Posts Tagged With: work

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 (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!

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Babysitting

As I you all may know, I work for an Korean company, rather than a private institute. When you work at an institute, some companies allow you to make up your own lesson plan, giving you control of the class, while others give you a pre-set lesson plan that you must follow to a T. Both will you give some independence, though not the same kind. In both you will assume control of the lessons and putting them into practice. You will become masters and respected authorities with each method. At least, that’s the goal, somewhat.

However, a company is very different. I am literally on the lowest peg of the system. I’m often excluded or forgotten about when discussing company stuff. I feel as though I have to watched constantly to make sure my work is good enough, if it’s “Korean enough” and fits their standards. Especially since Koreans have different approaches and standards for education. Any project I do get must have supervision. I can’t do anything by myself. Except maybe check a forum to reply to user comments, though sometimes I have to check if it’s OK to reply. They don’t allow me to be included in learning how to upload my online videos or check the sales and profits of classes. I truly am just a writer.

I feel so strange in this position. I feel like I have little control. Like I’m a child that must never be left alone or else I could hurt myself. It’s slightly understandable since I’m a huge risk to this company. I’m the first one to assume this kind of position here. And I’ve only been here about 6 months. So why should I assume any leadership? It’s just that, I’m so used to being in a leadership role in all my jobs before or at least been able to be left alone to hone my skills that I was able to rise faster. It took at least a year to get good at those jobs before. But I wonder if I’ll ever be able to be like my one coworker.

She’s only been here 3 years but she is like the leader of the department. She takes control of everything, especially this big project. She divides the work and gives out the orders. I admire her a lot. She is very knowledgeable and contributes a lot to the general fabric of the department. I don’t know what we would do without her. I want to be just like her. I don’t mind having a head boss, I don’t want to be department head, per se. I just want to be in-charge of something or an expert at something.

Although I’m technically the “English expert” in the department, they really don’t consult with me very much. They just do their own thing. And generally decide to ignore a bunch of stuff in order to simplify things and not make their head hurt. But by simplifying it, it sometimes feels like an insult. “Just get rid of it~” “Ehhh, just lump it with them!” Those sorts of things. But you can’t just lump it together like that. But they will. To make their work easier. That’s all.

All of this makes me realize that I just need to get better and better at Korean so I can get more self-sufficient. I need to be a lot better so they’ll trust me more. I’m not good enough yet. But there’s always potential. I’m more free than most foreigners, but not free enough. But then again, in Korea, is anyone ever really free? Not really…

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The First Couple Days as Boss

So, I have officially started my post as head teacher here and it’s not too bad. It feels a bit empty here in the office. I’m so used to coming in, greeting some of our long term teachers, and go about my own business, worrying about my life, i.e. what I will eat for lunch, does so-so like me, what kind of shoes will I buy today, etc. But so far, for the last 2 weeks or so, I haven’t had too much time to really think about that. This week especially. I mainly worry about things like, did I send my director an email about that, what did I forget to do, what if I mess payroll up, are we okay with hours, should I think about hiring, etc. And then around 8:10pm, once I’ve finally gone home, I realize that perhaps I should eat a real meal. But what do I eat? Bah, real meals are for the week. It’s time for sleep! What’s sleep again? And I pass out on my bed just to wake up again a few hours later wondering if I’m late for work yet, are my teachers at class, will I get a call about them, etc. I think it will be this way for the first month. Once I figure out the groove of how everything works at this level, it will be much easier. Luckily I’m close with most of the staff so it’s not too bad. I’m just worried about messing up payroll the most. So now, I’m just ridiculously tired.

Luckily, I have enough time to go to Dance class this month, though I swear it’s more bootcamp than anything else. We have a new teacher this month due to my previous teacher leaving to focus on her dance company’s performances this month. So we have a new teacher and she focuses more on ballet rather than hip hop. I mean, we are doing a pop song now, but she seems very classically trained with her warmups, her outfit, and her moves. So these next couple weeks with her will be quite interesting.

And you know, the most random thing happened today. I was in the teachers’ room on my laptop, typing this article up and preparing for class when the cleaning lady walked in. She is a very happy-go-lucky 70-something year old woman who can do more things than I can. She has so much energy and strength, it’s absurd. And she unfortunately has arms like the Incredible Hulk, which she had to go to the doctor’s for, so it’s a medical problem but still interesting. Anyway, she’s the sweetest lady who talks to me in Korean and talks about random things like the weather or garbage that we throw out, this and that (she takes care of the garbage and bathrooms here, man and woman’s jobs. Beast!). She comes up to me while I’m in here and I thought she was going to clean something in here but when I look at her, she is holding a piece of bubble wrap and starts giggling, popping it like a child. And then tells me that it’s the most fun thing ever and for me to do it with her. I officially love that woman more now than ever. I wish she were my grandmother at times.

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Resolutions & The Future

So far, this new year has been very kind to me. It really is true, stay positive, and positive things will happen to you. At least, this is how I feel. Yes, there are ups and downs, but what else can you do other than think positively about those downs and enjoy the ups.

My schedule at work this month has allowed me to actually have a social life, which is absolutely wonderful. I finally can have dinner with friends at night and enjoy it. And with Saturday morning classes cancelled, I can enjoy Friday nights just a little bit more. I don’t start work until 2pm. That sounds awesome to me! And it’s only for 3 hours. I think I can handle this. And since I get the last Saturday of this month off, I’m happy. The schedule of a foreign English teacher in Korea isn’t that bad unless you do split shifts. Many people think, “Oh split shifts? That means you have time during the day to run errands and go hang out with someone.” And yes, this is true. You do have opportunity to meet friends in the afternoon, that is, if they are students with a strange schedule or unemployed. Many of my friends are employed so it doesn’t work out so easily. As far as errands, yes, I can go on errands, such as grocery shopping or to the bank during my time off. However, this is if you have the energy. Usually, You are up around 5am to start work around 6. Finish by noon or 1 and then go back around 5ish for the second shift and finish around 10 or 11. Where is the sleeping time? The afternoons and evenings. So, I sleep in the afternoons. As a result, I don’t cook for myself. Thus, no grocery shopping is necessary. That’s always nice, isn’t it? Anyway, my schedule is less split, so that’s a blessing.

Why is it so free, you ask? Well, my boss is leaving in a few months. He wants to move on and do different things. Good for him! He deserves it. He’s a really smart guy. One of the best bosses I ever had, honestly. And I mean this in the way that he made me work really hard, and pushes me more than I’ve ever been pushed at a job. So that means we need a new manager for here and they are looking for one. But they are debating whether to search in company or outside of the company. But my boss has nominated me as a possible candidate for the job, for which I am very flattered and honored. So, as a result, I have had a meeting with the center manager about the job and Monday I have another meeting with the national director. So I’m terrified. I hope he is nice. But honestly, I thought about all the pros and cons that would come with this job. And there are plenty of both. It’s honestly split half and half. So, I won’t worry about this but do what I was meant to do. I will try my best to get this job. If I get it, good. If not, that’s fine. I will be a little sad, of course, everyone feels this way at rejection. But I know it was meant to be if I do or don’t get it. I’ve learned many things from it and I feel better at the end of the day.

The focus this year is on me. I know I said this last year, but I focused on me in the wrong way. I focused on everything that was wrong and just felt so much worse. So, this year is my time to focus on the good things. Trying to stay positive. Which reminds me, I should write about my goals for the new year. I forgot about that.

New Year’s Resolutions/Goals:

1. Lose some weight before I go home in April. I know I can’t lose too much but anything I can is fine.

2. Study Korean harder and pass that damn test! I’ve been taking these language tests for months and it’s driving me crazy. I need to pass this test. I wanna be qualified and feel confident in my Korean ability. But I’m not, so thus I need to study harder.

3. Try to make one outfit when I go home in April. I am always unhappy with my clothes, but I guess it’s because I have an ideal outfit in my head but it doesn’t exist in plus sizes. So thus, I will try to make it.

4. Try to be a lot happier. I was absolutely miserable last year and I regret that it took away my year here. I let people get to me and my work get to me. I don’t want to be a slave to or them. I need to find things that make me happy and do it. Ever since I started dance class, I have been a lot happier, but a lot more tired. I have met people that are not at my institute and it makes me feel a bit better. I will try to find other activities and people that make me happy. I will be happier this year and my Japan trip is a perfect start for it.

5. Save money but buy the things I want to/Better myself. If I want earrings, buy it. If I want new clothes, buy it. Don’t go crazy but work on improving myself and how I look. Don’t be stingy with me. I’m worth it. But make sure that I save money for the important things. I need to save money for if I ever move back to the US or retirement. But like that commercial says, I’m worth it. I really am. I won’t degrade myself again because I think I’m not good enough. I’m pretty damn awesome. I may not be a master of something but one day I will be. I know a bunch of stupid stuff. But someone will want to know the info in my head. But I should also be wise with my purchases. No frivolous stuff. Only stuff that actually means something to me.

6. Be cleaner/More organized. I’m not an absolutely slob, but I know my room is a bit messy. I need to be more on top of being clean. I am very careless when it comes to being tired. I always find myself cleaning my room once a week but I come home everyday and think “If someone came over this moment, what would they think?” And it would be a pretty pitiful sight to see. So, thus, I need to fix this. Make a system. I’ve already improved the clothes all over the floor problem with a laundry basket by the bathroom door. Makes things easier. Now, everything else needs to improve. Next is my desk.

7. Finish at least 2 books this year. I never read but I always want to. I have books in my room but never finish them. I’m so damn lazy. Including Emily’s “When Rabbit Howls”. Yes, Emily. It’s here in Korea with me. I’m sorry. I’ll give it back when I go home in April! But this means I must finish it first. That I will do. And maybe a Korean book?

Anyway, I will put these in a separate page so I remember them throughout the year or something. I feel it’s best. Now I wanna clean. But I gotta study Korean since I have a lesson later. Boo on this. Decisions decisions.

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An Unexpected Mint

So, yesterday was just a really long and tiring day. Lots of work on and off during the day. Then in the afternoon, I have to go to the District Police Station and the Immigration office to.extend my visa.

Police stations make me feel uncomfortable. Even though I didn’t do anything wrong, I still feel as if I’m guilty of something. Guilty conscience much? So fingerprinting was done and took forever with mediocre results. My fingers are really bad at fingerprinting so lets hope that the FBI accepts some part of my prints. So now I’m nervous about that. Anyway, while walking outside, I notice a cute guy at information looking a little lost. I wish I could have helped him. So, as I stand outside waiting for my General Affairs Manager, Mr. Bear, the cute guy comes outside too. And he rustles in his pocket then says “Here”, handing me a mint. I bashfully accept it and he says i’m welcome with a shy kind of smile. And after that I really wanted to ask for him number. Is it wrong of me to jump to that conclusion? But then Mr. Bear wanders out and tells me to come on. I never wanted to leave that guy. And thus, my dream of him speaking to me further is crushed. And Bear doesnt make it better by saying it was given in an act of trying not to offend another culture. I like my idea of him hitting on me more.

Well, after that was a long wait at Immigration, which proved to be annoying but semi successful. Though I’m angered that my last General Affairs Manager lost my copy and Apostille of my diploma so that has to be done, though I’m not paying for it, which is a blessing. I’m just annoyed at the ridiculousness that is Korean bureacracy. It kills me.

So not only do I have my FBI check to worry about, I have my diploma too. Boo on this. But at least I have a mint to make me believe that there is some good things. That there is some light in times of great chaos. And what a relief it is.

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