Visa system wrenches ‘devastated’ teachers from schools

Tes is reporting that desperately-needed international teachers are being forced to quit their jobs and leave the country at short notice because they cannot obtain visas, a Tes investigation has revealed.

School leaders have told Tes that visa refusals are having a “critical” impact on their ability to fill vacancies, and teachers have described feeling “devastated” and “heartbroken” by having to abandon their pupils and put relationships on hold.

The news comes as Tes begins a campaign – Let Them Teach – to pull down the official barriers  preventing international teachers from working in British schools.

Between December 2017 and April 2018, around 250 teachers from outside the European Union were refused tier 2 skilled worker visas.

The current visa restrictions stem from a 2011 decision by the Conservative-led government to introduce an annual cap of 20,700 “tier 2” visas for non-EU skilled workers, with places allocated on a monthly basis.

To qualify for these visas when the monthly cap has not been exceeded, applicants require a “certificate of sponsorship” from their prospective employer and generally need to have a job offer with a salary of at least £30,000.

Up until the end of last year, the cap had only briefly been hit. But in every month since December it has been exceeded, with the number of applications – and the number of rejections – increasing each month.

With the system so oversubscribed, the salary threshold to qualify has soared, hitting £60,000 in March – an amount that exceeds more than 90 per cent of teachers’ salaries.

Catalina Espinoza worked as an English teacher at Connaught School for Girls in Leytonstone, London, for two years. Her school tried to sponsor her visa, but it was twice refused and she had to leave the UK in April. “I didn’t get to say goodbye to my students, pack up my things or leave with any certainty of when I might be back,” she said.

Read more stories of visa rejection Visa system wrenches ‘devastated’ teachers from schools

With teacher recruitment an ongoing problem does the visa system need to be changed? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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