How do I obtain a work visa to teach English in Korea?
How to Obtain an E-2 Work Visa for Teaching English in Korea
Note: The information below is for American Citizens, other nationalities have different processes.
All of the documents listed below are the most common documents requested by Korean Consulates to obtain an E-2 Visa, which is required to teach English in South Korea. Each consulate will not require all of these documents. Before you order any documents check with your Korean consulate on their E-2 Visa Requirements.
STEP 1 – START OBTAINING IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
(This process can begin before you get a job offer)
1. University Bachelor Degree (notarized and Apostille Authenticated.) – Korean consulates
* Your university degree (or copy of) must first be notarized and then apostilled.
* Most consulates will accept a copy of your university degree rather than the original. Once your degree, or copy thereof, is notarized it then needs to be apostilled from your state. An apostille is like a notary, but it is used mainly for documents that are used for international purposes. Apostilles are generally obtained at the Secretary of State office in your home state. Check with your local Korean Consulate if they will accept a photo copy of your degree or if they need the original.
2. Three Sealed University Transcripts
* University transcripts are used more for public school positions, but some private schools may ask for them as well.
* Contact your university registrar and ask them to mail you your university grades in a SEALED envelope with a stamp and/or signature over the seal.
* DO NOT open your transcripts.
3. FBI Criminal Background Check*
* Korean Consulates no longer accept state or local background checks.
* Order your FBI Check here - http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/fprequest.htm
* Order at least two copies as some private schools now require two authenticated copies - one to process the visa in the U.S., and one to register you as a teacher once you arrive in Korea.
* FBI Checks can take 3 months to obtain (plan ahead!)
* The record check must be less than 6 months old
* The results should be sent directly to you
* When you apply for your FBI Background check, you must also request that it be “Authenticated”. You can write a short note that you must enclose with your fingerprints and application forms stating that the background check is being used for employment abroad, and therefore needs “authentication.” When you receive your results back, the background check should include a seal and a signature on it. If it does not, you will need to send it back to the FBI and request that it be “authenticated,” which will take an additional few weeks.
* Once you receive your FBI Check in the mail and it is “authenticated” you then need to send your FBI Background Check to get an “Apostille.” You can request the apostille directly through the following company’s website. This process will take an additional 2 – 3 weeks. US Legalization - http://www.uslegalization.com/apostille.htm
* If you are not from the U.S., please contact your TEFL Advisor or the nearest Korean consulate in your country to determine which background check is required for citizens of your country.
4. Health Statement
* This is a questionnaire form from the Korean government where you personally answer the questions. Once you arrive in Korea, a full blood test and physical exam will be administered.
* The test will include testing for narcotics, TB, HIV and other communicable diseases.
* If you do not pass the health exam in Korea you will likely have your visa revoked and can lose your job.
5. A Passport Photocopy
* Photocopy the information page of your passport (the page with your picture on it and the adjoining page with your signature).
* Make sure you have at least 6 months on your passport before it expires.
* Make sure there is at least 1 completely empty page in your passport.
* Print a copy of your resume (CV)
7. Signed Copy of the School Contract
* The contract will be provided to you by email once you agree to the contract and the school accepts you as their teacher.
8. Four Passport Sized Photos
* Standard passport photos - the same that you would need for a new passport.
9. Two letters of recommendation (originals)
STEP 2 – Once you Have a Job Offer (Continue with Step 2 once you have a job offer)
When you have a job offer your next step is to send required documents to the school you will be working for in Korea. Your school will need to get a Visa Issuance number for you from the Ministry of Justice and Immigration in Korea.
Required Documents (Please check with the school you will be working for as some documents may be different.)
- Copy of original degree with Apostille (Check with your Korean consulate if they need an original or if a photocopy of the original is ok.)
- Two sets of sealed university transcripts
- Notarized FBI criminal background check and appropriate authentication
- Health Statement
- Photocopy of the information page of your passport
- Copy of your resume
- A signed copy of the contract
- Two passport sized photos
Do NOT send your documents via the United States Post Office (USPS) or Purolator. Delivery can take 5 days to 8 weeks or more and there is no way for us or the school to keep track of your documents once they are in Korea (USPS and Purolator can't track it within Korea).
- Once you've sent your documents, please retain a copy of your invoice with the tracking number of your package and the address you sent it to.
- This will cost $40 to $80 to send depending on the company you chose, the weight and the service you use. It sounds rather expensive - and it is- but well worth it when you are sending your original degree, transcripts and your record check that all can take a very long time to replace if lost.
- Your school will take these documents to the Ministry of Justice and Immigration in Korea to get a Visa Issuance Number for you.
- Within 7-10 working days, the immigration office will issue a Confirmation of Visa Issuance Number also referred to as the Visa Reservation Number or Visa Confirmation Number.
- The number will look something like this: UJBO 08007392 (the first four characters are letters, the remaining characters are numbers)
- The school will then forward this number (by e-mail) to you or a recruiting company if you are working with one. You will need this code to put on your teaching visa application for the Korea consulate.
STEP 3 - Interview at the Korean Consulate and
Apply for Your Work Visa
Once you receive your Visa Issuance Number you can schedule your interview at the Korean Consulate.
Each consulate has different requirements for the interview. Please check the website of your Korean consulate to see how to make an appointment. Some consulates require you mail your application materials before the interview while others allow you to take everything in person.
Once you have your Visa Issuance Number it is time to send or take your application and application documents to the Korean Consulate or Embassy nearest to you. Check this link to find out which office has jurisdiction for your state.
You will also need to download the E2 Teaching Visa Application Form from the Korean Consulate Website in your area and complete it.
Required Documents to Apply for an E2 Teaching Visa at the Korean Consulate
Please check with your Korean consulate as some Korean consulates require different documents.
- Completed E2 Visa Application Form
- Passport: Make sure you have your passport ready, that there is 6 months validity left on it and that there is at least 1 empty page. Make sure it's signed too.
- Photo: You will need to send a passport picture with your application or a picture that is 2 inches by 2 inches.
- Confirmation of Visa Issuance Number: Fill in the reservation number at the top of application form.
- Transcripts: Send one set of sealed transcripts to the consulate.
- Consuls Checklist: A simple two page document required by the consulate. Check your consulate’s website to download a copy.
- Fee: The cost will be: $45 USD (Please check with the consulate as visa fees change regularly.)
* This HAS TO BE cash or a money order – as an American you are generally given a multi-entry visa immediately upon application (typically without having to ask for it). Make sure of this if you don’t have this multi-entry capability, your visa will expire if you leave Korea to visit Japan or Thailand or elsewhere for vacation.
Once the consulate receives your application and paperwork, they will contact you to arrange an interview. Some consulates will let you call to book an interview before you have your visa number, others will not. Call your consulate to see how they want you to book your interview. Be nice.
- You will be required to visit the Korean consulate IN PERSON unless special arrangements can be made.
- Each consulate has different processing times (from one hour to 5 days.)
- Once you receive your passport back with your E-2 visa, you are all set to begin your journey to teach English in South Korea!