Work Visa Eligibility

To teach English as a second language, or to put it more correctly as a foreign language you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have citizenship from an official English speaking country (Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, or Ireland).
  • Have a Bachelor’s Degree in any field from an accredited university

Criminal Record Eligibility

Having a clean criminal record is ideal, but this just isn’t true even for many college graduates. When we’re young and in college sometimes we do stupid things such as driving while intoxicated. It is estimated that 1.5 million people each year in America receive a DUI. If you have a DUI on your criminal record this doesn’t exclude you from teaching in Korea. What you will need to do is turn in your criminal record along with a letter explaining what happened. Moreover it is important to include that if this were ever to happen again you will accept all criminal charges and actions taken by Korean law enforcement.

According to visa services for foreigners people can be accepted with a criminal record as long as the crime was “light and will not affect the ability of the teacher.” While this is loosely defined some people argue that Korean authorities will only issue visas to people with minor offenses if there is some shortage of teachers.

If you have a minor blip on your criminal record, then don’t try to hide it from whoever is helping you find a job. I would suggest not mentioning it upon your first interaction, as recruiters will deny people that they think could be lost causes. But, rather find the job you like then mention you will be including a letter explaining a minor mishap in your past. Here is where you want to explain it and be upfront about it.

What is not required, but helpful?

There are many assumptions about what you should have to be an ESL teacher in Asia, but actually the only things you need is a bachelor’s degree and a passport from an English Speaking country. Yes, it is true you don’t need the items I listed below, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be helpful to you prior to your arrival in Korea. Trying to obtain some skills before you start teaching will add value to your work experience and possibly even help you land a better job. There should be ample opportunity for you to volunteer somewhere and gain some experience, even for just a couple weeks, while you’re in the process of planning you move to Korea. The local homeless shelter can provide you with some great behavior management skills. Toastmasters is a free group that gathers in every city all over the world and assists members with public speaking skills. You can also look into special education groups located in your community. Keep in mind any minimal experience could make a huge difference in your career opportunities. The following items are not required to begin teaching in Korea:

  • TESOL Certification
  • Experience Teaching
  • Experience with Children
  • Master’s Degree
  • Public Speaking Skills
  • Behavior Management Skills