If you plan on teaching English abroad there is a good chance that you will require some kind of criminal background check when applying for jobs or a work visa. For example, U.S. citizens who apply for English teaching jobs in South Korea, one of the largest markets for foreign teachers, will need a background check in order to get an official work visa. Many other countries and individual schools also require a background check, so it is important to be aware of how to get one and how long it might take to process. The most common type of check requested by employers and immigration departments when dealing with American teachers is an FBI criminal background check, which is also known as an Identity History Summary Check.
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Once you are in your country of choice and have secured a teaching job you might require a background check locally which can usually be done at a police station or government office. In this situation your employer should be able to inform you of the procedure you need to follow. However, in many cases, particularly in Asia, a full FBI criminal background check is required. This can be completed via the official FBI website. Simply follow the instructions online and your request should be processed within three to five days (add additional time for postage of results). It is also possible to apply by post, but the processing time for this route is anywhere up to two months. The cost of the check is $18.
If you are in a real hurry or simply want someone else to take care of things for you, you can apply for a background check via a third party company for an additional fee. Take a look at the list of FBI approved background check services for more details.
Yes, it is possible to apply for an FBI criminal background check from overseas. All the instructions required should be found on the FBI website, including how to register your fingerprints. Your fingerprints need to be placed on an official form that can be downloaded from the site or collected in person from a U.S. Embassy. Just remember that in many cases your new employer will be familiar with what is required and how to go about it as they have probably recruited other foreign teachers in the past.
Also read: How do I verify a TEFL certificate?