KMK: New E-2 Visa Regulations

So, since July the new E-2 visa regulations have been sent down from the mountain top for all the little people to behold in all their wonder and jaw dropping awe.

The latest regulations make jumping through hoops a darn near part time job for E-2 visa holders, but at least the one silver lining in this stormy cloud happens to be the fact that once you’ve jumped through these new hoops you won’t have to do so again unless you leave the country for over three months.

So, basically, there are two big changes to the process that Americans, in particular, must pay attention to. They are:

  1. 1. A national criminal background check
  2. 2. A notarized copy of diploma with apostille

National CBC

Gone are the days where you could simply get a background check from your home state. Sure, this made no sense if you’d been in Korea for years but a requirement is a requirement. People who had side stepped this process by getting a check down in another state now have to face the firing squad because a national check in America means one done by the FBI.

I’m sure the good folks there will not leave anything unscrutinized and if you have anything to hide you probably won’t be doing it for much longer. The only downside to a FBI check is that the process is lengthy and involved.


The first thing you should do is download the necessary documents on the FBI website. Those include:

  1. A Check list for you own peace of mind
  2. A fingerprint card (FD-258)
  3. The Fingerprint card instructions
  4. Credit Card payment form
  5. Application Form

Fill out the forms. Then, if you’re in Korea, head over to the largest police station you can find. Bring along several copies of the FBI fingerprint card just in case the single copy isn’t accepted by the FBI due to smudges or whatever. The staff at the Korean Station should have the facilities to fingerprint you and get you out of the door lickety split and at no cost to you.

Make sure you have all the copies of the fingerprint card, along with the credit card form and the application all filled out correctly.

Before you send anything off make sure you jot down a note to the FBI asking them to use their official Seal for the document. By doing so you will not have to have the document notarized before you send it in to the US State Department for an apostille.

Send fingerprint forms here:

FBI CJIS Division – Record Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306

When the goverment returns the documents to you or your family they should send them on to here for the apostille:

U.S. Department of State
Authentications Office
518 23rd Street NW.
Washington, DC 20520

The State Department offers these additional words of wisdom.

Please include a cover-letter (see example) with your name, telephone number, address and email address. Please indicate the name of the country where the document will be used. We suggest using a self-addressed stamped envelope for faster return of your documents. Documents received without a return envelope and postage will be returned through the State Department regular mail, which can result in a 2-3 week delay. You can use Fed/Ex, UPS, and express mail services for faster receipt/return of your documents. However, you must enclose a prepaid airbill and envelope.

It takes 12 weeks for the FBI fingerprint check and then 8 business days for the apostille. Then you have to factor in time to get everything back in your hands.

I would say plan on 14 weeks to be safe. Of course if your paperwork is somehow incomplete you might not know about it for weeks and thus have wasted an obscene amount of time while finding yourself back at square one. So be meticulous.


A notarized copy of your diploma with an apostille is now required. This new step is decidedly less time consuming than the FBI  CBC. Now you just have to get a copy of your diploma notarized by a notary public. There’s probably one at your University!

Sometimes a statement must be included from the notary to ensure you will receive an apostille on your notarized diploma copy. Find out if your secretary of State requires that. Mine does in Wisconsin.

After those two big steps the rest of the E-2 visa process is relatively smooth sailing. You don’t need transcripts anymore and you basically just have your medical check left.

If you want to see what immigration has to say on the matter then keep on reading below.

Conversation teacher (E-2) related system improvement notice.

1. Aim of improvement.
When first applying for the visa status for the first time, although it takes some time we will verify the qualification thoroughly. After the verification is done the related procedure will be greatly simplified.

2. The details
○ Criminal background check reinforcement
– A criminal background check from your own country’s government which covers the whole country’s information is required.
– According to the Korean immigration law a criminal background check from the Korean Ambassador of your country will not be accepted.(But, if the document is issued by the verification of your own government and it is proved, the document will be exceptionally accepted.)
– Until 2010.12.31 the criminal background check from either central government, local government or the Ambassador in other country except Korea will be accepted. But, when the time applying for alien registration or the next sojourn related application is made, you will have to hand in the criminal back ground check which is nationwide version.
– Those who came in before 2010.7.15 and still in Korea and also those who did not hand in sufficient document should hand in the nationwide version criminal background check when you make a sojourn related application after 2011.1.1.

○ The change of ‘self verification of the original diploma’ system
– From 2010.9.1 when you get visa status invitation, apply for extension, apply for the permission to move into a new workplace and all kinds of sojourn related applications you will have to submit a copy of your diploma or graduation certificate or certificate of obtain degree which has a Apostille stamp or verification from the Korean Embassy in your own country or a verification from the Korean Council For University Education.
* The original rule for submitting the original diploma and sealed transcript system will be abolished.(from 2010.9.1)
* Submitting the sealed transcript will be omitted.(from 2010.9.1)

○ The simplification of required documents of re-applying for a certificate of visa issuance approval
– Criminal background check
• Those who had stayed overseas under 3months to issue a visa status can omit the document.(If staying over 3month overseas, the document should be submitted when the foreigner applies alien registration.)
– Certificate of obtain degree
• Those who submitted a verified document can omit it.

○ An additional sojourn period when applying for a certificate of visa issuance approval.
– When the visa status is issued, additional 1month (term of contract+ 1month) will be added to the term of a contract.(within maximum 2 years)
* Example) When applying for a certificate of visa issuance approval. after making 1year contract between a teacher and the employer, teacher will get additional 1month from the ending date of the contract.

○ Marijuana test is added to the drug test list.
– Since the crime related to Marijuana is happening again and again, Cannabinoid test has been added to the drug test list.
* List of medical check : To check the fact of taking drugs such as Philopon, Heroin, Meta Amphetamine, Amphetamine, Marijuana etc. TBPE test and Cannabinoid test should be taken.

○ Medical check can only be done in specific hospitals.
– For the reliance of the result of the drug test the headquarters of immigration is going to select a specific hospital which has a perfect system for the drug test.

– To select a specific hospital the headquarters of immigration will get help from the Ministry of Public Welfare of Korea. Hospitals which have perfect check system will get the priority of the selection. And to give less difficulty for those who live far the selection will be made near every local immigration offices. Also official announcement will be made.
* In the closest future medical check document will be accepted when they are from the selected hospitals.

○ A revision of HIV infected people regulations.-
By the regulation, just because of the reason infected to HIV, no rejection will happen when applying for a certificate of visa issuance approval or get their visa status canceled or will not be forced to leave Korea.(from 2010.7.15)

Contact the immigration call center (1345 without district number) for further information.



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