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Overview

The two most common visas for English teachers are the E2 and F4.

The E2 is a teaching visa for native English speakers who are not of Korean ethnic background.  The E2 visa allows you to work legally in South Korea for a stated contract period of one year in either the private or public sector.  You may also renew your contract at the end of one year or transfer to another school providing a transfer is approved by immigration.  The documents needed for an E2 visa are: nationwide criminal record check with Apostille, university diploma with Apostille, copy of your passport, 2 passport sized photos, 2 sealed university transcripts, Health Check form, signed copy of your contract and resume.

The F4 Visa is for someone who is of Korean ethnicity but was born or has grown up abroad. They have at least one parent or grandparent who has at one point possessed Korean citizenship.  This is also known as a "Gyopo" (교포) visa.  With an F4 visa, you are free to work for any employer you wish and as many jobs, teaching or otherwise, without any legal repercussions.  With the F4, you basically get the advantages of a Korean citizen, without actually being one.

How to Obtain Your E2 Visa: Step-by-Step Procedures
How to Obtain Your F4 Visa: Step-by-Step Procedures
Click here for more information about visas in Korea

Links

Guide to visa process | Korean consulate contacts | Apostille Authentication offices | Downloadable forms

Overview

There are two types of visas you should know about, the E2 and F4.

The E2 is a teaching visa for native English speakers who do NOT hold Korean citizenship and/or is NOT married to a Korean passport holder.  E2 visa holders also do NOT have a Korean ethnic background.  The E2 visa allows you to work legally in South Korea for a stated contract period of one year in either the private or public sector.  You may also renew your contract at the end of one year or transfer to another school providing a transfer is approved by immigration.

The F4 Visa is for someone who is of Korean ethnicity but was born or has grown up abroad. They have at least one parent or grandparent who has at one point possessed Korean citizenship.  This is also known as a "Gyopo" (교포) visa.  With an F4 visa, you are free to work for any employer you wish and as many jobs, teaching or otherwise, without any legal repercussions.  With the F4, you receive many of the advantages of a Korean citizen.

How to Obtain Your E2 Visa: Step-by-Step Procedures
How to Obtain Your F4 Visa: Step-by-Step Procedures
Click here for more information about visas in Korea

Links

Guide to visa process | Korean consulate contacts | Apostille Authentication offices | Downloadable forms

Overview

Obtaining Your Visa

The two most common visas for English teachers are the E2 and F4.

The E2 is a teaching visa for native English speakers who are not of Korean ethnic background.  The E2 visa allows you to work legally in South Korea for a stated contract period of one year in either the private or public sector.  You may also renew your contract at the end of one year or transfer to another school providing a transfer is approved by immigration.

The F4 visa is for someone who is of Korean ethnicity but was born or has grown up abroad. They have at least one parent or grandparent who has, at one point, possessed Korean citizenship.  This is also known as a "Gyopo" (교포) visa.  With an F4 visa, you are free to work for any employer you wish and as many jobs, teaching or otherwise, without any legal repercussions.  With the F4 visa, you get many of the advantages of a Korean citizen.

E2 Visa

Obtaining Your E2 Visa

Obtaining your US FBI Criminal Record Check while in Korea (Click here for Canadian E2 visa and RCMP CRC instructions)
You should start preparing your FBI CRC about 3 months in advance.  FBI Website 
HELPFUL phone numbers:
US Embassy 02-397-4114 (Seoul) M-F 8:30a-4:30pm
Seoul Global Center 02-120 dial 9 then 1 for English. This line is amazing and will make your life easier! They can translate for you, look stuff up (bus info, subway info, costs, doctor locations, etc.)
Korea Tourism Organization (can do the same as the Seoul Global Center but not as friendly): 02-1330 dial 2 for English
FedEx (English speaking available) 080-023-8000 (see FedEx account section below for more details.)
FBI office in West Virginia 304-625-5590 (Fingerprints division: 304-625-2000)

No matter which option you use, you should send your package to the following address:
FBI CJIS Division – Record Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306

Important to note: If you are applying for renewal or a different job, these results cannot be dated more than 6 months prior. Thus, don’t order a bunch of copies unless you plan to hand them out in the next 6 months. *Also note: the FBI results are only good for 90 days, so you must get your Apostille done within 90 days of the issue date of the FBI results.
If that is not enough information, here is the FBI Checklist  posted on their site.

APOSTILLE
You must now get your results APOSTILLE stamped. That means: you have to send it BACK to America! If you don’t have anyone back home that could help you, we highly recommend http://www.usauthentication.com or any other courier service. They can usually get it completed and shipped on its way back to you (if you have a FedEx account) within 2-3 business days. The fee is around $45-60.

Once you have received your FBI criminal background check with official signature and seal.  You then must mail it in to the Office of Authentications for the US Department of State.  (LINK)
1) Fill out the cover letter for the apostille request.  (LINK)
2) Include a personal check or money order for the processing fee.  They do not accept credit cards.
3) Include the FBI background check and be certain that the signature and seal of the agency is present.
On the notes and special instructions, be certain to mention you need a Federal Apostille for this document for the purpose of obtaining a work visa in South Korea.  It is important that they know which country wants this and why they want it.
The address for this is:
U.S. Department of State
Authentications Office
518 23rd Street NW.
SA-1
Washington, DC 20520
The apostille should look something like this scroll halfway down the page, on the right.
You’re finally done!
A big thanks to Kasham for the info!

Obtaining your FBI Criminal Record Check in the US
BEFORE STARTING:
This process can take up to 3 months.  Do not underestimate it because it could end up costing you your job if you do not get it done on time.  
STEP 1:
If you are living in the United States, then simply go to a local police station and request to be fingerprinted.  Let them know it is because you need to apply for a FBI criminal background check to work abroad.  They should be able to help you with no problem.
STEP 2:
You need to write a cover letter for your application form to the FBI.  On it, you are going to need to add several important things.
1) Include any kind of contact information you have.  Your e-mail, your phone number, your mailing address and possibly a mailing address in the United States or a person and contact number in the United States if they need to contact someone about the processing.
2) Include a request to the FBI asking them to use their official seal for the document and have a division officer sign it.  You can say something like this:
"Please include with the background check a FBI seal and signature from a Division Officer.  The purpose of this document is to be sent next to the US State Department for a Federal Apostille."
Mail your cover letter, your application form, the three copies of your finger prints, and your credit card payment form to the following address:

FBI CJIS Division – Record Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306
The FBI contact number for the FBI Office in West Virginia is 304-625-5590 if you have any questions.

STEP 3:
Once you have received your FBI criminal background check with official signature and seal.  You then must mail it in to the Office of Authentications for the US Department of State.  (LINK)
1) Fill out the cover letter for the apostille request.  (LINK)
2) Include a personal check or money order for the processing fee.  They do not accept credit cards.
3) Include the FBI background check and be certain that the signature and seal of the agency is present.
On the notes and special instructions, be certain to mention you need a Federal Apostille for this document for the purpose of obtaining a work visa in South Korea.  It is important that they know which country wants this and why they want it.

The State Department explicitly says this:
Please include a cover-letter ( see example) with your name, telephone number, address and email address. Please indicate the name of the country where the document will be used. We suggest using a self-addressed stamped envelope for faster return of your documents. Documents received without a return envelope and postage will be returned through the State Department regular mail, which can result in a 2-3 week delay. You can use Fed/Ex, UPS, and express mail services for faster receipt/return of your documents. However, you must enclose a prepaid airbill and envelope.
Mail to:
U.S. Department of State
Authentications Office
518 23rd Street NW.
SA-1
Washington, DC 20520
You can also read “Obtaining your FBI CRC while in Korea” for more detailed instructions.

Getting your diploma Notarized and Apostilled
First things first, you’ll need to get your degree notarized before you can get it apostilled. And you have to get it notarized in the same state where you will get the apostille.
If your degree is from Indiana University, you should have it notarized in Indiana. There are reports that you don’t have to get your degree notarized and apostilled in the state where you received your degree; however, this really seemed to be on a case by case basis. Most states do it for about $5 or $10.
Public Notary
There are a ton of places to do this.  Just do a quick Google search and you will find notary places everywhere. Call ahead to make sure they’re available to notarize when you come in. You can have this completed at the post office, bank, your university, etc.
This is very important -- you don’t want them to notarize the original diploma. You will be sending this document to Korea, and they won’t return it. So, you want them to notarize a photocopy of your diploma. So make a photocopy of your original and bring that along when you go to the office. They’ll look at your original to make sure the copy is good.
[Note: Call ahead to ask about what they need specifically. Some might require transcripts.]
This is what you need to make sure to get before you leave the notary (don’t trust the notary to know what to do):

You and the notary are just going to write all this on the back of the photocopy of the diploma. This makes it easy for immigration to process.
Secretary of State
Once you have your diploma notarized, you can send it to the Secretary of State to get the apostille. You’ll need to get the apostilled in the same state where you got the diploma notarized.
You’ll send the notarized copy of your diploma along with payment for the apostille service. Make sure to do a Google search for “secretary of state [INSERT YOUR STATE HERE]” to verify what kind of payments they accept. You’ll also include a cover letter.
The cover letter is nothing to be scared of. I just typed up a piece of paper that looked like this:
[Your State] Secretary of State
Authentication Department
(Apostille request)
Date: __________________
Name: _________________
My phone: ______________
My email: _______________
Country where documents will be sent: _____________
Brief note on why you need the Apostille:
Please return documents via enclosed, postage-paid envelope
Signature: ______________
You will have to pay for two envelopes with tracking for both – one is addressed to the Secretary of State and the other to yourself. Then insert the second envelope inside the other envelope with the rest of the documents and send the whole package.
Then it’s just a matter of waiting to get it back, which takes about a week.

PLEASE NOTE: Many teachers have found that gathering these documents takes MUCH longer than they originally anticipated (especially the criminal background check), 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. We strongly suggest that applicants begin gathering these documents immediately and have them ready BEFORE applying to schools.

Download the complete Visa Processing Information Packet

F4 Visa

How to Obtain Your F4 Visa: Step-by-Step Procedures

Click here to find a Korean Consulate near you.

An F-4 visa is a special immigration status issued to a naturalized Korean-American and any of his or her immediate relatives and descendants. An F-4 visa status provides unique privileges not typically offered under other visa categories. Some of these include the ability to live in South Korea for two years with little or no restrictions. F4 holders can also renew their visa status every 2 years. If you are a Korean-American, you must first file a Korean nationality renunciation report at a Korean embassy or consulate or with the Korean Ministry of Justice before applying for an F-4 visa. Call your nearest Korean Consulate to get started on obtaining your documents.

***IMPORTANT LAW CHANGES AS OF JANUARY 1, 2012*** -- F4 visa holders are now required to provide their nationwide criminal record check and diploma if hired as an English teacher in Korea. The national wide criminal record check and dimploma must also be authenticated. Please view the E2 Visa section for instructions on obtaining these documents.

Instructions

Download the visa application form here

Print the application and then complete the form by hand, making sure to answer every question as thoroughly as possible.

Have a color 2" x 2" passport photo taken of you.

Affix your passport-sized photo to your completed visa application form.

Obtain a money order covering the processing fee of your visa. The money order must be payable to "The Korean Consulate-General." This fee is $45.

Gather supporting documents for your visa application. If you were born in Korea, this includes documented proof of prior Korean citizenship, such as your Korean family tree register, or a Korean birth certificate, a certified document indicating removal from a family register and documentation demonstrating proof of Korean nationality or citizenship renunciation.

If you are the immediate relative/descendant of a Korean citizen, you must submit documented proof of your parents' (or relative's) prior Korean nationality, proof of a familial relationship, such as a birth certificate, and documents demonstrating the reason and time of your relative's adoption of a foreign nationality.

After you have obtained all the docs, you should make photocopies and then take your application and supporting documents, including your valid passport to a Korean Consulate near you. If there is none near you, you will have to send it via courier to the Korean Consulate/Embassy that has jurisdiction over your state of residence. A self-addressed prepaid envelope must accompany your application. If you must mail it in, we highly recommend you use a courier service to expedite and track your shipping.  We also suggest that you call them before going into the office or sending in your documents.

Additional Information

The family registry is called a Hojukdeungbon (호적등본). If you do not have the Hojuk on hand, you will have to contact a relative in Korea to mail or fax it to you. The other option would be going to Korea directly to obtain it.  If you take the latter approach, you could apply for the F-4 Visa in Korea.

If you were born in Korea and immigrated to the U.S., then its more than likely that your name is still on the Hojuk (even if you're a naturalized US Citizen). This technically means that you’re still a Korean citizen. Therefore, when you apply for the F-4 Visa, you have to also file another confirmation document called the Gookjuk Sahngshil (국적상실신고서). This will report when and how you lost your Korean citizenship. After filing this, your name will be removed from the Hojuk.

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