Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Canadian Criminal Background Check in Korea: It's a pain...sorry.

Here's the question:


I am a Canadian in Seoul on an E2 visa.

I want to renew my E2 visa but my local police station in Ontario, Canada will not accept photocopies of my government issued ID to perform the criminal background check.

I found a service called https://www.truecheck.ca who will perform the check and mail it to me but they warned me that they are unsure if Korean Immigration Services will accept it because it was authorized by a third party.

I am totally confused as to what to do because my E2 visa will expire in July. Do I really have to fly home to get a new background check and do the whole visa process over again from Canada?

Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your time,

First of all, Canadian citizens usually are required to get both the criminal background checks and vulnerable sector screenings. However, that has been changed. Now, you only need to background check.

The new immigration rules are absurdly confusing. I have worked as a manager and have personally assisted many people with this process and, unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be clear cut regulations or enforcement.

I'm sure you have visited to the useless Immigration website that sends information-seekers through a web of confusing options and definitions. Don't use the site.

The website that you mentioned above is a privately-run company. They stress the fact that..

"With the TrueCheck Online Criminal Records Check, we make it easy, fast, and secure to order your Criminal Record clearance certificate from police."

But the catch is that...

"A certificate will be issued to you if police determine there are no outstanding criminal charges or convictions indicated in the Canadian Police Information Center (CPIC) databanks."

The problem is that the police are telling truecheck.ca rather than issuing the certificate themselves. This is a problem. It "must be official". I use quotes because there are scores of people who have used private companies and have had no problems. If immigration has seen to company enough, they tend to look over its third-party status. For Brits, all they have to do is visit Disclosure Scotland which is a Scottish Government agency and accepted by Immigration.

Since Canada does not have such a service, you must use the old-fashioned method: get the copies of your government issued Canadian ID and documents notarized by a licensed notary republic here in Seoul. Luckily, the Canadian Embassy provides that service to you, but the hours they are open are totally inconvenient (9am-11am). Nonetheless, I recommend that you call their immigration service section at 822-3783-6198 and ask them the best way for you to get your ID notarized. If for some reason they don't offer that service anymore, then ask them where the Canadian-approved notaries are. If you can't get through, then email them at seoul-im-enquiry@international.gc.ca.

Besides that, your only other option is to talk to your current school or prospective school and put the burden on them. They will find a way to make it work. That's what they do.

In conclusion:

Option 1:

Contact the embassy and confirm they have a notary service. If not, make sure to ask where the licenced and approved notaries are. Then follow-up, get it notarized and the Ontario police will have to accept the photocopies. Remember, you only need the criminal background check.

Option 2:

If you have trouble with the notaries, then approach your boss or potential boss with your concerns. If you are planning on leaving your current school and joining another, then be honest with them. Tell them what's going on and they will find a loophole or solution for you. If you are staying at your current school, then they should do the footwork for you.

Option 3:

Use the private company because in my experience (with Canadians as well), Seoul Immigration will accept it if it is a very commonly used service.

You will not have to go home to get your check.

*** Update 4/29/09 ***

I found this website which seems to offer some pretty solid info.

*** Update 5/10/09 ***

For American citizens, click here for notarial services.

If anyone has any further questions or comments, please email me at asktheexpat@yahoo.com


Bill McMullin said...

A point of clarification regarding the TrueCheck serice: The certificates are issued and signed by police. TrueCheck simply handles the administration and paperwork.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your latest experience in obtaining the criminal record check. Very helpful for anyone going through the same process!

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