How to get a UK Visa as an Overseas Teacher

Since January 2021 there is a points based immigration system which applies to both EU and non-EU nationals coming to the UK.

This has made it easier for foreign teachers to teach in the UK.  Here we have a look at who is eligible and how to get a UK visa as an overseas trained teacher or as a teaching assistant

Are Teachers Eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa?

The UK’s Shortage occupation list has previously been a stumbling block for overseas teachers seeking to get a UK visa to work in schools.  There are UK Schools sponsoring foreign teachers but only a few secondary school subjects feature on the shortage list.

Teachers are now able to obtain a Skilled Worker Visa whether or not their specialism is on the shortage occupation list.

The points based system requires applicants to accumulate 70 points to be granted a Skilled Worker Visa. There are three mandatory requirements that make up the first 50 points:

  • Having an offer of a job with a sponsored employer
  • Having a job at the appropriate skill level
  • Speaking English to the required level

The other 20 points can be achieved with any job position with a salary over £25,600. The current starting salary for an Early Career Teacher outside of London is £28,000, so all qualified teacher jobs will achieve the required 70 points.

For unqualified teachers, anything over scale point 4 (currently £25,733 outside of London) will be enough to obtain the required points.

For an unqualified teacher job to be at “the appropriate skill level’, applicants will need to have RQF Level 3, which is equivalent to A-Level sin the UK. They would also need to have had some training and experience working in a similar role to the UK Education Standard.

Secondary School Computer Science teacher helping student in class - Get a Uk Visa

Am I a Qualified Teacher or Unqualified Teacher in the UK?

To be a qualified teacher in the UK you need to hold QTS or QTLS. The Department for Education (DfE) is changing the way they award QTS to overseas teachers from 2023, which will make the system fairer and assist with allowing qualified teachers from all countries to teach in the UK as a qualified teacher.

Currently legislation is this area is retained from membership of the EU, whereby all qualified teachers from EEA are eligible and just a handful of countries were added (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA and Switzerland).

From 2023, foreign teachers from any country will be eligible so long as they meet the criteria for awarding QTS

If teachers are not eligible and want to get qualified whilst working, the Overseas Trained Teacher programme has now been replaced by the Assessement Only Route to QTS.

Can Teaching Assistants get a UK Visa?

Whilst teaching assistants may well be able to achieve the first 50 points, most teaching assistant positions will not have the required salary of £25,600 in or outside London. To qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa, teaching assistants would need to obtain another 20 points from the tradeable characteristics

As Teaching Assistants are not currently on the shortage occupation list (20 points), the only possible route would be to achieve a job role with a salary over £23,040 (10 points) and to have a PhD in a subject relevant to the job (10 points).

Can Teaching Assistants obtain a High Potential Visa for the UK?

The High Potential Visa gives permission to stay in the UK for 2 years, or 3 years if you have a PhD.

To obtain a High Potential Visa you will need to have been awarded a degree from an eligible university within the last 5 years.

The advantage of this route is that you don’t need a job offer to apply, just proof of a good standard of spoken English and funds to support you in the UK.

Unfortunately the list of eligible universities is based on Top 50 rankings which appear on 2 or more lists, so this is currently a narrow route to obtaining a visa for the UK.

What about the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa?

If you are travelling from Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino or Iceland then you may be eligible for the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa

This visa is available for persons aged 18-30 with over £2,500 in savings. Applicants don’t need a job offer before they travel and can apply for the visa 6 months before they travel.


With a growing teacher shortage, there are now increasing number of UK Schools sponsoring foreign teachers.

All qualified teachers and some unqualified teachers are eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa and there are other routes available for teachers and teaching assistants to get a UK and work in schools without sponsorship.

Start typing and press Enter to search

Sun Tzu's Art of War book on a desk with old other old itemsFemale Prmary School Teacher delivering lesson - Teach in the UK