Every KGSP student who went through the one year language course like me would have to subsequently change their D-4 visa to D-2 visa. It may be a very tricky process especially for those who are planning to return to their home country or travel outside of Korea during the vacation period. But fret not, the International Office of your respective language and post graduate university will be there to advice you on the procedure. However, based on my personal experience Yonsei University does not offer any help to change our visa and ARC but I received some guidance and advice from the person-in-charge in our faculty. Most post graduate universities do not take charge in changing the visa on our behalf, but this differs by university.
This blog post will cover two aspects: visa and Alien registration card (ARC) change and house contract stamping process. It may be a very daunting experience for those who cannot speak and read Korean fluently because law and immigration related phrases tend to be more difficult and generally there are not many people who can speak fluent English (well, at least those I have encountered in my own experience). Best advice I could give is to ask for advice from your universities or seniors and ALSO doing your own research online to understand the process and required documentation to ensure a smooth and hassle free process.
Visa and Alien Registration Card change
Within 14 days after we shift to our new place, be it living outside in a one room like me or living in the dormitory, we will need to make a trip to the immigration office to change our address. So since we have to change our visa from D-4 to D-2 as well, we can just do it together by making a visit to the immigration office. As far as I know, there are 2 immigration offices in Seoul that covers different neighbourhoods so be sure to check which one your neighbourhood falls into on the immigration website first! For my case, I live in Mapo-gu so mine falls under Seoul Southern Immigration office.
Before heading to the immigration office to submit my documents, all of us had to go online and set an appointment at the immigration office home page (https://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/main_en.pt). This is a pretty easy step as the website is available in English. Remember to check the correct immigration office while setting the appointment! After keying all the personal information and selecting the time slot, there is a confirmation slip in which you are required to print out. I didn’t print mine so I just took a photo of it and I didn’t encounter any issues with that BUT some friends of mine who went to another immigration office HAD TO have the printed copy before her application can be processed. So it is better to be safe than sorry.
Pro tip 1: Based on personal experience, different immigration office and different immigration officers may have different required set of documents for them to process your application. I’m not sure what is the reason behind this but just to be safe, call up 1345 (immigration office hotline) to check on the list of documents required. I spoke to a lady who knew how to speak good English and she told me that I should bring the following:
- Original copy of passport
- Alien Registration Card (ARC) original
- Original house contract or proof of residence (if you are living in a goshiwon or hasukjib like my friend, they do not have any written contract as there is no deposit involved so you would have to download another form from the immigration website and fill that up)
- Transcript from language university (attendance and results, proof of completion)
- Printed and filled application form (download from immigration website) + passport size photo x1 (P/S: you CANNOT re-use the same photo that you are using for your current ARC. I found out about this in the immigration office and almost freaked out)
- Original copy of acceptance letter/ acceptance certificate from post graduate university
- For KGSP students – Scholarship certificate (by submitting this we will only need to pay 30,000 won to change our visa)
- 30,000 won CASH
On top of that, I also brought along the original copy of my Bachelor’s degree certificate and transcript and NIIED invitation letter just in case they may require it. But they did not request for mine so I did not have to submit them. But my Indonesian friend who was there with me has to submit a stamped copy of his Bachelor’s degree certificate and transcript. Hence, my advice is just to bring everything so that we don’t have to make another visit again.
In case you made a blunder like me regarding the passport photo, fret not as they have a photo booth that you can take and receive your passport sized photos instantly. It costs 8000 won for 6 pieces of photos. Also, you may be requested to photocopy some documents by the officer too. There is photocopying services next to the photo booth where we can photocopy our documents for a small fee (100won per piece). Next, we have to pay the 30,000 won via the bank ATM, which is also located right next to the photo booth. Over there, the bank staff will assist you in operating the ATM machine and they require your passport to scan while making the payment. Lastly, if you want the ARC to be sent to your house directly, you just have to pay an additional 3000 won to do so (which I did because it cost almost 3000 won for me to head back to the immigration office via bus anyway and I did not want to travel under the hot summer sun more than I need to)
So, after submitting all the required documents, it took about two weeks for my ARC to reach my house!
House contract stamping
Another important thing that I needed to do was to get my house (one room) contract stamped at a local court. My main purpose of doing this is to ensure that I can get my deposit back in case anything happens to the building (public auction etc). I went to a nearby local court (서울서부지방법원 Seoul Western District Court) to get this done. All the signage inside the court building is in Korean, so if you do not speak any Korean it is best to bring a Korean with you. Anyway, I went to the floor where they handle real estate registration (부동산등기). I went directly to counter 7 and told the staff that I need a 확정일자. Then, I just had to surrender my original copy of contract and paid 600 won to get it done! The whole process took about 10 minutes and it is a very simple procedure.
It may be a little daunting to deal with these paper work, especially if you are doing it alone. But I did everything myself and it went well as I did my homework and asked around before I actually went to the court and immigration office. I’m fortunate to have helpful Korean friends, university staff and also fellow scholars who helped me along the way. Hopefully this post will help those who would go through the same process like I did!