Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit! Yes, St Patrick’s Day is coming up, and while we are indeed about teaching English, a little bit of Irish to kick things off seems just right.
The Emerald Isle truly has a fantastic reputation worldwide. Why not? It’s a centre of culture, with some of the friendliest people in the world, an incredible tradition of comedy and music, and so much more. When it comes to TEFL, Irish teachers all over the world get the welcome they’re used to at home. No wonder, then, that people with even a little Irish heritage have scrambled for Irish passports in recent years – especially Brits after Brexit.
An Irish passport, these days, is worth its weight in gold. What’s more, the Irish influence can truly be felt worldwide, particularly in Spain, the USA (particularly the East Coast) and Canada. Don’t forget South America, either; the Irish community in Argentina is the largest in any non-English-speaking country in the world. You can find Irish names across the continent – there’s even a Chilean football team called O’Higgins FC.
This Irish spread across the globe means there are so many countries amenable to visitors and residents from Eire, and while we can’t list them all, we’ll certainly be naming more than a few countries which grant easy access to Irish ex-pats.
If you’re one of Ireland’s many intrepid TEFL explorers, read on! Equally, if you were thinking you might be eligible for a green passport but haven’t applied yet, this’ll certainly make for some interesting reading.
A ligean ar a fháil chun é (or: “let’s get to it”, if you prefer!)
The Irish passport after Brexit
Now, not to make this too about Britain, but it’s impossible to argue Brexit didn’t have implications for Ireland and the rest of the EU.
For Britons, their passport became less valuable in 2016. Access to the rest of Europe became more restricted, which has very obvious effects on TEFL teachers with aspirations of teaching around the continent with a UK passport.
Ireland, of course, still has access to the Schengen Area, which means if you’re travelling around one of the area’s 27 countries, there are no additional customs checks, no need for a visa, and no hassle. This is a real advantage if you’re Irish (or hold an Irish passport) and harbour ambitions of TEFLing your way around Europe, whether as a digital nomad or on a more permanent basis. Since Britain left the EU, this definitely works to the advantage of Irish teachers who are an easier hire for European employers.
Materially, nothing has changed for Irish passport holders from before 2016, except that more countries have joined and will continue to join the EU. That means more possibilities for problem-free travelling and TEFLing!
Ah, now. So what if you weren’t born in Ireland, but have an Irish family? What are the upper limits in terms of eligibility for an Irish passport? Here’s where Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs come in handy.
According to the Irish government, you can become an Irish citizen if:
- One of your grandparents was born on the island of Ireland or
- One of your parents was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, even though they were not born on the island of Ireland.
You’ll need to be able to prove it, of course. So, if you have birth certificates and previous passports of the family members relevant to an application – it’s no good just saying you like The Corrs or “just feel Irish”.
If you fit either of the criteria, here’s a list of countries you can apply from, and the resources you’ll need. As is often the case when it comes to advice from The TEFL Org, we can’t stress this enough; make multiple physical copies of the documents you need, as well as scan them. You never know when they might come in useful.
Irish passports are deemed, nowadays, to be amongst the most preferable of any country. The advantages, then, are pretty vast, and make for considerable reading if you have aims to explore the world as a TEFL teacher.
If you have Irish citizenship, you can apply for a passport, and can then travel without a visa to as many as 170 countries. You can live, work or study in Ireland – or the UK – without any restrictions, and crucially, you can do the same in any European Union or European Economic Area country.
If you become a permanent resident in another country, you can apply for citizenship there without losing your Irish citizenship. That’s a pretty sweet deal, especially if you find somewhere across the globe that you want to make home.
So, all that visa-free travel in so many parts of the world (seriously, just read this list) is looking pretty good right now, isn’t it? What about the countries where you’ll need a visa? Turns out, having an Irish passport still has an advantage!
In countries including India, Kenya, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Vietnam and Russia, you can use an eVisa system. It means not having to start a personal library of documents, and makes the whole process so much quicker. If you want to travel somewhere and don’t see it on the list of visa-free destinations, chances are you’ll be able to use this system.
Popular TEFL destinations where an Irish passport really counts
To once more bang the drum of Visa-free travel, it’s important to take into account popular TEFL destinations where this is a possibility. Vietnam allows eVisa applications, as discussed, but what about places like Hong Kong and Qatar, with the highest TEFL wages? Or countries like Taiwan and Thailand, where the TEFL industry is booming?
You guessed it: visa-free. As is so much of South America; as we explored at the beginning, there’s already a sizeable influence from the first, second, third generation and beyond Irish expats. From Chile to Argentina, Colombia to Brazil, you’ll find communities of Irish descendants or just Irish folk who have gone to live abroad and discover where the branches of their family tree extend to.
Europe, of course, is very much on offer, with Ireland still being in the European Union. There are a few popular TEFL destinations where you will need a visa, including Japan and China, but having the requisite documents shouldn’t be too big of an issue.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
So there you have it; several fantastic advantages for Irish TEFL teachers, whether you were born there, or are eligible for citizenship. If you have an inkling you’re eligible for an Irish passport, better get going – the queue is long and getting longer!
Find out more about teaching English abroad with our handy guide!