This process is taking quite a while, and it has taken WAY longer than I ever expected. Waiting on documents really sucks, and sadly that’s the hardest part… other than the flaming hoops and red tape you have to navigate through.
So you’re thinking of going to South Korea to teach English? Give yourself roughly 6 months to prepare all the documents and get your ducks in a row. Right now, my college roommate Mychaela and I are applying through GEPIK (sister program of EPIK) to work in public schools in the Gyeonggi Province. We’ve been working on this since September.
If you so much as think you want to go to South Korea to teach, do these things.
- Call your local police department and get your fingerprints done. Get two copies just to be sure.
- Apply for your FBI Criminal Background Check. This took us 4 months. No joke. Directions and application are found HERE. As of November 1st, you no longer need a Criminal Record Check from your state, just the FBI one.
- Contact your university. You’ll need two things: a notarized photocopy of your diploma with a letter from the registrar stating that it is a legit copy, and about 3 official transcripts. If dealing with your registrar is as
funfrustrating as it is with my alma mater, you’ll want to get a HUGE head start on this one, too, because you’ll need the notarization in order to get it signed by the Apostille, or authenticated by the Secretary of State in your local state capital. See directions for your diploma in Oregon HERE. Residents from other states can find basic contact info HERE.
After you have your diploma and FBI check notarized, you’ll have to send/take in person those documents to the Secretary of State’s office to have it authenticated with the Apostille, which is basically an international version of a notary. That’s the big bad scary part. Once that’s done, you can take a bubble bath and relax for a minute.
For visas and local police registration, you’re going to need a boatload of passport photos. We’re all bound to know where there’s a white wall or refrigerator or something, but have a friend take a picture that is to standards listed HERE, then load and crop it HERE. When prompted for Paypal and whatnot, click “no thanks” on the bottom and save it to your computer. Tons cheaper than the $8 at Walgreens is to make sure you have a decent picture and print a few copies on a 4×6 sheet at a photolab for something like 50 cents.
We just had our interviews for schools, and now the visa process starts. Nowhere does the internet tell me a timeline or what to expect for the time it takes to get the needed visa. We asked our program officials for a ballpark time line. Here is what we got back:
- Send (FedEx) required documents to hiring school/agent: 3 days
- School applies for the E-2 Visa with immigration, obtains visa number: 7-10 days
- Arrange interview with Korean Consulate (which will be in person) in order to get the visa: 5-15 days
- Arrange flight to Korea and peace out: 2-3 days
I hope this helps you guys out there who are crazy like us. I’ll keep the world posted as we get closer to departure!
For those who are experiencing the same chaos, if I missed something in the recap, please let me know!