Denied Work Permit for Regular Schools by Labor Office

Hello all,

I am a long time reader, first time poster here on Forumosa. I have had a strong interest in Taiwan since I visited while teaching English in Korea a few years ago. It has been a dream of mine to come to Taiwan and teach English. I finally took the steps to do this a few months ago. I got offered a job by a regular private school (not the public school system, but not a cram school.) It’s just outside Taipei, and I was ecstatic when I got the news that they had decided to hire me.

My qualifications that got me the job were my experience in Korea, TEFL certificate, and my substitute teachers license from Illinois, USA. I had heard that it was possible to get a job at a regular school with a substitute teaching license in Taiwan, and my recruiter told me it should hold up.

As what I’ve seen is typical in Asia, they tend to do things in the last minute all in one big rush. My visa had not been fully processed before I left, but I was told that this was normal and that it would all be taken care of shortly after arrival. I was told to just come on a 30 day landing visa.

The night before the morning I am supposed to leave, I get a call from my recruiter who tells me there may be a problem with my substitute teaching license because there is a limitation on it. In Illinois the substitute teachers licenses state on them “90 days substitute teaching.” This is a limitation of 90 days per school district per school year. The limitation is not applicable to Chicago Public Schools, however. I would have the right to work a full school year in CPS, which constitutes a very large number of schools in Illinois.

I was told that the labor office was trying to use that to deny me the work permit, that they would do everything they could to push it through, but that the chances were 50-50. I decided to get on the plane anyway the next morning to Taiwan, and just hope that everything worked out.

I brought all my original documents with me to Taiwan and met the recruiter Monday of last week in the morning. I continued to call him throughout the week, and we met again on Friday. He gave me the bad news that my work permit for the school had been denied by the labor office, despite all of ours efforts and support from the school, the education office here, and the local education office in Illinois.

At this point, I am looking to have to work at a cram school, which I dread. I did not come all the way over here to work at a cram school, or to go back to the US having wasted a couple thousand dollars attempting to get a job. I intend to get the job, or similar job, of what I came here for.

If anyone could help me or give me more info or is an expert on dealing with the labor office, please write something here or send me a PM. If you have some special knowledge you’d like to share, please help me out. I can send a scan of my teaching license if you provide an email if that will help. I need to know if there is any way around their decision, or how to further plead my case or get it reconsidered, or if there is any technicality I can use for my advantage. I am willing to try anything, and don’t want to end up in a cram school.

I was told that the education office could do something if I write them a letter or complain, but it would take some time for anything to happen. Does anyone have any experience with this?

Please help.

Also, if you are from Illinois, and want to come to Taiwan with a substitute license, this could happen to you.

Thanks for your help and thoughts.

Basically, your allowed to teach for 90 days and after that you’re suddenly ‘unqualified’? :ponder:

Hi gavmasterflash,

Sorry to hear about your disappointing experience. Not a surprising one to me: laws here are often vague and subject to bureaucratic whim. Agents and agencies regard you as one cow in a large herd that must be kept at a certain number, rather than as a special human being who they cherish.

I have no special knowledge for you. However, you could contact the education departments of individual counties and cities, such as Tainan and Hsinchu, that have gov sponsored foreign certified teacher educational programs. They might accept your explanation, and if the government was behind your application, it would be easier for you.

It seems like you are under no further obligation to your agent, so you are free to do as you please. One idea is to get a letter from the relevant authorities or laws that back up your case.

Good luck!

I don’t know what the reason is for this in Illinois. But I never studied education in university. My license says:

Type: Substitute - 90 days teaching

at the bottom:

  • This certificate may be used for 90 days of employment in each school district during each school year. The 90 day limitation does not apply to the Chicago Public Schools.

The labor office just sees the 90 days, and doesn’t want to issue me a work visa for a regular school because of it.

Long shot, but I would recommend going in with a Chinese translation of the certificate. I mean really lay it out like in Photoshop or something, so no one could possibly fail to understand the meaning. They might, but it would probably help.

Forgive me if this sounds stupid but I’m not familiar enough with the US education system.

Do you have a Bachelor’s degree?

No. It is “no more than 90 days in any one school district in a year”. You could teach 90 days in two different districts and end up teaching 180 days per year. The exception is that one teacher may teach more than 90 days in the Chicago city schools (probably they are short on substitutes because of the number of positions they cover).

I do have a four year degree from a major university in the States. I just never took any education courses. In Illinois, you can get a sub license with just having a degree and not being a pedo.

The recruiter has already attempted a Chinese translation of the license with the labor office. They still continued to deny issuing me the work permit.

So what was the resolution to this riveting tale??

I work at a private international school in Taipei and I’ve heard from people in our HR dept of potential employees wanting to apply for work permits with substitute teacher licenses from the US only to have them denied as the Labor Bureau doesn’t accept sub licenses, only full teacher licenses.

Substitute license is a bust in Taiwan for public school jobs?

I know Americans working in public schools with a sub license.

wow… bump on my very first thread on Forumosa, 6.5 years later, lol…

Well, what happened was very particular to the language on my old substitute teaching license. It said “90 days teaching” of course the labor office has no idea what the means, they see the 90 days and think "oh, it’s only good for 90 days… as in 90 calendar days. They really cannot think outside their little goddamn box.

But whatever, the ironic thing is that a few years after this, Illinois completely changed it’s teaching license system and this “90 days teaching” thing is no longer on the sub licenses and all teaching licenses are published online and no print copies are issued. Illinois also has become the easiest place to get a sub license. You can just apply for one online apparently from any state and only requires a few documents, such as diploma, criminal check and maybe a TB check. But I’m from the state and I actually did substitute teach in Illinois right after college in the late 2000s and perhaps the process was different when I did it than it is now. But the point is that it’s the easiest place to get a sub license, you don’t even have to live in the state, and they will issue you one and it will be accepted by public schools and maybe even some private schools around the island. After the changes to the system were made, I was able to use my sub license at a public school program and at a regular private (non-buxiban) school.

However, I’d like to conclude the tale of this first post about what else happened to me as a result of this experience. I realized the sub license thing was pretty flimsy and temporary. I also realized that if you want to get any of the better jobs in Taiwan, you will have to up your qualifications, lest you spend the duration of your stay here in buxiban hell. My recommendation to anyone who is looking to stay here beyond a few years is to get some real qualifications, such as a teaching license/masters degree. Here are a couple programs I recommend that have physical classes available in Taiwan. The College of New Jersey has courses in Hsinchu and other parts of Asia and the world, and Framingham State has courses in Taipei and also all over Asia and the world.


Framingham State

On a closer look, it seems Framingham might not offer courses in Taipei any more. So if you wanna do that one, check closer to be sure.


Thank you on the update!
Not sure how much the college of NJ costs and how long. I found one online (AZ and DC) that is US$6 grand for 9 months.
I think the subs license is a great first dip to the teaching world for less than US$200. You can definitely up your game and get a full license or MA.

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you have links for those programs?

The Teacher Preparation program consists of the following eight modules that can be completed over nine months (40 weeks):

  1. Program Orientation
  2. The Culture of Schooling
  3. The Learner & Learning in the Digital Age
  4. Managing the Learning Environment
  5. Planning & Preparation for Learning
  6. Student Assessments
  7. Introduction to Clinical Practice
  8. Teacher Practice and Proficiency (clinical)

What do you think? Here’s the review:

Okay, seems like they’re also doing that other program, Teach Now. here’s a link: