The quick but expensive route: This post is for those of you that want to teach in Korea within the next 2-3 ish months. These are directions on how to get all of your visa documents done in about 5-8 weeks. This is the expensive route though, and it it will cost you between $225-$450 depending on your circumstances (mostly depends on whether or not you have a passport already). If that is too expensive and you have the extra time, you may want to consider Part One.
First things first, again, 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.
This is going to get wordy, so click Read More if this is your thing, keep scrolling if it’s not.
FBI CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK (CBC) AUTHENTICATED AND APOSTILLED
Usually this is a 9-12 week long process. But you don’t have time for that so we are going to do an expedited service through a channeler. Your time can get cut down to 5-7 weeks.
The 3 stages to the FBI CBC are:
1. Getting your fingerprints taken
2. Send fingerprints to check for criminal history
3. Send 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. 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. If you’re unsure if you’re doing public or hawgon you might want to just go ahead and 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.
This FBI approved channeler will take about 2 weeks. Cost is $50 per request (x 2 if you need it=$100) which is just their handling fee. You also have to pay for the hard copy results** either mailed by USPS at $5 for the first copy and $20 for the second. USPS will take 1 ish week shipping. You can also use UPS to get the results in 2 days for $30 and plus $20 if you’re getting 2.
Totals for this step
USPS 1= $55, 2=$125 in 2-3 weeks
UPS 1=$80, 2=$175 in a little over 2 weeks
LOOK AT THIS **Make sure to state in the request when you mail the results to the channeler “NEEDS TO BE AUTHENTICATED SO IT CAN BE APOSTILLED”. If not then they will not come back with a signature and seal from the FBI. You can hand write this note or print it off. Also remember to get HARD COPIES in the mail. If you do the free pdf results then it won’t be approved for apostille because it is not printed on security paper. I know it seems like a money saver but my husband did this and his results were not approved for apostille. In fact, the pdf got rejected twice because we mistakenly thought that maybe the paper was poor quality so the seal wasn’t clear enough. Wrong. They said no again, and we went through an ordeal figuring out what was wrong and getting it fixed.
3. Send your returned FBI results to US Department of State for Apostille
This can take about 2-3 weeks. Cost is $8 per apostille (x2=$16) plus you must provide return postage and envelope- not USPS in my opinion. I used 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.
If you are extra desperate there is another expedited channeler option at this stage.
When my husband had that mishap with using pdf results, we used US Legalization which got his FBI CBC apostilled and returned to us in a little over a week and cost $96 plus return postage ($40×2 is their handling fee plus $16 to the US Department of State). We only did this because we had a contract lined up that was exactly what we wanted. It was painful to spend that money on paper. But it did save us a little over a week’s worth of time and we got that contract.
So at this stage it can be
$8-16 for 2-3 weeks
$48-96 for 1 week
This is the worst, most awful document in our personal experience. After this it is relatively smooth sailing, with only one other chance for expedited service. And that is the next step.
My coworker told me she wrote a letter and email to her Congresswoman asking for help. The Congresswoman sent her a letter in the mail to send to the FBI with her fingerprints. It took her 2 weeks to get her results. That’s pretty cool if that’s an option for you.
Again, this is laid out for those of you in a hurry. This usually takes 4-6 weeks but the State Department expedited service is 2-3 weeks.
If you already have a passport, 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 that expedited 2-3 weeks and cost $170.
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.
*MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR ORIGINAL AUTHENTIC BIRTH CERTIFICATE. IF NOT YOU WILL NEED TO RE ORDER AN AUTHENTIC ONE FROM YOUR BIRTH STATE WHICH IS PRICEY AND TAKES A FEW WEEKS.
The cost is $195 and, again, takes 2-3 weeks.
At this juncture, the rest of the documents go the same as Part One, but the end totals are different. For simplicity’s sake, I will just copy and paste the other document processes so you don’t have to leave this post if you don’t want to.
UNIVERSITY DIPLOMA NOTARIZED AND APOSTILLED
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. 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 necessary. 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. If so you would send it to the same place you sent your diploma for $2-15. 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 roughly add up those green bold costs and red bold times.
$10 (fingerprints x2=20)
$55-80 (fbi cbc results x2=$125-150)
$8 (apostilled fbi cbc x2=$16 )
$15 (notarized diploma x2=$30)
$2-15 (apostilled diploma x2=$4-30)
$30 (passport photos x6)
=$90-125 for 1 set, $225-$250 for 2 without passport
+$120-145 for 1 set, $170-$195 for 2 + passport = $325-$445
+$80 (expedited fbi cbc apostille (try not to need this, really try)) = $305-$525
That does not include shipping costs, which are $50 give or take. Depending on the company, rates, and transit times you choose.
4-7 weeks = 1 week (fingerprint appointment) + 2-3 weeks (fbi cbc results) + 1-3 weeks (apostilled fbi cbc)
2-3 weeks (passport)
1-3 weeks (notarized and apostilled diploma)
2-3 weeks (university transcripts)
1-2 weeks (letters of recommendation)
= Up to 7 weeks.
Hopefully you have the time and funds to be doing this document collecting all at once. If so, you can get this all done in about 7 weeks/2 months for anywhere between $225-$525. Lots of factors here, mostly whether you have a passport and if you choose to expedite that FBI CBC apostille (such a pain, don’t do it..).
HEY it is worth noting that you can expedite some things but not others to save money. For instance, if you can start the passport at the same time as your FBI CBC, then you might as well save $60 on the expedited passport and just do it in 4-6 weeks. Chances are you would get your passport and FBI CBC at around the same time. I listed the option though in case you have money for only one at a time, or some other circumstances. And if you don’t do that expedited apostille then this can be as low as $300 with a passport, $200 without, depending if you get double documents.
Hopefully between our posts The Details, Part One, and Part Two you have some options. And that is such a great thing when the weight of this process starts to dawn on you. Don’t let it discourage you though. Korea is specific about their process but it’s a pretty good exchange for their wonderful benefits.
And of course, if you need any extra help, feedback, or troubleshooting, just leave us a comment.