It can’t be denied, finding work teaching English in Europe is a far more challenging task for a non-EU citizen than it is for a UK or Irish citizen. But that’s not to say it’s impossible – you will find non-EU EFL teachers working across Europe!
Maybe you’ve come across someone or know of a friend of a friend who was engaged in a bit of under-the-table work while overstaying a tourist visa. While this is not unheard of in many parts of Europe it isn’t legal and you can land yourself in trouble – this could be in the form of a fine, a criminal record, or even a ban on entry and deportation. Working without these threats hanging over you makes for a far more peaceful and pleasant TEFL experience, so it’s worth researching how to keep things above board.
We’ve compiled some information about a few countries in Europe where there are options for non-EU citizens to legally work teaching English. This is by no means an exhaustive list – you could speak to a dozen different non-EU teachers in some countries and get a dozen different stories about how they ended up teaching there – but, hopefully, this will give you an idea of some avenues you can explore!
Citizens of America, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the Republic of Korea are able to apply for a residence permit for work purposes after entering the country – if you are a citizen of any other (non-EU) country this process has to be carried out before arrival.
The process of applying for a work visa in Germany takes some time, during which you will need to be able to financially support yourself, and involves the somewhat daunting task of dealing with German bureaucracy – you will need either a decent knowledge of German, a German-speaking friend, or to hire a translator to assist with the process.
The Czech Republic
Non-EU citizens can apply for a trade license called a ‘živnostenský list’ (‘Zivno’ for short). Most schools will not assist with visas but with the Zivno you can legally work teaching English schools in the Czech Republic.
Citizens of New Zealand and Canada may be able to apply for a working holiday visa.
TEFL in France is very competitive and there are few non-EU teachers working in the country. Non-EU citizens need to apply for a ‘visa du long sejour’ (a long-term visa) from their country of origin and a school or employer will need to sponsor this visa, which they can only do if no qualified EU citizens can do the job.
Some Americans can teach through the Teaching Assistant Program in France.
For more information about teaching in France click here.
It is not common for language schools in Spain to sponsor visas but there are some programmes that allow non-EU citizens to work teaching English in Spain through a student visa.
The Auxiliares de Conversacion Program is run by the Spanish government and places language assistants in public schools for 8-9 months. It is open to American and Canadian citizens who are fluent in English or French.
The BEDA (Bilingual English Development and Assessment) program operates in private Catholic schools largely in the Madrid area.
Like Spain, it is very uncommon for Italian schools to sponsor work visas but non-EU citizens may be able to teach in the country on a student visa (there are a number of countries in Europe where this is a possibility, so it’s worth researching). This involves registering on a recognised course, which allows you to legally work for a restricted number of hours each week.
If you are a citizen of Australia, Canada or New Zealand you may be able to obtain a working holiday visa.
Finding work as a non-EU citizen in Europe can involve plenty of patience, research and red tape – so be prepared! – but the pay-off is being able to live and work on a continent that is bursting with culture and offers a wealth of new, exciting experiences. Worth it? Definitely.
Please note: Visa and work permit requirements and processes can change frequently so while the information in this post was up-to-date at the time of publication it is recommended to contact the consulate or embassy for the country you wish to work in to get the most recent information about work permits and visas.