In case you haven’t heard, Arizona school districts have a very large problem they are trying to deal with. They don’t have enough teachers to fill their classrooms. Unfortunately, there are no good long term solutions in sight. But, are international teachers a solution to Arizona’s teacher shortage?

A recent report released by the Arizona Department of Education highlights the fact that over the past five years, thousands of teachers have simply fled the state, and thousands more will soon be able to retire – upwards of 25% within the next four years. So unless the ship is righted soon, our education system may simply implode. While politicians can and will fight and point fingers at each other in the chaos that accompanies every tragedy, the ones that will suffer will be our children.

So what can be done to right the ship? I will defer to the “experts” on what can be done for long term solutions. What I do know is that school districts are scrambling to find qualified teachers to put into classrooms today. As such, many are turning to International Teachers for solutions.

International Teachers are generally highly educated and very competent. I have seen International Teachers change failing school districts into the envy of their neighbors. They tend to have a contagious work ethic that infects everyone with whom they come into contact – both students and coworkers. I won’t call them miracle workers, but I have seen miracles performed. But they are not a long term solution.

International Teachers usually come to teach in our schools through either H-1B visas or J-1 visas. Although this has proven to be a viable stop-gap solution for some schools, it becomes more difficult on a daily basis given our a complex and inconsistent immigration system. Both H-1B and J-1 visas are temporary, short term visas. H-1B visas are limited in numerical numbers each year, and generally cannot last longer than six years. In comparison, J-1 visas don’t have the numerical limitations of H-1B visas, but cannot last longer than three years. There are many other differences between the visa types and purposes (they are not simply interchangeable), but long story short, H-1B and J-1 visas are helping fill empty classrooms with some wonderful teachers.

Long term solutions need to be found to fill our classrooms. Until then, International Teachers have and will continue to gather my respect and thanks for helping our children in a time of need.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact Immigration Attorney, Matthew L. White at  480.461.5304,  log on to, or contact an attorney in your area.