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Korea Immigration Service(external link) has offices throughout Korea and will be able to assist you with visa matters including questions about your visa status, alien registration, extension/renewal of sojourn period and changes in visa status.
To work legally in Korea, one must obtain the appropriate employment visa. The Korean government tightly controls visa issuance for employment. Korea requires an apostille certified criminal record check and a health certificate to be submitted with E-2 teaching visa applications or extension applications.
The Embassy in Seoul is not able to provide a criminal record check service, nor can the Embassy authenticate record checks. New Zealand Police are often asked for a “Police clearance certificate”, especially by people applying for a job overseas. New Zealand Police do not produce “Clearance Certificates” as such, but you can get a copy of your criminal record(external link) from the Ministry of Justice. The Authentication Unit(external link) of the Department of Internal Affairs issues Apostille Certificates.
Applying for a work permit
The Embassy in Seoul is not responsible for issuing work permits for New Zealanders wishing to work in Korea. A New Zealander who wants to come to Korea to work must first apply to the Korean Embassy in Wellington, providing details of the job that has been offered. The address of the Korean Embassy in Wellington is:
Embassy of the Republic of Korea
11F ASB Bank Tower Building
2 Hunter Street
Telephone: 04 473-9073/4
Facsimile: 04 472-3865
Working Holiday Scheme
Korea and New Zealand have bilateral Working Holiday Scheme (WHS) visa programme. The main purpose of this visa is to allow 18 to 30-year-olds to have an extended holiday while supplementing your funds with short-term work in Korea. WHS Working Holiday Permit Holders are also permitted to study at a private educational institution during their stay. You may leave and re-enter Korea as many times as you wish during your 12 month (maximum) stay. This is a one-time only visa and allows tremendous flexibility for you to immerse yourself in Korean culture. More information on the scheme can be found here(external link).
Some expatriates have run into serious legal problems with the Korean Immigration Office because they have either accepted employment as English teachers while in Korea on a tourist visa or they accepted part-time employment or private classes without obtaining the proper permission. Violation of the Korea Immigration laws can result in severe penalties including imprisonment; fines of up to KRW50,000 for each day of overstay or deportation with a ban on re-entry, usually for up to two years. It is your responsibility to understand local laws and to obey them. The Embassy cannot assist you in any manner if you violate Korean visa laws, other than provide you with a list of attorneys.