Fortunately, I live about 15 minutes from Boston. So for me, the visa process for South Korea was pretty simple.
Here’s the whole visa process for South Korea and the steps that I had to take:
You will need to obtain an E2 visa to teach in South Korea. It is a teaching visa.
In order to get your visa, you have to send a bunch of documents to South Korea first. You will be told what they are. You can also check your closest embassy/consulate website.
Once you send your documents to Korea, whoever you are working with will give you a visa number. Whether it be a recruiter or an agency. You will also need a bunch of passport photos for the whole visa process for South Korea. I recommend getting at least 8.
To get the FBI background check, you need your fingerprints scanned. Now, I knew that I could go to my local police station to get them before I went to Identogo, but Identogo had faster results.
For those who have never heard of Identogo, it is a place where you can go to get identity checks. I had never of it before my friend mentioned it. You can get a TSA Precheck, FBI background check, and so on.
The first time I went to Identogo, I got the results the same day. I sent it as a PDF to Monument Visa along with my degree. I received both by mail within a week.
Monument Visa is another cool website. You can get your documents authenticated or get an apostille.
Monument Visa is used quite a bit so it will definitely help during your visa process for South Korea.
Fun Fact: An Apostille is a type of authentication that is recognized by foreign countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty. To get a document authenticated, you need to go through a few steps that are different than the Apostille process. You have to get documents authenticated when they are not part of the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty.
I got both of my documents by late July and I was ready for my visa…. Or, so I thought. I was then told by a different agency that I needed my full middle name on my FBI background check. Your name needs to match your passport.
I went back to Identogo and asked them to put my full middle name. They said yes. A few hours later, I open the email and it was just the initial again.
If you want to save some money AND time, just go to your local police station. You should probably call first. Once you get your fingerprints, fill out the forms online from the FBI website, and send it out to the FBI. I think that’s option 2 on the FBI website. The policeman that scanned my fingerprints was so very genial and did not charge me the $25 that was mentioned.
It only cost $4.20 to send my fingerprints and the forms to the FBI from the post office. I then got an email from the FBI within a week.
Later on, I also got a hard copy sent to me. It FINALLY had my full name. Such a relief.
Then, I sent my degree that already had an apostille and the FBI PDF to the recruiting agency. They are based in California. I also had to get my degree verified through National Student Clearinghouse for $15. I’m not sure if that is a Korean requirement or just the agency’s. That was a PDF though so I didn’t have to send the physical copy to CA.
The agency in CA was amiable. They were able to get my FBI check apostilled much faster than I would’ve been able to on my own. To send all of my documents to CA was around $5. I obviously had to pay another $55 to get the FBI apostilled. **sigh.
During this time, around mid-September, it was taking people 10-11 weeks to get their background checks. It took mine about a week thanks to the agency. The agency in CA was able to send my documents to the original recruiter’s office in Korea. From their office in Korea, they sent it to the recruiter’s office that I was going to sign with.
My recruiter was super disorganized with everything during the visa process for South Korea so they wanted me to send my physical documents to Korea. My friend’s recruiter had her send the documents as PDFs to speed up the process.
**Be careful and do research if you decide to go through a recruiter.
Some don’t care about you and just want the money, which confuses me cause if you don’t get to Korea then they don’t get paid so I’m not sure how it works in their favor. My recruiter always tried to rush things which made me anxious. I didn’t want to move slowly but I also wanted to make sure everything was done correctly.
Thankfully, I was in contact with my headteacher as well so they were the ones that actually helped me more throughout the whole visa process for South Korea. And also be cautious with the recruiters that you give your resume. My resume ended up at a school twice which is a bad look so the school didn’t want me. I was talking to multiple recruiters so that’s what caused the whole resume problem. The recruiters hand out your resume like it’s their job. Because it is, haha. So they will send it to anyone and anywhere they can.
If you have all of the time in the world, don’t settle for the first job that you are offered. Especially if you want a certain location. When I interviewed with my school, it went really well, though the location was not my first pick.
I also had to get a Covid test from an MD (Doctor of Medicine). Make sure you check your consulate’s website to see what their requirements are for the visa process. Each consulate has different requirements for its visa process for South Korea. My town in MA does Covid tests daily. The numbers are so high and it’s free, so it was very simple getting a negative Covid test.
I drove to the Boston Consulate (it was actually in Newton, MA), which is about twenty minutes from my house. I handed them my papers, my passport, $45. They told me that I could print out my visa 15 days from then. 14 days later I got a phone call saying that I was missing a form. The “Agreement to Facility Quarantine” form was needed.
Before driving there, I was told that since it says “short-term visa holders” that I did not need it. Luckily, it was an easy fix. I printed it out, signed it, and then emailed it to them as a PDF. PDFs are a lifesaver.
My visa was ready the day after. Finally, I printed it out (which is still weird to me. But hey, it worked) and it was official! ****Make sure to type your name exactly how it is on your passport: last name, first name, middle name. I wasn’t and had to call and the dude told me it has to be put in the exact way it is on your passport.
Check the requirements for YOUR consulate. My friends went through the New York consulate and we had different forms.
If you’re from the US or Canada, AAA comes in handy at times like this. I was able to get 8 passport photos for $25, whereas at CVS I’ve paid $12 for 2 before. At AAA it’s $10 for the first set and then $5 per set after that. Pretty good deal if you ask me. AAA also offers an IDP (International Drivers Permit) for the low price of $20. You do need a valid driver’s license in order to get your IDP.
I got my IDP before canceling my AAA membership and I’m hoping I get to use it. It expires one year after the date that’s printed. You can also postdate it up to 3 months if I remember correctly.
Here’s the price breakdown of the visa process for South Korea:
- $100 ($50 each) for fingerprints- Identogo (locations in the US)
- $165 ($55 each) for apostille degree & FBI
- $14.95 for degree verification- National Student Clearinghouse
- $25 for 8 passport photos from AAA
- $4.75 to send documents from MA to CA
- $4.20 to send fingerprints to the FBI
- $20 for IDP at AAA
- $45 for visa fee
I haven’t added it all up yet because I really don’t want to know how much I spent LOL. I am just fortunate enough and ecstatic to be here!
The visa process for South Korea took a total of about 3 months total. It probably would’ve taken 1-1.5 months in total if I had gone to the police station from the start. Guess now I know. LOL.
This all happened during Covid too. I am sure once Covid slows down, it will be an easier visa process for South Korea??? Not sure though. I do feel like even for getting all of this done during Covid, it was pretty fast. That could also be because I went with an agency at first. I am assuming they pay to have priority over people that just send their documents into Monument Visa.
Even though the whole visa process for South Korea took quite a long time, it was worth it.