What has Brexit meant for the TEFL industry in Europe in 2023?
The transition period for the UK leaving the EU ended on 31st December 2020, which means the UK is now, officially, out of the EU. Many teachers (as well as TEFL course providers like us!) had expected to have some clarity concerning the rules for teaching English in Europe long before this date, but a deal was only struck at the last possible moment. While we do have some facts there is still an awful lot of uncertainty about what exactly Brexit means for British teachers working in the EU.
We’re going to take a look at what we currently know about Brexit, as well as what might happen. For British teachers, the situation is undoubtedly trickier, but for EU citizens and those from the rest of the world, there may just be more opportunities on the horizon.
What does Brexit mean for teaching in Europe?
The unfortunate reality for UK teachers is that teaching English in Europe will no longer be as easy or straightforward as it was during the age of freedom of movement. What’s difficult to determine is just how much more difficult it will be.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic means there aren’t as many jobs being advertised, so it’s hard to get a sense of how employers are reacting and their willingness to recruit from abroad at the moment. Teachers who already have residency or the right to work will undoubtedly be preferred over those who require a work permit, but it’s uncertain if that will be enough to meet demand.
Do I now need a visa?
To teach in any EU nation, British teachers will need the appropriate visa. The UK is now considered a “third country”, which means if you have a British passport and are applying to work in EU countries you will be treated like any other applicant from outside the EU.
The rules and requirements for obtaining a visa will vary from country to country. Individual EU member states set out their own criteria and regulations for immigration outside of the EU rather than collectively.
Obtaining a work visa
To qualify for a visa you will need a job offer first. It remains to be seen what will happen with the recruitment of EFL teachers in a post-Brexit EU, and how willing employers are to recruit teachers that require more paperwork.
There are costs to applying for a visa, which will vary depending on the country. You can expect to pay a processing fee on top of the money spent on legalising and even translating required documents. You may also be required to have a certain amount of money in your bank account to prove you can support yourself for a specified period of time.
For information about exact processes visit the government website of the country you’re interested in working in.
Are there options to TEFL in Europe without a visa?
British citizens can stay in the EU for up to 90 days within a 180-day period as a tourist. But if you want to work you will need to be on a visa that permits you to do that.
Even if you’re staying for under 90 days you will need to be on a work visa if you intend on undertaking paid work. So, if you’re considering teaching at a summer school then it’s likely you’ll still need a visa. For voluntary positions, you may not need a work visa, but it’s possible you would need to be on another sort of visa, so make sure to check with the relevant government.
Teaching English on a student visa
There are some countries – notably Spain – where you can teach English on a student visa. This has been a common route into the EU for North American teachers for many years now, and one that is now an option for UK teachers.
In order to qualify for a student visa you will need to apply for a programme that meets the requirements – this could be a part-time language course, for example. In Spain you’re able to work for 20 hours a week on a student visa, which is around the number of hours teachers usually work.
See our post about teaching English as a non-EU citizen, which includes information about some programmes.
What if I’m already in the country?
If you’re a British citizen and currently reside in an EU country then you will need to apply for residency in order to stay. If you’re able to apply for residency then you’ll be in a great position for finding teaching jobs.
Does Brexit have implications for non-British teachers?
Possibly. If employers are less keen to go through the paperwork involved in hiring a British teacher then they may prefer to focus on hiring applicants who have EU citizenship. This could benefit Irish teachers as well as non-native English teachers from other EU countries.
It also levels the playing field for those from other parts of the world, such as North America. It’s always been very difficult for teachers outside of the EU to secure work teaching English, but employers may now be much more open to hiring American and Canadian teachers, as well as those from other English-speaking countries. If employers have roles to fill and need to hire from abroad then the process is now the same whether it’s a British or American teacher, so it could lead to more opportunities for those who previously had a tough time finding work in Europe.
Our advice to British teachers aiming to work in Europe
There are thousands of language schools across Europe that require teachers and, as of yet, we don’t quite know what Brexit is really going to mean for the recruitment of non-EU teachers. Yes, it’s certainly going to involve more paperwork in order to TEFL in Europe, but don’t be too disheartened.
While Brits are now treated the same as teachers from the rest of the world they do still have one major advantage: proximity. It’s easy to travel to other European countries for an interview if you live in the UK – remember that no visa is required for visits under 90 days. This means that UK teachers still have the option of travelling to a country and searching for work in person, which can really help your chances of getting hired.
The requirement for a work visa now makes it trickier than before for schools to hire British teachers, so you want to make sure you’re as strong an applicant as possible. Consider taking advanced TEFL courses and take every opportunity you can to build up experience, whether that’s locally or online. The better your CV looks the easier it will be to secure a job.
And remember, Europe isn’t the only place to find TEFL work. Demand across Asia and South America is huge, so consider going a bit further afield and broadening your search!