Teaching English in South Korea: What are the Visa Requirements?

Teaching English in South Korea: What are the Visa Requirements?

You love English. And you love teaching English. So, teaching English to foreign language learners overseas in Korea? That would be a dream come true.

The truth is, it's not just a noble dream. It's a smart one.

Research shows that the number of non-native speakers of English is growing in Asia, trailing only in Europe. And Korea remains one of the most popular countries for Americans interested in teaching English abroad.

However, teaching English in Korea isn’t quite as easy as 1, 2, 3. Here’s a rundown on the multiple steps generally needed to meet the visa requirements and thus make your dream career happen in Korea.

Let’s jump in!

Get Your Undergraduate Degree Certified

To kick start the process of teaching English in Korea, you’ll need to get a copy of your bachelor’s degree notarized. Then, it’ll need to be apostilled.

You can often find notaries at banks. These individuals can be used to certify contracts or other documents you need here for legal purposes in the United States.

Apostilles, on the other hand, are essentially notaries who verify documents you’re using for international purposes, like teaching abroad. You can find an apostille at your state’s Secretary of State office.

Be sure to consult with the Korean consulate in your local area to see if they need your original degree notarized and apostilled or will take a copy of the degree.

Obtain Your University Transcripts

Next, contact your alma mater to obtain three sealed copies of your university transcript. Your school’s registrar can simply send the transcripts to you with signatures or stamps over the seals.

When you receive the transcripts, make sure that you don’t open them.

You’ll likely need your transcript more for a public school position versus one at a private school. However, sometimes private schools require transcripts as well.

Complete a Background Check

Completing a background check is yet another important step in the process of obtaining your visa to teach English in South Korea. But not just any type of background check will do.

Korean consulates today don't accept local or state background checks any longer. Instead, you'll need to order a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) check and have a sent to you.

In addition, you need to ask the FBI to authenticate your check. This will ensure that your check results will come back to you with a signature and seal on it. If this does not happen, you'll need to return the document to FBI officials and ask for authentication again -- a process that could take a few extra weeks.

Then, once you've got an authenticated background check in hand, you'll need to have it apostilled, just like your bachelor's degree.

Try to order a couple of copies of your check results because sometimes private schools require two copies that have been authenticated. One will be used to process your visa in America, and you'll use the other copy to register to teach English when you get to Korea.

Note that an FBI check may take about three months to get, so be sure to plan ahead. Also, when you use the background check to pursue a teaching opportunity in Korea, the check can't be older than six months.

Produce a Copy of Your Passport, Your Health Statement, and Your Resume 

Another critical step in acquiring a visa to teach English overseas is to generate a photocopy of your passport's information page. This page is the page featuring your photo.

Be sure that you've got a minimum of six months on the passport before the passport expires. In addition, be sure that your passport has a minimum of one page that is completely empty. 

Be sure to also produce a statement about your current health condition.

Note that when you get to Korea, you'll have to pass a physical test and a blood test. In addition, you'll have to complete a test for narcotics as well as communicable diseases, like HIV and tuberculosis. Failing the testing process will prevent you from obtaining or maintaining your visa in Korea. 

Also, print off your resume, as you'll need this as part of your teaching job application. You should also include two original recommendation letters with your application, along with four standard passport photos.

Send off Your Documents

Once you've compiled all of your documents, be sure to send them to your target school through a courier delivery service company that'll allow you to track your package.

Delivery could take between five days and eight weeks, depending on where it's going. The school you send the documents to will take them to Korea's immigration and justice ministry.

Next, in seven to 10 days, you'll be issued a visa confirmation number via email (or it'll go to your recruitment company if you happen to be using one). This number will need to be placed on your visa application with your local Korean consulate.

Complete the Interview Process

After you've attained your visa number, you're in the perfect position to schedule an interview with your local Korean consulate.

Note that every consulate has various requirements for completing the interview, so it's a good idea to check with your local consulate to find out how you should schedule an interview.

Some consulates say you need to mail them all of your application materials prior to your interview. Meanwhile, others say it's okay to take all of your application materials to them in person.

Before you mail or take your documents to the consulate, though, you'll also need to complete a consulate application form for your visa. You should be able to find this form on your particular consulate's website.

Interview Documents Needed, and Next Steps

Now, here's a look at all of the documents your local consulate will generally need to see before giving you a visa to teach English.

  • Completed consulate application form for your visa
  • Your visa confirmation number (this should be written on the top part of your application form)
  • Your signed passport
  • Your passport photo
  • Your school transcripts
  • A two-page consuls checklist from your consulate (this is a document that your consulate will require you to include with your application)
  • Your application fee (this must be paid with a money order or cash)

After the consulate gets your paperwork and application, they'll get in touch with you to schedule an interview. 

Keep in mind that some consulates are okay with you booking interviews before you ever get your visa confirmation number. However, other consulates won't allow this. So, as a general rule of thumb, it's a good idea to get the number first.

When it's time for you to be interviewed, be prepared to do the interview in person. In some cases, visa applicants can make special arrangements. However, this is the exception, not the norm.

Also, once you finish your interview, ask the consulate how long it'll take for you to get your visa. For some, the processing time is as little as one hour, whereas, for others, it's five days.

After you get your visa and your passport sent to you, you're ready to start your English teaching journey in Korea.

How We Can Help With Teaching English in South Korea

We are a leading teacher recruitment agency dedicated to helping people interested in teaching English in South Korea.

What our customers love about working with us is that we guide them through the process of attaining their visas. That means they don't have to worry about handling all of the steps themselves.

This is critical, as missing a single important step could prevent you from achieving your goal of becoming an English as a second language teacher overseas.

How Does Our Program Work?

We establish strong employer-teacher partnerships. In addition, we provide services according to mutual respect and understanding for the needs of schools, students, and parents.

We truly believe that any successful employer-teacher partnership requires honest and open communication. For this reason, we'll always tell you what you can expect as a teacher in Korea. We'll also tell you what you shouldn't expect.

All in all, we want you to have a realistic idea of what teaching English in Korea entails.

Why Us?

We've had more than two decades of hands-on experience in the human resource area overseas. As a result, we offer a solid understanding of the challenges associated with working abroad and relocating to another country.

Our overseas experience will prove to be an asset to you as you navigate the process of claiming your first -- or your next -- overseas job.

Get in touch with us today to find out more about how we can turn your overseas English teaching dream into a reality this year. In no time, you can be well on your way to enjoying a career and an adventure of a lifetime.