What is needed are several items (which I'll explain below) in order to obtain a work permit. But please understand that this is not an individual requirement. It's not like the green card in America that foreign individuals carry which permits them to legally work anywhere. It's a requirement schools must have on file for every foreign teacher they employ. Therefore, every school you work for is required to have on file an original work permit for you. The bad part is that you'll have to do most of the foot work to get everything the school is required to have.
The criminal background check is only one part of what is needed for the work permit. It's not entirely true that not all schools require criminal background checks from their teachers. It's more true that many schools are not even obtaining the work permits required to legally employ their teachers which includes the criminal check. They've chosen to assume the risk of being fined for being caught employing without permits rather than going through the hassle of getting them done. Teachers are so scarce around here that many schools just don't want to drive them away by inconveniencing them with these issues. Then add to that the fact that permits aren't required for employment of less than three months and also that there is such a high turnover rate of teachers anyway that many times the permits prove to be unnecessary. Rest assured that you can start teaching legally without initially needing a permit.
Having said all of that, to be in legal compliance, there must be an original work permit on file at every school you work for. This means you'll need to bring as many notarized and authenticated copies of documents as the number of schools you plan to work for. There is some debate, however, as to whether or not the permits on file at schools must always be originals. My school has said that I can make a copy the work permit they have on file for me which other schools can use for their files if I were to gain other employment. But I'm not convinced that this is legal.
Edited by Peter McGuire, 18 December 2010 - 07:48 PM.