How to Obtain Your Visa Documents in the U.S. to Teach in Korea

Before you can board the plane and fly to South Korea, of course some planning and paperwork needs be completed and mailed to the Aclipse headquarters in order to receive your visa. Below is a list of what items and documents you will need to obtain if you are a United States citizen in order to teach in Korea.

Before I talk about how to obtain each document, I first want to list the documents themselves, which I have provided below. 

1) 2 passport photos

2) 1 apostilled copy of your bachelor’s degree

3) Latin degree translation (if necessary)

4) 1 apostilled criminal background check (CBC).  When applying for your CBCs do not apply too early. They should be valid through one month after your target start month. ie. Target start month is May, your CBCs should be valid through June.

5) Degree verification from university OR degree verification through American Databank.

6) Your original E2 health statement form with signature and blank date.

7) A copy of your passport which you can scan and email to your recruiter. Just make sure your passport will be valid throughout your entire stay in Korea.

Although It seems like an overwhelming task to obtain these documents, it’s really manageable and just something that has to be done. The most important part is to simply begin and not procrastinate. And I can’t stress enough the value in asking questions. Prior to this experience I’d never needed to provide so many official documents and perhaps you’re in the same boat – that’s okay; that’s why Aclipse has a fantastically equipped and patient team to help you!

Specifically, I want to address obtaining your apostilled CBC and diploma copy.

Obtaining Your Apostilled CBC:

If you are an E2 Visa holder, like I am, you will need to obtain one background check.that needs to be apostilled. Now you maybe asking yourself how do you go about obtaining an Apostilled CBC?

The first step that must be taken to get your CBC is getting fingerprinted at your local police station. This process took about 20 minutes from start to finish. Next, you’ll need to complete and print a specific form from the one of the FBI channelers. This form needs to be mailed along with the fingerprints to the address specified on the FBI channeler website. You’ll also need to prepare a money order, check, or completed credit card form for the amount requested per copy of the results. Include the money with the fingerprints and form. And then you wait for your CBC!

Your CBC is a federal document, which means it needs to be apostilled at the federal level. Once I received my CBC, I mailed it myself to the US Department of State to apply for the apostille, but this method could take as long as six weeks to process and has in the past resulted in start date delays, so you need to do so as soon as possible. You can also send your CBC to Aclipse by making a payment on their Paypal account, and they will send it to Washington Express and get it apostilled for you, which is an easier method.  

Below are examples of what your CBC and the apostille of the CBC look.  One thing of note is is to make sure your CBC has the same name that is on your passport.  This is crucial and make sure to double check this prior to mailing it to Aclipse.

(Above is an example of a CBC, depending on where you get it your CBC maybe white or a light blue)

(Above is what an apostille for your CBC should look like. This will be attached on top of your CBC)

Obtaining Your Apostilled Diploma:

The first thing I did was take my actual university diploma to a FedEx shop nearest me to make a copy of it. Then, I mailed the photocopies to the SC Secretary of State’s office. DO NOT DO THAT!! FIRST, you MUST make sure to get the copy of your diploma notarized prior to getting it apostilled. I thought I ONLY needed an apostilled diploma. But it turns out, I can’t get an apostille without first getting it notarized, so I had to get a new photocopy of my diploma made, and then I went to my bank and had them notarized. For fear of being short on time, I decided to drive to my Secretary of State’s office and had my CBC and diploma apostilled in person. It took me three hours round trip, but it honestly saved me the headache of wondering if my documents would return to me on time.  One other key thing your should know is that your diploma needs to be notarized and apostilled in the same state.  You can’t get it notarized for instance in Massachusetts and apostilled in New Hampshire.  Below are examples of what a notarized and apostilled diploma look like.

(Above is an example of a notarized diploma. A notarized diploma should have a stamp that says “Notary Public” on it)

(Above is an example of an apostille for the diploma. Each state will have a different apostille which will be attached on top of your diploma, but they should all have the state name written on it along with the word “Apostille.”)

Along with obtaining an apostilled diploma, if your diploma is written in Latin, you will need to obtain a Latin translation from your University. Also, if your name is different on your diploma from your CBC and passport you will also most likely have to obtain a letter from your university stating you are the same person as the one in your passport. For instance some diplomas may just have a middle initial, while the passport may have the full middle name. 

I hope my account of getting my CBC and diploma apostilled didn’t confuse anyone further. It’s especially important for me to share my blunder with my diplomas. While there are a few steps to take, they need not cause headache or sweats. Most importantly, ask your recruiters questions if you are confused or having issues. 

Linda Gaida was raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina and graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2016 with a degree in Romance Languages. While passionate about environmental studies and conservation, her interests now lean towards education! Her curiosities and studies have taken her to Romania, Portugal, Peru, India, and now South Korea, where she works as an English teacher for ChungDahm Learning in Busan. Deciding to teach abroad was an easy decision to make for Linda: while she gets to experience a culture foreign to her own, she is able to benefit the global society by teaching children English and helping them pursue their own ambitions. Linda is also interested in yoga, climbing, hiking, backpacking (anything involving movement), cooking and writing poetry.