One of the most laborious parts of preparing to work internationally is the paperwork. This varies from country to country but in my experience, it is always a multi-step process. Ask questions and put in the work upfront to avoid unexpected delays.
Start with the contract. This can be a long document, but take the time to read it carefully before signing. Determine your responsibilities, extra hours, salary, perks, and so on. Find out what the school will provide for you. Most international schools pay for your flight and moving expenses at the beginning and end of the contract. Some schools will even pay for you to return to your country of origin annually if your contract is two or more years. A visit home can be expensive but does wonders for the soul, so this is a great bonus. The school I worked at in South Korea only had 2 one-week holidays per year so a trip back to Canada wasn’t feasible. It is also common for a school to provide you with either housing or an allowance. You may also want to determine whether utilities and internet are included as well. If you go through a recruiter, they will likely help with some or all of this but it is important to find out exactly what the recruiter will and will not support you with in terms of contract negotiation and visa application. For more things to consider before signing a contract, read this post.
Determining what you need to submit for a work visa/permit doesn’t necessarily require much research on your part because the school or recruiter usually tells you exactly what you need and even submits it for you once you give them the documentation. I mention it here because you might be surprised how long the process can take. Give yourself time to gather everything you need and prepare to order or gain official copies of some of your documentation. Documents like transcripts, police clearance, passport photos, and notarized copies of documents are commonly requested. Expect to wait anywhere from a few months to a year once you send everything away. Don’t sell your house or give up your job until everything is set in stone. You may have to send your passport away for several months meaning you won’t be able to leave Canada during that time. So plan ahead, it’s worth it, but it can take some scheduling. At some point, you will likely have to go to an embassy (which could be in a different part of Canada than where you reside) in person to retrieve your visa/passport.
Applying for a work visa can be a long, arduous process but everything comes together sooner or later. One time, I forgot a signature and had to pay $120 to express post a single sheet of paper across the globe because a digital copy would not suffice. A missing document or signature can set you back months. Double or even triple-check that you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s before sending things away. Be patient and follow up with the recruiter or the school regularly.
Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time for the fun part: travelling! The final article will explore travel opportunities as an international teacher. Continue reading here!
Meet the author:
Tiana Bogaert is the brilliant mind behind our international teaching articles. Coming from Ontario, Canada and trained in primary/junior education, Tiana infuses her writing with a rich tapestry of firsthand experiences. With a teaching portfolio spanning five countries and volunteer roles in three more, she brings a unique global perspective to her insightful articles. Tiana is an educator and a seasoned traveler with 45 countries under her belt, sharing her vast experiences abroad into the fabric of her writing. Join Tiana in this series as she invites you to explore the process of finding your own intersection of teaching and travel.
Have more questions about teaching abroad? Send your questions to Tiana at email@example.com