Find out how to apply for an E-2 visa in order to legally teach English as a foreign language in Seoul or elsewhere in South Korea...
In order to work legally in South Korea a work visa is required; in the case of ESL teachers, an E-2 visa. Employers can generally help their employees with the administrative details or give them guidance on the procedures to obtain the visa. Note that citizens of other countries who have at least one ethnic Korean parent are granted different status visas and this information does not necessarily apply.
The first step is to apply for a visa through the Korean Immigration office – this is often done by the employer.
Documents required by the Korean Immigration Office vary depending on the applicant’s home country, but in general include the following:
- Passport photos (at least 4 colour photos on a white background)
- Passport photocopy (at least one year’s validity)
- Educational certificates
- Background certificates (proof of a clean criminal record)
- Curriculum Vitae or résumé
- A signed contract of work
- Health statement form – Note that on arrival in South Korea a medical health certificate is required from a hospital or health centre in order to apply for the Alien registration Card
Depending on the applicant’s nationality, some documents will need to be notarised or Apostilled. Check with the Korean Immigration Office.
Once this application has been approved, an E-2 confirmation number (visa issuance number) is granted. The Certificate must then be submitted, along with a Visa Issuance application form, to the Korean Embassy in the applicant's home country.
The following documents are required by the Korean Embassy:
- One colour photo
- Passport and a photocopy
- Visa application form (include the E-2 visa issuance confirmation number on this form) (PDF)
- For further information see the Guide on Work Permits in South Korea.
In 2014, immigration fees were significantly increased. For information on immigration fees see the Hi Korea website
- The Hi Korea website has an instruction guide to visa applications for South Korea
Health checks are carried out on all applicants within 90 days of arriving in Korea. Only approved hospitals are accepted by immigration; the applicant’s employer can provide a list of these. Payment for the tests, which can cost from 30,000KRW to 100,000KRW, is made by the applicant. Tests include blood, urine, and chest x-ray. Failure to pass the medical examination can result in termination of contract and/or deportation. Health screenings also include tests for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis A and B, tuberculosis and narcotics.
Health checks are required once each contract year, although some institutions may increase this.
Alien Registration Card
Anyone with a work visa must also obtain a residence permit or Alien Registration Card (ARC) from South Korea's Immigration Service. This is renewed with every contract. All changes of address within the contract year must be updated with immigration within two weeks of the change of address.
In addition to the documents above, an official business certificate from the place of employment is required (this should be provided by the employer).
- For further information about the ARC see the Guide on Residency in South Korea