Saturday, 23 January 2010

The Process

The first correspondence I had with my agent Julie for a job in Jeju-do was on the 30th of November 2009 and my final starting date will likely be the 1st of Feb. So while it may be shorter in some cases, that’s two whole months it’s taken from seeing a good job to actually getting there and starting it. This will be a bit of a long post but I’ll try to give as much detail as possible to help with newcomers to the profession.

Stage 1 – Find a job
This apparently used to be a very easy stage that has been made harder by the economy among other things. For me it consisted of getting a CV together and contacting lots of the recruiters who advertise on dave’s esl cafĂ© and waiting to see who would reply. I received some emails but one stood out because she also called me and got things moving. Her name was Julie and she continued to act as my agent for a couple of months, through a lot of hard times. She got me an interview with a school owner in Jeju, which went very well.

Step 2 – Prepare your visa documents
Some would say this should be step 1 and some might be right. Julie gave me a month to get everything ready and I failed miserably. The main thing to consider is the criminal record check. In the UK, I got a basic disclosure from Disclosure Scotland for a reasonable enough price. I think it was around 32 quid. But it took 2-3 weeks to arrive, though there was a complication that delayed my application so it should be only 1-2 weeks normally. Then I had to go to Milton Keynes for the day to get it apostilised. That trip alone will be the subject of another blog entry in the next week. Also you need to a passport with at least 6 months remaining (if yours doesn’t, fortunately there’s a fast track system if you pay more money) and you’ll need ‘sealed’ transcripts from your university (or universities if you have changed university, as I learnt the hard way!) There are a few other things, but the criminal record check is the real time consumer.

Step 3 – Post documents and wait
This sounds like the easiest step of all, but in my case, I hadn’t reckoned on FedEx screwing up every package I trusted them with. The first and main package I sent was a day late due to weather conditions but still only took maybe 2 and a half days at a cost of 40 pounds. The second, consisting solely of a transcript from another university that I spent 1 year at, took a week to arrive due to some major technicalities. Next is the period where the agent sends documents to the school and they take it to the embassy, who in turn take about a week to process the visa. Then you receive a visa issuance number that you then take to the Korean embassy in your country. As I found out yesterday (and the day before) the visa department of the embassy is only open between 10am and midday (not 1.30pm apparently) and visas take a week to process, there is no fast track system for people willing to pay more.

To conclude
Around 9 weeks of waiting and paying out silly money for documents and waiting and more paper work and sending things off and more waiting and finally, you may just get your E2 visa to teach English in Korea. The costs can be broken down roughly to –
University diploma – £5
Transcripts (Essex uni x 2) - £10
Transcripts (Reading uni x 2) Free
Passport photos (x2) - £10
Passport renewal (may not apply) - £120
Criminal record check (Basic Disclosure) - £40
Apostilize document-
Foreign Commonwealth office - £32
Lawyer signature - £10
Travel to Milton Keynes - £15
Fedex International Shipping (x2) - £90

So my total would be £332, but then because Fedex screwed up, both were (or should be) free of charge. Also passport renewal might not apply to everyone. I also spent £60 on presents for my new employers and children and coteachers, an investment that I’m hoping will pay out in the long run by giving the kids more of an incentive to be good in class and the owners more of a reason to pay me fairly. If you’d like any more information on the process, please comment or send a message.

No comments: