So while you are waiting on your FBI Criminal Background Check to be issued, processed and authenticated there is another step that you must do to compile all the necessary paperwork. South Korea might be the country that requires the most from their temporary immigrants. Not only do they require an FBI level Criminal Record Check with Apostille, but they require you to certify your University Degree with Apostille.
An apostille is an international notarization that certifies a document’s authenticity. The Korean Education Council wants to check the validity of your degree. There has been some issues recently with foreigners using fake copies of degrees.
What to do & How to do it:
Step 1: Certify a copy of your original University Degree.
- Go to your nearest notary republic with your original University Degree. I called around to all the nearest Fed Ex store and asked which one had a notary on duty. CALL AHEAD! There are many other options, post offices, banks, private notaries, etc…
- It was about UD$6 for each document that I wanted certified, plus I had to pay for the photocopy. They stamped it right then and there.
- You must make sure to get the copy notarized in the same state where you will get the apostille. You can do it in any state, not only the state where your degree was issued.
Important: You don’t want them to notarize your original copy of your degree. You are going to send this to South Korea, and will not get it back, so make sure to use a photocopy! Trust me, I know from experience. 🙁
Step 2: Mail in your certified copy of your University Degree
- You will need to send your certified copy of your degree to the Secretary of State, for whichever state you are in. I am from Texas, so I will use that office as my example. Here is what you will need to include:
- The certified copy of your degree with notarized stamp, seal, name and date.
- The original copy of your degree. You will receive this back, so don’t worry.
- A cover letter – explained below
- The fee for each document authentication is UD$15. You can use a personal check or money order. Make payable to Secretary of State of _Texas_ (insert the name of whichever state you are applying in). If you want to use a Credit Card, there is an additional convenience fee of 2.7% added. I would advise against using a Credit Card, and just write a check. Or you can go to your bank for a money order, they usually issue money orders at no cost to you.
- A self addressed, pre-paid return envelope/air bill
**The cover letter should look something like this:
__Texas_ Secretary of State
Contact # ___________
Country where document will be sent: __________
Please return documents via enclosed, pre-paid postage envelope
I wrote it out on paper, it doesn’t have to be fancy, just legible.
If you are in Texas, here is the Secretary of State Authentication website where I get all my information from. It takes about 10 days for processing all requests made by mail. If you are lucky enough to have an office in your city, then you can just walk-in. There is no need to make an appointment. When mailing it in, there is no way to expedite the service. Using overnight mail, does not speed up the processing time, only the time it takes to get the documents back.
For walk-ins, processing time is dependent on how busy the office is. From my experience of walking in, it took about 15 minutes. If you are in quite a rush, you can drive to where the Secretary of State’s Office is to get the document authenticated. The money and time of driving might not be as important to you as the quickness of obtaining the authentication. Any questions feel free to message me.