Korean E-2 Visa Documents: Part One

The Inexpensive But Long Route: This post is for those of you who don’t plan to teach in Korea for at least 3-5 months. Expect this process to take at least 10-12 weeks, if not 12-16, to get everything together. The up side to this long wait is you shouldn’t have to spend more than $150-$300 depending on your circumstances (mostly whether you have a passport or not). If that is too long of a wait and you have the extra money, you want to read Part Two.

First things first, the list of e-2 visa documents:

Required by all employers

  • FBI Criminal Background Check (FBI CBC) – authenticated and apostilled
  • Passport – must have at least 18 months left til expiration
  • University degree – notarized and apostilled
  • Photocopy of passport information page – not the cover, the one with your photo on it
  • Passport photos – four official photos
  • Contract – with live signature
  • Health Assessment form – provided to you by employer at contract signing

Required by some employers

  • University transcript – sealed with official stamp and signature of university registrar
  • Consulate Interview – depends on the consulate and employer
  • Letters of recommendation – usually two or three, sealed, with contact info, live signature, and dates of employment
  • Marriage certificate – if applicable obviously, the vital record from the health department not the county clerk

These are posted in what I feel is the order of importance/which take the longest. Prices will be marked in green bold. Time frames will be marked in red bold

I’m going to cut this here since this is about to get long. If you need this information keep reading.


There are 3 stages to the FBI CBC:

1. Getting fingerprinted
2. Send fingerprints to FBI to check for criminal history
3. Send authenticated FBI CBC results to the US Department of State for Apostille

1. Fingerprints can be done at a sheriff/police station or an independent business that specializes in passports, fingerprints, etc. I did the latter because my local sheriff office didn’t have an appointment open for two months. When you choose a place make sure you tell them you need fingerprints done for an FBI Criminal Background Check. This is important to mention because the FBI requires a specific fingerprint process (an official index card (FD-258) with rolled fingerprints). Most places I called knew what I was talking about. Better safe than sorry, mention the FBI CBC, index card, and rolled prints.

I got mine done in one day. My friend had an appointment with the sheriff so it took her a little over a week. So I’d place the timing on this at about 1-2 weeks, depending on your area and schedule.

My fingerprints were $10 for each set taken. DO TWO SETS OF FINGERPRINTS. If you get a job with a public school they will require double the documents. One to get a visa and another when you arrive. Better safe than sorry, I would get 2. We didn’t get a public school job but you never know, it may be the job you really want. There are also some consulates that require your FBI CBC results for the interview. I didn’t have an interview, but you might.

So two sets will be, depending on which place you go to, roughly $20

2. Send your fingerprint cards to get the FBI Background Check

Since this is the less expensive route you will send it directly to the FBI

You will print off an application from the above/latter website and mail it to the FBI with payment, the fingerprint index cards, and a note asking for authentication.

Authentication? What’s that? Here is the deal, if your results do not have the signature and seal from the FBI then they will not get apostilled. Not fun. So I would go ahead and either print off or hand write a note stating “Please send authenticated results so they can be apostilled”. They will know exactly what you mean. Include the polite note.

FBI will take 6-8 weeks . Cost is $18 per request (so x2= $36) plus mailing costs.

FedEx is your friend! Tracking is a lifesaver. I exclusively used FedEx after USPS wasn’t cutting it.

3. Send your returned FBI results to US Department of State for Apostille

If you did everything right with the FBI CBC then you should have gotten back in the mail a nice, crisp, colored paper with a seal in the background and a signature at the bottom. These are your authenticated results. Time to get them apostilled. You have to do this one at the federal level, not state level.

You are going to print off a request form from the website and mail it with payment, return postage, and the FBI CBC results.

This can take about 2-3 weeks. Cost is $8 per apostille (x2=$16) plus the return postage and envelope- again NOT USPS. I like FedEx but UPS works too. Just make sure you write down and keep your tracking number when you send off the return postage. If you’re like me you will want to check on it’s return cause the US Department of State is not going to tell you when they have sent it. I would check after a week and then every few days after that.  It took about 10 days for mine to get put in the mail.

If you did everything right, your FBI CBC results will come back with a tan cover letter. DO NOT DETACH THAT COVER. That is the apostille you worked so hard for. Once it is removed it is invalid.

You’re done with the longest, worst part now. Congratulations.

But let’s keep going.


This is information for those who don’t have a passport. If you already have one, make sure you have at least 6 months left til it expires from the start date of your contract. If not you will need to renew. This will take 4-6 weeks and costs $110.

1. If this is your first passport you have to apply in person at certain facilities like a post office. To find a place to apply in person: Find a Passport Place Near You

2. Apply for a Passport for the First Time
Go to the link above and find the “SUBMIT A U.S. PASSPORT APPLICATION FOR AN ADULT IN PERSON” section and follow the steps.
When you go to the application office you will need to bring the DS-11 form, have proof of citizenship*, valid ID, photocopy of ID front and back, passport photo, and the fees.
It is not that hard, just make sure you have all your documents when you go in person. It’s been a long time since I did it in person but from what I recall a teller helps you and if you are missing anything they let you know before you mail it all off.


The cost is $135 and takes 4-6 weeks.


So I did actually run into some trouble here. I live in Oregon but I went to college in Tennessee. Most states will notarize and apostille an out of state diploma. Oregon would not. Check on your state as soon as you can. We had to go to Washington, a 2 hour drive, because notaries have to be done in person. I think Oregon is an exception here, so don’t worry too much.

1. Take your original diploma to get notarized by a Notary Public
You can google your area to find a notary. A lot of mail service places will have it- the businesses where they offer several shipping options, printing stuff, etc. They will make a copy, then fill out some info on it, then sign it. That’s a notary, that copied paper with a signature. Remember when I said to get doubles for either public school jobs or consulate interviews? Get 2!

Cost is usually $15 (x2=$30). This is a same day process.

2. This is where some states have a ‘stupid step’ as I like to call it. For example, before the TN Department of State will apostille something, the notary must be verified by a County Clerk. I think it’s a county clerk. I never had to do this step but I was told from the several times I called TN this had to be done. I have no idea if this costs money. Sorry. Call your local Department of State to find out if you need this for an apostille.

3. Once you have the notary, then you will mail it to your Department of State or Secretary of State, whichever does apostilles. When you mail it, you may be required to fill out a form. I didn’t have to. But DO include a note stating “This needs to be apostilled for a visa to Korea” because otherwise they may “authenticate” it and that is not the same thing.

Cost is $2-15 (x2=$4-30) depending on your state. Since this is an in state process, it is usually 1-3 weeks depending on your government’s work load.



Passport photos can be done at Wal Mart, CVS, or Walgreens. They are usually $10 for 2 photos. You will need probably 6-8 copies once it’s all said and done. So total about $30. Same day service.

Photocopies of your passport page at any FedEx Kinkos, some mailing services, libraries.

Your contract will be emailed to you by a recruiter or employer. You will need to print it and sign it in ink. Not any of that online stuff.  You may need two copies if you have a consulate interview. Contact your consulate to find out.

Health Assessments are also emailed to you. Again, print them yourself. Possibly two copies.

University transcripts are through your university’s record office or registrar. Make sure you say “they need to be sealed with a signature over the seal” so they know to send a legit transcript. Get 2. Or more. Mine were free. I got 4. Some schools charge $1-10. If you have to get them mailed expect it to take 2-3 weeks.

Vital Marriage Record if you are like me and got married like a grown up. This is not your county clerk certificate. This is from a Public Health Department usually. Ours did not have to be apostilled, but some employers do require that. You would send it to the same place you sent your diploma. Our vital marriage record was $25 for one copy and a same day service.

Letters of recommendation are all on you! Make sure you tell whoever is writing them to include their full name, contact info, reason for knowing you (should be a boss of yours, so business is how they know you), and how long they knew you. It would be cool too if they could mention your capacity for working with children or teaching. These might have to be sealed! No cheating. This is an especially important step if you are applying to a public school system in Korea. This might take a bit depending on your people. Assume it will take 1-2 weeks to get these back from people.


Let’s add up those green bold costs and red bold times.

$20 (fingerprints x2)
$36 (fbi cbc x2)
$16 (fbi cbc apostille x2)
$30 (notarized diploma X2)
$4-30 (apostilled diploma x2)
$30 (passport photos x6)
= $136-$162 without passport* + $135 (passport) = $297

All of this does not include mailing stuff. You might wanna set aside around $50 for mailing costs with FedEx. Possibly more or less depending on rates in your area.

9-12 weeks = 1 week (fingerprint appointment) + 6-8 weeks (fbi cbc results) + 2-3 weeks (apostilled fbi cbc)
4-6 weeks (passport)
1-3 weeks (notarized and apostilled diploma)
2-3 weeks (university transcripts)
1-2 weeks (letters of recommendation)

So if you are doing all of this stuff somewhat simultaneously, the longest thing is the FBI CBC which is up to 12 weeks/3 months. But remember what I said in the last post- this will not mean you are hired and leaving the day after you have all your documents. Once you have your documents and a contract signed, it will still be 4+ weeks til you are in Korea.  That is the visa process time. Keep that in mind while planning, applying, and organizing! This was a very important thing that I did not really see mentioned anywhere.

If you have any questions or comments, leave us a message. I am more than happy, seriously, to help. I did a lot of this research on my own and used a lot of blogs. Feedback and troubleshooting is an option here.

Part Two: The quick and expensive route is coming up next.

cheers, and good luck,



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