Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Background Check

It's interesting how hard it is to get things done in a bureaucracy.


To get a work visa to teach English for South Korea you must get a number of things:
1.  A signed contract
2.  Two or more recent passport photos
3.  A sealed and signed official copy of college transcripts
4.  A notarized copy of your college degree with an apostille on it
5.  A copy of the information page in your passport
6.  A copy of your resume or CV
7.  An FBI background check with an apostille on it.


Number one is easy to get.  I've been offered three so far.  The first one fell through because their contract was a little funny.  The second one I signed and might still get, but I also might not for reasons I'm about to go into.  The third one was offered tonight.  It doesn't start until the first of November so I have several days to figure out something.


Number two is painfully easy.  Go to the nearest drug store or Wal-Mart and pay ten bucks to get two passport photos done.  I've had those for almost two months now.


Number three is also rather easy.  Just make a request with your college, pay whatever the small fee is (normally less than $10) and it will show up in your mailbox in a couple of days.


Number four is a little trickier.  You take your original diploma down to the bank, have them photocopy it in front of the notary and then have them notarize it.  After that you send it with a money order to your state department with a cover letter requesting an apostille.  It will be back in a week or two.  If you need the address just google it.  It's different for every state.


Number five is super, super easy.  Find your passport and the nearest copier with ink and paper.  The rest is self-explanatory.


Number six is also super easy.  Get it done when you complete number five.


Number seven is the tricky one.  You have to visit your local sheriff's office and get them to give you an FBI fingerprint card.  Then they have to use that card to take your fingerprints.  You should INSIST that they do this electronically.  Don't let them use ink.  Then you mail the card and an $18 money order to the FBI CJIS Department - Record Request.  Be sure to include on the card or in a separate letter that it is for a visa application process.   Right now it's taking eight weeks to get the background check back and I've found no way to expedite the process.


Once you do get the background check back you need to send it off for an apostille.  This can take up to a month if you do it the normal way.  To expediate it you need to pay between $50 and $100, depending on the company.  They can have it back to you withing three days of mailing it out.  If time is of the essence, I suggest doing this.


Now, as to why I'm so vehement about this lovely FBI background check:


On July 1st I sent in fingerprints to the FBI for a background check.  A week and a half later I sent in another fingerprint card to the Florida Department of Education for my Florida Teaching Certificate.  Both cards were to be run through the FBI system.  The police officer insisted that the first set be done by hand.  The second card was done by a different officer and he did it electronically.


On August 1st I received my Florida Teaching Certificate.  The FBI check they conducted came back clean.


On August 5th I called the FBI and they told me my other fingerprints were still being processed and that I should have them by the end of the month.


On August 19th I called again and the FBI informed me that my fingerprints were illegible and that I'd have to take them again, send in another payment, and wait eight more weeks.


On August 22nd I received a new fingerprint card in the mail and a letter telling me to get them done again and that I didn't have to pay again.  This was contrary to what I was told on the phone.  I also contacted my congressman's office and filled out a case order convincing them to try and help me expedite the process by sending the FBI CJIS Department - Record Request a Congressional Letter.  Unfortunately, they can take up to four weeks to respond to this letter.


So, here I sit, two job offers on the table, bags packed, and missing some documentation.  I'd prefer to take the first offer.  I'd be arriving in South Korea a month from now and I'd be in Changwon, a coastal city, at the CNS Academy.  The second offer, while nice, isn't as ideal in my opinion.  Even if the pay is the same.  It's in Gyeongju at the Oedae Language institute.


Also, the contract for the Hagwan in Changwon is written better than the contract for the school in Gyeongju.


There's no use in dwelling on it right now though.  All I can do is wait to hear if the school in Changwon wants me enough to wait.  If they do then I'm fine.  If not, I have to decide if I want to take the job in Gyeongju or if I want to see if my recruiter from the job in Changwon can find me another good school that fits in with my new timeline.


Some part of me finds it rather ironic that I'm in this predicament because of the US government.  I wouldn't mind teaching here in the States, but the teaching positions are in such high demand that my chances of getting a job, especially in my area, are very slim.  Because of this I'm trying to get a job overseas, and yet, I keep getting roadblocked by the US government.
Don't get me wrong, I love my country, I just wish it was making it easier for me to find and get a job.


I know this isn't a very informative first posting, but I figured I should get all my difficulties out now.  Also, my information on this process might end up helping someone else evade this little pitfall.
I'll try to post again soon with an update and a little more about myself and why I want to go teach in South Korea.