Can an English school deny work permit if your first language isn't English?

Asking for a friend.

He is trying to apply a work permit at a school he’s been working at. He submitted all of his documents and a higher up informed him he may not be able to get it since his first language is Spanish. He is from Puerto Rico which makes him a US citizen and grew up speaking both Spanish and English.

I don’t know the law when it comes to these matters but it definitely seems fishy so I wanted to ask here.


Do Puerto Ricans have an ordinary US passport, or are there any differences?

It looks identical to a US passport.

They absolutely can. Same thing goes for the Quebecois in Canada.

The consensus among people on this forum is that anyone and their grandson should be able to teach English, it’s just the matter of finding the right loophole. But there’s also a reason for the law…

Why do they have to know what his first language is? Puerto Rico is a US territory and they are Americans with American passports.

The procedure is based entirely on your passport–that’s how they judge what your native language is. I can’t imagine there would be a problem. If the school is actually processing the application, it wouldn’t seem that they have a problem either, so probably just speculation on the part of the employee.

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Ya, it could be speculation from an employee

Right, and this rule works 90% of the time.

What if your first/native lang is English, but you hold a Dutch, German, or French passport? I have a cousin who was born and raised, more or less, in the England, but holds Dutch citizenship. He spent the first decade of his life in England attending English schools.

I guess it depends on which school, but a long time ago, when I was in the:“Shit, I can only teach” stage of my life in Taiwan, a school didn’t even offer me an Interview because they only wanted people with AU/Canadian/USA/SA/NZ Passport. They sent me a message via email after they received my resume to tell me:“Sorry dawg, wrong passport”.

My experience here is that they people here and especially govt agencies want to check the boxes. They are looking for a reason not to approve rather than a reason to approve. They start with no then get to yes.

Seems utterly bizarre that they wouldn’t accept someone with an English passport for teaching English.

They have to hold a passport from a English speaking country like the USA/canada and other approved ones. It’s not literal in the sense that English must be your native language.

I guess that’s where the law fails. I know holders of US passports who can barely speak English.

I have a good midwestern accent, that was a problem with my first school. As were southern accents, apparently.

What IS the list of approved anglophone countries? Is Ireland on it? How about India?

A passport that is good for at least six months from the entry date, from one of the following recognized English-speaking countries: Ireland, the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Not sure if it is relevant or not, but the same school in question did hire and apply a work permit for an English teacher from India.

Don’t quote me but I think it’s ok if you have some sort of certificate in teaching in English. The passport is only for just for people with a bachelors in whatever.

No Singapore? Like South Africa, isn’t English one of the official languages there?

Native Singlish speakers don’t count.

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