International• 4 Min read

30th June 2020

COVID-19: Can you still relocate to England?

Updated 27th July 2020

During the pandemic, we have remained open, moved most staff to remote working, and our business functions have remained operational. We have been keeping up to date with news and government information to support our staff, candidates, and partner schools during this time and wanted to provide an update about how the pandemic has affected overseas teachers’ prospects of teaching in the UK.

Are UK schools hiring?

Schools in the UK closed at the end of March, only supporting education for the children of key workers. Since June, schools in the UK have begun opening in a phased manner and are looking ahead to September recruitment for the next academic year.

For the remainder of the Summer term in England, schools are looking to onboard intervention specialists and tutors to help bridge the attainment gap and catch students up before the term ends here for the summer break. Some schools are going to remain over during the summer holidays, running catch up sessions and helping those more affected by school closures.

The UK government recently announced that all schools will open from September, the start of the new academic year. As school budgets remain unaffected by the pandemic, many of our partner schools are looking for full-time staff to join them from September.

How can you find a role?

At Engage, we’ve been running iday events for over 10 years, and we launched virtual iday as an extension of this last year. Since March, we’ve been running virtual iday events every fortnight to support our schools continue to have great conversations with overseas teachers. We’ve helped over 100 teachers find work for September this way and we are continuing to run these events throughout July and August. You can find out when they are on our Eventbrite page.

While you may not be used to interviewing virtually, it’s been a new trend that emerged within recruitment over the past few years. We’ve written some advice for teachers thinking about moving abroad and who are scheduling interviews in with schools.

Visa and Travel updates

We’re continuing to support teachers from Ireland, Canada, Australia, the USA, South Africa and the Middle East relocate to England to enhance their teaching careers. Each region has its own travel restrictions or visa office closures, so we’ve summarised everything below.


Australia’s visa offices are open and operating as usual. Australia does, however, have a travel ban in place at the moment (June 2020). If you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident you cannot leave Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions unless you have an exemption. One of the exceptions highlights whether your travel is essential for critical industries and businesses. We have seen a number of teachers apply for travel based on this exemption. You can find out more here or talk to our Australian office to find out more.


Canadians are permitted to travel however they must comply with the UK and Canada’s quarantine policies (14 days).

Visa offices in Canada are now open, however, the Toronto and Edmonton locations are full. If your local office isn’t taking applications at the moment, you can try another location, try booking a primetime spot or sit tight and wait until yours opens up again! Typically visa processing takes between 3 – 6 weeks in regular circumstances. Teacher candidates will have enough time to apply for their visas and relocate to the UK in time for September when the new academic year begins. We are currently registering and securing online interviews for teachers for September 2020 and January 2021.

  • You can check Canadian visa centres here
  • Find out more information about Coronavirus here 
  • Information for Canadian’s returning to Canada can be found here 


Ireland and the UK are within the Common Travel Area (CTA). The Common Travel Area (CTA) is the commonly used term for a variety of rights that can be exercised by citizens of Ireland and the United Kingdom (UK). It includes the basic right to travel freely between both countries, and also: access to social benefits/healthcare/social housing supports. 

Before travelling, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade strongly recommends that you obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), available by contacting the Health Service Executive and that you also obtain comprehensive travel insurance. Flights and ferry services continue to operate between Ireland and Great Britain. The availability of transport from Ireland to Great Britain is subject to change.

If you have been in Ireland for at least 14 days before you go to the UK, you do not need to follow the rules for entering the UK. You can find out more here


American visa offices are temporarily closed until further notice (June 2020) Amercians are currently under a Global Level 4 Health Advisory, which advises all U.S citizens to avoid international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.

Engage Education is still working with American teachers to register and prepare for teaching in the UK once travel restrictions have been lifted. Priority will be given to those candidates who have working rights for the UK. For teachers who require Tier 2 Sponsorships, we are recommending that January 2021 or September 2021 start dates are more realistic.

South Africa

South Africa has travel restrictions imposed at the moment (June 2020) unless for a permanent resident to his or her place of employment, study or residence, outside of the country. Visa offices in South Africa are currently open but only for passports applications and renewals, not for new visa applications. 

English Test Centres will only be taking appointments from July. Candidates will need to apply for Police Clearance Certificates early as they have to go through independent companies turn around times delayed – our team can talk you through all of this!

  • Find out more about travel restrictions in South Africa here
  • Find out more about travel to the UK here


The UAE authorities have introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus. The UAE national airlines are currently operating flights to London Heathrow. 

The UAE Government and the Government of Dubai announced new international travel protocols that apply to citizens and residents from 23 June, you can read those here

There are no restrictions on overseas destinations that citizens and residents can travel to, however, you must comply with guidelines and protocols followed in your destination. You’ll also be required to fill in a ‘Health Declaration Form’ before embarking to confirm they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms.

Are you in the UK?

If you’re in the UK and your contract has come to an end, we can help. We’re working hard to support all educators to find new roles for September. You can register with us here.

Our promise

Whatever the situation, we’re here for you. Our teams are working round the clock to provide assistance with all aspects of your job search, from CV formatting and interview preparation to assisting with visa queries and arranging virtual interviews with schools for September 2020 and beyond. 


Whatever your situation, our team is here for you. Register with us today.


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