Teaching in England: guidance for overseas teachers

If you're a teacher from overseas and want to teach in a world-class education system with great opportunities for career progression, teaching in England could be for you.

This guide will help you through the steps to finding the right job and joining the teaching profession in England.

If you trained to teach in England and you’re currently teaching overseas, separate guidance is available to support you with new opportunities to progress your career back in England.

Immigration permission

The points-based immigration system

All overseas nationals arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021, including those from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, will come under the UK’s points-based immigration system. Immigration routes will open later in 2020 for applications to live, work and study in the UK from 1 January 2021. There will be several immigration routes that overseas teachers can use to come to the UK, but the main route for those coming to work will be the Skilled Worker visa.

Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter, work and live in the UK as they do now.

If you’re from outside the EEA and Switzerland, you may already need a visa to work in the UK. Check if you need a visa under the current immigration system.

Immigration routes that require a sponsor

Skilled Worker visa

If you are an overseas national coming to work as a teacher in England, then you can apply for a Skilled Worker visa if:

  • you are offered a job by a school that is a licensed Home Office employer sponsor
  • you can speak, read, write, and understand English
  • your role pays at least: i) £20,480; or ii) the relevant minimum rate for teachers in England – whichever is higher. You can find the minimum rates for teachers on the Get into Teaching website. Pro-rata rates will apply if you work part-time as long as you earn at least £20,480 per annum

A Skilled Worker visa can last up to 5 years. You can switch from a Skilled Worker visa to another visa route without having to leave the UK if you meet the requirements for the other visa route.

Immigration routes that don’t require a sponsor

Graduate visa

From summer 2021, you’ll be able to apply for a Graduate visa on successful completion of your UK degree if you’ve been an international student sponsored by a Home Office licensed student sponsor. This includes certain postgraduate courses such as initial teacher training at UK universities. You’ll be able to study, work, or look for work in the UK at any skill level for up to 2 years after completing your studies (3 years for PhD students), and will not need a sponsor. This includes working as a teacher.

You can switch from a Graduate visa to another visa route (such as the Skilled Worker visa) without having to leave the UK if you meet the requirements for the other visa route.

Youth Mobility Scheme visa

The UK has arrangements in place with eight countries and territories to enable around 20,000 young people to come to the UK each year. You must be 18 to 30 years old to apply and can work while on this visa without a sponsoring employer.

A Youth Mobility Scheme visa lasts up to 2 years. You may be able to switch from a Youth Mobility Scheme visa to another visa route without having to leave the UK. You’ll need to meet the requirements for the other visa route.

You can find out more about the Youth Mobility Scheme visa under the current immigration system.

Other visas

You may be able to work in the UK on another type of visa – guidance is available about Family visas and the UK Ancestry visa under the current immigration system.

You can check what visa you should apply for.

EU Settlement Scheme

If you are a citizen of the EEA or Switzerland and you are living in the UK by 31 December 2020 then you can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. This will allow you to continue living, working, and studying in the UK after 30 June 2021 without applying through the points-based immigration system.

International travel

Although global travel, including to the UK, may be affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), we still encourage overseas nationals to pursue becoming a teacher in England. You should check your country’s advice as well as the UK’s advice to keep up to date with travel restrictions and self-isolation requirements. The UK government has also published guidance about what to do if you need a visa to travel to the UK and has a coronavirus immigration help centre.

Further information is available if you are affected by changes to UK immigration and borders due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Teaching in England - Qualifications and Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

Overseas teachers will usually need qualified teacher status (QTS) to teach in England. Whilst QTS is not legally required everywhere, most schools will prefer teachers with QTS. 

Getting QTS

If you have a degree but have limited experience teaching, you can train to teach on a course that will give you QTS. Further guidance is available for overseas graduates seeking to train as a teacher in England. There is also guidance on becoming a qualified teacher if you’re not a graduate.

If you have a degree and more than 2 years’ teaching experience, you can achieve QTS by completing the assessment only route without doing more training.

If you are a qualified teacher from the following places, you can get QTS without having to do teacher training or assessment only:

  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • the EU
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Switzerland
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • USA

You need to have certain qualifications to apply for QTS. You can check if your overseas qualifications allow you to apply for QTS and can find out more about applying for QTS.

The 4-year limit for employing an overseas teacher without QTS

Overseas teachers can teach in maintained schools and non-maintained special schools in England (excluding a pupil referral unit) without QTS for up to 4 years. This is called the ‘4-year rule’.

It is illegal for overseas qualified teachers to continue working as a teacher in a maintained school or non-maintained special school in England for longer than 4 years without QTS or another legal basis for teaching

Free schools and academies can recruit teachers without QTS and are not subject to the 4 year rule.

If you have been teaching in a maintained school or non-maintained special school without QTS, you should check if you have the right qualifications or take the steps to gain QTS as soon as you can. This is because you might need to get another qualification before you can apply for QTS.

There is more information about the 4-year rule, including guidance for overseas teachers.

International Teacher Recruitment Programme (ITRP)

If you’re a qualified maths, physics, computer science, general science or modern foreign languages teacher from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain or the USA, there’s support available to teach in England through the Department for Education’s International Teacher Recruitment Programme (ITRP)  This includes:

  • Guidance on work visas and permits
  • Matching you with schools with vacancies
  • An acclimatisation support package and continuing professional development to assist your learning and transition into teaching in England. E.g. the opportunity to network with peers, an acclimatisation event on arrival and training in the English curriculum

The Department for Education is working with specialist recruitment agencies to support overseas teachers through this programme. To register your interest, please select the recruitment agency of your choice from the list below. We recommend that you look at all four agencies as they offer varying services.

How coronavirus (Covid-19) is affecting the International Teacher Recruitment Programme

The International Teacher Recruitment Programme will continue to recruit international teachers for the 2020/21 academic year.

Because of the impact of coronavirus, we’ve decided to focus on recruiting international teachers to start in January 2021 rather than September 2020. This is in case travel restrictions and the closure of visa application centres are still ongoing at this time.

To register your interest in joining the ITRP to start in January 2021, please follow the steps outlined above.