How to Sogang: Visa

This is the second part of my mini blog series to help you navigate the process of going to Sogang University’s KLEC General Korean (KGP200).

I’m trying to write this blog so that it will help everyone—not just others from the US, but the visa process is different from country to country and I can only speak for the process as a US citizen. So I apologize that this post might not be as helpful to non-Americans.


Tourist Visa

This is the most common and easiest-to-get visa used by the students studying at Sogang—even for the ones planning on staying for more than one session.

Pros:

  • don’t need to deal with the consulate
  • don’t need to pay any fees associated with getting with the visa
  • don’t need to worry about whether or not your visa will arrive in time
  • don’t have to worry about the process of getting an Alien Registration Card
  • don’t need to worry about informing the government every time you move hostels or apartments
  • you can leave the country

Cons:

  • you won’t be able to get an Alien Registration Card which is useful for online shopping and nice because you can frequently use that instead of a passport for official identification
  • you can’t get a part-time job
  • you need to pay for the plane tickets and related expenses for flying to another country and then back to Korea to get another tourist visa between sessions (if your country only allows you to stay in Korea for 30 days, you will have to do this also during midterm break as well)

Qualifications

  • People from most countries can enter Korea with just their passport.
  • So there is no need to do anything but book yourself a ticket to Korea and get a stamp in your passport at the airport when you get there.
  • Each country is different. Some are only allowed for 30 days, some for 90 days. If you’re from Canada, you can stay for 6 months. Make sure you know how long you are allowed to stay for whichever country you are from.
  • Make sure you arrive so that your visa will expire after the session is over.
  • After each session, there is about a week or so break before the next session starts.
  • When the session is over and before you tourist visa has expired, leave Korean and enter another another country. This does not have to be your home country. Most go to Japan or Hong Kong. Again make sure that you can enter said country with just your passport. (For example, Americans can’t go to China with just their passport but can go to Japan.)
  • When you return to Korea for the next session, you will get another stamp and be allowed to stay for another 90 days (or however long you are allowed to stay).
  • Again, make sure you reenter Korea at the right time so that your visa will not expire before the session is over.
  • You can repeat this for as many sessions as you wish to stay in Korea.

Student/D-4/6-Month Visa

If you really want to have a student visa or an alien card for some reason, here’s how you do that.

Pros: 

  • you can get an Alien Registration Card which is useful for online shopping and nice because you can use it in place of a passport for official identification frequently
  • if you renew it, you can ask for special permission and be allowed to get a part-time job

Cons:

  • you can’t leave the country
  • you have to deal with the consulate
  • work within the time crunch to get your visa
  • pay the fees associated with getting the visa
  • you must inform the Korean government every time you move house

Find Your Consulate

  • There are several South Korean consulates in the US, so make sure you find the one that is in charge of your district. On their websites, you should be able to find the visa application form. (There’s always the possibility of them updating/changing the form so I won’t upload it for you.)
  • If you are not American, then you will have to locate and contact the consulate that is right for you.

Filling out the visa application form.

Here are some things I know I had questions on when filling out the application form and the answers I eventually found out after googling intensely or wrangling the answers out of someone through multiple emails.

I apologize as this is really only relevant for Americans.

  • Rule of thumb: when filling out the visa, never leave anything blank. Always put a N/A.
  • 1.2 If you are not Korean, you can leave this part as N/A.
    • Explanation: This part is asking for you to write your name in hanja. Quick Korean lesson if you didn’t already know: Korea use to use adopted Chinese characters exclusively for their written language just like Japan. Eventually there was a Korean king named King Sejong who was like, “This is stupid. Chinese characters (hanja) aren’t phonetic and only the elite can read them.” So he invented hangul which is what Korean is written in today, and because it was so awesome, they put him on the 10,000 won bill and made an awesome statue with an awesome museum underneath in his honor in Gwanghwamun Square (which you should totally go see). So hanja is kinda still used but pretty much only in Korean names, so if you were Korean and had a Korean name, you would put your name in hangul in the other spaces and your name in hanja in this blank, but because you’re probably not Korean, put N/A.
  • 1.7 Your national identity number is just your social security number. Some of the consulates tell you not to put your SSN here. Make sure you check the website for your particular consulate.
  • 2 Visa Issuance Confirmation: You only need this if you have a sponsor which you don’t because you already paid tuition. So you can put N/A for everything.
  • 3.1 Passport type: If your American passport is the navy blue, it’s regular.
  • 7 Employment: Fill this out as to what your job is now. It doesn’t matter that you will likely have to quit your job to do this language school. Just put down whatever job you have right at this moment.
  • 8 Details of Sponsor: Put Sogang’s information in this part. (Their business registration number is 105-82-04568 though Sogang didn’t actually reply to my email asking about it until after I already sent the application. I just put N/A and it was still accepted, so you can do whichever. Their address is 35 Baekbeom-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul 121-742, KOREA; Their phone number is (82-2) 705-8088-9.)
    • If you’re confused about this whole sponsor thing, let me explain. You sort of have a sponsor, sort of don’t. A sponsor is someone who is guaranteeing the Korean government that you will pay your tuition, and if you don’t end up paying your tuition for some reason, your sponsor will pay for you. However, you already paid your tuition so you don’t really need a sponsor. However, Sogang gave you that Official Receipt which says at the bottom, “We hereby certify that the above mentioned person’s fee is as stated above.” So they (Sogang University) are guaranteeing you paid your tuition already which sort of makes them your sponsor. So you have a sponsor but sort of don’t. See what I mean? Ah, government.
  • 9.4 Address in Korea: If you don’t know where you will stay in Korea yet, just put “undecided.”
  • 10.1 Estimated travel costs: On your Certificate of Admission that you got with your official Sogang stuff, part 7 will show the breakdown of how much they estimate you will need for living expenses and tuition for 2 semesters. Because you already paid the tuition, you need to have whatever that leftover amount is in your bank statement. Put that amount here. (For example: If they estimate about $4,000 for tuition and fees, $4,000 for living expenses, and $2,000 for other, you would put $6,000 in this part.)
  • 10.2 c) If you’re paying for the costs yourself, just put “myself” again.

Photos

So now your visa should be filled out completely. Now you need to take care of those pesky photos.

  • Now, I believe a 2×2 passport photo is acceptable with this. However, you will have to pay something like $13 or something for two of them if you get them done at Walgreens or the post office or whatever. And the visa form does say to submit a 35mm x 45mm picture anyway.
  • So, I recommend going to visafoto.com to get your photos. You just need to upload a selfie of yourself with a straight face in front of a white wall, select the Korean visa option, and they’ll size it to the correct 35mm x 45mm for you. Make sure you uncheck the additional options (fix head tilt, fix background, etc.) or your photo will come out weird.
  • You pay $4.81 and instantly get both a download of a single picture as well as a set of four pictures that are easily printable on a 4×6.
  • Next all you need to do is print the 4×6 compatible option at Walgreens or CVS or something. It will cost you $0.29 + tax, and you can pick it up the same day usually within an hour.
  • (Keep in mind: if choose to stay long enough that you need to renew your D-4 visa, you won’t be able to use the same picture as you had last time.)
  • Pick up the photo, cut it out, and tape it in the appropriate space on your visa application.
  • Tada! You have your visa photo done for just over $5.

The money order!

  • This is something you can do at the bank with a teller.
  • Go to the bank and ask for a money order. They’ll tell you there is a fee. (PNC was $5.) Then they’ll ask you which account you want the money to come out of and how much ($45).
  • When you get the money order, make it payable to the Korean Consulate General.
  • Sign it
  • There are several different varieties of money orders apparently, but if there is only one blank for “address,” put your address (not the consulate’s).

Now to make copies!

  • Make copies of your Certificate of Admission, Certificate of Enrollment, and your Official Receipt.
  • Make copies of your first two passport pages. (The one that has your picture and the one that has your signature.)
  • You should probably make a copy of your visa form all filled out so if you renew your D-4 visa, you can fill it out faster.
  • Also make a copy of your money order. When you copy it, it will print with “void” written on it because of the magic of watermarks, so that you don’t accidentally think it’s the original somehow.

Now to send it off!

  • original Certificate of Admission (make sure you signed the part at section 10)
  • original Certificate of Enrollment
  • original Official Receipt
  • copy of your passport pages
  • your actual passport
  • the filled-out visa form with the 35mm x 45mm photo taped in the appropriate place on the first page
  • a recent, printed bank statement
  • your $45 money order made out to the Korean Consulate General
  • a second, self-addressed, prepaid envelope*
    • *If you don’t want to pick your visa/passport up at the consulate itself, get an envelope addressed to you and the appropriate stamps so they can send your passport and visa back. (I recommend using an envelope that is trackable.) I also recommend going to the post office yourself so they can make sure that everything is filled out correctly and that the correct postage is on the envelope.
  • Do yourself a favor and do not send this stuff in a normal envelope. Go to the post office and get yourself a priority mail envelope ($6.45) which will ship in 2 days and you can track it. This thing is gonna have your passport in it as well as other sensitive documents. You can’t afford to lose them.
  • Address it to the Korean Consulate that covers your area, and mail that sucker out.
  • In total, (including a second envelope) everything cost a total of $12.90 for me to send.
  • Make sure you keep your receipts because they will have your tracking numbers for your envelopes—both for the one that you are sending everything in initially and the one that the consulate will be sending back to you should you go that route.

The waiting game.

  • I sent everything on January 5th.
  • I received my passport/visa, original Certificate of Enrollment, and original Official Receipt back January 19th (15 days; 10 business days).
  • I did NOT get my original Certificate of Admission back.
  • I don’t know how typical this time frame is, so I would still apply for the visa with one month or two months gap before you need to be in Korea.

The visa itself.

  • Your visa is a sort of sticker thing attached to an entire page inside your passport—not a separate document.
  • If you’re getting a 6-month student D-4 visa, it should say you have a D-4-1 visa
  • Period of sojourn = how long you can stay in Korea before you have to go back home or renew the visa, which should be 6 months—long enough for 2 sessions if you’re getting that type of visa.
  • A D-4 visa is a student visa and so is a single-entry visa meaning that you can only go to Korea and stay there—unfortunately you can’t leave Korea to fly over to Japan for a weekend or something. (If you want to change that, you can do so at the Immigration Center later on when you’re in Korea. I think the fee is 120,000W.)
  • The final entry date is the latest you can wait before using your visa to get into Korea, which should be about four months from when your visa was issued. This is NOT when your visa expires. (Your visa will expire in 6 months.)

Woohoo! You did it! Feel that relief wash over you! Now that that’s out of the way, you’ll need to figure out flights and a place to stay!

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