40 Days in Korea: Preparation – Korean Visa Brouhaha

I know it’s difficult for a Filipino to get a tourist visa. Just like what they say, “Been there. Done that.” I had my share of troubles in getting my Taiwan visa last 2010. I was going to Taiwan for a Kim Sun Ah fan meeting. I just quit my job because it was the year I decided to go back to school. I have prepared all the needed documents but I had to go back and forth because they keep requesting for more supporting documents, specifically financial supporting documents – even though I’ll just be there for 2 days and have a proof that I’ll be attending an event. Anyway, I eventually got my Taiwan visa the day before my flight and after many hair-pulling moments!

So I never attempted to get a Korean visa.

Even if I’ve always been wanting to go to Korea. Even if I’ve always wanted to attend Kim Sun Ah’s birthday party every fall. Even if I’ve always wanted to support Kim Sun Ah’s drama or movies when they are shown. Even if there were unbelievable low ticket prices during seat sales. I know I will never ever be able to get a Korean visa. Probably not until I graduated and got myself a stable position in one of the top 100 companies in the country and my savings in my bank account reached 7 digits and got myself an apartment and a car and a family. But while I’m still a student who’s only working part-time with almost zero savings (not just on my bank account but on my wallet too) and supporting my family and myself I will never ever get a Korean visa.

But this exchange student program came. Thinking that I’m gonna be studying in Korea I foolishly believed that it’s going to be easy to get a visa.

So, after buying plane tickets, I carefully prepared all the required documents. As of last month the listed requirements were: Passport, invitation letter from the Korean University, proof of enrollment in home university, birth certificate, fully accomplished application form, birth certificate and proof of financial support from parents (bank certificate, employment certificate, ITR).

I prepared the following documents (and added some for good measure): Passport, acceptance letter from the Korean university, invitation letter from the Korean university, certificate of enrollment from my home university, registration form from my home university, true copies of grade from my home university, birth certificate, application form (where I specifically indicated that it’s going to be myself and the Korean university who will be financing my trip), MY bank certificate (with a generous amount of money – thanks to a good neighbor who helped me gather funds), MY wage certificate (from my part-time job), my plane tickets (specifically the return ticket).

I did well, right?

That’s what I thought too!

When I went to submit my application to Window 1 (new applicants), I was asked to submit a copy of my school id, the school permit of some university in Korea (Note: He didn’t say 전남. He said some other university’s name, I swear!), my parent’s bank certificate and certificate of employment.

I knew it! I just knew it that they are not going to make it easy for me. I dunno, but somehow I felt like I will not be able to get my visa easily. I just knew it.

I didn’t argue with the name of the university anymore and I didn’t bother pointing out that it’s ME spending for my trip and not my parents (and that I am from a single-parent family and there’s no way to get my father’s documents and my mom doesn’t have a job nor a bank account). I can easily have my school id copied, but I definitely have to go back anyway since I need the school permit from Korea.

I asked some other exchange students from our university before and was told that window 1 is actually notorious for asking whatever documents he wants to ask. I understand that. What I don’t understand is why he is not reading the documents submitted to him. Aside from asking for my parents documents when it’s indicated that it’s me financing my trip, he said my university’s name incorrectly even if Cheonnam National University is one of the famous universities in Korea, and he asked for my birth certificate while he was holding it!

I was kinda pissed off at that time. And it’s not as if going to the embassy is easy. Their location is very far and is not very accessible!

Thinking about it now, it doesn’t look so bad anymore. But I remember that time I even declared a silent war with Korea because I was totally pissed off. Maybe due to too much stress at that time too.

Anyway, I went back after getting the additional documents that were asked of me. This time I went to Window 2 since I really don’t want to see Window 1 anymore. Windows 2 was better. She carefully read each of the documents I submitted. And she didn’t ask for my parents documents anymore, simply because she read my application form. HOWEVER, she asked for the MOU between my home university and CNU! Where did it come from? A few hours earlier than me another schoolmate, whose gonna be on a different program, actually submitted his application too and was not asked for it. Also my schoolmate who’ll be with me on the same program have submitted hers and was not asked for such additional documents.

I told our program coordinator and she was also a bit annoyed. She doesn’t want me to go back and forth the embassy. So we asked help from a friend from the same university who’s working at another division of the embassy. She is not related to the visa division but since she works nearby, the document needed was forwarded to her. That way I don’t have to go back to school to pick it up. But my generous friend also offered to submit my documents on my behalf instead since it’s already cut-off time (instead of me going back to the embassy again).

So eventually, after all the brouhaha I got my visa after a week. Just 2 days before my flight. Stressed!

 

6 thoughts on “40 Days in Korea: Preparation – Korean Visa Brouhaha

    • Yes! It was traumatizing! I’m glad I didn’t blog on that day because I swear I would’ve said something not nice. I even thought of just giving up because I soo hate the experience. But now that I’m here and happy, it’s easier to blog about it.

  1. I don’t know why customs and immigration officers are usually so mean and unhelpful. They should just do their job nicely, it’s just a job! So awful to keep asking for more and more ridiculous documents that weren’t mentioned in the first time. Anyway great that you finally managed it.

    • After thinking about it, I realized that probably the reason they were asking for more documents than what was on the list, is to make sure that all the documents are authentic. I mean, if they list everything they wanted the ‘con artists’ will have time to prepare / forge all the documents. But when they ask for something not on the list, if all your documents are authentic, then it may require more effort to get them and bring them to the embassy again, but it’s possible. The con artists will need time and won’t be able to produce documents right away. idk. imo. because a friend who presented her medical certificate was suddenly asked for the results when it was clear that only the medical certificate is needed. Then I realized, it’s easy to fake a medical certificate. If your medical certificate is real, you can bring the results right away if they asked for it. If the medical certificate is fake, then it’ll take a lot of time for you to prepare fake results for it as well. So maybe that’s why, part of their job, is to ask for more documents that are not on the list, to prove whether your documents are authentic. O.o

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