Part of the reason that I traveled back to the United States over break was to visit family and friends, and I have done plenty of that. The other reason was to relax a little bit and get ready for the next semester of teaching at my school in Korea, and I am feeling refreshed right now. But one of the main reasons that I came back was to take care of some things that needed to happen so I could get my visa for the next school year. There are a lot of ends and out that need to happen that is just easier to take care of in the United States instead of a foreign country. If you are one of those people experiencing the need of doing this right now, it is worth the loss of a headache to take that long flight to get these things done in your home country because getting in touch with those agencies you need to talk to overseas makes it hard to get things done.
Copies of Degrees – When I first moved overseas I started a file where I could keep all of my significant documentation and brought that small folder with me. One of the things that I needed to bring with me was all of my degrees because a piece of strong card stock with some ink from the college I graduated from always proves how equipped I am to take on the job that I do. Even with this file, I have had to go through it over the last four years, and I have misplaces one of my degrees because of the renewal of my state license, so I have had to schedule a time with the registrar of my college to get a new one printed up. This is hard to do over the holiday season because they are closed more than usual, but they are also on campus more than you would expect during the break. I would recommend making an appointment so they know all of the information that you need or you might have to come back later to get what you need.
Sealed Transcripts – This is actually really easy to do. Just do not open them when they arrive. It is a little hard to get your college to send this documentation overseas, so I am happy that I came home to pick them up. I just had them mailed to my parents’ house and got extra copies in case I ever needed a new one further down the road. I can now place that extra copy in the folder I told you about. They do usually cost anywhere from ten dollars to fifteen, but they can be order on-line from any college. I did find it hard to navigate the website to find the place where I could order one, but if you just type in the word registrar, it should take you to that page really quick because this is something that most colleges are asked about on a regular basis.
A Copy of the School’s Accreditation – Not every country asks for this one in order to get your visa, but, just like the transcripts, it does need to come in a sealed envelope. Schools are also not used to having this request. The school I am working for gave me a copy of what the document looks like and I was able to find an email address for my registrar so I could show them what I needed and if they could put it together for me. I got on this a long time ago because it took a lot of back and forth between and the registrar before I was able to get them to find what I needed, but all colleges should have this document somewhere on file. The college I attended for my master’s degree did not have this email address and I needed to call the registrar from across the ocean. In order to get them during the time that they were up, I had to get up early in the morning to make the call which was a pain in the butt; however, the call did not cost much. Skype gives you the option to make these long distance phone calls for a fraction of the price if I had tried to make the same call on my cellphone. You just need to make sure you put the money on your Skype account before making this call. I have done this recently and I find it to be a lifesaver with other issues and emergency phone calls I have had to make overseas. I would recommend doing this for just such occasions.
A Confirmation Letter for Teacher Registration – This is another one that not all countries will ask for, and this is one that the schools will not have on file. The school, once again, gave me a copy of what it should look like which I was able to email to my college, but it took a little more back and forth to get the document I needed. Once again, it needed to come in a sealed envelope. I found that I was able to accomplish this one quicker through a phone conversation rather than getting it done through email. I was still able to do it without spending that dollar on the overseas phone call, but I do think it was a dollar well spent.
Police Clearance Report – This was the one that was most difficult to obtain. It does need to be a background check from the country that I am from, and the one that I live in right now. I have heard horror stories about getting this done in South Korea and that it might take anywhere up to six months to get it done, so the earlier you can start on the process the happier you will be. I have also found out that there are many different types of reports, so you should check with you employer about which one they are really going to need. Doing it in the United States has been really easy. In fact, I am getting two kinds of them. I was able to get one from the city I used to live in, and it only took them 24 hours to process the information. I just went down to the police station, showed them my ID, and they went to work. I am also going to get an FBI background check. This used to be a long process that required me to get fingerprints and then send them off to the FBI to wait a month later for the information that I needed. But due to them finally catching up to the digital age, you can go to a center and get this information processed within 48 hours. In this case, it is a lot easier to do it in your home country instead of trying to explain the process to a police officer who speaks a completely different language and is not familiar with the process.
Even though, it has been nice to relax and visit with family and friends, I am glad that I came back to America over the break to take care of all of this other stuff as well. There have been a couple of stumbling blocks along the way that have been easier to take care of here then in South Korea. I know some of you will find this information useless, but for those of you going through the process, I hope it helps you obtain that work visa easier, and without as much stress. I know as a teacher, my life is already stressful enough, and the easier I can make this process, the better off I will be to able to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Thanks for listening.