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The Visa Process

1) Obtaining Your Work Visa:

Once a contract is agreed to and signed by our applicant, the next step in the process is for the employer to obtain an E-2 visa work from Korean Immigration for him or her. Up to this point, even though the school has extended an offer of employment and the applicant has accepted and signed the contract, the teacher is not officially an employee. Any agreements are only binding subsequent to the applicant being approved for a work visa from Korean Immigration. Below is a list of documents each applicant will need to send the school. PLEASE NOTE: Many teachers have found that gathering these documents takes MUCH longer than they originally anticipated (especially the criminal background report) and this in some cases has led to job offers being revoked, leading the teachers having to go through the entire process all over again. PlanetESL strongly suggests that applicants begin gathering these documents immediately:

  1. A Notarized and Apostilled Photocopy of the Applicant's University Degree: The applicant must have a minimum of a Bachelor Degree from an accredited university to be considered for a teaching visa by Korean immigration.

    Please Note: Apostile service is not available in Canada so Canadians need only to have a photocopy of their degree notarized by the Korean Consulate. Services charges apply.

    For more information on obtaining an Apostile, visit ApostilleInfo.com

  2. Two Sets of the Applicant's Sealed & Stamped University Transcripts: Sealed & Stamped means still in the unopened envelope from the applicant’s educational institute, with the university stamp or registrar signature across the back seal. If the stamp or signature is absent, or if the transcripts have been opened or otherwise tampered with in any way, Korean Immigration will not accept them. It is advisable for applicants to contact the registrar's office at their university to specifically request that their transcripts be stamped as not every university automatically does this. Be sure to order a third set as you will later need to send one additional set to the Korean Consulate in your home country once your visa number has been issued.

  3. Notarized and Apostilled Criminal Background Report (CRC): Effective January 1st, 2011, applicants, regardless of nationality, will be required to submit a national level CRC or FBI Check (in the U.S.A.) when getting or changing a teaching visa or obtaining an alien registration card. Please ask PlanetESL if you have questions about this very important change.

    When applying for your CRC, be sure to also request a Sex-Offender Registry Check (some reports do not specify that a sex-offender check has been done). Once obtained, the CRC must be Apostille authenticated:

    American Citizens: Must submit an Apostilled Federal Criminal Record Check obtained through the FBI. You can go to the FBI website for more information or go to your local police department. The process to obtain an FBI level Criminal Background takes at least 4-6 weeks, so US citizens should start the process as early as possible.

    IMPORTANT: In order for your FBI CRC to be Apostilled, it needs to have an FBI seal and signature from a Division Officer. This needed to be requested when you initially request the FBI check by simply including a separate note with the application that states "Please provide an FBI seal and signature from a Division Officer for the purpose of obtaining a Federal Apostille". If you do not request the division officer signature, you will need to wait to receive your FBI check, then mail it back to the FBI to get the seal & signature. This can take an additional 2 weeks.

    Once you receive your FBI check with the seal and stamp, take it to a public notary with a written affidavit saying it is a true document from the FBI and that you need it to obtain a teaching visa to teach in South Korea. Once it is notarized, you must have it Apostilled at your local Secretary of State Office, or optionally you can mail it to the Secretary of State Office in Washington D.C. In-person dropoff is the quickest option. If you live too far away from the Secretary of State office in your state, it is advisable to send your documents to a friend or family member and have them take the documents in person. Mail-in applications can normally take 2 to 3 weeks to process and should be used if no other options are available. If you must mail in your application, be sure to include a RETURN ENVELOPE with postage and address back to you and the fee in the form of a check or money order.

    For more information on obtaining your CRC from the FBI, visit the FBI website at www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks.

    For more info on mailing in your documents to the Secretary of State Office in Washington D.C. for Apostille authentication, visit www.state.gov/m/a/auth/.

    For more information on obtaining an Apostile, visit ApostilleInfo.com

    Canadian Citizens: Canada does not have an agreement with the Apostille Convention, so your Criminal Record Check must be notarized by the Korean Consulate/Embassy nearest to you. For more information on obtaining your CRC from the RCMP, please visit www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cr-cj/fing-empr2-eng.htm.

    New Zealand Citizens: To find out how to apply for your Subject Access Form, please visit http://www.justice.govt.nz.

    UK Citizens: To find out how to apply for your Criminal Record Check, please visit www.met.police.uk/information/request_forms.htm.

    RSA Citizens: To find out how to apply for your Police Clearance, please visit www.dfa.gov.za/consular/policeclear.htm. For more information on obtaining a Apostille authentication in RSA, please visit www.dirco.gov.za/consular/legalisation.htm

    *Please note that you must obtain your Criminal Record Check (or Police Clearance) through a police department or Ministry of Justice. Do NOT go through a private agency as background checks obtained through them will not be accepted by Korean Immigration.

    **Applicants with any previous criminal charges (including DUIs) will be automatically rejected for a visa by Korean Immigration.

    ***Criminal Record Checks MUST be apostilled before you mail them to PlanetESL. This means the Apostille must be attached to the original document and not altered or restapled.

  4. Two Copies of the Original Contract Signed by the Applicant: Unless the employer has defined the exact start date on the contract, it should be left blank on both copies. The exact start date of the contract will be amended once the applicant arrives in Korea. With the time that it can take the applicant to gather the required visa documents and courier them to the employer, and the time that it takes for the employer to actually apply for the work visa to Korean Immigration, and the fact that the approval time can be anywhere from 5-10 business days without unforeseen delays, and finally the time that it then takes for the visa to be actually issued in the applicant's home country once the interview has been conducted, it is understandably almost impossible to set an exact start date at this point in the process. All work visas are for a one-year duration only, which automatically begins the day the applicant enters Korea, regardless of the actual start date on the contract.

  5. A Filled-out and Signed E-2 Applicant Medical Statement: After arriving in Korea and before applying for their Alien Registration Card (ARC), teachers are now required by law to undergo a medical examination at a designated hospital in their area. The exam will include drug and HIV testing and must be completed within 90 days of arrival. The school will assist in arranging the exam. Drug abuse is a very serious issue in South Korea and any applicant failing the medical exam will have their teaching visa and employment contract immediately cancelled.

  6. A Full Resume With Correct Mailing Address and Phone Number: The resume must bear the applicant's signature.

  7. A Color Scan of the Information Page of the Applicant’s Passport.

  8. 4 Recent Passport-size Color Photos.

Because of the unreliable nature of regular postage delivery, all documents must be sent by registered courier. FEDEX, UPS and DHL work best in Korea. The cost is usually between forty and one hundred dollars (depending on the company and location) and delivery can be insured and usually done within three business days. The applicant should send the documents directly to the school whose address is easily obtainable through PlanetESL. The visa application process in Korea usually takes about five to ten business days from the point that the school submits all the required documents to the issuance of the visa approval number.

   
 

2) The Interview & Having the Visa Issued:

As of December 15, 2007, applicants who have not previously been issued an E-2 English teaching visa by Korean Immigration are required to visit the Korean consulate in the jurisdiction of their permanent address for an interview prior to their work visa being issued. Once all visa documents have been sent to the school in Korea, the applicant should contact the Korean consulate that has jurisdiction in their area and find out when they can book their interview. Every consulate is a little bit different. Some will allow you to send in your documents and book the interview before they visa approval number is issued in Korea, while others may not. Following is the list of items you will need to take/send to the Korean consulate prior to your interview;

  1. Visa Application Form: Some common confusing areas are:

    8. Passport Classification: OR - ordinary
    16. Occupational: English Teacher
    19. Purpose of Entry: To teach English
    21. Desired Length of Stay: 1 year
    23. Address in Korea: Put your school's address here
    27. Who Will Pay For Your Trip?: Employer
    31. Guarantor in Korea: Put your director's name, address and phone number here

  2. One Set of Sealed & Stamped University Transcripts

  3. Your Passport With at Least 6 Months Remaining Validity

  4. Two Recent Passport-size Color Photographs

  5. The Visa Fee* ($65 CAD, $45 USD, NZ $50 USD, A$75, UK £27)

*Fees can change without warning so applicants should check with their local Korean consulate. Applicants not in their home country may incur additional fees.

Applicant's can usually send the above documents to the Korean consulate with jurisdiction over their area by courier before receiving the visa approval number, and then call the number in by phone once it is received. This will save some leg-work, but applicants should call before sending in their documents to verify that this can be done. PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT SEND YOUR VISA DOCUMENTS BY REGULAR MAIL as this can take anywhere from one to three weeks depending on the season. Overnight express is necessary unless the departure date is more than a month away. Prepaid return postage must always be included as consulates will not pay to return documents. In rush situations, it always helps to provide a copy of the flight itinerary to the consulate. Visas are ALWAYS issued faster if the teacher goes to the consulate in person, as opposed to sending their passport and documents via courier.

Applicants who live a sufficient distance from a Korean consulate or embassy may be permitted to do the interview by webcam, though we have not heard to date of any such instances.

Once the interview has been conducted and the work visa approved, the consulate will stamp the visa in the teacher’s passport and send it back via the prepaid postage method. The visa usually takes between three and five business days to process after the interview, though as little as one hour has been heard of. Once the teacher has their passport with visa in hand, they can depart for Korea anytime.

   
 

3) Flight Arrangements:

PlanetESL handles all flight arrangements and ensures that both the teacher and the school are provided with flight itineraries as soon as they are available. Reservations are normally placed once the teacher's work visa has been approved by Korean Immigration. Once the teacher confirms the return of their passport from the Korean consulate in their country with their work visa stamped in it, PlanetESL will have the flight ticket paid for and issued, usually in the form of an electronic ticket which is sent to the teacher's email address. The teacher must normally arrive in Korea one or two days before the start date of their contract.

Once the teacher arrives in Korea, an escort meets them at the airport and transports them directly to the school. Arrival and contact information is always given to the teacher prior to departure.