Over the last number of years, Korea has become a very popular destination for university graduates who want to teach ESL abroad. With some of the highest paying salaries offered to graduates of any major (not only degrees in Education), teaching English in Korea is a great way to live abroad, make money and explore the rich Korean culture for both new and experienced teachers alike. To see if you are eligible for a teaching visa, you must first be able to obtain all of the required documents to teach English in Korea.
Required Documents to Teach English in Korea
The list of documents below is required to secure the E2 Visa, which is what you will need to legally teach English in Korea.
Side note: Throughout this post we will use the words ‘diploma’ and ‘degree’ interchangeably.
- Notarized and Apostille-Approved Photocopy of Your Original Bachelor’s Degree/Diploma
- Apostilled Criminal Background Check
- Two Copies Of Officially Processed Transcripts
- Copy Of Your ESL Resume
- Photocopy Of The First Page of Your Passport
- Signed Contract
- 6 Color Passport Size Photos
- Completed Self Health Form
Notarized and Apostille-Approved Photocopy of Your Original Bachelor’s Degree/Diploma
A Bachelor’s degree is an absolute requirement to teach English in Korea. Once you have obtained that from your university, you will need to get it approved in order for the document to be recognized by Korean Immigration.
*Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the above information.*
Common Questions Regarding Degree/Diploma For Korea
Q: Does my degree need to be in Education, Teaching or English?
A: No! The great thing about teaching English in Korea is that ANY discipline of study is accepted. However, having a degree in Education will land you higher paying teaching positions.
Q: Can I send my original degree to Korea?
A: No. This is no longer accepted. It must be an officially approved copy.
Q: Can I teach English in Korea with a 3 year Bachelor’s degree?
A: Yes! Most Bachelor’s degrees are 4 years, but if you fast-tracked and completed in 3 years, this will be accepted.
Q: I have a Master’s Degree; should I use this for my E2 visa for Korea?
A: No. While this is definitely something that will bolster your resume, only your Bachelor’s degree is required for your E2 visa. Your Master’s degree will not be accepted on its own.
How To Get Your Diploma Apostille-Approved For Americans
Let’s start by answering the most frequently asked question: What the heck is an Apostille??
The Apostille (a French word that means to ‘certify, authenticate or approve’) is needed for every country other than Canada.
STEP 1: Make a photocopy of your original diploma.
STEP 2: Take the photocopy of your diploma to a notary public to have it notarized. (Make sure to bring your original degree with you to the notary public).
STEP 3: Send your notarized copy to US Authentication Services for Apostille Authentication.
Click here for the US Authentication order form to receive a discount.
How To Get Your Degree Approved For Canadians
STEP 1: Make a photocopy of your original degree.
STEP 2: Take the photocopy of your degree to a notary public to have it notarized. (Make sure to bring your original degree with you to the notary public).
STEP 3: Take or send your notarized copy to the closest Korean Consulate to you to obtain the official Korean Consulate approval.
Apostilled Criminal Background Check
The next required document to teach English in Korea is your national level criminal background check. Americans need to obtain an FBI check while Canadians need to get an RCMP check.
How To Obtain An FBI Check For American Teachers
Which FBI Channeler Should I Use for my Working Visa for Korea?
Accurate Biometrics Inc., an FBI approved channeler offers the lowest national rate on FBI fingerprinting.
Accurate Biometrics will have your FBI check results back to you in 24 hours and will then mail them out to you directly on tamper proof paper, which is needed for the Apostille approval.
Receive a $5 discount off of the price of your FBI check by using this form.
How To Get Your FBI Check Apostille-Approved
Send your 2 notarized copies to US Authentication Services for Apostille Authentication. Click here for the US Authentication order form to receive a discount.
How To Obtain an RCMP Check For Canadian Teachers
Canadians must get a fingerprint background check through the RCMP. Simply follow the instructions on the RCMP website to get the electronic fingerprinting version.
Unlike all of the other nationalities, Canadian background checks do NOT need to have the Apostille authentication. Instead, you must have your RCMP fingerprint check approved by the closest Korean consulate to you.
How To Get Your RMCP Check Approved
Take in person, or send your original RCMP fingerprint check to the closest Korean Consulate to you to obtain the official Korean Consulate approval. The Korean Consulate will process your check in about 3-7 days, which is in addition to the time it will take to send and receive them back if you are mailing them by courier.
Where To Get Background Checks For Australians, British, Irish, New Zealanders and South Africans
- Australians must order a Federal Police Check
- British citizens must order a Basic Disclosure Check
- Irish citizens must order a Police Check Certificate
- New Zealand citizens must order a Police Clearance Report
- South Africans must order a Police Clearance Certificate
Two Copies of Officially Processed Transcripts
Your university transcripts are required to further authenticate your Bachelor’s degree.
What Do ‘Official Transcripts’ Mean and How Do I Obtain Them?
‘Official transcripts’ refer to transcripts that are processed by your university’s registrar office directly, which is where you will order them. They must be processed as follows:
- In a sealed envelope with the stamp of the university covering the back flap to show they have not been opened.
- With the signature of the registrar over the back flap to show they have not been opened.
One set of your transcripts will be sent to your school in Korea along with your other visa documents. The other set will be needed by the Korean consulate once you have obtained your visa issuance number.
Copy of Your ESL Resume
If you have not yet done so, you will need to prepare an ESL-specific resume. This will highlight any and all teaching-related work that you have done and also any work with children in general.
For more tips on how to prepare an ESL cover letter, application photo and introduction video visit our application tips to teach English in Korea page.
Photocopy of the First Page of Your Passport
You will need to make a photocopy of the first page of your passport that shows your photo and all information. Make sure you have signed this page!
After you are offered a teaching position in Korea, the school will send their contract for you to sign and include with the rest of your required documents to teach English in Korea that you will be submitting to Korean immigration.
For more information and answers to the common questions about teaching contracts in Korea, go here.
6 Color Passport Size Photos
A total of 6 passport photos are needed for your E2 visa.
- 3 photos will be sent to the Korean Immigration Office
- 1 photo will be sent to the Korean Consulate
- 2 photos will be required in Korea to obtain your official alien registration card
Make sure your passport photos are:
- Professionally made by a photo shop or at Walmart, for example
- In color (black and white will not be accepted)
- The proper passport photo size: 3.5 cm wide and 4.5 cm high (2″ wide x 2″ high)
Completed Self Health Form
In 2010, Korean Immigration instituted new rules around the E2 Visa where English teachers would need to submit a ‘Self Health Test’ report (as seen above) for their E2 teaching visa. This was in large part to test for things like street drugs (cannabis, cocaine, etc.) as some teachers were arrested for using such drugs in Korea.
Additionally, Korean Immigration started screening teachers for prescribed medication to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety or other mental health related issues. The reason for this was due to a number of teachers in Korea who were experiencing issues due to the changes that living in a different country bring. Many of these teachers were not able to cope and therefore went home, leaving their contracts early.
Some Common Questions about the Health Check for Teaching English in Korea
Q: What if I am currently taking medication for depression or anxiety – will I be able to teach English in Korea?
A: If you need to continue taking this medication, no, you will not be able to teach in Korea as you will fail the drug test once you get there.
Q: What if I stop taking medication before going to Korea? Can I still teach there?
A: We always instruct our teachers to first speak with their doctor about getting off of their medication. If the doctor is fine with this, we then advise the teacher to take a couple of months to see how they are managing without the medication.
Q: What if I smoke cannabis now but stop before going to Korea? Will I still pass the health test when I arrive?
A: This will depend on how much you smoke and how long you have been smoking. Cannabis takes a different length of time to get our of your system, depending on one’s usage. The best way to know for sure is to stop smoking completely for a few weeks, and then do a self drug test to see if you test positive or not. If you do not, you are good to go!
Upon Arrival in Korea, You will Undergo a Mandatory Health Test
It is very important to note that shortly after you arrive in Korea, you will be taken to the hospital to undergo a health test. They will test blood and urine to see if there are any illegal or prescribed drugs in your system. If there are, you will be given a chance to redo the test a week or two later. However, if you test positive again, you will be sent home at your own expense. It is therefore best to be honest in your answers on the Self Health Form.
We’re Here to Help!
For more detailed information about the required documents to teach English in Korea, please contact us.
If you are ready to begin your journey teaching English in Korea, you can start by completing our application form. One of our Placement Coordinators will be in touch with you within 24 hours of applying.