The first step is to get a medical check. You can read more about our experience with that, here.
Then, assuming you’ve passed and the hospital has processed you, you’ll receive 2 things – your test result form and a sealed envelope. You may be able to get them mailed to you, but we went back to the hospital about a week later and picked them up.
The third step is to go to your local Immigration Office and fill out an application form. An E-2 Visa application form to be precise. (We went to the Suwon Immigration Office because it was the nearest one to our little city, Suji-gu). You will need information from your passport so bring it with you, along with a passport photo. Our school Director came with us to help with translation, but thankfully there were English forms for us to use. There are even example forms to look at for help.
Attach your passport photo to the application form. There’s a little area in the top right/left corner of the form marked “photo,” and there should be a glue stick somewhere near the table where the application forms are located. Although I’m sure if you aren’t able to glue it, the lady at the counter will do it for you. It’s not like everyone carries a glue stick around with them!
Then, take a number and wait. And wait. And wait… It took nearly 3 hours to finally make it up to the counter! It was worse than an American DMV, and I didn’t even think that could exist, haha. Our tummies were rumbling, so we walked down the street to eat lunch at a sit-down restaurant. Only five people had been processed while we were gone.
While you’re waiting, find a payment kiosk and pay the processing fee. It gave an option for English, and it was really easy. You just put your passport onto the glass scanner and follow the directions. It scans your passport and brings up your information. You confirm that the information is correct, choose how you want to pay (credit/debit didn’t seem to work, or maybe our Director’s card wasn’t working, so we were forced to pay with cash), put in the money (it was 30,000 won), and keep the receipt it prints out.
*Sidenote: our Director told us it was 20,000 won last year (October, 2013), so I wonder how often they raise the fee.
There was another kiosk where you can pay to have the Alien Registration Card (or ARC) mailed to you. I think we paid 4,000 won each.
Also, take this time to make a photocopy of the visa stamp inside of your passport. There was a photocopier in the building we went to. Our school Director had to make a quick copy because he mistakenly made a photocopy of the main page of our passports when he should have had a photocopy of the Korean visa stamp. He ran away and came back to the counter about 90 seconds later. I think it was less than 300 won per copy.
When you finally get called to the counter, you will need to hand over:
- the completed application form, along with your passport photo (glued/attached)
- the sealed envelope and the test result form from the hospital
- a photocopy of the visa stamp inside your passport
- and the receipt from the payment kiosk
Then, you wait about 3 weeks to receive your ARC. It’s the size and weight of a typical American driver’s license. It has your picture and lists your name, ARC#, country of origin, and the type of Visa you have.
If you didn’t pay for it to be mailed to you, you would have to go back to the Immigration office to pick it up.
That was our experience! If you went through something different, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below 🙂