Fukuoka, Japan Korean E-2 Visa Run

Hopefully you don’t have to do this.

Or maybe hopefully you do.

Depends on the kind of person you are. Sean and I were excited about the visa run.

So what’s a visa run? Well, you might already know if you’re reading this. But if not, the visa run is for people who are already in Korea looking for another job or for those whose Korean Consulate takes too long to process a visa so you flew to Korea to get it done faster via the visa run. Basically you just can’t be in Korea to get a Korean visa and Japan is your closest option. Sean and I were flown on a tourist visa to Korea then sent to Fukuoka, Japan to obtain our E-2 work visa. You get a tourist visa just for visiting any country. They stamp it at the airport upon arrival. Sometimes they will give you shit for not having a return flight. If so, you just tell them you are taking a ferry boat to Japan when you leave Korea.

IMG_20131013_142726My tourist visa in and out of Korea.

Sean and I did a visa run because it saved us and our employer over a week’s wait since the Seattle consulate takes over a week to process a visa and Fukuoka takes 24 hours. In our mind this was win-win. We got to Korea sooner and got a mini paid for vacation to Japan. And for our employer, well it cost a little more money for them but we were available for the start of their mid-term session which is what they wanted.

So this post will give you step-by-step directions for getting an E-2 Work Visa in Fukuoka, Japan. Our next post will be the fun things we did in Fukuoka on our extended stay. If you think this is a bit overkill or exceptionally detailed, do a google search for Fukuoka visa run. It was a life saver for us and for many other people. You would be surprised at how easy it is to get lost, be late, or feel overwhelmed when doing this run.

The general consensus among the blogs was 3 steps and a list of things to bring:

TYPICAL BLOG STEPS

1. Take subway from the airport to the Tojinmachi stop by the Korean Consulate
2. Walk to Korean consulate to apply for visa, be sure to arrive before 11:30am
3. Return to Korean consulate the following day between 1:30-4:00pm to pick up passport with visa

TYPICAL BLOG’S BRING LIST

1. A passport photo, or pay ¥600 for one from a photo booth at the consulate
2. Your passport
3. The visa issuance number your employer received from Korean Immigration
4. Your new home address, work address, boss’ name, and boss’ phone number
5. ¥4500

MY PERSONAL EXTRA ADVICE

1. Pack light, preferably in a backpack.
2. Check the weather, it can get hot and sunny.
3. Do your currency exchange before you arrive.
4. Wear comfortable shoes.

Easy enough right? Well it should be, but again, I’m so glad I read other blogs before I left. The best blog I found was American in Seoul.

This blog had some great photos to help with walking directions. My boss actually told me to print them out and keep them with me just in case. And it helped, and worked, since I am typing this from my work desk in Korea. I only decided to do a follow up blog to mention the spots where it may have been possible to get lost, confused, or annoyed.

Follow through to check out some Fukuoka Visa Run fine print.

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The E-2 Process Complete

Just in case our previous document posts weren’t enough we have a final document post for you. We present pictures of what your documents done correctly will look like. At the end of this a fancy E-2 visa awaits.

First off, what the apostilles will look like. Official, half empty pieces of paper. Voila. We have pdfs on here because we had to send scans for a lot of our applications. You should just assume you have to do the same and scan them with your smart phone or at Kinkos.

SARAH_CONLEY_DIPLOMA_NOTARY

SARAH_CONLEY_DIPLOMA_APOSTILLE

SARAH_CONLEY_FBI_APOSTILE

So the FBI apostille should be exactly the same since you are getting it from the US Department of State. Your diploma notary and apostille will look different because states use different documents. But it gives you the general idea.

Not bad for a few weeks of tireless effort and annoying hurdles. Those three scans just don’t do the documents process justice. You can really see how much work you did once you line it all up together.

IMG_79530243433672

From the top:

Health Assessment signed
Contract signed
Resume with photo and signed
Notarized and Apostilled Diploma
Apostilled FBI CBC
Passport
2 Passport photos
and Apostilled Vital Marriage Record

That’s right. We/You did it. Congratulations! Your year in Korea is gonna finally happen.

Just kidding. Now it’s time to play the waiting game.

Once you have that pile of documents you will mail it to your school or recruiter. Mailing to Korea can take about a week. Then you have to wait for Immigration to process your paperwork. That’s another 2 weeks. Then you get your Visa Issuance Number. Next you send the visa number to your Korean Consulate with a visa application and your passport (go to your consulate website to verify their visa application process, you might need more paperwork). That can take 1-2 weeks or more depending on your consulate (I would call way in advance, like while still collecting your documents so you know what time frame to give your employer). Once your passport comes back with a visa then you can go to Korea.

Remember when I said to make sure you apply and accept a contract at least 4+ weeks from the day you want to start? That’s because of this process.

And here it is. All that work. All those applications. All those fees. It’s done. Your passport has a shiny sticker and it says you can stay. Congratulations. For real this time.

IMG_20131013_142700

You’re going to Korea.

cheers,

sarah

Korean E-2 Visa Documents: Part Two

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.

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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.
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Korean E-2 Visa Documents: The Details

The visa document process for Korea is tedious, time consuming, full of possible pitfalls, and potentially expensive. So we decided to break it up into a few different posts.

THE DIFFERENT POSTS

The details: That is this post. Information on timing, a list of the required documents, useful or important links, with a bit of personal experience thrown in.

The long but inexpensive route: This post will be for people who do not plan to teach in Korea for at least 3-5 months. Expect it 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 $100-$250 depending on your circumstances.

The quick but expensive route: This will be for people trying to teach within the next 2-3 months. You could get everything in about 4-6 weeks but it will cost you between $200-$400 depending on your circumstances.

Now, on to this post about details.

THE DETAILS POST

1. Timing: referring to when you want to begin your contract

Once you know you want to teach in Korea, decide when you would like to begin teaching. Maybe your lease is up in August so you want to teach in September. Maybe it’s as soon as possible. Maybe it’s once you have money saved. No matter what the deciding factors, try to have this time frame picked out while being both realistic about your options and flexible with potential employers.

The time frame you choose for your teaching abroad contract will greatly impact which document route you need to take from the above two options (long and cheap, quick and expensive). It will effect practical decisions you need to make, such as if to or which TEFL/TESOL program to take, finances to sort, housing, arrangements for belongings, et cetra. And it will also impact when you should begin job hunting and interviewing.

Here is what it comes down to. If you want to teach in September, for example, you need to be hired and signed by end of July or beginning of August. The reason is because even after all your documents have come in, after all your interviews, and a final decision, it still takes 4+ weeks for Korean Immigration in Seoul and your local Korean Consulate to process your visa. I didn’t know that and it set me back a bit, effecting my finances and housing situation.  It’s a practical decision you should make ahead of time so you can choose the more realistic document obtaining route and eventual contract. Again, you can be flexible but have some perimeters set, such as September at the earliest and best but can accept contracts as late as end of October. I really wanted to teach in September because of my lease but didn’t make this decision til July. So I had to spend a lot of money getting my documents on time.

2. The document list: all the documents you will need to obtain an E-2 visa

Required by all employers

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

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

3. Tips: exactly like it sounds, the odds and ends of this decision and process

  1. Begin collecting your documents as soon as possible, but no more than 6 months before you want to move. The FBI CBC is only valid 6 months.
  2. Have your documents before you start applying and interviewing. We were only waiting on one document but got some negative feedback about it even though we had it tracked and were expecting it soon. Once we could say “we have it all” we got a lot more offers. And choices are great.
  3. Get doubles of everything. This is important if you want to teach in a public school or if your consulate requires an interview with documents.
  4. If you are about to move or take a TESOL/TEFL course away from home, get your university diploma documents first. Some states won’t apostille out of state diplomas. Like Oregon, unfortunately.
  5. Assume everything is going to take the longest estimated time. Some times it is even longer than that. I said it was tedious and pitfally. Be prepared so you don’t have to be as annoyed as I have been.
  6. FedEx is your friend.

That’s it for the details.

Part One and Part Two will be written and posted back to back. Expect it in the next day or so.

cheers,
sarah