Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thinking of Teaching in Colombia? Then Read This

If You Want to Teach English in Colombia

You should start distributing your CV NOW for work next semester or at least to garner a few initial interviews when you arrive here. Meanwhile, polish up that CV and assemble your diplomas, academic publications and production, certificates of technical conference presentations and attendance, etc. to have them ready as well.

Work VISA and Immigration Requirements

You’ll also need to bone up on immigration and work visa requirements for foreigners in Colombia. Since my wife is Colombian I took a different route than most of you obviously will need to.

Police records from the USA and your state of residence are also a requirement, I'm pretty sure. From a foreign country you'll need a police document called a "Paz y Salvo" or something similar. The local police or immigration office should know what you'll need too. I'd check with them right away for a document which essentially says you have no criminal record or legal proceedings against you in that country. You could also check with Colombian immigration at the Colombian Embassy but I can't say how helpful they're going to be. It just depends on where you presently live.

"Book'em Danno"

The FBI provides criminal records checks for citizens transferring residence abroad. If you're already living and working abroad, someone from home can inquire about necessary procedures on your behalf at any FBI branch or field office. The local police in the town where you lived might be able to help too. When I lived in Allentown, PA I went to the Central Police HQ and told them what I needed. They contacted the local FBI field office, which happened to be only a couple of blocks away and referred my case to them. The local police fingerprinted me right then and there - along with the current crop of "undesirables" who had just been brought in, but the officer attending to my case made sure to tell everybody repeated that I wasn't being "booked" and that I was a special non-criminal case. Then, everybody, including the others being booked then, had a surprisingly different attitude towards me. Much to my relief, I might add.

I then took my fingerprint card to the FBI field office - up until then I didn't even know that there even was an FBI field office in town. The agents were very nice about explaining the procedures to me, until I told them I was going to Colombia that is. While this noticeably altered their behavior, still I wasn't charged with anything, had no criminal record and was there on my own and not under arrest so they quickly "mellowed out" and helped me along.


To "speed things up" even more, I drove down to the FBI HQ in Washington, DC, (shown above) with the police records I had so far, and everything was finished the same day. These procedures were nothing new to them as diplomats, high-level businessmen and administrators all apparently need to do the same thing at some point.

With criminal records clearance from the PA State Police, the local city of Allentown Police and the FBI, I had no problems with emigrating to Colombia and securing lucrative work. In Colombia, your diplomas are key to determining what kind of work - teaching, for example, that you'll "officially" be allowed to do. Other than that, a very healthy dose of patience is all you'll need from then on.

I hope this helps to get you started. Let me know if you have any further questions.

In an additional post I'll comment on what then happens once you get to Colombia. That's really where the "fun" begins.

See you then.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 125 countries worldwide. Get your FREE, pdf format report on CD or via e-mail, "Creative, Dynamic Ways to Motivate and Teach English as a Foreign Language to Diverse Groups of Reluctant Learners" by requesting the title at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

1 comment:

Eric said...

Thank you for sharing your personal experiences and helping English teachers explore the possibility of teaching in Columbia.

While it is probably a false and outdated image, I would also directly address concerns about violence and kidnapping. Just a thought.

Again, thanks for sharing your insights.