Posts Tagged With: visa

The Road to Freedom Part 3 – Immigration and The Interview

Part 3

So, after going to http://www.hikorea.org and booking my appointment for the 9th of September, it was just a matter of waiting. Do I have all the documents I need? Is everything in order? Am I forgetting something? I think I looked over my documents at least 3 times before leaving the house that day.

When you book your appointment, they give you your waiting number at the same time. So when I got to the immigration office, all I had to do was wait. Number 17, my lucky number, oddly enough. I clutched my file folder and waited until I was called.

When it came time, I smiled big and hoped for the best. She told me to just give her everything and she would sort it out. So that’s what I did. She went through everything and asked me questions about what some of the documents were and why I was giving them. She also prints out a copy of the point system sheet for her to count. She was confused about my study abroad experience.

“Did you receive a bachelor’s in the end?”
“No.”
“You didn’t exactly go for language instruction, did you?”
“No, I was a regular exchange student.”
“Unfortunately, I can’t count that as study in Korea experience.”

Oh, dear. This isn’t looking good. I mentioned that it was a shame that Korean was my major but it meant nothing on the sheet. She asked me to show her what I meant. Luckily I brought my transcripts. So when she (hesitantly) opened them and looked through them, I pointed out that my major was East Asian Language and Literature, but I focused on Korea. If you look throughout my transcript, it had Beginning Korean all the way up to Advanced and Business Korean.

“Did you count the points before you came today?”
“Yes. I came up with 81. But you know the system, it might not exactly be that much. Depending on the mood of the worker, it could be more or less.”
“Right.”
So I wait patiently.
“So, how many points did I end up with?”
“Well, according to my count, 82.”
“82?! Really?!”

Now, my TOPIK score was only a 5, so I could only get a max of 28 points for the TOPIK + KIIP section. But after speaking with her in Korean and explaining my major, she gave me the full 30 points. That’s the only way I could get an 82.
She asked me to copy my passport and the KIIP document and deposit 30,000won for my new card. So I did that, but ended up forgetting to copy my passport since I had a bunch of college exchange students from America asking me questions at the machines. I got confused. So when I came back without the passport copy, she was a bit annoyed and I felt bad but she copied it for me. I’m very grateful to her.
So I passed! She didn’t need the 급여내역서 in the end, but she took everything else with her.
Since you have to surrender your ARC when you apply, you are not allowed to leave the country until you receive your new card. No trips, no nothing. Boo.

But just yesterday, the 19th, I got my message from immigration.

“Your visa is permit. Please visit immigration office pick up your alien registration card. You can pick up after 2016.September.30.”

The English might not be so good but that tells me that I can go get my ARC card anytime in October. So while you may get the message early, you might not be able to pick it up for another two weeks. It’s the new semester at schools so there are tons of foreign students. So immigration is quite backed up. That must be why I have to go so late. That’s fine. I was planning to go in early October anyway.

So there you have it! Your guide to getting the F-2 visa! It only took me…. Almost a year (a little more if you count life experiences and stuff but…)! Good luck to everyone and let me know if you have questions.

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Categories: immigration, korea, life, Uncategorized, visa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Road to Freedom Part 2 – Documents

So now, I’m going to talk about getting the paperwork necessary for the F-2 visa while in Korea.

In order to get the visa, you have to prove everything you want points for. This is going to be quite difficult. So I made a list of everything I would possibly need, as well as picked up a few things I might need off of some forums. These lists make sense when thinking about how sensitive Immigration is. So the documents I will prepare are as follows:

Some documents for F-2-7 Visa
——-

1. 근로원천징수 (Most recent income tax statement. Ask for it to your employer. They should be able to give it to you.)

2. 급여내역서 (Statement from your bank of recent income  – they say have it made for the current year. It should also show income not one your previous year’s income tax statement or something… I’m not sure what this means but if you go to the bank and ask for it, they should know what to do. Sounds like a bank trip to me. And this costs just a few thousand won.)

3. 거주지 확인서 (Proof of residence –  Someone said they used their internet/cable bill. I use smart billing/e-billing, so I will have to figure out a way to get that.)

4. 재직증명서 (Statement of current employment from employer. This is to prove you’re employed currently. I don’t think the whole 3 years has to be under one employer, but it must be under the same visa type. I would double check this, though. Luckily, I’ve been with my company for 3 years so it won’t matter.)

5. 사업자등록증 사본 (Employer’s business license with number, pretty standard when changing visas. This is to reinforce #4)

6. Passport (and copy, just in case)

7. Certificates from KIIP (One is shipped to you, one can also be printed. They are different certificates so just print both.)

8. Certificate from TOPIK (they don’t mail these anymore, I think. So I printed a copy from online. I hope they like B&W copies…)

9. Apostilled copy of Diploma

Honestly, this last part was the hardest out of all of them.

I’m currently in South Korea. How do I get my degree apostilled without bothering my family and friends for the billionth time?
While looking all over these forums, people kept referring to this one place- apostillepros.com.
Honestly, I thought it was some sort of scam to get you to spend a lot of money and then they never send you anything. You know what I mean. But I was desperate. I first emailed them about what I had to do. And clearly, based on their reply, they’re used to people like us. There’s two methods for this:

  • Send them your degree and they will get a copy apostilled.
  • Send them a high-quality color scan of your degree and they will apostille that for you. And for only $140 ($95 per degree apostille, plus $45 for shipping).

This seems like a lot. But honestly, you will probably fedex your document home (because I don’t trust normal postal services with my expensive degree.) This will cost about $45 one way. Times two… Then, if you live in some place like New Jersey, to get it notarized (depends on where you go for pricing) and then apostille something costs $25 per document (every state is different. Some states ask $5, others ask more. How rude…). If you are lucky, you can go in person to get all that done. If not, you gotta send it through the mail again. Honestly, this whole process can take weeks. Precious time many people don’t have.

So I decided to go for the scan. I sent the email with my scan, my order form, and my affadavit stating I didn’t photoshop/digitally alter my degree (necessary if you scan it) on Monday morning. By 10:30 AM, the money was charged from my credit card. 2 hours later, I got an email stating my Fedex package’s information. Monday night, the apostille was sent out. By Wednesday, 2:19PM (all my time, by the way), I was holding my apostilled copy of my diploma in my hand. I repeat. Within 48 hours, I was finished with the absolute worst part of the documents part of my visa process. I laughed when the Fedex guy came into my office. I thought he was joking. But definitely not.

So my recommendation to you all is, if you are in Korea and need things apostilled, I highly recommend ApostillePros. Don’t think, just do. Now, for Criminal Background Checks (you won’t need it for this visa), it might be a whole different procedure. But I highly recommend this.  Also, when I looked up the cost to send from CA to S. Korea (by the way, where you get your degree apostilled and notarized doesn’t matter. I have a NJ diploma. As long as the notary and apostille are in the same state, it is fine.), and with the same shipping time, it would’ve cost $87.50 or so. Wow. So yeah, money well spent. I can sleep easy tonight knowing that what I thought would take two weeks took only 2 days.

Now I just have to get the documents from my company and bank.

Last step? The immigration office. I will tell you about that step when it happens. But that might not be until September. So hold on tight.

Categories: korea, life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Road to Freedom (or an F-2 Visa) Part 1 – Points and Class

Miss me? I have been busy for the past couple months and here is a half-explanation, half-review. Enjoy!

As many of you may know, I have been living in South Korea for about six years now. I like the country a lot. It has its ups and downs, depressing and happy moments, but overall, it gives me the satisfactory life I want. That is why last year I decided I wanted to get the F-2 visa.

What is an F-2 Visa?

It is the Long-Term Residency visa (장기거주). If you have lived in this country for over 3 years continuously, you are eligible for this visa. Now, just the 3 years isn’t enough, you also need to have enough “points” to qualify for the visa. Points? Yes, points. It is a point-based system, with points coming from your educational background, work experience, language proficiency, etc. For more information on their point system, please visit F-2 Visa Point System Breakdown . This will give you the actual requirements (though many other blogs have this as well).

 

Now, why would anyone want this visa? Well, I call this the “Freedom Visa”. You know how Americans love their freedom…(eyeball roll). Anyway, this visa allows visa holders to not be tied down by their job. Meaning, you can work anywhere you want without visa sponsorship. You can work 4 jobs and be homeless in Seoul Station and the government can’t really bother you as long as you pay your taxes. While for some, this may not be worth trying for, to some (including me), that extra bit of freedom is worth it. Many of the jobs I want to apply for, such as companies or government organizations, need an F-series visa in order to apply. So this opens many more doors for you. Those who would like to get out of the Hagwon system might want to opt for this. Also, from what I’ve read on some forums, if you stay two years on this F-2 visa, you can then apply for the F-5 visa without having to have the money aspect. I am hoping this is true because that would be my ultimate goal. F-5 is a Permanent Residency Visa (never going to immigration again for the rest of your life. One step away from becoming a Korean.)

 

Now, you will notice if you look at the point system that it is actually quite difficult to get. Most people will be 1-2 points short, or even 10 points. And yes, those 1-2 points do matter. So if you can earn more points, take all the points you can. You never know what they will throw out and what they will keep. There are two ways to get enough points. There is the language and culture route, and there is the money route.

  • The money route is something like, have $30,000 worth of investments (house, car, bonds, stocks) in Korea and you will get the visa. Money solves many things, right?
  • The other is go through the immigration offices language and culture classes. This alone can offer you around 30 points, or even just 10 if you have already studied Korean on your own and take just their culture class.

I did the second route since I already knew Korean. Less points but not much I can do…

I was about 11 points away from the visa (including having at least a 4 on the TOPIK exam). This was driving me insane. So I tried to enroll in the Culture class offered by the KIIP, the language and culture program offered by immigration). If you have a 4 or higher on the TOPIK, you can be exempt from the language classes and go straight into the culture class. You have to submit your TOPIK Certificate to the Immigration Office in Mokdong (not any other place. Believe me, I tried and wasted an entire day). You fill out a form and then you get exempt. But make sure you are already registered on socinet.go.kr.

Then the waiting game.

Waiting for those elusive classes to open up so you can register. I missed the first round in January because of a simple 10 minute car ride. What I mean is, just like college class registration, it begins at exactly 12am midnight. They don’t announce the date of registration really, you just have to keep checking until you find out when the registration period is. Then wait for midnight. And then at midnight, you rush like crazy to register. Except in this instance, it didn’t start at 12am. I waited for 20 minutes. Nothing.

I was at a friends house so I decided to just go home. It’s just a 10-15 minute taxi ride home.  When I went home and checked, all the classes were opened and full. I cursed a bit and then decided to wait again.

The next registration period wouldn’t be until May. So I waited until then. This time, I made sure I was prepared,  I was at home, equipped with two laptops, and this time successfully enrolled in a weekend class near Sukmyung Women’s University (숙명여대) at남영역 (1호선). These classes are for one month and very intensive. 5 hours a day, Saturday and Sunday, for one whole month. I sacrificed my June to do this. It was worth it. The morning class is primarily Chinese University Students (with other occasional foreigners). They are very sweet and I really enjoyed my class. If you take the afternoon class, it’s filled with many foreign housewives. So a completely different dynamic. I learned a whole bunch about Korea and Korean history and culture, and overall really recommend the class to others. It’s heavy but well worth it. And my teacher was the loveliest woman ever. I wish I could have her as my Korean teacher all the time. Maybe I’ll look her up and try to take a class with her…

After the 5 weeks of classes, you register for the final exam, which is two weeks later. It is nerve wrecking. There’s only 40 questions out of all the material you learned in the 5 weeks (which is a ton). And you have an interview. The interview is done in twos since there are so many people. Luckily, I had a fellow classmate with me so I felt a bit more at ease.

The written portion is only 1 hour. But then waiting for the interview can take between 2-3 hours. Overall, you spend half a day here so really, don’t plan to do anything until the evening for this test. It begins at 12 (you have to be in your classroom really early) and it didn’t end until 4 something for me.

 

Once the test was over, the results are announced two or so weeks later. Lucky for me, I had this test on Saturday and the TOPIK test on Sunday of the same weekend. I was exhausted this weekend. Luckily, in the end, I passed this class and got a good enough score on the TOPIK to get a 5. Just enough to push me over the 80 points that I needed. Finally! I nearly cried.

 

Now for the fun part – collecting all my documents to submit the visa. More on that in my next post.

Stay tuned!

Categories: korea, life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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