Monday, September 02, 2013

Teaching English as a Non EU Citizen in the E.U.

So as of late, I have been contacted by quite a few Americans who have either read on the internet or spoken with a TEFL course advisor (not us) stating that its easy enough to work under the table and earn anywhere from 1800 to 2000 euros per month in western European countries such as France, Spain and Italy. That is absolutely untrue.

Maybe it was possible 10 years ago...maybe, but it is certainly not happening now. Consider this, there are plenty of native English speakers who are E.U. citizens already living in such countries, why would a non EU citizen be in such demand that they could earn twice the minimum wage? I must say that this so called advice is irresponsable and bordering on criminal. Governments are now cracking down heavily on unreported income and companies that do such practicse risk heavy sanctions as well as the possibility of being shut down.

For anyone considering teaching English in this part of the world know that the standard pay is minimum wage...if the given country has a minimum wage set. So for France that equates to approx. 1200 to 1300 a month. Yes its true if you teach Business English, if you have some experience and you  gradually make contacts you can earn a good deal more. But understand that just showing up with a TEFL certificate will get you 1200 to 1300 euros per month. It doesnt matter your nationality.

So above was a lot of negativity. Now some positivity...despite the economic crisis, the ESL business is holding steady and there is a lot work available. If you are a non EU citizen and would like to teach in, lets say western Europe, here are some facts.

It is possible to work legally in the EU as a non EU citizen but it requires planning ahead of time. I have recycled an older post and have updated it as some things have changed and for the better.

First things first, the E.U. question. Yes, it's true, you must hold an E.U. passport or have the correct visa to qualifiy for any job position in the territory. Unlike its neighbors, Spain and Italy, the French mostly follow this rule and as such I will focus on France for a moment.

However, it is still possible to work in France if you are non E.U. if have can obtain the "Carte Sejour". As a non E.U. person, the easiest option is to enroll in a French language school in France. Once enrolled, the language school will issue you an "attestation" stating that you have committed to lessons with them and you can use it to get a student visa. The student visa allows you to work 20 hours a week. At the end of your visa, for however long it is, if you have a job at that moment you can renew your visa as a carte sejour. With this you can legally work full-time. This is probably the easiest route no matter what your age.

If you have mastered the French language or have absolutely no interest in long term lessons of any kind, the other option is to become an "Autoentrepreneur". It means a free-lance professional. While you can do this in any domain, "English Teacher" is probably the easiest to break into as you are a native English speaker, so it will tempt potential clients to choose you over a French person. To do this you apply for a long term visa, similar to the student visa process but longer, stating that you will support yourself as an Autoentrepreneur. Once in France you can register yourself with URSSAF the government entity that oversees this statute. The registration is actually the easiest part of this entire process. Then you are free to start looking for work. Looking for work can mean looking directly for clients OR looking for work at a language school in the form of a short term contract deal. In fact, now many companies would prefer to hire an autoentrepreneur because they would not have to pay as much tax for that individual.

All in all, the E.U. issue doesn't have to be an obstacle to living and working in France. However, it does mean that more work and money will be required just to set up. Also know that there is no way to avoid the visa paperwork in your home country before coming to France and without a doubt, it will continue when you arrive. G.G.

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