Visa Escapades – Part 1
As an American we can stay in Korea for up to 90 days with no visa, which is awesome if all you are doing is traveling. If you are coming to Korea to teach as an English teacher you will most likely be on an E-2 visa for work after receiving your work contract and NOA (notice of appointment). Once you come to Korea you will go with your co-teacher and apply at your local immigration office to receive your ARC (Alien Registration Card) or 외국인등록증. You need this to sign up for cell phones and bank accounts, it is also your main form of identification. Luckily, your ARC is good for up to 30 days after your school contract ends.
For most English teachers resigning or transferring in a timely manner renewing your ARC is not very painful. However, if you happen to fall into limbo like I have it can break the bank. I have been accepted to be a teacher in Incheon and therefore have a month of limbo between contracts.However, my lovely visa and arc expiry date is the 15th of this month. Two bloody days away. Well, Immigration has decided to do some changes this year, now you need to know where you will be living and provide an address before you can renew your visa/ARC. This is great if you have a personal address provided from your school or have your own accommodations that you are paying for yourself. I happen to be living with a friend and therefore the address I am currently residing at is not valid for me to get a new E-2 visa. The kicker is I’m still waiting for my contract to arrive in the mail, it should be any day now. My orientation is one week away and I will start my new contract at a new school March 26.
So, because my contract is not delivered yet and it is no good to me as I do not know where I will be teaching. If I don’t know where I will be teaching then I have no physical address in Korea. Two strikes and two days to fix this before my ARC is invalid, my recruiter told me to run to immigration and get a D-10 Visa, it’s a looking for work visa. It basically enables me to legally live in the country until I can find out where I will be going and can then change my visa over to an E-2 again. So if you are searching for information on the D-10 visa on the internet the prices have gone up effective January 1, 2014. The visa went from 50,000 won to 100,000 won, a 100% increase. It sucks to pay and it sucks to pay for another ARC card (because my address and visa changed) which is another 30,000 won. Roughly 130 give or take. (it is slightly less but I’m lazy at doing conversions.)
The process of changing it is rather simple though. I filled out the form provided by my recruiter for the D-10 Visa, but didn’t fill out the application which was fine as the woman gave it to me to fill out at the counter. If you are renewing you need your ARC, Passport, Passport size photos and the forms. Some people in the past have written about a letter of release (LOR), but I’m still waiting on mine and luckily I had a pdf of my NOA that hasn’t arrived in my email available if necessary. Supposedly before you get in line you are supposed to pay for the arc at the 우리은행 (woori bank) inside the Immigration office. I asked for help but could have done it myself if I had been told to go directly to the ATM. Basically you can use your card or cash to pay the fee. You put your passport down as the picture says and press the button that says ARC(외국인등록증) on it to process payment, you must keep your receipt. You also need to pay the fee at a small booth and the lady will give you stamps in place of your cash called 대한민국정부 수입인지 (this is what is written on the stamp.)
(These are what the stamps look like or something similar.)
You bring both the receipt and the stamps to the immigration person. I did this step after the fact as I did not know to do it first. The person helping you will wait until you have done this and come back to sit down. Many of the immigration officers speak English, I used mostly Korean to perform this process.
I am currently staying at my friend’s house and because of this I had to fill out a form for my residence. Normally the person you are signing with should be present when you are filling out this form. The lady told me to sign in her place and to bring her along next time when I come. I received a receipt with a date to pick up my card at immigration in 3 weeks or I can have it mailed to me. I didn’t pay for this, so most likely I will have to return on that day and do the process all over again. So in three weeks when I have my contract, NOA, and new address I can switch my visa to the E-2, pay another 100,000 won for the visa change, and another 30,000 won for another new ARC card which will take another 3 weeks to come back to me.
I found a few useful links about this process. If you are looking for which Immigration office you need to go to you can use this link. It is entirely in Korean, but it lists all of the immigration offices, click on the different cities/provinces to find the one closest to you. If you don’t know which one your school should know.
My friend wrote a post about her D-10 Visa process here. Her prices listed were before the new fee schedule was imposed.
HiKorea lists the new fees here.
ModernSeoul has a post on how to get to the Incheon Immigration Office here.
(This is what the Immigration Office looks like from the outside.)
I took a taxi and it was about 4,000 won each way.Just tell the taxi driver, “인천출입국관리 사무소 가세요.” If you don’t make it through the whole sentence don’t worry the taxi driver will probably know where you are going.
( The forms to fill out are located in the center of the 1st floor when you walk in the building. Go to the right if you are a non-Chinese immigrant. If you are Chinese, go to the left.) 우리은행 is located at the back of the 1st floor on the right side.
I will write more about the E-2 visa change when I go back to the Incheon Immigration Office.