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view of Sunrise of Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea.

Embarking on a journey to teach English in South Korea is not just an opportunity to experience a vibrant culture and breathtaking landscapes, but also a chance to make a meaningful impact on the lives of young learners. Whether you’re a seasoned educator or a budding teacher looking for an adventure, obtaining the right visa is the crucial first step in your exciting journey.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide aspiring English teachers with step-by-step information to help navigate the South Korea visa application process seamlessly. Whether you’re ready to take the plunge into teaching or just exploring the idea, our goal is to empower you with the knowledge and confidence you need to make your dream of teaching in South Korea a reality.

Types of Visas for Teaching English in Korea

English teachers are generally granted 2 types of visas that allow them to work and live in Korea: E-2 and F-4. In some cases, professors at universities and colleges will apply for an E-1 visa.

E-2 Visa – Foreign Language Teaching

The E-2 visa allows you to teach in any registered educational institute in Korea. You can teach at a private school, public school or language school (hagwon). It is important to note that you can only teach for the school that sponsors your visa. In order to be eligible for an E-2 visa you must be a native English speaker.

F-4 Visa – Overseas Koreans

The F-4 visa is for ethnic Koreans living overseas. This includes Korean nationals who have become citizens of a foreign country. In addition, if your parents or grandparents once held Korean citizenship, but are now citizens of another country, you are also eligible. Overseas Adopted Koreans are also eligible for this type of visa. An F-4 visa provides much more employment flexibility than other visas as it essentially provides you the same opportunity as a Korean national.

E-1 Visa – Professor

The E-1 visa is for foreigners who are qualified by the Higher Education Act and will be giving lectures at an educational facility. In order to apply for this you must be one of the following:

  • A professor at an academic organization (such as KAIST)
  • A full time lecturer or professor hired by a university or college

Getting Your Visa for Public Schools in Korea (EPIK)

Step 1

Once you have passed your interview with EPIK, you must send your visa documents to Teach Away for review. Required visa documents are:

  • Completed EPIK application form(s) with signatures
  • One (1) colour passport size photo
  • Photocopy of the picture page of your passport
  • Apostilled (certified) original national level criminal record check
  • Notarized and apostilled (certified) copy of Bachelor’s degree/diploma
  • One (1) official transcript in sealed envelope
  • Additional documents (if applicable):
    • Notarized and apostilled (certified) copy of Masters degree/diploma with one sealed transcript
    • Proof of full-time teaching experience
    • Photocopy of TESL/TEFL/CELTA certificate
    • Photocopy of teaching license or certificate

Step 2

Teach Away will send your visa documents to EPIK. Once you successfully pass the recommendation stage, EPIK will issue your contract and Notice of Appointment.

Step 3

You will either need to go to the nearest Korean Consulate in person, or courier your documents immediately to get your visa stamped in your passport. The required items are:

  • Notice of Appointment
  • Visa application form (available at the Consulate)
  • One (1) official transcript sealed by your university
  • One (1) recent passport sized photo
  • Original passport
  • One (1) copy of passport
  • Original contract
  • Original university degree/diploma
  • Photocopy of criminal record check
  • Visa processing fee (cash or money order)

Korea Visas FAQs

How much is the visa processing fee?

The visa processing fee is approximately $60 USD. It can be paid only in cash or by money order.

How long does it take to get a visa?

Your visa will usually take 5-10 business days to process. If you plan to courier your passport and documents to the Consulate, please send them by express mail, and include a prepaid, self-addressed envelope for the return of your documents. Please factor the courier time into the total processing time.

How do I get my visa?

You can either go to the nearest Korean Consulate in person, or you can courier your documents to the Consulate. It is strongly recommended to call ahead to double-check the business hours and required items. No appointment is required for your visa application.

Do I need to have an interview with the Consular?

An in-person interview with a Consular is no longer required.

Can I get my visa stamped in another country?

It is recommended that you get your visa stamped in your own country. In case you plan to get your visa stamped in another country, please contact the Consulate ahead of time to find out whether the Consulate processes visas. You may be required to submit additional documents.

What visa documents do I need to submit if I hold an F-4 visa?

If you are an EPIK teacher, you still have to submit all of the required visa documents as it is a requirement of EPIK. If you are a private school teacher, the required documents may vary depending on the private school.

What is notarization?

Notarization means that a legal representative in your area has verified that they have seen the original document, and they have authenticated it. The lawyer or notary public will photocopy your original document and stamp and sign it to verify that the documents are not forged. You can find a notary public at many shipping stores and courthouses, or by checking a local telephone directory. It is a good idea to call ahead for more information regarding business hours and fees.

What is an apostille?

Issued by a designated authority in a country or state, an apostille is a stamp that authenticates a document for foreign use. Applicants from America, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, and the UK should get university degrees/diplomas and criminal record checks apostilled from the Legalizing Body in the country in which the document was issued.

What is certification?

Applicants from Canada will need to get university degrees/diplomas and criminal record checks certified by the Korean Consulate/Embassy in Canada.

What is a Notice of Appointment?

Once you successfully pass the recommendation stage, EPIK will issue the Notice of Appointment, a certificate which shows that you have a job offer. You will need to take this along with other documents to apply for your E-2 visa at the Korean consulate.

What is a visa issuance number?

Once your visa documents are approved, the immigration office in Korea will issue a visa issuance number. The school will e-mail this number to you via Teach Away. You will need this number, along with other documents, to apply for your E-2 visa at the Korean consulate.

Can I book my flight while my visa is being processed?

It is strongly recommended that you wait to purchase your flight until your visa is approved. Please note that the Korean Consulate will not rush your visa for ANY reason.

Where do I get a medical check-up done?

You need to submit a self-completed form indicating your medical history at the document submission stage, and you will complete a medical check-up upon arrival in Korea.

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