Guidelines for obtaining visas when recruiting teachers overseas

If your school is looking to hire teachers from overseas, you must take the following actions to ensure that both you and your prospective hires satisfy the relevant requirements.

Check the rules on visas and immigration

Applicants for teaching jobs from overseas need a visa, or other immigration status, allowing them to work in the UK. This includes those from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. Applicants already have the right to work in the UK if they:

  • are Irish citizens;
  • have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme;
  • have indefinite leave to remain in the UK;
  • Most other applicants will need a skilled worker visa, which their employer must sponsor. The sponsor can be the school where they work, the local authority, or an academy trust. Sponsors must have a ‘worker license’, sometimes referred to as an ‘employer license’.

Your school or organization may already be a licensed worker sponsor – check the register of licensed sponsors if you’re not sure. If you’re not already a sponsor, you can either apply to become a sponsor, or recruit applicants who don’t need to be sponsored.

Graduate visa

International students in the UK can apply for a graduate visa on successful completion of their degree; they’ll need to have been sponsored by an eligible Home Office licensed student sponsor over the course of their studies. The graduate visa allows holders to work, or look for work, in the UK for up to two years after completing their studies (three years for PhD students) without a sponsor. This includes:

  • working as a teacher;
  • training to teach on a salaried course or through a teaching apprenticeship;

They can switch from a graduate visa to another visa (such as the skilled worker visa) without having to leave the UK if they meet the requirements for their new visa.

Apply to become a licensed worker sponsor

You can refer to UK visa sponsorship for employers to learn more about how to become a licensed worker sponsor. To become a licensed worker sponsor, you will need to:

  • show you’re suitable to be a sponsor;
  • appoint a member of staff to manage the sponsorship process;
  • supply supporting documents;
  • pay your license fees;
  • meet your responsibilities as a sponsor;
  • recruit applicants who don’t need to be sponsored;

Applicants with the following visa or immigration status will not need to be sponsored.

High potential individual visa

To be eligible for a high potential individual visa, teachers must:

  • have a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD from a university listed in the global universities list;
  • have been awarded their qualification no more than five years before they apply;
  • have English language skills to B1 intermediate level;
  • have personal funds of £1,270;
  • pass a security and criminality check;

They do not need an offer of a teaching job to apply for this visa and they’ll be able to stay in the UK for two years with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and three years in the case of a PhD.

Family, UK ancestry and British national (overseas) visas

Applicants with the following types of visa will not need to be sponsored:

  • Family visas;
  • UK ancestry visa;
  • British national (overseas) visa.

Youth mobility scheme visa

The youth mobility scheme allows young people from certain countries to come to the UK each year to study or work without a sponsoring educational institution or sponsoring employer; this includes working as a teacher. A youth mobility scheme visa lasts up to two years. Holders can switch from the youth mobility scheme visa to another visa (such as the skilled worker visa) without having to leave the UK if they meet the requirements for their new visa.


People who have permission to live in the UK as a dependent (usually partner or child) of someone on a student visa or a skilled worker visa will not need to be sponsored. They can work without a sponsor for the duration of their partner’s or parent’s visa.

SOURCE CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on

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