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Essential Documents and Costs for Teaching in the Middle East: A Guide for South African Teachers looking to teach internationally.

Are you a South African teacher dreaming of a career at an international school in the Middle East? Securing a teaching position in this region can be incredibly rewarding, but it requires careful planning and preparation, especially when it comes to obtaining the necessary documents and covering associated costs. Here's a comprehensive guide to help you navigate this important aspect of your journey.

 

In this comprehensive guide, we will be addressing the following questions:


Why Documents Matter


One of the most crucial steps in the process of teaching abroad is ensuring you have the right documents ready for authentication. Schools in the Middle East require specific paperwork to process your work visa efficiently. However, it's important to note that different countries within the region have varying document requirements, and these come with different price tags.

 

We strongly advise against initiating the authentication process until you have a confirmed job offer in the Middle East. This precautionary measure avoids unnecessary expenses and ensures that you authenticate the right documents for the precise region where you will be teaching. Authenticated documents from one Middle Eastern country are generally not transferrable to another.

 

Required Documents (general)

list of colourful documents

There are some key documents needed across the Middle East that international schools will need to present when applying for visas for South African teachers. Each region differs slightly so, again, we strongly recommend that the process of authenticating and attesting is only started after you have signed a contract with a school and spoken to SA-Recruitment about the documents needed.


Despite the regional requirements for documents, we strongly recommend that all South African teachers that are looking to teach at an international school in the Middle East apply for both a SAQA letter and a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) as these documents both take time to be issued and visa regulations do change, so not having these documents available – should they become necessary – may delay your visa and onboarding process.


The key documents needed:

·       Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) – this document can be obtained from your local police station and is valid for 6 months. This PCC can take up to 6 weeks to be issued and please note that the  PCC needs to be valid when you arrive in the Middle East so do the maths before applying. This link will take you through to a document discussing this process in detail.

·       SAQA Letter – this letter is issued by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and serves to verify a South African teacher’s teaching qualifications. The wait time on this letter can be months so we advise teachers to begin this process ASAP. A SAQA letter does not expire so once a teacher has it, it can be used across all regions (in fact pretty much world wide) and does not need to be renewed. This link will take you to a document that outlines the process of getting the SAQA letter in detail

·       University degree and transcripts – Schools will need to see your actual degree certificate on official University letterhead, a letter from the University stating that a teacher has passed their relevant qualification is not sufficient. Your transcripts (exam results), also on official University letterhead, are similarly crucial for a school to use when applying for a work visa.

 

Documents needed for specific regions


As mentioned previously, each region has specific document requirements which we have listed below, but we do strongly recommend that all South African teachers looking to teach at an international school in the Middle East apply for both a PCC and a SAQA letter.

  • PCC

  • Medicals

  • no attestment or authentication is done in South Africa, this is all done in Bahrain upon arrival

  • SAQA letter

  • 1 reference letter

  • Both these documents will need to be attested in South Africa before a school can begin applying for a visa

  • Degree

  • Transcripts

  • Reference letter

  • All of these documents will need to be apostilled in South Africa before a school can begin applying for a visa

  • Degree

  • Transcripts

  • Reference letter

  • PCC

  • All of these documents will need to be apostilled in South Africa before a school can begin applying for a visa


Understanding Costs and Key Aspects

The cost of document authentication varies depending on the region and the specific documents required. Factors influencing costs include the location of your prospective job and the types of documents needing authentication.


It is highly recommended to make use of a document specialist to guide South African teachers through this process as they are fully aware of the necessary requirements for each region and have the experience to get the process done timeously. It is advisable to make contact with a document specialist as soon as a job has been secured and a contract has been accepted from an international school in the Middle East as this process can be time consuming.


The cost of document authentication varies depending on the region and the specific documents required. Typically, South African teachers can expect to pay between R3000 and R6000 for this process, and this would include the cost of a document specialist as well as associated costs such as couriers etc. Factors influencing costs include the location of your prospective job and the types of documents needing authentication.

This process of document attestation in South Africa verifies the authenticity of your documents and ensures that they are recognised and accepted by prospective international authorities. This process entails 2 main processes:


  • Apostille – this refers to the process whereby documents are taken to the High Court to signature and approval as to their authenticity, this is usually done when there is no embassy for that particular region in South Africa

  • Authenticate/attestment – this refers to the process whereby the validity of the document and authenticated before going to the relevant embassy for approval; this authentication/attestment process is done at DIRCO

 

Steps to Take

 

Commit to Teaching in the Middle East: Make the decision to pursue a teaching career in the Middle East and prepare yourself for the exciting journey ahead. Do your research and connect with a reputable and experienced agency such as SA-Recruitment

 

Apply for SAQA Letter: Start the process of obtaining your SAQA verification letter early to avoid delays in authentication down the line.

 

Schedule PCC Application: Apply for your Police Clearance Certificate in a timely manner, ensuring it remains valid for your arrival in the Middle East.

 

Secure a Teaching Position: Work with SA-Recruitment to secure a teaching contract with an international school in the Middle East.

 

Work with Document Specialists: Working with a document specialists is highly recommended who can guide you through the authentication process tailored to your specific destination in the Middle East.

 

Useful links:

South African Police Service: https://www.saps.gov.za/

Dirco (the Department of International Relations and Cooperation): https://dirco.gov.za/



Teaching in the Middle East is a unique and enriching experience. By taking proactive steps to secure the necessary documents and cover associated costs, you'll be well-prepared to embark on this exciting chapter of your teaching career. Reach out to us for further guidance and support as you navigate this process. Good luck!

 

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