If you’re a future expat and you’re thinking about teaching English in Korea, you have no choice other than go through the horrendous process of obtaining an E2 Visa (a specific visa for English teachers in Korea). Well, what exactly is that process?
Note: Many of these steps vary depending on what country you are from. Listed are the steps required for US citizens to acquire the E2 Visa.
Step 1: Obtain the Following Documents and mail them to your future Employer in Korea.
- FBI Background check (or a National Criminal Record check from your country) TIME: 4-8 weeks
- A Federal Apostille for your FBI Background Check. TIME: 4-8 weeks
- University Diploma with a State Issued Apostille (available at your local Department of State office) TIME: 30 minutes if going in person. If submitting by mail, allow 5-10 business days.
- Official Sealed Transcripts. TIME: 5-10 business days
- A photocopy of your Passport (the information page with your photo)
- 4 Passport Photos (Learn how to make your own, and save you $$$)
- Health Assessment Form.
- Your signed contract
- A signed copy of your resume with your contact info
Step 2: Wait for your future employer to contact you with your E2 Visa Application Number. TIME: 5-10 business days, not including shipping time.
Step 3: Mail the following items to your specific Korean Consulate (an interview is no longer required)
- A completed Visa Application Form with your Visa Application Number written on the top of the form
- 2 recent passport photos
- Original and photocopy of passport
- $50 money order made out to Consulate General of the Republic of Korea (you can get these at your local post office)
- One set of Official Sealed Transcripts
- A self-addressed return envelope with prepaid postage
Step 4: Wait for your E2 visa-stamped passports to arrive in the mail. TIME: 5-10 business days, not including shipping time.
Step 5: Hop on a plane and head to South Korea! TIME: 13 hours (from Chicago)!!!
Not too bad, right? Well, it’s not to bad if everything goes exactly right. Just imagine if everything were to go wrong. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it, just follow our story below…
- Early-August: Looking for jobs in Korea that started in March
- Early-August: Applied for FBI Background Checks
- Early-September: FBI Background Checks arrived; immediately sent them off to the Department of State for a Federal Apostille
- October: A reputable school contacted us and asked if we could start on January15 (This really pushed our deadline for our paper work because Jared didn’t graduate until December)
- Late-October: A piece of damaged mail arrives… our Apostilled FBI Background Checks had gotten stuck in a mail sorter and partially destroyed (ripped, smeared, and the Apostille seal was broken on mine)
- Late-October: Devastated… applied for a new FBI Background Check (knowing there was no way I could get it in time… FYI the FBI offers absolutely no expedited services)
- November: Gather our other documents
- Morning-December 19: Jared takes his last final exam and due to our emergency situation, the college dean handed him is diploma two hours later.
- Afternoon-December 19: Rushed to Fed-Ex to ship our documents via Expedited International Express to Korea (if I remember right, it was around $80 for the envelope).
- January 3rd: We were issued our Visa Application Numbers (thankfully, they accepted the damaged documents), and we overnighted our visa paper work to the Korean Consulate in Chicago, and included an overnight prepaid return envelope which would ensure our visas would be waiting in the mailbox by the time we got back from our cruise
- January 6th: We departed Galveston, TX for a week long family cruise
- January 13th: We stepped off the cruise ship Sunday morning and I checked my voicemail. We had received a message from Ms. Park at the Consulate Office in Chicago saying that she had a question about our paper work. We made the decision to drive straight to Chicago (from Galveston).
- January 14th: After 24 hours on the road (with absolutely no rest), we arrived at the Consulate office in Chicago. The lady had not processed our visas and coldly informed us that she would wait until next week to give us our visas. After begging her for 4 hours, she told us the earliest she would give them to us would be when they opened the next day (this means we would miss our flights). We asked and begged her for the visas by the time they closed, but it was a no go. We got a crummy hotel in downtown Chicago, canceled our flights, and hoped for better luck the next day.
- January 15th: We arrive at the Consulate, and after some very snide remarks she handed us our visas. We drove 13 hours back to Kansas City and caught a flight out the next day.
Words cannot describe how utterly happy Jared and I were to finally be on a plane and heading to South Korea. We ended us missing a day of our orientation, but everything ended up working out fine in the end. Long story short–don’t give up, and once you’re in Korea, it will be worth whatever you had to go through to get here.