Well next Sunday, August 19th, I will be boarding a plane to Seoul. Yes, I am going back to Korea to begin another adventure in teaching English. This time around I will be in a part of Seoul called Gangnam. I'm very excited to experience living in the city this time around, although I must admit I am quite worried about what my apartment will look like. I'm imagining something insanely small, but hoping that it will allow some natural light to come in.
Similar to the process I went through in 2008, getting my visa has NOT been easy. It seems like immigration is changing visa requirements everyday. In case you have stumbled upon my blog and have yet to go through the visa process, let me take you through the steps:
1. Get a federal criminal background check. You must obtain fingerprints (from any police department) and send them along with this application and $18 to CJIS. You can find all the info you need here. Now keep in mind that the process can take up to 8 weeks after the FBI receives your paperwork. Also, make sure you get your background check authenticated. You will need this for the Apostille. I also recommend sending a self addressed stamped envelope and spending the money to get this express delivered to you. I did not do this, and my first record check got lost. I had to pay to have FedEx overnight it to me.
2. Get an apostille on your background check. Once you receive your background check, you must send it to the US Department of State in D.C. They say the process takes about 10 days. You can get all the info here. FRIENDLY TIP: DO ALL OF THIS BEFORE YOU EVEN BEGIN LOOKING FOR A JOB!!!!!!! Many schools know that this is a long process and therefore will not interview you if you do not have this part completed.
3. Get a copy of your university diploma and get and Apostille from your secretary of state. Korea no longer wants your actual diploma, which is a good thing.
4. Once you are offered a job, you'll send all that paperwork, along with some passport photos (I had to send 5), your signed contract, a copy of your passport, and a completed medical form to your recruiter or school. When your school gets your paperwork, they will send it to immigration. You will get your visa issuance number in about 10 days.
5. After you get this number, you can head to your nearest Korean consulate to get your visa. They no longer do interviews, so if you have the time, you can do this through the mail. I went to NYC consulate and they needed official transcripts from my university, so make sure you have those on hand. I also had to fill out an application and pay $45. Once you apply, you can have you visa in your hand the next day.
6. Pack your bags and go! For your sake, I hope obtaining your visa is a lot easier than it was for me! :)