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- May 14, 2020
- by kerick02
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As an adoptee, if you’re looking to live in Korea for an extended period of time, the F-4 visa is the way to go. The F-4 visa is for people of Korean heritage. In 1999, G.O.A.’L successfully petitioned the Korean government to include Korean adoptees in the Overseas Korean Act, allowing adoptees access to the F-4 visa. The F-4 visa is advantageous due to its wider access to professional jobs without needing a visa sponsorship. It also allows for a longer period of sojourn - 2-3 years instead of 1 year.
G.O.A.’L. offers a step-by-step guide to all the documents you need when applying for your F-4 visa. However, some recent updates have been made to obtaining the F-4 visa. One of the biggest changes is the requirement of an apostilled* criminal background check (CRC), which must be completed in your adoptive country. Getting a criminal background check (CRC) can seem like a daunting task with many steps and forms to fill out. The process can be even more confusing when you’re already living in a foreign country outside of your adoptive country.
*Apostilles are only required for countries under the Hague Apostille Convention.
At the time, I was living and working in Korea as an English teacher. I was currently on the E-2 visa, but wanted to switch to the F-4 visa. I am a US citizen, so using the FBI channeler, Accurate Biometrics, and the apostille service, Monument Visa worked well for me. Here is a helpful guide to getting an apostilled CRC as a US citizen abroad.
*Note: These steps can also be taken for US citizens not yet living in Korea. It will save you some money since you don’t have to have documents sent to Korea.
STEPS TO GETTING YOUR CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK
Step 1: Print off fingerprint chart
You first need to obtain fingerprints from a larger police station (경찰서) in your area. You must send in two sets of fingerprints, but I suggest printing off more than 2 copies just in case a print isn’t fully taken or they make a mistake while printing (this happened to me and I had to print off another sheet for them to retake my prints).
Print off your fingerprint charts here and take them to your nearest large police station (경찰서). Make sure to bring along your ARC and a passport for identification. Fill in the highlighted sections as listed below and have the official who is taking your fingerprints sign the forms.
Step 2: Complete application for CRC
Accurate Biometrics is an FBI Channeler, so they are a third party organization that sends your information directly to the FBI. Working through a channeler instead of directly with the FBI speeds up the process of getting your results. Through the Accurate Biometrics site, download their online application to receive your CRC. They offer three different options for how you can receive your CRC. Option 1 is the least expensive: $50 for Web Portal pickup. This is the quickest way. They will send you an email with a special code (TCN #). This code is valid for 30 days before opening and will be deleted once opened. So when you receive the code, make sure you open it on a device you can print directly from. The other options were slightly more expensive and included hard copy mailings to US only addresses. Since I was not living in the US at the time, I didn’t see it beneficial to send. Plus it saved me a few dollars.
This site also allows you to pay by credit card, which was convenient for me.
Step 3: Mail your documents.
Once your application and fingerprints are all set, head to your local post office (우체국) to mail the documents. Mail them to:
ATTN: Departmental Order
500 Park Boulevard, Suite 1260
Itasca, IL 60143
It cost me about 24,000 KRW to mail and it took about 2 weeks to get my CRC emailed to me. The email included the TCN #. Make sure you’re on a computer or device where you can save documents. It’s a one-time access, so make sure you save it the first time you view it!
Step 4: Apostille time!
Once you have your CRC, you need to have it apostilled. I went with Monument Visa which specializes in apostilles and authentication. Once you have downloaded your CRC, you can upload it to Monument Visa. They charge $55 per document and a $50 shipping fee to Korea. Monument Visa was also very fast. I received my apostilled CRC in the mail in about a week and a half.
Overall this process for getting my CRC while living in Korea cost me about $175. Unfortunately, if you are living in Korea, you cannot simply go to your nearest embassy to get a check. You must go through the steps of obtaining an apostilled document from your adoptive country. It is highly important that you plan ahead if you’re thinking of switching or applying for the F-4 visa. Collecting all the necessary documents for the F-4 visa alongside the newly required CRC can take a lot of time. Some documents are time sensitive as well and can only be used up to a certain number of months.
Some important date markers include:
Passport: Valid 3+ years from date of application
Current ID photos: Less than 6 months old
Adoption certificate: Less than 3 months old from date of issuance
Family registry: Copy dated less than 6 months from date of application