Monday, March 7, 2011

The process of the Visa

Well, it's finally here! I have been doing my paperwork for about 4 and a half months now. In November, I started my paperwork process to teach English in South Korea. I went to the local police station and got my fingerprints done (along with some awkward stares as to why a little girl with pigtail braids would be getting fingerprinted). I then sent my fingerprints along with the rest of the paperwork needed for the FBI criminal background check. From what I hear, starting January 1st, 2011, South Korea required a background check on the FBI level, instead of just the state level. I was told by the recruiter that all my paperwork would take about 1 and a half to 2 months to complete, so starting the process in November I figured would give me plenty of time to be done by mid-February. Wrong! My background check alone was said to take 12 weeks to complete. Luckily the FBI under promised and over delievered! My background check came on Christmas Eve, after about 5 or 6 weeks I believe. Merry Christmas to me! Now, this was one of the last pieces I thought I was waiting for so I scanned all my paperwork and sent it to the recruiter to look over. Well, boy was I wrong again! I needed to get a copy of my college diploma as well as the FBI criminal background check, that I just got back, apostilled. So, here I go sending my background check and my diploma copy back down to DC to get a little gold sticker put on them. This process was supposed to take 15 business days. When I got all my papers back they put an apostille on my background check, sent back my check for $24 ($8 each document and I had 3: background check and 2 copies of my diploma) and told me I needed to get my diploma copies done at the state level and resend them a check for the correct amount since I sent in too much money. What?! Exactly my thoughts. Unfortunately, at this time I was leaving for my 10 day trip to Israel, so, on the way to the airport I had to bring my diploma copies to the Hartford city hall to get my state level apostilles. Luckily this didn't take too much time and I received those little gold stickers and was ready to send my paperwork to Korea. Well, technically not me since I was in Israel, but luckily my mom was able to help me with this and sent all my paperwork to the recruiters in Korea. Now I just had to wait for the visa numbers.

Unfortunately, I ran into another problem. The Korean government wasn't going to issue a visa for a 3rd English teacher at Igen Star, where I was supposed to teach with 2 other Americans. Oh no, what do I do now? So, the recruiter informed me of the dilemma we had and thought it would be best to find another school while Igen Star tried to negotiate with the government. Well, I don't know how the negotiation went, but apparently not well because I had to go with the other school. It's not a big deal thought because I was found another kindergarten in the same city, Incheon. I signed the new contract  and then they sent my paperwork to immigration. Then about 10 business days later I got my visa number and would need to get a visa interview. Assuming the closest location was NYC I took the train in and also got to spend some time with my best friends from college! Win, win I'd say!

Above is the view from the Korean Consulate. I like how the MetLife building is showing in the background. I feel like it is the steps of my life or something like that. :)

I had a 2pm appointment with the Korean Consulate in NYC so I took the train to Grand Central station and walked from 200 Park Ave to 460 Park Ave. It was freezing cold this day in NYC, but it was nice and sunny so I couldn't complain. I went into the Korean Consulate, gave them all my paperwork and then they told me to have a seat and they would call me in for my interview. About 15 minutes later I was called into the back room and sat on the couch while a Korean lady asked me a few questions about why I was going to Korea, when I would be leaving and what I did in the time between graduating from college and now. She then said I would be allowed to enter the country and they would be issuing my visa. Good thing since I hadn't planned on failing the interview. Now, unfortunately, she didn't just issue the visa right here I had to wait a 24 hour period to pick up my passport.

Now, I just spent the day wandering the city. I enjoyed the rose exhibit on Park Ave and here are a couple pictures of it.

So, now as much as I did have a great time seeing my friends I guess this was a little more of a business trip than anything else. I did meet them on a Thursday and they are slaves to corporate America and students so we just grabbed some dinner and drinks at Otto Restaurant on 5th Ave and called it an early night, at least by NYC standards.

Come morning I did a little more wandering around NYC and then went to pick up my passport and took the train back to CT. Overall it was certainly a sucess in New York. Now that I have my visa, my plane flight will leave BDL at 8:30am on Tuesday and I will arrive in South Korea at 4pm on Wednesday afternoon. Will I sleep the next 2 nights or will my nerves get the best of me? :)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sara! My name is Nancy and my mom met your mom (at a quilting class, or something... does that sound right?) and they got to talking about their wonderful daughters of COURSE, and how I just finished my masters in teaching (MAT and I have a BA in English) and am very excited and confused about all that comes next. I'm not interested in teaching conventionally at this moment and am looking for some sort of travel experience where I will also be able to improve my teaching skills. I've been reading you blog and what you are doing sounds so awesome! Can you give me some more information/ insight to your program? If you want you can e-mail me at ... and add me on Facebook if you want (Nancy Ruth, Fairleigh Dickinsons network).

    All the best,