Is it your dream to teach English in Japan?
A summer camp in S. Korea (back in 2011) was my first experience with teaching English as a second language. It was my test for deciding if I could commit to a one year contract in Japan. I loved it. The poster above is one of many the students made during the camp. If being entertained by awesome kids was considered a real job, I was in.
US citizens need to have a temporary (90 day) work visa (or C-4) for camp work in S. Korea. It was a bit of work to wrap my head around, so I’ve created a simple resource for you to use once you get the job.
This is first as it has a few steps and will probably take the longest.
Go through the FBI website or use an approved ‘channeler’ like My FBI Report to get your background check. The FBI direct route is cheaper but takes longer. There is a list of other approved companies, called ‘channelers’ on the FBI page, who can process your report within a week or so vs. the estimated 12 weeks with the FBI.
You will need a professional set of fingerprints taken, an application, and a fee to send to the FBI or channeler. The background check needs to be done less than six months before applying for the visa.
When the FBI Background check is sent to you, it will then need an ‘Apostille’ (a fancy French word for authentication certificate/stamp of approval) to make it valid for visa application purposes. A national background check is a Federal document, meaning it needs to be sent to the Department of State via the Office of Authentications with fee and application. The address and information is on their website.
The simplest way to do this is ask the university your diploma is from if they provide this service. You will need a notarized copy of your diploma showing that you have a bachelor’s degree. When you get this, it will also need to be apostilled by the Secretary of State in the state it was issued. On this page, scroll down and you will see list of states with links to the appropriate Secretary of State for that region.
Order a copy of official sealed transcripts from your university again. It’s a little much, but they will expect both the diploma with apostille and official transcripts for the visa application.
A round trip in and out of S. Korea will be expected with the visa application. Your company should tell you when to arrive in Korea and how long you should be there for. If you have time to stay for some sightseeing, within the 90 day visa period, that is not a problem.
Make a copy of the photo page of your valid passport in addition to submitting the passport. If your passport will expire in less than a year, it’s a good idea to renew it if time allows. Having a digital scan of the passport page is a good backup if anything should happen at home or abroad.
The company in Korea will provide the letter of invitation which should specifically show your name, the dates of the camp job, and the company seal/signature. This will be in Korean.
You will have an English translation of your contract, although a Korean version should be signed and submitted with the Korean Business Registration Letter for your visa application. The company hiring you also provides these. Sometimes they are sent in the mail and sometimes you will get a file to print out and submit with your visa application.
Print and fill out the application on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs page. Your company will provide some information to enter on the application. It should have a 2 x 2 inch passport photo attached to it.
On the Korean Consulates and Embassy page, locate the consulate or embassy in your region. Make sure to check if you can submit by mail or walk in, how application fees are accepted, and open hours. The fee was $45 cash or check at the time I applied last (November 2014) but it may be different depending on location.
The Los Angeles Consulate preferred (required) USPS flat rate Priority mail for mail in applications, but check with the office you will be using. If sending the application materials in by mail, call and triple check you have the required materials they want, including a self addressed stamped certified mail envelope to get your passport back.
You will get (only) your passport back with the new visa sticker in place on one of the free pages. If there is anything you might want for future reference, it’s a good idea to make a scan. The visa will be valid for 90 days upon entry to S. Korea.
In addition, you might need a power converter. I like this affordable one from REI for US to Korea conversion, but it doesn’t alter voltage.
Good luck & have fun at camp!