If you’ve done your homework and selected a great overseas in-classroom TEFL school with top-notch instructors, the next item on your to-do list ought to be figuring out what kind of visa your destination country will require you to have during your course.
In some places, depending on your own nationality, you won’t need to do anything special beforehand. Many countries have reciprocal agreements that allow their passport holders to receive a “visa on arrival” directly at border control. However, sometimes the process is more complicated and requires advance planning.
Before you get on a plane or hop on a train to your in-classroom TEFL course destination, here are some questions you should ask:
1. Is it necessary to get a visa before I arrive in the country?
2. If I don’t have to get a visa before I come in, how many days/weeks/months will I be legally allowed to stay in the country?
3. If a visa is required, how much does it cost?
4. Is the visa process difficult, expensive or lengthy?
5. If I want to stay in the country longer than the original allocated time, can I extend the visa?
6. Will the school help me get/extend a visa?
7. Is the length of time of the visa long enough to encompass the whole TEFL Training course time or will I need to extend/get a new visa before it is finished?
8. After the course, if I want to work in the same country, is it easy to convert the first visa into a visa suitable for employment?
9. If I’m not allowed to convert the visa, what will I have to do to make sure I can work legally when I find a job?
10. If later I have to do a “visa run” (usually—cross the border into a neighboring country to apply for a new visa) to get a working visa, how much will this usually cost? Is the cost of the trip and the new visa the responsibility of the employer or the teacher? Is that cost negotiable?
11. If I can convert to legal work documents, how long will that procedure take, and what will be required of me?
TED’s Tips™ #1: Any and every in-classroom TEFL course will have a good, clear and definite answer for every one of these questions. If they don’t have the answers, then there is obviously some sort of problem. Red flag.
TED’s Tips™ #2: Get legal and stay legal. Although your school or employer may pay for your visa, your visa status (valid or expired, for example) is your own personal responsibility. Find out the rules before you enter the country.