COMING TO KOREA ON AN E2 (Teaching) VISA IS NOT EASY, but it’s worth it.
It's constant hustling and never knowing what will happen tomorrow. Will I be able to enter the country? Will there be an outgoing travel ban? Is my 72-Hour PCR test scheduled on time? Do I even have all of the necessary documents? You're NOT sure if tomorrow you'll do nothing but wait or if you'll have to RUSH and send over documents as soon as humanly possible. It's a headache having to go through all of that, especially during a pandemic, BUT it is possible, so don't be discouraged.
Let's just dive right into it, shall we? If you're interested in teaching English in Korea, my first advice is to get your TEFL certificate. Even though some places say you don't need it, you should get it regardless. It'd be a good experience and it kind of exposes you to a bit of what you can expect out of this industry, especially lesson planning. It can be tedious, but please just do that before you start applying. I wish I knew that before I started applying because I was getting turned away left and right because I hadn't yet completed this AND for the next reason.
Link to get the $40 TEFL (and save almost $300 USD): https://www.groupon.com/deals/n-tefl-fullcircle
The next step is to get an official version of your diploma and get it notarized by a lawyer. I didn't know what the hell this meant and no one ever explained it to me, so I called a few lawyers in my city to ask for clarification. To get your diploma notarized is basically when a lawyer that is confirmed by the Notary Public stamps your diploma and adds some stuff like their contact information. This basically verifies that your diploma is real. Nextly, get your criminal background check. This is valid for about 6 months, but I recommend getting it before you start applying because a lot of recruiters and direct schools do NOT have the time to wait for you to get these things done. To get my criminal background check took about 2 weeks and then to get my diploma notarized, I got that done within a day.
HOWEVER, what takes time is sending your notarized diploma, your official version of your diploma, a copy of your passport, AND your criminal background check to the Korean embassy to get it apostilled. That, in itself, took another 2 weeks. I was so anxious waiting for my documents to arrive because at the time (I had mailed my documents to the Korean Consulate rather than going in person), I had already started applying to places and because I didn't have my apostilled documents back yet to show them, I was getting denied LEFT AND RIGHT.
Undoubtedly, many places will be okay with hiring you before you even have all of your documents ready, but that wasn't the case for me.
Anyways, after doing a billion different interviews with recruiters and directors of different private academies, I was finally given a beautiful offer. I was literally jumping for joy when I was given the offer. However, I didn't know what exactly happens next so I'll share that with y'all right now because I wish people shared that info with me instead of constantly saying, "coming to Korea is easy" like the opps they are.
After getting an offer of employment from your employer, you'll receive an official employment contract, a health check, and an E2 Form that was almost entirely in Korean. I emailed those documents along with a scan of my passport back immediately for my employer to fill out and submit to the Korean embassy in Korea.
Once that was completed, my employer asked me to get my passport photos taken in person and then to send them 4 of my passport photos, my original criminal record check that was apostilled by the Korean embassy in my country, and my notarized and apostilled diploma. I had to FEDEX those documents to them as soon as humanly possible.
Once my employer received those documents, they were able to take them to the Korean embassy in Korea to get a visa issuance number for me. It took about 7 days to receive my visa issuance number from my employer via email. After that, it is now my job to bring my passport, scan of passport, ALL of my documents including my contract to the Korean embassy in my country to apply for a E-2 Visa.
Here are the EXACT things you'll need to bring for your VISA APPLICATION (according to the Korean Consulate of Toronto):
[ Link to the Eligibility criteria for application = http://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ca-toronto-en/brd/m_5266/view.do?seq=760571&srchFr=&srchTo=&srchWord=&srchTp=&multi_itm_seq=0&itm_seq_1=0&itm_seq_2=0&company_cd=&company_nm=&page=2]
You are eligible to apply for this visa if you are:
A person who meets the qualifications determined by the Minister of Justice, and plans to teach conversational language at a foreign language institute, affiliated- language research institute or educational institute of higher than elementary school, or language training institute affiliated with an enterprise or broadcasting company, or other equivalent organization.
You can only apply for the visa after you receive your Visa Eligibility Certificate. For enquiries on how to obtain that, please contact your recruiter or employer.
1. Visa Application form for those with Visa Eligibility Certificate (print & fill out the attached form)
2. Additional Contact Information for Applicants with Visa Eligibility Certificate (print & fill out the attached form)
3. Valid passport (must have a validity of 6 months or more left)
4. Photocopy of passport (colour or black/white)
5. Passport photo taken within the last 6 months
6. Signed employment contract (signed by both the applicant and the academic institution)
7. Document(s) (or printouts from the organization's website) providing an overview of the academic institution with the name, phone number, and email of the contact person at the academic institution
[ Additional requirements during COVID-19 ]
* As our requirements are updated frequently to reflect the latest government guidelines, you must click and read the above article and follow the detailed instructions.
8. Covid-19 Negative PCR test results
9. Health Condition Report Form (please print and fill out the form)
10. Consent to Quarantine (please print and fill out the form)
Booking an appointment with the Korean embassy during the COVID-19 pandemic is very painful because they are incredibly busy and slowed down due to COVID-19, so I needed to be patient and accept the fact that I was crunched for time. I was checking almost on an hourly basis if there were any earlier appointment dates that I could take because I needed to have all of my documents and Visa prepared and finished by a certain date.
Anyways, I continuously checked the Visa website to check the status of my visa application. They won’t email you or call to let you know that your visa has been approved, so you need to be vigilant and check on your own terms. Here is the link to the Korean Embassy in Toronto that details how to check your visa status and where to print your visa notice: http://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ca-toronto-en/brd/m_5266/view.do?seq=760568&srchFr=&srchTo=&srchWord=&srchTp=&multi_itm_seq=0&itm_seq_1=0&itm_seq_2=0&company_cd=&company_nm=&page=1
Once I got my visa notice, I was able to bring 3 items to the Korean embassy as this part of the process is walk-in only and not by appointment. I had to bring:
My VISA GRANT NOTICE(s)
The confirmation & instructions document (written VISA ACCEPT on the other side) (this was given to me at my visa application appointment)
A photo ID (i.e. driver’s license, Ontario ID card) * Ontario photo health card is temporarily accepted as a photo ID
Once you bring that to the embassy, they will confirm your visa and you will get back your passport and it’s all done!
From there, you can book your flight ticket and then your 72-hour PCR test which MUST be done 72 hours before your departure time to South Korea. Here is the link to the FlyClear by LifeLabs’ centres that perform COVID-19 tests for flight travellers in Canada: https://www.lifelabs.com/flyclear/
That’s all you need to do! I know it’s a lengthy process, but it’s totally worth it. I am rooting for all of you who are considering moving to another country (especially in the middle of a pandemic) to pursue this job opportunity. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Instagram page, Tiwatalks, so we can talk through it.
Good luck and God bless!