Criminal Background Check Process

The steps you’ll need to take to get your criminal background check are:

  1. Get fingerprinted
  2. Fill our application and print out – include note to have it authenticated
  3. Fulfill your chosen method of payment
  4. Mail off to FBI
  5. Wait

If you are running really low on time or have had your fingerprints rejected more than 3 times see this post and see what extreme steps you can try to get accepted.


You can do this at any police department for about $10. Some places could be more expensive because they have an electronic fingerprint-er but if you’re just doing a paper one you’re probably getting ripped off if its not about $10. Some places may also charge you for the fingerprint card itself, about 50 cents. Those who are in college or who have a college nearby have the option of going into your campus police department. They shouldn’t be too busy in the middle of the day/early morning and should be cheaper.

The FBI has their own fingerprinting card you can print off. HOWEVER you may want to do the card as our fingerprints both showed up way better on the official card than they did on the one we printed out. What we would recommend is print off one fingerprint card online and use one official fingerprinting card (standard form). This way, if your prints are too dark or are messed up you have a backup set and don’t have to resubmit and wait all over again.

You can fill in the fingerprint sheet some if you would like before hand but be careful. The height is not “5’7” but “507” 6 feet would be “600.” Also there are acronyms for eye/hair color, we only know the BRO one.

When being fingerprinted try to relax and let him or her apply the correct amount of pressure or turning. By adding your own pressure you can darken the print some.

Fill Out the Application

Online you will want to click the link to “submit your request directly to the FBI” from there you could/should read over  this info if you have any specific questions. Click on “Application Information Form”  (this link may not work here) then you’ll see this:

Screen shot 2013-01-29 at 1.09.30 PM

You can pick “other” as you are requesting yours to work abroad/foreign visa. Which is what you’ll put on your form later. If you pick “other” you’ll be brought to a small sheet that will tell you you may need to get a background check through your own state at the bottom it says you can continue onto the form.

If you’re given the option, you may as well fill it out on the computer then print it off and sign it.

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART besides spelling your name right or something is to put your need for authentication on it.

Under reason for request type or write “Foreign visa, please authenticate for apostile” or something along those lines.


At the bottom we also wrote out our need clearer “I need the FBI Seal and signature of a division official on my background check so I can get it authenticated.”

At which point we highlighted it twice. Other people have added sticky notes or other papers to continue to reinforce this need but we just highlighted ours here.


Here’s what the actual site says.

  • Option 1: Obtain a money order or cashier’s check for $18 U.S. dollars made payable to the Treasury of the United States. Please be sure to sign where required.
  • Option 2: Pay by credit card using the Credit Card Payment Form. Don’t forget to include the expiration date of the credit card that you are using.
  • Important note: Cash, personal checks, or business checks WILL NOT be accepted.
  • Payment must be for the exact amount.
  • If the request is for a couple, family, etc., include $18 for each person.
  • If the request is for multiple copies per person, include $18 for each copy requested.

Some have recommended completing the credit card form, this way when the have processed yours they will charge your card and you will know when to start expecting it in the mail.

Mail it Off 

The size everyone has been saying to use is the USPS Flat Rate Legal Envelopes which you can pick up for free at the post office or can order a minimum of 10 to be delivered to your house for free. (click here if you want that)

Will you need 1o? You might. You’ll need 2 for the fingerprints, 2 for the apostille, probably at least one or two for the visa, maybe some to and from Korea (although they don’t want you to use USPS) Even with all those maybes in there, you’re looking at maybe needing 6.

It doesn’t matter if you have 10 shipped to your house or just  pick some up at the post office: this is the size you want, this is the cheapest you can ship in the country.

Envelope 1 (prepaid envelope): Put your return address on it and fold it in half. At the post office and tell them you need one pre-paid one inside of the envelope you’re sending. They put exactly $5.15 in stamps on the outside of our envelope.

Envelope 2: Put (1) the credit card form or money order, (2) your finger print cards (3) your completed FBI application, and  (4) your folded prepaid envelope inside of this envelope. Seal and address to:

FBI CJIS Division – Record Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306

Pay for this second envelope, ours was for $5.60 for a total of $11.20.
The FBI says it can take 5-6 weeks to process. Your reciept will have a tracking number on it, you can at least see how long it takes to get there, from then wait a few weeks then check your credit card to see if it has been charged.

Applying to EPIK: Recruiters vs Direct

Applying to Korea can get a bit tricky with the amount of paperwork you have to do. For this reason, some people like to go through a recruiter. The most common question we get about our recruiter is if we pay them. No, no we do not. And if you are out there about to write a check to a “recruiter” we would strongly advise you to put that pen down. No recruiter, for any reason should be asking you for money. The other option besides applying to a recruiter is to apply to EPIK directly.

Why apply directly?

Obviously recruiters can be awesome. But many people have a huge problem with recruiters. The biggest reason is applying directly means you get interviewed, accepted, and placed faster. Sometimes significantly faster – like weeks or even a month before everyone else. This is just plain convenient and can get you a job before others.

Employees at EPIK will still help you with questions, problems with paperwork and taking care of last minute details but you are really on your own (which may be perfect for you) when you compare a direct application to a recruiter.


Faster application, interviews, placement, NOAs. Aka get a job before everyone else.

Less chance of being wait listed

More access to asking questions on their facebook page.


Instant rejection – recruiters can sometimes argue on your behalf.

Why go through a Recruiter?

The whole idea of a recruiter is to

  1. channel you in the right direction – this could be recommending other programs or even private schools (in the end, though, do your research). In our case, GEPIK looked like it was failing and our recruiter channeled us away from GEPIK to EPIK. Later when we were wait listed, she kept an eye out for private positions and other GEPIK positions.
  2. be your backup. Jackie, from her blog, “Good Morning, Korea” was almost rejected from EPIK for migraine headaches. Her recruiter worked for  2 weeks to see what they could do to ensure she could still go to EPIK. In the end, she was able to work with her doctor and a Korean doctor from afar evaluated the migraine situation and determined it would not affect her teaching.
  3. Proofread your stuff – our Korean recruiter helped us out by having us change a few things so it would look good in other Koreans’ eyes. This was incredibly helpful and probably helped us to get the job.

Recruiters get paid for the people they represent. This can be a good thing because they really, really want you to get accepted. For this reason recruiters usually answer questions quickly and nag ask frequently how the paperwork process is going.

From what we’ve read,  EPIK will set aside X many jobs for recruiters to fill. So applying directly to EPIK does not guarantee you a job any more than a recruiter does. If anything, having a recruiter can often lead you to getting a job because your essay/lesson plan could have been bad or paperwork could have been filled out incorrectly and thus EPIK may have passed right over it or denied you an interview.


Always on top of things because of nagging recruiters

Aggressive representation

Proofreading gods


Can push you into a direction you don’t want to go (bait and switch, etc)

While EPIK sets X jobs aside for recruiters to fill, if more people applied to EPIK and were accepted than X is reduced. You’re technically getting second pickings of jobs and have a chance of not getting accepted/not getting your first choice.


You should consider a recruiter if…

  • You are unorganized or nervous about the process.
  • If you are currently in a TEFL class and thus have not learned to lesson plan yet (our recruiter pointed out some flaws in the lesson plan because we were in this boat)
  • You have been out of school for a while and don’t remember how to write essays (recruiters will double check these)
  • You are worried about being rejected. There are plenty of horror stories online of people being rejected for small health details, their accents or the way they look. Recruiters cannot always come to your rescue but they could help/try.

You would probably be fine applying directly if…

  • You are very organized.
  • You are a teacher/have completed your TEFL certification (thus you can write lesson plans well)
  • You are a college/university student and you have access to things like”writing centers” and “career services”- these guys can help proofread everything and/or help you practice for interviews.
  • You have been to Korea/understand Korean values and understand how best to approach the application process.  

But the internet hates recruiters…

Any and every recruiter out there has many complaints against them. Here are some of them circulating all over the internet ranging from the common to the strange…

  • someone’s recruiter quit 4 months ago and they were never notified about it, when they emailed to ask for a new representative, they were told they would hear back in 2-3 months
  • the recruiter interviewing someone laughed at how low their credentials were then hung up on the applicant during the interview
  •  different representative every time they emailed with questions (the applicant was not assigned to just one recruiter)
  • sent me to a bad Hagwon (private school) OR pressured Hagwons incessantly until the applicant just went for it.
  • arrived in Korea without a job (seems unlikely with EPIK)


Here’s the recruiters EPIK officially lists on their site:

Canadian Connections Canada
Educon U.S.A.
ESLstarter U.K.
Footprints Recruiting Canada
Goldkey Education South Africa
Gone2Korea Canada
Korean Horizons Korea
Korvia Consulting Korea
Reach to Teach Recruiting Taiwan
Teach Away Canada

Remember you never have to go through the recruiter from your country, just whichever one seems better to you.

Who do we recommend?

Since being wait-listed once, trying to apply everywhere else, and then applying again, we’ve worked with many recruiters.

Of the approved EPIK recruiters we’ve worked with Korvia, Korean Horizons, and Footprints. We had very bad experiences with footprints and not so good with Korean Horizons. Korvia has been strange but has worked out, especially when we couldn’t switch to direct.

How to apply to a recruiter


  1. Pick a recruiter
  2. Apply to them so that they can choose whether or not they want to represent you. The application is usually no worse than any other job application and it is practice for exactly what you will be seeing when you apply to EPIK.
  3. Interview with recruiter. Our interview consisted of many questions relating to what little teaching experience we have, how our studying abroad should help us in the future, why did we pick our recruiter, why did we pick South Korea over other Asian countries, what do you know/like about Korea, etc.
  4. Accepted or denied. Almost always people are accepted and you will be given further information of what documents to collect and what happens next.


Sites to get you started with EPIK

Application processes, addresses and any information can change. Use these only as an initial guide and always double check before sending anything off. Feel free to post major differences you find in the comments, we’ll try to keep it updated.

How to Apply

Where to Go?

If you’re given the option to list a province or a metropolitan city, here are a few links to help you decide.

EDIT: 2014 – You can now leave it blank


If you only read two articles about teaching/schools in Korea, these seem to be the best

Everything you should know about Korean students but were too lazy to google by Scroozle. This article has been passed around quite a bit on the tumblrsphere. A list of 14 things you should know about your Korean students, from motivation, suicide, and why they are great to teach.

Cultural Taboos and Native English Teachers in South Korean Public Schools – by Kimchi Icecream. He’s been in South Korea for 5 years – here he blogs about 14 common things that frustrate the NET, an idea of what’s going on from your school’s persepective, and some ideas of how to handle the problems