header for study abroad 4: ARC rundown

Ahhhhhh, I was going  to talk about the visa extension process and other Visa additions in South Korea, but then I realised I hadn't even gone through the absolutely fabulous and fun adventure time that is Acquiring the Alien Registration Card. Basically that thing that identifies you as Really F*king Foreign (in case your face didn't make that obvious enough), and is a requirement to keep on your person at all times.

It's also really useful to use as Valid Identification when clubbing so you don't have to bring your passport! (Which can be really embarrassing if it's in a cute passport holder, like mine.)

But yes, the process that is getting your Alien Registration Card - if this is something that will, at any point, apply to you, you may want to clicky-clicky.


Let's start by covering a few basic questions:

When would you need to get an ARC?
If you're planning to stay longer than your country's designated tourist period. (For the UK that is 90 days - this really does vary from country to country, e.g, you Canadians get 6 months.) If you're planning to work out here, study out here, basically spend a prolonged amount of time in South Korea.

What is it/does it do?
Identifies you as foreign, for a start. Other administrative type things include: notifying the Korean Government that you are in the country by way of databasing you; acts as your visa  (this is SUPER IMPORTANT);  valid ID; allows you to register for a bunch of fun stuff like Gmarket and other Korean websites.

Is it really necessary?
YES. It really is. Like legal requirement necessary. Immigration laws necessary. When I say it 'acts as your visa', it basically notes the time when you should leave Korea, which usually does not match up with the date on the visa in your passport. It's super important to remember this date. Oh and, once you get your ARC, your visa in your passport is basically just for show. Your ARC becomes your visa. So yup. Super Important.


Okay, so basics covered, the next thing is about application. As I am a student, I can't really go about telling you how to get your ARC pertaining to work related business, (I think you need some stamps), but I can enlighten all you students here on study-abroad sessions or studying full time here in Korea.

There are a couple of immigration offices (you may see this referred to as 'immi' by some forums/blogs), and which one you go to depends on where you live. If you live around Yonsei (basically the sodaemun-gu area), then you lucky people get to travel to the South Seoul Immigration office in Omokgyo. [Exit 7, walk straight for about 10 minutes, just follow the road/other foreigners.]


To successfully obtain your ARC, you will need: a variety of things. This includes your passport, school acceptance certificate (a photocopy is ok), a photocopy of your passport, a photocopy of your visa, an application form (they have them at the centre), 20,000w in cash, a long-term/permanent address, a 3.5cmx4.5cm coloured, passport style photo, and a whole day. This process takes aagessssss. Go early, like, super-keener levels of early. The earlier you get there, the earlier you leave.


When you arrive, if you're going to the centre in Omokgyo, go to the 2nd floor and get a ticket from the machine. The options are 'non-chinese application', 'chinese national application' and two others that aren't relevant right now. Beside each option there's a little box that tells you how many people are waiting in the queue. The number on the ticket is your queue number.


If you haven't got an application form on you, go to the desk and grab one, and fill it in to the best of your ability. If you haven't photocopied your passport, there's a station towards the back of the room, but there will be a queue, and a fee - I think it's still 100won per sheet.

Next, go and pay your application fee! YOU MUST DO THIS BEFORE YOUR NUMBER IS CALLED OTHERWISE YOU GET SENT BACK TO THE BEGINNING. Yeah, one of the kids I know didn't know that and spent even longer than the 5 hours we did at the office. Take your 20,000w in cash to the big blue machine, the staff there will do everything for you, so it's really not complicated at all. You just have to wait a bit before you go and take your documents to the desk. Before you take your documents. BEFORE. Say it with me: b-e-f-o-r-e you get to the desks. No really. B E F O R E.

(You'll thank me.)

So with everything filled in, photocopied and paid for, now's the time you wait. I was lucky and had my psp with me so got to game a little bit through the tedium that was the 5 hour wait 'till my number got called. After that it was about 5-10 minutes to process everything, print of the little 'return collection' ticket -keep that safe- and say thank you, see you in a week-ish. All that waiting for about 7 minutes face time. I all but ran out of the office.

But yeah, that's the process. It mainly consists of a lot of waiting, a lot of panic that somehow, even though you got your visa, they'll still reject you somewhere because some document is wrong. Don't worry though, if you have everything you need, you're all set. Just bring food, snacks, entertainment - anything so you won't go stir crazy and have to watch the same 4 news stories repeat/ listen to crying children.

Collection is a lot easier. Just take your receipt, grab a 'Card collection' ticket at the machine and wait for your number. Takes about 10-15 minutes.

Hopefully this didn't scare you too much. The process itself is really very simple, there's just a lot of time standing around doing nothing which is the frustrating thing. I wish you luck, if you're applying any time soon.



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