Everything You Need to Teach English in Korea

On this page you will find all of the resources necessary to start teaching in Korea. Whether you've already filled out the application to teach in Korea or just looking for answers, you should find what you need below.

Start collecting the required documents as soon as possible for best results.

Table of Contents:

How to get an E-2 "Teaching" Visa

In order to teach in Korea, you are going to need a visa. Specifically, you will need an E-2 visa, commonly known as the "teacher" or "teaching" visa. The E-2 visa is the work visa granted by the Korean government for foreign ESL teachers. The E-2 visa is tied to your employer, so you will need to interview with a school and get hired before your visa is granted.


The requirements to teach English as a second language in Korea are as follows:

  • Must be a native English speaker with a passport from one of the 7 government-mandated countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Austalia, or New Zealand.

  • Must have a 4-year bachelor's degree or equivalent from an accredited institution in your country in any field (education preferred).

  • Must have a clean criminal record.

  • Have a TEFL/TESOL certificate (optional)


How long does it take to get an E-2 Visa?

You can expect between 2 - 6 months to get your E-2 visa depending on how long it takes to get the required documents. Be aware that there could be some delays in getting documents or some slight travel to your local consulate or embassy, so we recommend starting 6 months before your expected arrival date.


What documents will you need to get an E-2 Visa?

The required documents to get a work visa are as follow:

  • Criminal Background Check

    • To teach in South Korea you must have a clean criminal record, meaning you must not have been fingerprinted and booked for a crime. Small instances will not appear, but things like DUIs will and will prevent you from teaching in Korea.

    • US Citizens

      • Get an apostilled FBI background check.

      • Get your fingerprints taken and send them along with an application for a criminal background check to the FBI. This may take up to 10 weeks, so start early. It is also possible to expedite this process through an agency for a fee. 

      • Once you receive your FBI background check, get it apostilled by the department of state for where you reside. 

      • Be sure the background check is not older than 6 months when applying for your visa.

    • Canadian Citizens

      • Get a notarized copy of a Certified Criminal Record Check.

      • Submit a national-level fingerprint check. Note: electronic submissions are acceptable and are quicker than mailing them.

      • Be sure the Criminal Record Check is not older than 6 months when applying for your visa.

    • UK and Irish Citizens

      • UK citizens, get an apostilled copy of a Basic Disclosure.

        • To request a Basic Disclosure, you will need:

          • Your passport,

          • driving license or national insurance number,

          • a utility bill,

          • previous disclosure,

          • addresses of the previous 5 years.

        • To get a Basic Disclosure generally takes 2 weeks.

      • Irish Citizens get an apostilled copy of a Police Certificate obtained by the Gardai.

        • This process may take up to 1 month.

      • Be sure the Basic Disclosure or Police Certificate is not older than 6 months when applying for your visa.

    • South African Citizens

      • Get an apostilled copy of a Police Clearance Certificate.

      • This process may take up to 2 months, though a third party may expedite the process for a fee.

      • Be sure the Police Clearance Certificate is not older than 6 months when applying for your visa.

    • Australian and New Zealand Citizens

      • Australians get an apostilled copy of a National Police Check.

        • This may take up to 3 weeks.

      • New Zealanders get an apostilled copy of a criminal record check from the Ministry of Justice

        • This process may take up to 2 months.

      • Be sure the  National Police Check or criminal record check is not older than 6 months when applying for your visa.

  • University Diploma(s) Apostilled/Notarized

    • At a minimum, you must have a 4-year university degree.

    • Get your official diploma and official transcripts notarized or apostilled. The Apostille may be obtained at the same time as your background check.

  • Official University Transcripts

    • Get 2 sets of officially sealed university transcripts from your university. These must remain sealed.

  • Other Documents

    • Once you have these documents, you will need to get a contract and offer letter from a school for employment. They will send you a contract which you should sign. You are now ready to apply for your E-2 visa! Alongside the above documents, you will also need the following:

      • Signed work contract

      • 4 passport size headshot photos

      • Copy of your passport photo page

      • Original signed copy of your health statement

      • Resume


How to Apply for Your E-2 Visa

You’re almost there! If you have collected all of the necessary documents above, you will need to send them to your school. Be sure to use a trusted mailing service and most likely send them express - don’t let your hard work go to waste!


Get a Visa Issuance Number (VIN)

  • Your school will start the process of getting you a Visa Issuance Number by taking your documents to the Ministry of Justice and Immigration.

  • The Korean Immigration Office will then issue you a VIN in 7-10 business days.

  • Us this number when filling out your visa application form. 

Apply at the Nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate

Before you go to the consulate, be sure to prepare and bring the following documents:

  • Your completed E2 visa application form.

  • Your passport with at least 6 months before expiration with at least one empty visa page.

  • 1 passport size headshot photo.

  • $45 cash or money order for processing fee.

Interview at the Consulate or Embassy

The last step before you get on the plane is an interview where you dropped your application. The Korean immigration office will arrange this with you. If you've met all of the above requirements you should not worry as it is merely a formality.

What types of schools can I teach at in Korea?

There are a few types of schools in Korea, but for teaching English as a second language there are just a few: public schools, private academies or "hagwons," and international schools. ESLJobsKorea is currently only placing native English speakers into private academies in Korea or "hagwons" which provide all necessary visas and follow government rules and regulations. While each have their pros and cons, the private academies have a few key benefits.



Interview Process

As noted above, there re two interviews you will take in order to teach in Korea. The first is the interview with the school itself, which is nothing much more than a job interview. The second would be the interview at the embasy or consulate. Here we will detail what to expect for these interviews. Rule #1 is don't sweat it! If you have met the previous criteria and are determined to teach in Korea,  we are usre you will find the best match.