Sunday, August 22, 2010

Considering Korea?

As I prepare to leave for Korea, it occurred to me that other people are in the same position I was a short while ago. How did I go about finding a job, applying for it, getting a visa and so on. It seems a daunting task and at times it can be overwhelming. All you need is a little patience and advice. While I can't provide a miracle pill to calm nerves, I can give a few words of wisdom.

First, you need to find a job. If you want the help of a recruiter, simply google "recruiter for teaching English in Korea" (or something along those lines) and you will get hundreds of hits. Find someone you trust and they will walk you along every step of the job and visa process. Although they are usually necessary, beware! Recruiters get money for placing you, so they may not always have your best interest in mind. There are many honest, trustworthy recruiters available; find the one that suits you!

For a more direct alternative, visit Dave's ESL cafe. You can post your resume or browse jobs in areas that interest you.

Once you have a job lined up, you're going to need all the appropriate documents. If you want to be considered for a visa, you will need:

  1. Original diploma or notarized copy
  2. Sealed university transcripts
  3. Resume
  4. Passport information page
  5. Passport sized photos
  6. Criminal background check with apostille* seal
  7. Health statement
  8. Contract with employer
When I applied for my visa in June 2010, I had a copy of my diploma notarized and apostille sealed. This worked just fine, but I don't know if the rules have changed since then. You may need to send your original, no exceptions.

*Wondering what an apostille seal is? To put it simply, it's a seal proving authentication. I had to get the seal on both my diploma and background check. I'm from Illinois and didn't live terribly far from Springfield, so I drove to get the seal. However, it is possible to receive it through the mail, although it takes significantly longer. I believe you will first have to get the documents notarized (which I got taken care of at my local bank). Here is more information about services in your state.

Once you've got all your ducks in line, it's time to send everything off to your future employer. I recommend using FedEx so you can track your package.

After a week or two, you will receive a visa issuance number. Take this number to your nearest Korean consulate along with the following documents:

  1. Visa application
  2. Passport
  3. University transcripts
  4. Passport photo
  5. Copy of contract, diploma, background check and health statement

Remember, the two lists above are only a basic outline of what you'll need. You may need numerous photos and seals or a different kind of background check; the rules are constantly changing. Make sure you do your research before you visit the consulate to apply for your visa. If you have any questions, give them a call! Here is a list of consulates located in America and Canada.

You're going to have to leave your passport at the consulate. If you live close, you can pick it up in person. If not, it's going to be mailed. If that's the case, make sure you bring a prepaid, self addressed envelope. Once again, I recommend FedEx. Wouldn't want your passport lost without a tracking number, would you?

I went to Chicago to receive my stamp and it was a painless process. I had a small interview with an employee, though I say "interview" loosely. I was asked questions with another future teacher about whether or not I had experience with children, what my life motto was and how I got such a fabulous tan (no joke). Take it seriously but don't lose sleep over this step.

And then you're off! Your employer will send you your flight information and before you know it you're going to start on your amazing adventure abroad.

Best of luck!

PS. You should definitely bring a few passport photos with you to Korea. You're going to need them for your health check and it never hurts to have a few, just in case you need them for future purposes!

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