So, you found a job teaching English in South Korea. Congratulations! You’re one step closer to enjoying a remarkable year abroad. But before you go, you’ll have to get permission to enter the country for so long. You have to get the dreaded visa.
Attaining a visa can be overwhelming and confusing, at best. Korean E-2 visa requirements change so often, it’s hard to keep up. But if you stay organized I think you’ll find the process really wasn’t so bad, after all.
The first stop is gathering the appropriate documents. If you want to be considered for an E-2 visa, you will need:
Original diploma or notarized copy
Sealed university transcripts
Passport information page
Passport sized photos
Criminal (FBI) background check with apostille* seal
Contract with employer
When I applied for my visa in June 2010, I had a copy of my diploma notarized and apostille sealed. This worked just fine, but I don’t know if the rules have changed since then. You may need to send your original, no exceptions.
*Wondering what an apostille seal is? To put it simply, it’s a seal proving authentication. I had to get the seal on both my diploma and background check. It’s possible to receive this through the mail, although it takes significantly longer, or in person. However, you will have to get the documents notarized first, which I got taken care of at my local bank. Here is more information about services in your state.
Once you’ve got all your ducks in line, it’s time to send everything off to your future employer. I recommend using FedEx so you can track your package.
After a week or two, you will receive a visa issuance number. Take this number to your nearest Korean consulate along with the following documents:
Copy of contract, diploma, background check and health statement
Remember, the two lists above are a basic outline of what you’ll need. You may need numerous photos and seals or a different kind of background check; the rules are constantly changing. Make sure you do your research before you visit the consulate to apply for your visa. If you have any questions, give them a call. Here is a list of consulates located in America and Canada.
I went to Chicago to receive my visa and had a small interview, though I say “interview” loosely. I was asked questions with another prospective teacher about whether or not I had experience with children, what my life motto was and how I got such a fabulous tan (no joke). Take it seriously but don’t lose sleep over this step.
You’re going to leave your passport at the consulate. If you live close, you can pick it up in person. If not, it’s going to be mailed. Make sure you bring a prepaid, self addressed envelope. Once again, I recommend using FedEx.
Once approved, your employer will send you the flight information and before you know it, you’re on your way.
Best of luck!
Keep in mind, you should bring a few passport photos with you to Korea. You’re going to need them for your health check and it never hurts to have a few, just in case you need them for future purposes.