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Saturday, 5 January 2008

New E-2 Visa Regulations for Teaching in Korea

If you haven't heard already, the application process for teaching English in Korea has just gotten a bit more complicated (before, it was just too easy). Anyways, the Korean government is now requiring all candidates to:
  • submit a medical health check,
  • submit a criminal background check,
  • and have an interview at the nearest Korean consulate (near your hometown)
On top of that, the ever popular visa runs to Japan will no longer be a possibility. These changes are a result of the recent problems that have plagued the education sector (note, the apparent pedophile that taught in Korea), such as fake degrees by so called "graduates". This is more common than you think, as we had one teacher from our campus fired because he lied about having a degree...way to go, buddy!

Anyways, I was surprised myself at how easy the application process was to teach in Korea. All we did was send in our resumes, a picture, and original copies of our degrees. Foreign teachers in Korea who have stayed in the country for years will have to do some traveling to renew their visas now. Who knows what will hold for the future of teaching English in Korea!

For more reading, check out Lao Ocean Girl's post and the report from Teaching Kimchi. Will these new visa rules affect you? Thought I'd post about this to hear how those teaching in Korea are going to deal with this. Let me know!


Laura said...

Funny you should post this now - I've just spent my morning running around organising everything for my E-2 visa! Called the Korean Consulate in Sydney, Australia (my "local" consulate - glad I don't live in any other state, or I'd have at least a 10 hour drive to my closest one) to ask them about the criminal background check procedure; they didn't seem to know what was going on. So I went to the local police station and gambled the $50 application fee on a standard CBC report.

Off to the doc's tomorrow for the blood tests. I keep having nightmares that they'll find something when they test me and I'll be blacklisted forever :-/

Any idea if all E-2ers will have to head home every 12 months, or if we only need to do the new screening procedure once...? It seems a bit redundant to get a yearly criminal check and health screening back home.

Maura said...

Hi Gdog - thank you for your site. We're in the process of adopting from Korea (hope to travel in February 2008) and I appreciate having this snapshot of Korea before we go. Former Peace Corps (seems like many years ago now.)

laura said...

There is so much confusion going on here now with all the changes. I got a new job and did a VISA run only a couple of weeks before the changes started. Lucky me. Even recruiters and schools have no idea what is going on. They all have different ideas of how the rules work.
From everything I've read, the whole interview at a consulate in your own country applies to those that are not already in Korea. The Police checks for those in Korea can be done (depending on the country) with the aid of your own consulate or embassy in Korea (they can't do it for those not already in Korea). Or you can easily get someone from home to get it done. The health check can be done in Korea, too.
From what I gather, VISA runs are still possible.

Anonymous said...

I suspect we'll see some accommodation from the Korean Government on this issue. For the most part, this has been a typical knee jerk reaction without considering the consequences. While increased security checks are undoubtedly necessary, interviewing each applicant is well beyond whats required. As Laura noted, the logistics and cost involved in traveling to your nearest Korean consulate are largely preventative in Australian, Canadian, and American contexts. For many of my recruits in Eastern Canada, they are facing either a 4 hour flight or 2 1/2 day drive to Montreal. A cost of ~$1000.00.

So, who ponies up the dough? The teacher? Good luck for recruiters, we already struggle to bring a degree of professionalism to an industry still plagued by a less than squeaky clean reputation. Imagine: "I've got a job for you, it'll cost just $XXXX" Sure. I may as well tell them that they "may have already won a huge prize! I just need your credit card info to secure the prize."

Maybe the recruiters should pay, but at a cost of possibly doubling their fees. A major fee increase would almost certainly bankrupt the neighbourhood hagwons, and force the industry into the hands of the few major players. Not necessarily a bad idea, but the interim would cause mass displacement of currently employed teachers and students.

The numbers we're dealing with are quite large. Given that there were ~10,000 Canadian teachers in Korea on an E-2 visa in 2005 alone (certainly more today), how does the Korean embassy expect to interview 10,000 people a year? Can you imagine the costs involved in conducting over 30 interviews a day?

Very interested to see how this will pan out...

Sundarraj Jayaraj said...

Am waiting for this Australian visa to spend my college holidays in Australia i think this will come true in 2 days...

Brad said...

This is a kinda serious question. Seeing they added mental health on to the requirements for an E2. Would you think people who are health on medication be denided ie bipolar, ADHD, or other mental disorder that is treatable.

I'm hoping this is not the case. I can understand mental health to prevent perverts from seeking jobs.

For I would like to teach, but I'm bipolar. Your thoughts you can email me at Bradman1978@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

In high school, I went through some tough times, general teenage issues mixed with a change of schools in the middle of the year. I was prescribed medication for depression by my doctor, and I attended some counseling. About five years ago my psychiatrist said I had completely recovered and should start going off my medication with her supervision. This experience hadn't even crossed my mind until I saw the health application. Now I'm wondering if it's even possible for me to get a visa. Even if I do get a visa, what is my employer going to think of me?

What's disturbing is that if I had never "received treatment" when I was a teenager I wouldn't be in this difficult situation. Receiving treatment is exactly what a person should do.

Does anyone have any experience related to this issue? I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking about this.

Please e-mail me if you have any information that would be helpful -- sjoy713@yahoo.com.

Thank you.

VisaSnap said...

Korea is one of the favorite destinations for those who are interested to teach English. Moreover, the government of the nation also provides effective visa processing so that English teachers can come and teach the language. English is being accepted a language of prosperity and employment. A great length of effort is being made to make students know English so that they are well equipped with scientific knowledge which is available in English only.

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