Can You Teach in Taiwan with a Criminal Record?
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Everyone has a past and sometimes it comes with a conviction for offenses as trivial as a driving offense or a misdemeanor. Whether you’re looking to teach in Taiwan with a criminal record or another country, this can affect your chances of getting a job, but there are options to mitigate the impact it has.
Background Checks Are Now Necessary to Teach in Taiwan
In June 2017, the government of Taiwan made an amendment to the Supplementary Education Act which now required that all foreign teachers in Taiwan should show proof that they do not have a criminal record in their home country before they can be allowed to take up teaching positions.
This amendment means that all first-time applicants for teaching jobs in Taiwan must show that they are of good conduct from their native country. The new requirement for a background check applies to cram schools and includes new teachers in the country and teachers who have not completed their application process before June 16.
The background check must be less than six months old and must show that the person has not committed any crimes. For American citizens, the background check is issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This document takes about 8 – 10 weeks to process and so you should plan for this when considering an application.
How Does This Affect You?
Amendments to the employment laws are a reaction to the unfortunate suicide of a 26-year old Taiwanese writer who in April 2017 took her life after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by her cram school teacher more than 10 years ago. This led to more scrutiny of the eligibility of foreign teachers who apply to work at cram schools, or buxibans, in Taiwan.
From November 1, only government-approved cram schools that teach language courses can employ foreign teachers to teach only languages. The schools must also submit application document of all teachers to the Ministry of Labor for ratification.
Be careful also not to lie on your application about not having a criminal record because all background checks must be obtained directly from the country’s law enforcement authority and will be sent to the Taiwanese Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in your home country for independent verification.
All Hope Is Not Lost
If you have a criminal offense on your record and are considering Taiwan, you should explore how possible it is to have it expunged. This can be done if you committed a minor offense in the distant past or as a teenager. Speak to a lawyer to know what your options are. This can be a lengthy process but it is worth looking into.
Even though you may be unable to teach in Taiwan, it does not mean that you should give up your dream of teaching abroad. Check online for resources and see what your options are – the job market is strong and there is always demand for teachers abroad.