Well I’m a bit behind where I’d like to be right now in getting over to Korea, but I’m still very excited about the process. I’ve finally got my visa process really rolling along now, but that still means it’s going to be anywhere from four to eight weeks before I have all of the documents I need for my work visa in hand. Luckily there are some pretty good silver linings to all this.
So the middle of last week I had my first interview with the recruiter I’m going through, and everything went really well. Unfortunately I kind of jumped the gun a bit as he thought I would be further along in the process to get my visa, but luckily he didn’t seem put off by it at all. He was pretty happy with my qualifications, and was particularly excited to hear that I played soccer in college which was a bit surprising. We talked about my preferences in where I wanted to live and what age group I would want to work with. I’m still very much up in the air on both accounts, but I gave him a general idea. Luckily he probably won’t start shopping me around to hagwons until I’m further along in getting my visa, so I have a bit more time to decide. He brought up the idea of doing a “visa run,” which is where I would come to Korea on a tourist visa and then once my visa was ready fly to Japan for a day to get my visa stamp. This would cut a couple weeks out of the visa process so I told him that I would definitely be down for that. I mean why would I turn down a paid trip to Japan? So we left everything a bit open, and he told me to get in touch with him when the FBI charged my credit card for my Criminal Background Check (CBC), so that he would have a better idea on when I would be fully ready to move abroad.
On Monday I went to a professional agency to get my fingerprints done so I could get everything mailed in for my Criminal Background Check with the FBI. I have read countless horror stories of people doing the fingerprinting themselves and the FBI sending them a letter back six weeks later saying that they were not able to read the fingerprints and that they would have to start the process all over again so I decided that it would be $20 well spent to just have a professional do it. After I got that done I got all of the paperwork filled out that I needed for the CBC and got it mailed off by priority mail to the FBI on Monday afternoon. Now all I have to do is wait six to eight weeks for them to mail me my results, so that I can then turn around and mail those to a courier service to get them apostilled (some fancy way of notarizing the document for international purposes) by the U.S. State Department in D.C. It is all kind of way too complicated a process, but I guess it serves a purpose to weed out anyone not fully invested in getting their visa. The only major complaint I have is that in order to get the CBC apostilled you need to have the FBI sign and seal the document before they send it back to you. Now in order to have them do this you need to included a note along with your application and fingerprint card saying that you are trying to get a visa to teach in South Korea and that you need them to prepare the document for an official apostille. Now it doesn’t seem like it happens all that often, but I’ve read that people included a note and that the FBI returned the results without signing and sealing it. When questioned about it they generally give a response along the lines of “the note must have fallen out of your file at some point.” If that’s the case that such a thing could happen, why don’t they just include a little check off box on the application that says “Check here if you need to get your results apostilled”?!? Sometimes it is really frustrating how inept the U.S. government is…
So now all I have to do is wait for all of this to get done so that I can fly over to Korea once I have all the documents I need in hand so that I can do this “visa run.” Well as it turns out that’s not entirely true. I was doing a bit of research and found out that for your first visa you have to be in your home country to complete the process, i.e. I can’t make a “visa run” to Japan to complete the process. In order for me to do a “visa run” I would have to fly to Guam which is technically U.S. soil to complete the process and get the stamp in my passport. So it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility, but it makes it highly unlikely that I will get to go over early and then do the visa run later. But I am staying positive and looking at the bright side of things. This means I get to spend a little more time with my family before I go, and during the holidays no less which will be awesome. It also gives me that much more time to prepare for the move. So everything is still looking up, and I can’t wait to get over there.