwhelming. “As an expat, you spend an enormous amount of time and money on flights, visa processes and endless passport renewals. It isn’t for people who are looking for a simple life,” says Jon Andrews, a science teacher at The British International School, Riyadh.
But obtaining a work visa doesn’t have to be a fraught process. Many international schools offer support to help British teachers who are relocating to new countries. “It is a tricky business, but we support staff at each step to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible,” says Niki Meehan, vice principal of The British International School Shanghai, Puxi.
“It takes time to secure a work permit and visa to work in China, so our HR department starts processing the paperwork several months in advance,” she adds. Teachers need to have two years of post-qualification work experience and provide transcripts of their degrees, as well as a full medical examination, to prove they meet the criteria for entry to China. It is a similar process in other countries in Asia and the Middle East.
In South Korea, popular among English language teachers, work visas are usually pre-arranged with the sponsorship of an employer. In Taiwan, most people fly in on a two-month tourist visa and apply for a work permit once they arrive. Visas there are typically valid for one year and can be renewed.
The process to secure a visa in South America, another popular destination for British teachers, is also relaxed. For American, Canadian, Australian and EU citizens, it is possible to obtain a tourist visa in countries such as Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Peru upon arrival, and they are usually valid for up to 180 days. A school must then sponsor you for a work permit, which are usually valid for one year. You could also enter Latin America through a government sponsored program such as Chile’s English Opens Doors or Colombia’s Teach English Colombia (TEC), which will help you obtain a work visa.