The taxi ride took longer than it would take me to hand over my documents to an immigration official to get my updated Alien Residence Card and to be good to go for another year.
In this case, good to go for my 21st year teaching in Korea.
In this past, at least the first couple of years I was in Korea, it was an ordeal to have to go out to the immigration office in Mok-dong (when I lived in Seoul). Back then, it could anywhere from a week to ten days to extend one’s sojourn. Now, it takes no more than 10-15 minutes.
Fortunately, I was able to dodge another bureaucratic bullet—a mandatory criminal background check—for another year. Even though I had an FBI criminal background check done in 2008, last year a law was passed, which made it mandatory for all E-2 Visa holders to submit an FBI background check in addition to having copies of one’s diplomas certified with an apostille. After a number of English teachers got in trouble here with drugs and falsified documents, as well as a couple pedophiles caught teaching in Korea, the government cracked down with stringent Visa requirements.
Those of us already in Korea and whose contracts came up for renewal in 2011 were given a year’s grace period to have the criminal background check down. The reason? It takes time. It can take anywhere from 2-4 months to have an FBI background check and then, once you receive the document from the FBI, another month to send it back to the US State Department for the apostille.
I’ve already had my background check done (it took two months). Now, I have to send it to the State Department.
I know it seems a bit strange to have a background check done in the US when I have lived in Korea for 20 years. You just do what you got to do—even when it doesn’t make any sense.
The good news is that when you extend your sojourn, you don’t have to pay extra for the multiple re-entry permit (40.00). Now, you can come and go as you please. It only cost me 30,000 Won, about 25.00 to stay in Korea another year.
21 years. Who would have thought?