If you plan on heading to Europe to teach English it is important that you are aware of the regulations regarding visas and work permits in your chosen destination. The visa situation varies from one country to the next and may also depend on your own nationality. Because of this, we recommend that you visit the relevant embassy website to get the most up to date information before you make any final travel plans.
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As Spain is a member of the European Union, teachers from other EU member states do not need a visa to live and work legally in Spain. However, you will still need to apply for a residency permit and a tax number on arrival in the country. The application process should be straightforward and you can usually expect your employer to help you through it.
For non-EU citizens, the most common option is a 90-day tourist visa that is issued on arrival at a Spanish airport. Once in the country many teachers simply find a job and work as normal even after the visa has expired. Although this is not technically legal, it is common practice and rarely causes any problems for teachers or employers. Every year thousands of Americans and other non-Europeans follow this route to teaching English in Spain.
An official work visa is not easy to come by in Spain as it requires a significant investment of time and money on the part of the employer. Exceptions can be found in international schools that typically only employ teachers with a high level of qualifications and experience. Work placements organized through the Ministry of Education's public school recruitment program also come with a work visa.
These are available to some nationalities whose governments have an individual agreement with Spain. The visa allows you to work in the country for a specific time (typically one year), with certain restrictions. Working holiday visas are generally only available to those aged 18 to 30, and you will also need to provide evidence of sufficient funds to last the length of your stay. Currently there are agreements in place for Australians, New Zealanders, and Canadians, although this can change at any time so you should contact your nearest Spanish Embassy to see if you are eligible.
A student visa might be a good option if you are planning to study at a Spanish language school or university, as it may also allow you to work legally for a certain number of hours per week. Unlike other visa options, the student visa needs to be applied for in advance from within your own country. Your nearest Spanish Embassy will be able to provide full details of eligible study programs and how to apply.
The Czech Republic is a very popular destination for teaching English abroad due to its' welcoming people, fascinating cultural heritage, and world famous beer. Another reason for its popularity is that unlike many other European countries such as Spain and Italy, it is possible for non-EU citizens to obtain a long-term work visa to teach legally in the country.
Most teachers enter the Czech Republic on a basic tourist visa that is valid for 90 days. Once in the country, you can then begin the process of applying for a work visa. The most common route for teachers is to apply for a Zivnostensky List (Zivno), which is essentially a business license that allows you to work for any school in the country. You can lodge your application at a government zivnostensky office, although most teachers use a visa agency to organize things for them. The documents required for your application include:
- Completed application form
- Bank or credit card statement showing access to a minimum of $8,000
- Housing contract as proof of long-term residency
- One year health insurance policy (can be bought in country)
- Criminal background check (contact your embassy in Prague for details on how to obtain this document)
The second option is a standard work permit that requires the employer to act as a sponsor and to lodge the application. As this can be expensive and requires extensive paperwork, many employers are reluctant to offer it. However, for those who are able to show a long-term commitment, it can still be a good option. To be eligible the teacher must be a university graduate who can supply an apostilled version of their diploma (obtained in home country), plus another translated into Czech.
There are plenty of employers in the Czech Republic who are happy to employ teachers without a work visa. Although this is technically illegal, it is common practice and rarely causes problems for the teacher. However, for teachers who want to live and work in the Czech Republic for more than just a short visit, one of the above options is highly recommended.
For EU citizens looking to teach English in Germany it is relatively straightforward as they are able to work freely without a visa, while others such as Australians, New Zealanders, and Canadians can apply for a working holiday visa. However, for Americans and other non-EU citizens, there are fewer options when looking to live and work in the country. That being said, if you are patient it is definitely possible to obtain a work visa that allows you to fulfill your dream of teaching English in Germany.
The application process can take up to two months and must be done from within Germany, so most teachers enter the country on a tourist visa. As the process is quite slow you will need to be able to support yourself financially while you wait for your application to be approved. It will also help considerably if you have a good knowledge of the German language or the help of a local contact who can guide you through the process. The requirements may vary from state to state but the basic process is as follows:
- Register at the local Standesamt-Einwohnermeldeamt (Registration Office) within a week of arriving in the country
- Find a permanent address such as a rented room or shared apartment (not hotel or guest house)
- Apply for teaching jobs
- Once a job is offered, obtain a 'letter of intent' from the employer
- Visit the Ausländerbehörde (Immigration Office) to apply for a residency permit and work visa
- Open a German bank account
- Visit the Finanzamt (Finance Office) and apply for a tax ID number
Once all the required steps have been completed and you have received your residency permit, work permit, and tax number, you will be free to legally teach English in Germany.