Bear with me, this will be rather boring (but hopefully informative!) post. So, I just went through the rather lengthy and expensive process of getting my documents ready for Korea. The biggest tip I would have is to do everything far in advance, so you don’t have to pay for express services and shipping fees (like myself). When I was doing online research some of it was not completely accurate about the true length of time to process things. I also didn’t know that you could pay to use services that will quicken up the entire process. Hopefully this can help you learn from my mistakes!
Getting Your Bachelor’s Degree Notarized and Apostilled
1. Make a copy of your degree.
2. Before you send the copy in to get it apostilled, you have to get it notarized. This involves bringing your original degree, the copy of your degree and a letter stating what you want notarized to a notary. I did it at my local bank, they will usually do it free if you are a client. You can also bring it to your local UPS store.
3.) Double check the notary. It should include:
1.) Your name and signature
2.) The notary’s name and signature
3.) The date the notary’s license expires
4.) The notary’s seal
5.) The date it was notarized
6.) The country and state where it was notarized
4. Send the notarized copy of your degree to your secretary of state. Most states will have a pre-made document that you can print to send in with the copy of your degree. Read the requirements carefully, and make sure you include a check and a pre-addressed envelope that they can send back to you.
This should take about a week- and voila! Finished. Now that hard part:
*Another option would be to send your degree with your FBI background check through an apostille service. More on apostille services below.
Getting Your FBI Background Check
This was where I messed up. If you’re not in a hurry, you can order your background check through the FBI. This can take upwards of 3 months to process. I did that, and realized too late that it would not be ready in time. So, you have two options. Process your check through the FBI, or pay for a service that will expedite the process for you. (I did both, and spent more money.)
Option 1: Process Your Background Check Through The FBI
1. Complete the application form here.
2. Obtain a set of your fingerprints. Look up where you can do this in your area. I did it at my local police station.
3. Submit payment. You can use their credit card payment form or obtain a money order or certified check.
4. Submit your finger prints, form, and credit card information to:
FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306
You can use this page on their website to help you sort through the process.
Option 2: Use A Certified Channeler To Expedite The Request
This is what I should have done in the first place to save myself grief. I used National Background Check. I really don’t like this company. I first ordered my background check through them and selected the standard mail option. On the tenth business day, my check still hadn’t arrived. They told me it must have gotten lost in the mail. I would then have had to pay 75$ to get it resent, but it finally arrived on the 11th business day. I think this company is fine to use if you pay for shipping with a tracking number, but I would not use them if you are using standard shipping.
Get Your FBI Background Check Apostilled
Now, you have to get your background check apostilled. Like before, you have the option of going through the standard service or using a channeler.
Also- you cannot use your state office for FBI background checks. These all have to be sent to Washington D.C.
Option 1: Send Your Request to the USDOS
The average processing time for these is about 10 business days. Complete the form on their website and send a certified check or money order, a pre-addressed envelope, along with your original background check to:
U.S. Department of State
518 23rd Street, NW SA-1
Washington, DC 20520
Option 2: Use a Certified Channeler To Expedite The Process
The channeler I used was US Authentication Services. You send your FBI background check and a pre-addressed envelope, along with the enclosed payment to:
US AUTHENTICATION SERVICES
7051 Brookfield Plaza
Springfield, VA 22150
(800) 893 5807
This cost me 55$ plus and an 8$ fee.
Now that I have everything, I have to send all the documents to my school in Korea. They will go about getting a visa confirmation number for me. I will then visit the Korean embassy, and (finally!) be able to get my Korean visa. This process was a bit overwhelming for me, and I hope that this was helpful for some of you!