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How To: Make Friends in Korea

Have you seen my last article? You can check it out here. As always, a large portion of your questions can be answered by going to my list of resources page here, or the contact page here. There are article-specific resources at the bottom of the page.

I love and advocate for solo travel, especially by millennials when at all possible, though one does have to recognize the unique barriers to entry that millennials, however, the hardest part of traveling alone is building a support system and a life that has meaningful relationships in it. Once the excitement wears off, being in Korea can be really tough if you don't make friends. Luckily for you, through trial error, I've learned some (almost) foolproof ways to make new friends while you are in Korea. While a few of these tips are generalizable, some of them are Korea-specific. Just remember if you're feeling really lonely, reach out to someone! You'll be surprised how compassionate people are, especially in your time …

How To: Get A Korean Visa From The U.S. In 7 Days




Hey there. Long time, no see. How have you been? I've been planning to move across the globe, what about you?

If you google processing times for a Korean Visa, you get a lot of blog posts from the Philippines discussing the several weeks wait time and using this website to check the status of their visa application. Wherever I looked, I couldn't find a single example of an individual from the U.S outlining their Korean visa experience. This wasn't surprising at all, as even talking to the one other American individual in my exchange student group chat, the requirements were different from one consulate to another. She needed a TB test and I didn't, she needed bank statements and I didn't. Then, there was the issue of should I apply in the state where I am a legal resident or the place where I currently live?

Here, is my student visa application experience, with a little advice. Please note, that just because this worked for me, it may not work for you. It appears that there are a lot of variations in the process not only between countries but consulate offices within the same country.

The Requirements

Here were the requirements I actually ended up needing:

  • The visa application (which you can find in the Resources section below)
  • Passport photos
  • Copy of my transcript from my home university 
  • The certificate of admission 
  • Certificate of business registration 
  • Passport
  • $45 (money order)
  • Pre-mailed envelope with tracking capabilities 
  • Flight Itinerary 
UPDATE: I was sent back one of the two passport photos, the academic transcript, and the copy of my high school diploma. That's not to say that this information wasn't used, but they did send them back.


So let's break this down some.

The Application


  • Be sure to write in all capital letters (block letters) and clearly. 
  • Section 1.7 National Identity Number do NOT put your social security number, leave blank. 
  • If you are reading this, you likely do not have confirmation of visa issuance so you may leave Section 2 blank. 
  • If you have a traditional passport, you should mark "regular" in section 3. 
  • In Section 4, make sure that your current residential address is within the jurisdiction of the consulate you're applying to. Not all cities have a Korean consulate general. For section 4.1 I put my legal address, the one that matches my license. For the current residence address in section 4.2, I put the address to which I want my passport with the visa stamp sent. This is the consulate you send your application and supplemental documents to. For example, if your immediate family lives in Kentucky where you grew up and where your legal address is, put your Kentucky address for section 4.1. However, if you now got to school in Los Angeles, put that address and send your documents to the consulate general office that serves California(which is divided by county) which you can find in the Resources section below.
  • For Section 9.4, you may use the address of whatever office you've been in contact with in Korea. I used the office of the international student office
  • For Section 9.7, I listed one overnight trip I took to Windsor. I go to Canada all the time but did not list trips where I did not stay overnight. I don't necessarily suggest this, but it's what I did.
  • For Section 10.1, the amount needed for your stay is outlined on your certificate of admission
  • For Section 10.2, I listed myself, my mother, and my home institution. I included an unofficial printout of my scholarship information, though I do not know if this was necessary.




The Certificates and Passport Photos

   The Certificate of Admission is essentially an acceptance letter that also outlines your financial standing with your home university and Korean university including your costs which you'll need for your visa application. I received my certificate of admission from my Korean University very late, as there were issues with it needing to be signed for and then it got lost in the mail.
   Passport photos are pretty standard and you should be directed, but please make sure to take off your glasses and jewelry. Religious garb can be worn as long as you wear it on a day-to-day basis.
   The certificate of business registration is a form sent to you by your host institution that essentially shows that they pay taxes. I got mine from another exchange student and it was accepted. They aren't personalized in any way with your name or anything, just shows their tax id.

Transcripts

   While some consulates outline that the transcript must be sealed from your University, I used my school's online transcript request form and included the transcript emailed to me, which was accepted. I'll talk about why that may be in a second, but just know that I did include it.

Envelopes, Flight Itinerary and Money Order

   I know it's scary, but make sure that you put insurance on your envelopes going both ways. Put enough insurance to cover re-applying for a passport expedited and cover the $45 money order which should be addressed to the Korean Consulate General. Print off your flight Itinerary whose dates should correspond with the dates you have on your application. If you don't have a return flight, don't worry. Make sure the return envelope is through something like FedEx or UPS and includes a tracking number and insurance. Postage must be paid and the return envelope addressed. The Consulate should just have to drop your passport in and seal the envelope.












Things I Didn't Need

   I did not have to include a bank statement with my application, nor did I include a TB test. Though my American friend had to include both and it is loosely outlined on some consulate sites that both of these things are required for some schools. You can see pictures from the consulate offices in Chicago (lower image) and in Atlanta (higher image). They have two totally different sets of information, however, my application process was more like the Chicago consulate than the Atlanta consulate. If your school is one of the hundreds of schools that are certified by the consulate you do not have to include the bank statement, TB test, or the official transcript. This list of schools is something you have to call to confirm, which I did and my Korean University was on. Please please please call your consulate and do the same. My American friend, who applied in person, was directly told that she would need documents I didn't need, though she didn't say what school she was going to, so she may not have needed them either. 

The Wait Time

I sent my application via FedEx on August 5th, 2018, it was delivered by FedEx on August 6th, 2018 to the Korean Consulate. I was stressed about wait times so I did overnight it. During my waiting period, I came across the visa application status check website which, while working for the Filipino applicants I talked about earlier, did NOT work for me at any point. I called every day to check on my status, and the individual who could give me this information was never in the office. Very worrisome. Then, I received an email saying that my return envelope had been sent. I assumed my application was denied. I gave one last call, just to confirm that it was denied and talk next steps, and they almost laughed at me when they said that I was approved! I received that email on August 13th, 2018. From receiving my application to sending out my passport, the whole process took 7 days, which compared to my European and East Asian friends, was several weeks ahead of schedule.




My Biggest Tips

   My biggest suggestion is to call the consulate that serves your residence address and confirm that your school is on the list of certified schools. It will save you a lot of headaches. Always get insurance on your mail and don't try to use the online portal, even with the LAST NAME, FIRST NAME system. Be patient, and keep calling the consulate to check on your status. I got further when I spoke as much Korean as possible and formal variations thereof. You may not get as lucky as I did, so leave plenty of room to apply and re-apply if need be.

Good Luck
Myaia

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Comments

  1. Nice article! Thanks for this detailed information. I find this post very useful to me. Also, I would share it with my friends who are planning for a trip to Korea.
    Gregory Finkelson

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