No, you cannot teach in Korea with a criminal record.
Sadly, even if you have served your penance for your crimes of the past, it is impossible to teach in Korea with a criminal record. Cheer up though! There are plenty of other countries that will forgive you for past transgressions and would love to have native speakers teach in their schools.
In this article, we will discuss the process by which you apply to teach in Korea. Korean government requires an FBI background check for all potential incoming Americans and even a simple misdemeanor is grounds for rejection. They don’t mess around!
Looking for more on Korea? Check out our guide to Teaching English in Korea or browse ESL jobs!
All Teachers Need a Background Check in Korea
As soon as you are hired on by a school and finalizing your visa as an incoming English teacher, you must provide the Korean government with a certified official background check. No exceptions. Your Certified Record Check (CRC) is issued by your home country (the FBI for Americans) and must be dated within six months of the visa application date meaning that if you order a CRC in January but your visa application date was July 1, you would be required to order an updated CRC.
In addition to the authenticated FBI check, you must provide a notarized copy of your diploma.
Getting a CRC for Korea
By Korean law- all Americans must submit FBI background checks. This process alone can take upwards of two months (not including any other visa application requirements and timelines). It is strongly recommended to work with an affiliate company rather than go straight to the FBI. These companies are called FBI Approved Channelers.
These companies will do some of the processing in-house rather than sending it all to the FBI. If you go to one of these affiliates, they will take your fingerprint information, collect relevant data for the background check, and collect your payment for the background check. These Approved Channelers can usually help cut down on the time spent waiting for the FBI check to come back by as little as two to three weeks.
Now that you have your background check from the FBI in hand, you must get it certified by the department of the state in a procedure known as apostille authentication.
You can send the documents directly to the US Federal Department of State via mail, or you can use third-party companies that can help expedite the process (similar to the FBI Approved Channelers).
Notarized and Authenticated Diploma
Nearly there! Once you have secured your FBI background check, have it authenticated, you must now authenticate your diploma. First, get a notarized copy. This can be done by any public notary. You then have to take the notarized copy of the diploma to a Secretary of State office to officially request an apostille authentication. Once your diploma has returned to you from the Secretary of State, you’re ready to submit your documents.
You will more than likely still have to submit some sort of criminal background check. Here is a comprehensive list of the background check requirements for many different countries. Check this site first to get started on what type of background check will be required.