Every year thousands of adventuresome souls leave their home country for six months or more to teach English abroad. Yet the search for TESOL jobs (Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages) or TEFL jobs involves obtaining a foreign country visa at some point before or after the big move. Every country’s visa application process is manageable, but this could involve: a fair amount of items to collate to meet the foreign consulate’s requirements, consultation with your targeted country’s embassy, an understanding of deadlines to meet, and more.
Following are 5 recommendations on how to best manage the process.
1. Understand the difference between tourist and extended stay visas.
Your TEFL job / TESOL job will likely require some non-tourist visa classification to remain in the host country for an extended period of time (for example, more than 90 days). Work with your teaching institution or recruiter to understand what type of visa you will need, how to go about applying for it, and who will pay for the visa if costs are involved.
2. Check with the foreign consulate in your home country.
Use the Internet to find out what requirements are needed for you to understand the country-specific requirements for long-term stays. For example, a quick Google search to “[XYZ country] consulate in [your home country]” should provide you a good start to understand the details for the visa requirements.
3. Pay attention to schedules and plan ahead.
Some country’s consulates will require specific information from you prior to your departure. They might also have a deadline for your visa application depending on the date you plan to enter your targeted teaching country. Other countries will provide the visa for you upon entry into the country. You should consult with your teaching institution and/or recruiter regarding these details.
4. Collate materials for the visa application.
Depending on the country you choose for teaching English abroad, there may be items you need to collate prior to submitting a visa application. Examples may include, but are not representative for each and every country:
- a type-written (not hand-written) application submitted to the consulate,
- 2 or more passport-sized photos of yourself,
- a job offer letter or student scholarship letter from the teaching institution,
- proof of medical insurance coverage,
- copies of recent bank statements indicating that you have had financial stability in your home country,
- clearance from your local or federal police department that you do not have any misdemeanors or felonies,
- a signed doctor clearance that you do not have any communicable diseases, including HIV,
- a visa application processing fee.
5. Utilize resources such as recruiter or placement agencies.It is common to utilize third-party recruiting agencies to assist you find the optimal TEFL job / TESOL job placement and with assistance and/or advice for the visa. Good recruiters are worth their weight in gold even though they may charge you $1,200 to $2,200 U.S. for their services. Ask your recruiter for advice on what is necessary in the visa application process. They will know details from the most recent teachers that have entered the country and can offer advice on how to circumvent potential delays or problems.