I’m not going to lie: it’s not the easiest to apply for an E-2 visa in America. While the process itself is lengthy and somewhat expensive, I promise you it will be worth it.
Before you do anything, you should be aware of the documentation you’ll need along the way. I suggest keeping a separate folder or binder for the papers to keep yourself organized. When you’re preparing your resume, be sure to format it as they do in Korea. You can find an example of that here. You’ll have to put your photo on the resume as Korean employers care more about looks than anything else in the entire world.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- An updated resume
- Three unsealed copies of your college transcripts
- Several colored passport-sized (and style) photos
- A copy of your TEFL or TESOL degree
- One hard copy of your college diploma
- One copy of your notarized diploma
- An authenticated apostilled and notarized nationwide criminal background check
Getting the documentation authenticated is the most stressful part. I’ll start in the order of importance to ensure the process gets streamlined.
Step 1: Submit your fingerprints to the United States government
You’ll need to go to a local police station or an approved agency in your area. I went to a place called Fingerprinting Chicago as it was closest to my apartment at the time. It actually felt a super sketchy as it is a rundown storefront in the Merchandise Mart, but it was fine.
- Make sure the person administering the printing gives you Fingerprint Form FD-258. You can also download the PDF of the form here and print it out. It cost me about $10 in Chicago and I cannot speak for other cities or towns.
- You’ll also need to print a copy of the FBI form I-783, which you can find here.
- Submit your fingerprints as well as the FBI questionnaire form together.
- Please be sure to include a note that reads:
“Please provide an FBI seal and signature from a Division Officer for the purpose of obtaining a Federal Apostille.”
If you forget to do that, you will create more complications for yourself down the road. Do not forget! I wrote the note on the application form *and* on a separate note that I attached using a paper clip because I’m psycho like that. Don’t forget to include some form of payment for the I-783 document, too. It will cost you $18 no matter where you’re applying.
5. Send the Fingerprint Form FD-258, I-783 form, all payments and the note requesting an apostille to:
FBI CJIS Division – Record Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306
If you’re the type who likes to physically mark items for peace of mind, you can review the FBI Identity Summary Request Checklist. Once you send the documents, get the tracking code so you can stalk your envelope. This process takes 4-12 weeks, which is why it is pertinent that you start this step first.
Step 2: Send your Criminal Background Check to get Apostilled
Once you receive the background check you can open it to check the results. If you’ve passed, do a happy dance and be sure to get everything prepared to send for further authentication., Before sending, please download and fill out Form DS-4194. Remember to specify in Section 4 that you need it for South Korea. If you live in or near Washington, D.C., drop your form and the FBI background check at the state department office. You can pick it up within 2-3 business days. You’ll be charged an $8 processing fee which can be paid in cash, credit or check. If you don’t live in the area, you’ll have two choices:
- By Professional Courier
- This is for those who want extra security. I used US Authentication Services and was pleased with its service. Although it’s a bit pricey, it gave me some peace of mind. The people deliver the documents directly for you for $55. This includes the $8 processing fee. If you aren’t in any sort of rush, then don’t bother.
- By Standard Mail
- This is probably the most common way to do it. Send in your documents to the offices and include a $8 check for the processing fee. The address is:
Office of Authentications
U.S. Department of State
1150 Passport Services PL
Dulles, VA 20189-1150
Step 3: Get your college diploma apostilled
Take your official diploma to a notary and have someone make a certified copy. Once that’s complete, go to your local Secretary of State Department and have them apostille the copy. I suggest calling before you go to ensure you’re not wasting your time. Don’t forget to bring some cash! Here’s an example of what the apostille in Chicago looks like:
Step 4: Obtain unsealed college transcripts
This process can take a few weeks. I was lucky as it only took my university to provide them within two days. Two of these transcripts will go to Korea and one goes to the Korean consulate.
Step 5: Obtain letters of recommendation
These copies should be from two former supervisors or professors who can vouch for your skills and personality. Be sure to have them write the letters on letterhead and sign their names in ink.
This process takes about 3 months in total. Once you’ve sent off your fingerprints, you can begin the job hunt. If you’re wondering how to apply for a hagwon job in Korea, I’ve written a step-by-step guide to help you. If you can’t decide which job to apply for, I’ve written the pros and cons of working in a hagwon as well as the pros and cons of working in a Korean public school.
I love reading your emails and I’m always here to help if you have any questions. Don’t ever hesitate to contact me if you want to know more about how to apply for an E-2 Visa in America. Thanks so much for reading!