Teach in Korea – The Visa

All of the paperwork submitted to the school and the recruiter is for the purposes of obtaining one very important document: the work visa.

In Korea as well as most other countries, travelers will need a visa if they plan on staying longer than 90 days. For the purposes of teaching English in Korea, you will be securing a work visa from the Korean Government.

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 (Make sure you have this pup)

So let’s get into the nitty gritty, starting with…

The Paperwork (For the School)

Even after having sent over everything I detailed in the post Papers Please, there was more to send for the visa. The school requested I mail them:

  1. The original apostilled / notarized photocopy of my diploma.
  2. Photocopy of my passport.
  3. Four passport photographs.
  4. Three signed copies of the employment contract.
  5. My resume.
  6. Signed & dated health questionnaire (which they provide).
  7. Original FBI background check with apostille notarization.

Now bear in mind that you have to physically MAIL the above to the school over in Korea. What I did was I Fed Exed the documents out on a Saturday and they all arrived on Tuesday.

The cost was $55.30

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 (Thought I was done shelling out money for this. Guess not.)

Once the school receives everything, they will work with the Korean government for the next phase, which is where I personally had a problem. I’m talking about the…

The Issuance Number

Once your visa documents are approved, the immigration office in Korea will issue a visa issuance number. Now ordinarily this would be sent without any problems but I had a little bit of a snag. I’ll share a brief version of the story to save you from the same fate.

Okay.

Now I don’t want to point fingers here or name names so I’ll be vague in that regard. What basically happened was the immigration office gets the visa number first and the protocol is that it passes through a few hands (there’s quite a few) before it gets to me, the applicant. Unfortunately, the person I’ll be referring to as my “main contact” in this process didn’t follow up.

Let me explain.

On December 18, 2014 (Thursday) I called my main contact (MC) on the phone. This contact assured me that even though all the paperwork arrived in Korea on December 2, there was nothing to worry about. However, because the week after that was Christmas week, what with Christmas Eve on Wednesday and Christmas Day on Thursday, MC said that all correspondence would be done by email and that they would be closed on the two holidays.

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 (Holidays be damned.)

So I waited.

I decided not to bother MC the whole week of Christmas, because MC assured me (again) that if they heard anything they would let me know. So lo and behold, the holidays pass, and I’m gearing up to call MC on the 29th, the following Monday.

However, on Sunday night, I get an email from one of the contacts that’s IN KOREA. She emailed me to ask what was going on with my visa and if it was ready yet.

A bit confused, I wrote back that I was waiting on the issuance number. Then I get a return email that says the following:

“We emailed you the issuance number on the 19th. You didn’t get it from MC?” (Paraphrased)

My jaw hit the floor. I looked in my email and sure enough the email was sent by MC the DAY AFTER we spoke, right in my email inbox.

At first I was like…

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And then I thought about MC’s incompetence and I was all…

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Finally, when I realized what had happened all I could do was…

Kid in puddle of tears

I received this news when my cousins were over and we were (oddly enough) about to watch the film, the Interview (which I shared my thoughts on here). I was understandably absorbed in the current situation and tried to make do with it.

It sucked because now, out of nowhere, I suddenly had to go down to the Korean Consulate tomorrow and it was already late. Like 3am on a Sunday late.

Regardless, I was mad at MC for dropping the ball like this. I’ve had problems with this contact before, in the form of not answering the phone (sometimes I would call MC 3 times a day, once an hour and get nothing) and not answering my emails.

I know an incompetent baboon when I see one (not to insult baboons). So when he tried to cover his (red) ass by sending an email instructing me to make sure MC was in my approved email list to prevent the messages from going into the spam, I replied with this.

[MC]

The email did not go in the spam folder. Even though I check my email a hundred times a day, for some reason I did not see yours when you sent it the day after I called you at the office.

But I can’t take the rap for this. Not completely. Were you ever planning to follow up and ask if I received the issuance number that I was waiting weeks for? Or is your policy when you send emails “Out of sight, out of mind”?

Let me know.

Joseph Seegitz

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(Full Disclosure: “But I can’t take the rap for this. Not completely.” Is a Tony Soprano line.)

Of course MC never responded, which is MC’s usual course of action, so nothing odd there.

Phew. All right. So now that I finally had the Issuance number it is time to list…

The Paperwork (For the Consulate)

The email listed all of the Korean Consulates in America. There are TEN total for all FIFTY states of America. Luckily I live in Staten Island (luckily for this endeavor at least), so I was close (not really; a Pennsylvanian could probably get there quicker) to the Korean Consulate located at Park Avenue and East 59th street in Manhattan.

Even though the email outlined what to bring I was still advised to call them and confirm.

I needed to bring:

  1. Passport
  2. E-2 Applicant’s Health Statement (Attached to email)
  3. Application for Visa (Form also attached)
  4. A Passport photo to attach to #3
  5. $45 cash.

Now because I Fed Exed everything over to the school, I did not have a passport photo for the application. I live in Staten Island and don’t have a car, so getting to a CVS would be a challenge.

Thankfully, my little brother was home from college so I borrowed his to drive to CVS. Passport photos usually cost a good $15 to take, and I hate putting my asymmetrical Italian / German face in front of a camera, but this time I was prepared. Last visit I had them save the photos to a disc, so when I went to CVS all I had to do was print them out. The cost?

Thirty five cents.

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(Yes indeed!)

With the passport photo now in hand I was ready to partake in the grueling Staten Island commute (which I bemoaned here) on four hours of sleep and go to Manhattan’s Upper East Side. I still don’t have ink in my printer (a topic covered here) so I had to stop at my mom’s office across from Battery Park to pick up copies of the documents in the email.

After that I took the 5 train to the library around the corner from the consulate, filled out the paperwork, and went inside. The consulate building is quite fancy. When you get inside, you have to tell the desk what floor you’re going to and they tell the elevator.

There are no buttons inside the elevator! It goes there on its own!

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(“What sorcery is this?”)

I got up to a small room where I had to wait on line. Unlike the DMV, you don’t get a number and sit to wait for your turn. No, no. You have to wait in line until it’s your turn and from there you submit the paperwork.

IMPORTANT: When you hand the paperwork to the clerk, he / she will KEEP your passport for processing. I wasn’t paying attention (again, four hours of sleep) so when I got home, I had a mini panic attack because I thought I had lost the passport. But I hadn’t.

There’s a waiting period of three business days, and because Thursday was New Year’s the visa was ready on Friday. I didn’t know what a visa looked like, but it turns out it’s just a STICKER that the consulate puts inside your passport.

South Korea Visa example

(Just to give you an idea)

And that’s it. With the work visa in hand there is nothing barring me from heading over now. It was the last leg of the preparation journey, and what a process it’s been.

I’ll be flying out this Saturday afternoon and arriving Sunday evening in Incheon, Korea.

Obviously the blog is going to be a lot more “content-rich” as I’ve signed a contract to be there for a year. If you like this blog now, you’ll like it A LOT MORE when I’m posting photos every week and writing about my experience living and teaching in Korea. This is why you should SUBSCRIBE BY EMAIL so you don’t miss any future posts.

I will say it again. Subscribe by email so you’re notified every time a post goes up. Do it now so you don’t procrastinate and forget J

Even though I’ll be on a plane Saturday, a post will still go up.

You know how us Pointies are.

See you Saturday,

J. F. Seegitz

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