Dealing with the government, no matter where you are, is always more of a process than you think it's going to be. As my husband says, "No matter how prepared you are, you're never prepared." This can't be more true than when you're trying to get a whole sheaf of paperwork processed to work in another country.
You have degrees to apostille, background checks to obtain (and then apostille), passport photos to get, and so on. It can be a nightmare. And even with the massive amount of help and walkthroughs available on the internet....well, you're never prepared.
What follows is a generally accepted list of required documentation to teach in South Korea (as of October 2014). I've also listed some tips and tricks to help you wade through the sea of paperwork and to make some sense of the process and all of its intricacies.
The list of documents required to teach in Korea is as follows:
Somethings to note:
1) Get your background check done FIRST. I made the mistake of not doing this, and everything was pushed back because it took longer to get this than I anticipated. Don't forget that once you get the background check back from the FBI office in West Virigina, you will need to send it to the US Department of Authentication to get it apostilled as well. Go ahead and plan for 12 weeks to get everything in order, from fingerprinting to apostille.
2)Get copies of everything! Pay the extra money to get THREE copies of apostilled documents instead of the required two. That way, if something happens, you have a backup copy and don't have to run around to go through the process again. Same with your apostilled background check. Having a copy that is not directly apostilled is fine, but make sure to get several copies of all of the documents in the stack to have on hand.
3) Keep those copies organized. I've already had more than one heart attack when I thought I had lost some part of that paperwork. I got a big portfolio with a bunch of pockets to keep my documents organized. It's centrally located, organized, and easy to find what I need. This will also be useful when you go to the consulate to get your visa. Just bring that one folder or portfolio and don't worry about forgetting something vital.
4) Passport photos are more important than you think. Get 3-4 copies for each recruiting service you're going through. It seems absurd, but they will get lost, I promise. You'll also want to make sure you really like the photo, because it will be attached to all of your documentation and your Alien Registration Card. If you don't like it, have the photographer take another. The photo specialist at CVS was more than happy to make sure I was satisfied, especially since I was buying so many.
5) Have backup recommendation letters. My husband is having problems right now because one of his dropped out at the last minute and he didn't have a backup solution ready. Go ahead and plan for three people. If all else fails, you have the opportunity to choose which ones you want to send over.
6) Backup plans for everything are your best bet, actually. I was looking to go public, but when I mentioned bringing my cats, a lot of people expressed doubts about that. Luckily, I used leverage (my degree and teaching certification) to get most of them to push that aside and talk to me anyway. I'm not in the interview stage yet, but a lot of recruiters are back on board knowing that they aren't my only option and that I have backup plans. And if one of them drops out? No big deal, I can pick one of the other myriad recruiters.
I'm sure there's more that I'm not remembering, but there also tons of information floating around on the internet about getting your paperwork for Korea. Just do you research ahead of time and always know that no matter what, that you can't be too prepared.
Writer, Photographer, Dream-Seeker