Visas to Work in the UK as a Teacher from Abroad
At iCan Teach UK, we specialise in working with teachers from overseas who want to work in the UK. We understand that the process of obtaining a visa to work in the UK can be complex and time-consuming, which is why we offer guidance and support throughout the process.
The UK offers a range of visa options for teachers from abroad, including the Skilled Worker Visa, Youth Mobility Visa, Ancestry Visa, and others. Each visa has its own eligibility requirements, application process, and benefits, and we can help you understand your options and choose the right visa for your circumstances. In this guide, we will provide an overview of the different visa options available for teachers from abroad who want to work in the UK, including their eligibility requirements, application process, and benefits.
By working with iCan Teach UK, you can access our expertise and support to make an informed decision and start your teaching career in the UK with confidence.
Already a British Passport Holder ?
If you already hold a British passport or are eligible to apply for one then it doesn’t matter where you were born or where you live; you are eligible to work in the UK without needing sponsorship.
Check if you can apply to become a British Citizen here
Irish Candidates (Common Travel Area)
Irish Citizens do not require sponsorship to work in the UK due to Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangement.
If you are an Irish national, you have the right to live and work in the UK without needing a visa or work permit. This is due to the Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement between the UK and Ireland, which allows Irish nationals to move freely between the two countries.
If you are an Irish teacher looking to work in the UK, you will still need to go through the standard application process to secure a teaching job. iCan Teach UK can provide support and guidance throughout the process, from finding job opportunities to obtaining a DBS check and other necessary paperwork.
It is important to note that although Irish nationals have the right to work in the UK without a visa or work permit, there may still be additional requirements for working as a teacher. For example, you may need to have your qualifications assessed by the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) or obtain membership with a professional teaching organization such as the General Teaching Council for England (GTCE).
Overall, Irish nationals have a unique advantage when it comes to working in the UK as a teacher, thanks to the CTA agreement. With the support of iCan Teach UK, Irish teachers can navigate the application process with ease and find the perfect teaching job in the UK.
Youth Mobility Visa (Tier 5)
If you are relocating from Canada, Australia and New Zealand (or a few other countries too) and are aged 30 or under, this is the Visa Type that you are most likely to apply for. It gives you the freedom to come to the UK for up to 2 years and is not linked to any specific job or company. read more about the Youth Mobility Visa below.
You can apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa (T5) if you:
Want to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years
Are aged 18 to 30
Have £2,530 in savings
Have certain types of British Nationality or are from certain countries or territories
Meet the other eligibility requirements
How long you can stay
You’ll be given a visa to live and work in the UK for up to 24 months.
You can enter the UK at any time while your visa is valid, and leave and come back at any time during your stay.
If you turn 31 while you’re in the UK, you can stay for as long as your visa is valid.
You can apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa (T5) if you’re aged 18 to 30 and you’re from:
Republic of Korea
You can also apply if you’re 18 to 30 and a:
British overseas citizen
British overseas territories citizen
British national (overseas)
You cannot apply if you have:
Children under the age of 18 who live with you
Children you’re financially responsible for
Already been in the UK under the scheme
When should I apply and how long it will take?
The earliest you can apply for a visa is 6 months before you travel. For example, you can apply from 16 January if you plan to travel on 15 July. You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK. - Find out about paying for a faster decision
How much will it cost?
It costs £244 to apply for the Youth Mobility Visa. You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. The normal cost for this for two years is £940 and it gives you access to the UK’s National Healthcare Service. Please double-check how much you’ll have to pay here before you apply
Do I need additional funds?
You must have at least £2,530 in your bank account to show you can support yourself in the UK. This is called 'Money to Support Yourself'
You will need to have had the money available for at least 28 days in a row. Day 28 must be within 31 days of applying for this visa.
You’ll need to show proof of this when you apply
Read the guidance on financial evidence for more information about the money you need and how to prove it
Please note that this is not a cost. You just need these funds as evidence you can support yourself when you arrive in the UK
Documents you must provide
A valid passport or another document that shows your identity and nationality
A bank statement showing you have at least £2,530 in savings
Your tuberculosis (TB) test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test - check here
You need a blank page in your passport for your visa.
You’ll need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh.
Skilled Worker Visa (Tier 2)
This is normally the route teachers will take if they are not eligible for any other visa, as it is a slightly longer and more expensive process. The Skilled Worker visa offers a route into the UK for teachers who have a full-time job offer from a school. The school employing you will need to have a licence to issue sponsorship and need to apply for a ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’.
What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?
This is an electronic document that you require to complete your application for the Skilled worker visa. For your school to be able to issue you with a COS they will need to have a licence to issue sponsorship and will then need to make an application specific to you. Once the application has been granted, your school will be able to give you a reference number for you to use in your visa application.
Who can get a Tier 2 Visa
Since January 2021, the process has become a lot simpler than before and all qualified Primary, Secondary and Special Education Needs teachers are eligible to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa.
Requirements to be eligible for a Tier 2 Visa
Certificate of Sponsorship (COS)– this is an electronic document that confirms the details of the job offer. Your school will be able to give you a reference number once this has been issued to them
Appropriate Salary – you will need to be offered a job with a salary of at least £25,600. (Unless you are a teacher of a shortage subject, in which case the salary will need to be at least £20,480).
Money to Support Yourself – You must have had a minimum of £945 in your bank account for at least 3 months (plus £630 for each dependant) to prove you can support yourself and them. (If you have a fully approved A-rated sponsor who can cover this £945 then this might not be required. The amount for dependents will however still be required. This would need to be confirmed at the time that they apply for the COS).
English language Requirement -You’ll usually need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply, unless you did this in a previous successful visa application.
Documents needed when you apply
your certificate of sponsorship reference number
evidence of how the English language requirement is met
a bank or building society statement or letter that shows you have enough personal savings to meet the Money to Support Yourself requirement – (unless your certificate of sponsorship shows your sponsor has certified maintenance)
a current passport or travel document to prove that you can travel – you need a blank page in your passport for your visa
expired passports or travel documents, if you need them to show your travel history
a criminal record certificate from any country you have spent more than 6 months in the last 5 years
a TB test result if applying from certain countries;
Biometrics (fingerprints and photographs) will also be taken at the visa application centre as part of the process.
Your family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the UK on this visa. Your family members must have a visa if they are not British or Irish Citizens.
A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:
your husband, wife or partner
your child under 18
your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as a dependant
How do I apply?
Applicants who are applying from overseas must apply using an online application form which can be accessed via this section of the Home Office’s guidance (the green button saying (“apply now”).
How much does it cost?
Calculating visa fees has become fairly complex, so much so that thankfully the Home Office has a dedicated how much it costs page - found here
The basic visa fees range from £610 – £1,408 depending on the length of the visa being sought, the exact type of role and whether applying from inside or outside the UK. Lower fees apply to roles on the shortage occupations list.
Immigration Health Surcharge
There’s also the Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per year of the visa per person, which must be paid upfront.
Please click here for more detailed information regarding the total costs
Biometric appointment and beyond
Once you have completed your visa application, most applicants will need to book and attend a biometric appointment — this is where fingerprints and a photograph are taken via a visa application centre.
You can check where the closest visa application centres are by clicking this link
EU nationals with a chip in their passport will be able to apply using an app — (we are waiting for more details on this)
Once the details have been provided via the appointment or app, a Home Office caseworker will review the application and make a decision on whether or not to grant the visa.
The current stated processing times are:
3 weeks for applications filed outside the UK
8 weeks for applications filed inside the UK Fast track options are usually available which can significantly reduce the turnaround times, however, there is an enhanced cost associated
There is also the potential in more complex cases for the processing time to take longer.
Other Visa Options
If you're planning to teach in the UK and are not a British or Irish citizen, you will need to obtain a visa to work legally in the country. While there are different types of visas available depending on your circumstances, it's important to choose the right one for you to ensure a smooth transition to living and working in the UK. In addition to the Skilled Worker and Youth Mobility visas, there are other options available, including the Ancestry visa, Family visa, Settled Status, and Indefinite Leave to Remain. In this guide, we will provide an overview of each of these visas, including their eligibility requirements, application process, and benefits. By understanding your visa options, you can make an informed decision and start your teaching career in the UK with confidence.
Family Visa/Dependent Visa
The Family Routes visa is designed for non-EEA nationals who want to join their family members who are already living and working in the UK. This visa category includes Spouse or Civil Partner Visa, Unmarried Partner Visa, and Family Member of a Settled Person Visa. These visas can be used by teachers who are moving to the UK with their spouse or children.
To be eligible for a Family Routes visa, you must be a non-EEA national who is a family member of a British citizen, a person with settled status in the UK, or a person with refugee status or humanitarian protection. The eligibility requirements can vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for, but generally, you must be able to prove your relationship to the person you are joining, provide evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself, and meet English language requirements.
The application process for a Family Routes visa can be complex and time-consuming. It typically involves filling out an online application, providing supporting documents, attending a biometric appointment, and waiting for a decision. The processing time can also vary depending on the type of visa and your individual circumstances.
The main benefit of the Family Routes visa is that it allows you to join your family members in the UK while they work and live there. This can make the transition to a new country much easier, as you will have the support of your loved ones. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to study, work, or volunteer while in the UK.
The Ancestry Visa is a type of UK work visa that allows Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent who was born in the UK to work and live in the UK for up to five years. The visa is renewable and can lead to settlement and citizenship.
The eligibility requirements include having a grandparent who was born in the UK, being a Commonwealth citizen, being 17 years or older, and being able to prove your intention to work and support yourself while in the UK.
The application process involves filling out an online application, providing supporting documents, attending a biometric appointment, and waiting for a decision. The Ancestry Visa can be a great option for those who have a connection to the UK through their ancestry and want to live and work in the country.
EEA – Pre-Settled or Settled Status
If you are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and were living in the UK in December 2020, then you will have been eligible to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.
If you have been successful in applying for this, then they will either have Pre-Settled or Settled status; which will allow you to live and work in the UK without restriction.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
Indefinite Leave to Remain is a form of settlement status for non-EEA citizens who have spent a certain period (normally five years) legally living in the UK.
Indefinite Leave to Remain allows a person to live, work and study in the UK without restrictions.
If you decide to stay in the UK indefinitely then this is the step you are most likely to take once you have been here for five years. This would then replace any other visa you are on.
You can check if you are able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain here – apply to settle in the UK
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