Today I got my Visa back from the Korean Consulate. I already began describing all the preparations that go into preparing for a trip such as mine, but receiving this reminded me of all the hard work that went into getting it.
After all my paperwork was gathered (detailed more in "Redtape"), I had to mail it all to my school in South Korea. I say it again, MAKE COPIES of your papers before you mail them! I mailed my stack of papers via DHL, and it cost $54 to send priority. Holy crap! It is worth it though, because once they receive the papers, the school must submit them, as well as their own paperwork, to the Immigration office. Immigration then reviews everything, makes sure I am not a criminal or a dropout, then gives the school back a visa-issuance number. That process took almost 3 week after the school received the papers. This is not even the last step! That's why I put a rush on the papers' delivery.
The waiting periods during this whole process are obnoxious. Waiting for the background check, waiting for the apostille, waiting for some approval, waiting for a signature. Now I have to wait for the country of KOREA to tell me it's okay that I come.
Finally, I got the email back from my recruiter giving me the issuance number. The email thankfully included lots of other documents about what to do from here. Basically, I fill out 2 more forms, pay some more money, and give the copies of everything as well as the documents to the Korean Consulate. I was extremely lucky because there is a Korean Consulate in Houston. I looked it up and there are like less than a dozen in the country, and one was 45 minutes from my house. Thank goodness! If I hadn't been able to drop my stuff off at the Consulate, I would have had to mail it in, and that just scares me. Lost mail, wrong or incorrectly filled out documents, etc. Yikes!
The funny thing was that when I took my paperwork to the Consulate, the processing guy told me that all he needed was the application, photo, and the money. (ps - here is where an additional passport photo is needed. You now have used 5/6 photos, 4 in the packet sent to Korea, 1 here) I thought it was hilarious that I went through all the trouble making sure I had copies of everything, gathering all of it up, and triple checking my checklist. He needed basically none of it. If I had mailed my application I would have included all this and they wouldn't have even needed it. So, at least now I still have copies of all my stuff (just in case!).
Once I submitted my application for the visa at the Consulate in Houston, it was ANOTHER waiting game. For one more time, I had to wait and hope they would not stamp my application with a big, fat "DENIED".
Four business days later, it was ready to be picked up. Unfortunately, it was ready about 7 hours after my flight left for Miami. Really?! Thankfully I have amazing parents who went to get it for me. :) They mailed it to me here in Miami since I will need it on my cruise in a few weeks. So, I finally laid eyes on my long-awaited Korean Work E2 Visa. Wow! All that hard work for a little sticker in my passport (granted, it is a badass sticker!)
Now I wait for my school to book my ticket to Seoul! I want to say this is my last step, but realistically it isn't. I still have to pack, take a lonnnnng plane ride, go through an extensive health exam, apply for an Alien Resident Card, go through orientation, and then actually begin learning how to do my job. THOSE are my last steps.... Ha!
But for now, I have an awesome addition to my passport. :)