Got My Visa…Now What?

After you land in Korea (or in my case, get back into Korea), you aren’t quite done with all the immigration stuff. As if everything you’ve done thus far wasn’t enough, you have 90 days after you enter in the country to apply for your Alien Registration Card (ARC). This is basically your identification for your stay in Korea that you are required to keep with you at all times.

To apply for it, you must go to your immigration office. A list of those offices can be found here (sorry, it’s in Korean). In addition, you’ll need to bring a few things with you:

  1. Passport
  2. 1 color photo (3cm x 4cm)
  3. The application form
  4. Application fee (KRW 20,000)*
  5. Employment verification letter (재직증명서-Jae Gick Jeung Myeong Seo)
  6. Copy of school registration (사업자등록증 – Sa Up Ga Deung Rok Jeong or 고유번호증 – Go Yoo Bon Ho Jeong)**
  7. Medical test result (inculding HIV and TBPE test)

Something to note about number seven is that as of recently, you can only go to immigration-approved hospitals for your medical check. My recruiter’s website has a list of that here. The fee for this ranges anywhere from KRW 65,000 to 120,000 or more. It would be beneficial to call around a check (especially if you have a Korean willing to do this for you). I learned that ladies, make sure you go when you are not having your monthly visitor, and everyone should try not to eat at least eight hours before you go in.

At the Immigration Office

Your health check will take a couple of days to get back, so keep that in mind. After this, make an appointment or just head up to the immigration office for your area. It might be hard to get an appointment without an Alien Registration Number, so your first wait might be a doozey. Anyways, for me, a man who works at my hagwon took me and after a long, uncomfortable ride there, an hour and a half wait, it took 5 minutes. No one said a word (more awkwardness). My fingerprints were taken. Basically, my hagwon’s guy gave him the health check, the payment, and application. He stamped a bunch of papers, gave him a receipt, and went back. I was shown a date for some three weeks later which I think is when I should get it. I have read that it is no longer a speedy process since ARC cards are sent somewhere to be process instead of done on site. Bummer. Looks like I won’t get a bank account before my first pay check!
Oddly, my hagwon’s guy kept my passport for the weekend, which made me extremely uncomfortable. In Korea, a police officer can ask to see your passport at anytime and if you cannot produce it, you face deportation. Just like back home in Georgia, carrying I.D. at all times is a must, which I adamantly followed. Same with Korea. So… I am carrying my extra copy of the passport page I had with me from my visa run.

Useful numbers and websites for teachers

  • Website for Korean immigration: http://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/index.html
  • Immigration call center: Dial 1345

*********************************************************************The fee increased from KRW 10,000 to KRW 20,000 as of Jan 1, 2013
** You need this for public schools as well

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