Hiring foreign-born teachers to work in US schools
The shortage of qualified teachers in many areas of the US has resulted in school districts employing teachers from the vast pool of qualified international teachers. To successfully attract and hire these professionals School Districts, as well as the Candidates, must meet certain specific requirements imposed by the US Department of Labor (DOL) and the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The following information is intended as a basic guide for School District Human Resource/Personnel managers as well as candidate teachers. Given the complexity of the immigration laws, we suspect that even after a careful reading of the material you will have additional questions. We recommend that you contact us to discuss your options and alternatives.
Information designed for employers of teachers is presented in black.
Information specifically oriented for the foreign teacher candidates is presented in green.
An overview of pertinent information
Employers seeking, perhaps for the first time, to hire foreign-born teachers often have many questions. To assist you in obtaining answers to your initial questions, we have prepared a helpful guide that answers many of the questions most employers have. For a copy of the helpful guide, simply click the file entitled Planning and timing requirements for hiring foreign-trained teachers (PDF). This paper covers subjects such as:
- Where do I begin?
- What are the educational and examination requirements for these teachers?
- How can I find foreign candidates?
- What are the types of visas that may be available and how do we know which is best for us?
- How long does it take to get the teachers to the US?
- What are the costs involved in the entire process? Are these costs fixed so that we know the total cost before we begin?
- Is there any assistance available to minimize our HR department’s time commitment?
What are the requirements that the foreign teachers must meet?
- First they must be formally trained as a Teacher from a qualified University. Bachelor’s degrees must be equivalent to a 4-year Bachelor’s degree in the US. If they have the equivalent of a US Master’s degree or a PhD, they exceed the educational requirements.
- The teachers must then find a qualified employer interested in hiring them as a teacher.
Do you need a State License?
Most States require a teaching license before you can teach. Unfortunately the requirements vary from State to State so we cannot provide specific licensing requirements for each State. Please check with the Human Resource department of the school district who is providing your job offer to determine the licensing requirements for you. If your State requires a license to teach then you must have that license before the CIS will issue an approval for your H-1B visa.
In many States you must have a Social Security Number (SSN) and fingerprints before you may obtain a Teaching License. You can have your fingerprints taken at the US Consulate and then forwarded to the appropriate licensing board. To obtain an SSN however you must be present in the US. To enter the US you need a visa and until recently this “catch-22” was a serious hurdle to foreign teachers.
On 20 November 2001, the CIS issued a ruling stating that if the only impediment to your being licensed is your obtaining a Social Security Number, an H-1B approval for one year will be issued. During that year you must obtain your SSN and thus have a valid teaching license by the time you renew your H-1B visa. For a copy of this ruling please click on the file called Social Security Cards and the Adjudication of H-1B Petitions on the Left.
We hope the above information answers most of your questions. If however you have additional questions, we sincerely hope you will call us using our toll free number (1-800-437-7313) or contact us by email.