Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Good news for non-Europeans in Spain?

Spain held its general elections on Sunday, and the incumbent Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodrigo Zapatero (ZP) was reelected. This should be good news for Americans, Canadians, Australians, and other non-EU-passport-holding English teachers. ZP's party, the PSOE, is generally more immigrant-friendly than the opposing PP party. ZP in particular has been very good for non-Spaniards, legalizing hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants after his first election in 2004.

Immigration was a hot topic in this year's election, as many blame a rise in crime and delinquency on people coming from other countries. If you look at the facts, it's true, but the immigrants also make important contributions to Spain -- keeping up the birth rate and contributing to Social Security, to name just two. We also take a lot of the jobs that the locals don't want (just like in America, England, etc.)

If ZP and the PSOE maintain their welcoming policy for immigrants (both legal and illegal), it should be good for non-European English teachers who want to come teach English in Spain for a year or two. I've been told that during the previous administration (under the PP), there were occasional random checks of English academies in Madrid for sin papeles (illegals). Under the PSOE, there were none that I know of. One of my academy bosses even told me that during Aznar's administration, she wouldn't let her American teachers have any classes in the academy -- they were all sent out to teach at students' offices. When I was there, about half of my classes were in the academy, because the owner and director felt comfortable that nobody would check up on us.

I was also told by an immigration lawyer last year that the PP in the past was less likely to approve work visas for immigrants, whereas the PSOE was pushing them through at record speed (given all of the requirements are met, and the application is legitimate). She strongly encouraged me to put my visa application through ASAP before the elections, in case the PP won and they were back to a slowdown on visa approvals.

But, lucky for all you non-EUers out there, ZP and the PSOE prevailed. I'm not saying things will continue to be (relatively) easy for immigrants -- it remains to be seen if in his second term, ZP caves in to rising pressure to control immigration -- but at the moment, at least, we still have hope.


Stevie said...

I'm so glad I recently found your blog! But I was wondering if you knew of any more recent information that might be leading schools in Madrid to be less inclined to hire non-EU teachers these days? I'm having a lot of trouble with major schools (Astex, Windsor...) that are saying they can only hire EU's...but I know non-EU teachers who used to teach at these schools (1-2 years ago). What might have happened to change things??

eslhell said...

Hey Stevie,

Thanks for posting! Have you actually sent your CV in to these places, or are you just basing it on what their ads say? I know back when I was teaching, ALL the academies said in their ads that only EU passport holders should apply. But I worked for Astex and a non-EU friend worked for Windsor. So what they said officially and what they did in practice was different...

Now, that was a few years ago. It's certainly possible that things have changed. The other thing may be that you just have to wait until they're a little more desperate to fill teaching spots. Summer just ended, so most classes haven't started yet. Bigger academies may stick to the EU policy as much as possible in the beginning and resort to hiring "sin papeles" only when they're really in a bind.

This is all just speculation... You could try posting a comment/question to Janice's blog (she's from Windsor -- there's a link from my blog).