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Furious. Frustrated. Jaded. Piss-poor negative and tempted to risk unauthorized visa extensions. This is how many (Daegu) NETs were feeling at the recent email that went out from DOE’s notifying them of the new visa extensions regulations. Produce apostilled diplomas and now, a FBI criminal background report from abroad?! Messages on Facebook circulated around in various EPIK Daegu forums from interpretations of the regulation’s wording, fears that we weren’t given enough time to meet deadlines, rumors of how other district NETs (outside of Daegu) were going about it, to “My co-teacher said…” Though the regulations were written in English, reading it was only leading to more confusion. Personally, my head hurt. We were feeling all too helpless and our Daegu DMOE wasn’t responding to our many questions.
If you’re wondering… there’s good news ahead and we finally received a second email from our DMOE clarifying the actions we need to follow if we’re renewing a contract, changing schools or leaving after contract is up. Maybe the Korean Department of Ministry and the Korean God of visa extensions aren’t evil. Maybe….
The following is the letter we’ve just received from our DMOE in Daegu. While I am still digesting it, I thought I’d post it ASAP. While this letter is from the Daegu DMOE, I know many NETs outside of our district are feeling a similar frustration and perhaps this might lend some information to help unscramble a bit of the confusion. Here it is:
Oct 20, 2010
Greetings. For the past couple of weeks, the coordinators’ office has contacted different levels of Korea Immigration Service to obtain more and accurate information about the change in E-2 issuance policy. I visited Daegu Immigration Office and confirmed the below policy is being applied to DMOE teachers. I will try to elaborate the policy as much as possible so please read this email carefully and thoroughly.
***For Canadians. Please be advised that when I say apostilled diploma and CRC, it would be a Korean embassy verified diploma and CRC.
For the E-2 visa holding foreign language instructors who are currently residing and working in Korea, one application for the change in the status of sojourn (extending the duration of E-2 Visa, changing workplaces, changing schools, etc…) will be accepted and granted by submitting only the documents that were required before the change in September, 2010. (One-time exemption)
1) Status of sojourn
After the E-2 visa was issued to you and you registered with the Immigration Office (when you obtained your ARC), you submitted documents to register information such as who you work for(DMOE contract) and where your work place is(your school’s business registration). In turn, the Immigration Office gave you a period of time during which your E-2 visa is valid and you can stay and work in Korea. Who you work for, where you work, and how long you are going to work in Korea are some elements of your status of sojourn.
2) Application for the change in the status of sojourn
You need to report and submit an application to make a change in your registration and status of sojourn to the Immigration Office if:
a) your employer changes (if you finish the contract with DMOE and begin working somewhere else)
b) your work place changes (if you change to a new school)
c) you have additional work places (if you are to work at another school in addition to the school you initially registered as your workplace), or
d) you need to extend your visa period in order to complete the contract.
These 4 cases are what generally apply to DMOE teachers.
*** For most teachers, only case d) applies.
– If you are not renewing with DMOE in February 2011 or August 2011, you will be able to extend your E-2 visa until the last day of the contract without submitting the apostilled diploma and the apostilled central government level CRC, under the condition that you do not apply for a change in the status of sojourn between September 2010 and when you apply for E-2 extension.
– If you are renewing with DMOE in February 2011 or August 2011, you will be able to extend your E-2 visa until the last day of the new contract without submitting the apostilled diploma and the apostilled central government level CRC, under the condition that you do not apply for a change in the status of sojourn between September 2010 and when you apply for E-2 extension. If you apply for a change in status after commencement of the renewed contract, you must submit the apostilled diploma and apostilled central government level CRC then. If you are interested in transferring to another school within Daegu, you will indicate your interest and request at the time of renewal application which is 2 to 3 months before the last day of your current contract. Your placement will be finalized before the renewal contract signing day so please remember to obtain and bring the business registration document of your new school to the Immigration Office when you extend your visa. (This will allow you to avoid applying for the changes in status twice hence avoid submitting the two documents for longer period.)
3) Documents required to apply for a change in status of sojourn before September 2010. (The “old” required documents)
: passport, ARC, application form, original copy of the contract, business registration paper of your school, application fee
Next time you go to the Immigration Office to apply for a change in status of sojourn, the clerk will inform you of the change in required documents and that the apostilled diploma(or KCUE verification) and apostilled CRC are required to make any change in the future, verbally or in writing. This will be the formal notice and the fact that the notice was given to you and you confirmed your understanding of the change will be left in record in the database, on the paper or electronically. From then on, when your record on the database is opened, it will indicate that you have been notified and you confirmed your understanding of the new change, and your application for a change in status of sojourn, including extension of E-2 visa, will not be granted without submitting the apostilled diploma(or KCUE verification) and CRC after the first visit.
1) Depending on where you applied for your E-2 visa, the documents you have submitted when you first applied for it may have been scanned and saved on the Immigration Service database. If you bring your ARC and passport to the Daegu Immigration Office, they are able to bring up your record and see if your documents are electronically stored. (They do not provide this service over the phone.) If the Immigration Office can confirm that you have submitted apostilled diploma and apostilled central government level CRC, you may be exempted from submitting new sets of documents. If your documents are stored in the database but they are not apostilled documents (notarized or original, etc.) or are non-central government level CRCs, you will not be exempted from submitting the documents to apply for a change in status of sojourn.
2) If you have visited the Immigration Office and registered and obtained ARC or applied for an extension or change in workplace after August 31st, you may have “used” your one-time waiver. Please confirm with the Immigration Office to make sure when you are expected to have the documents ready.
3) The CRC is valid only if it was issued within 6 months before the time of submission. If you happen to have an apostilled central government level CRC with you that was issued recently, please check with Daegu Immigration Office if you can submit it now to prove your clean criminal history before you came to Korea.
4) The various government agencies offering the Criminal Record Check(ex. FBI for US and RCMP for Canada) may offer a “verification” service such as a signature, stamp, or seal. Some embassies and foreign ministries will not aposotillize the CRC without this verification, so please look accordingly.
Answers to questions that were asked multiple times by NETs
1) Can Korean CRC be submitted instead of one from my home country?
You have been in Korea for past few months and years but it seems like the Immigration Service would like to have a criminal history check at the central government level before you moved to Korea, so no, Korean CRC is not accepted.
2) Can fingerprinting for CRC application be done in Korean police station?
Yes, I have talked one DMOE native teacher who already have obtained a set of fingerprints taken at Daegu Dongbu Police Station. He printed and brought fingerprint form from the FBI website and was able to get the fingerprinting done. The FBI fingerprint form can be obtained at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks/standard-fingerprint-form-fd-258. A South African teacher also forwarded a set of emails she exchanged with SA embassy and confirmed that the South African fingerprint form can be obtained from the embassy’s website and have fingerprinting done at a Korean police station as well.
For Canadians, this link http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cr-cj/c216-eng.htm provides information on what fingerprint forms to use. Some countries don’t require fingerprints for criminal record checks, so please check accordingly.
I searched and found out that there are some big police stations in Daegu and since Bukbu, Seobu, Jungbu, and Nambu Police Station are at the same level as Dongbu Police Station, they would provide the fingerprinting service as well. I could contact individual police stations and confirm this but I did not want to hold this e-mail until I confirm all that to avoid further delay. (Thank you Daniel, Jeffery, and Allison for sharing the information.)
3) Can we get our co-teachers’ help in obtaining the fingerprints?
I looked into the process and it seems like Korean translation would be needed for visits to Police Stations. I will ask and see if there is a way for DMOE to ask for co-teachers’ cooperation formally. If you cannot schedule a visit together soon, obtaining a letter from your co-teacher explaining what kind of service you need could also be a way.
4) Can we get “temporary extension of stay” instead of renewing E-2?
No, I checked with the Immigration Service and this is a serious offence against the immigration law since it is illegal to work and earn money on a tourist’s visa in any country. Hopefully, this question was indirectly answered or is not concerned by many of you now since the first application for change in status does not require the apostilled diploma(or KCUE verification) and CRC. In addition, temporary extension of stay is for stay after the end of your contract period. Most of your contract ends on February 25 or August 25. It is not likely that you will be able to exit the country before midnight of those days and maybe you would like to stay a little longer for travels, packing up, or simply because you could not find a flight. If you are not renewing, when go to the Immigration Office to extend your E-2 until the last day of the contract, bring your flight ticket(no extension without flight ticket) and they will give you “temporary extension of stay” for maximum of 30 days from the day after the last day of the contract.
In summary. The immigration office will not require you to submit an apostilled diploma and criminal record check the first time you change the status of your E-2 Visa since September 2010. So for most of you, if you decide to renew your contract and extend the duration of your E-2 Visa, you will be exempt from submitting the new documents. Some of you may have used the one time waiver already if you applied for a change in status or registered with the Immigration Office after September 2010. You are required to submit the documents the second time you change the status of your visa.
I hope all this information lifts burdens off many of you. Let’s take time and find out more information and maybe we can work on creating a step by step “manual” for obtaining documents ready from each country. The change was sudden and I do not personally agree with all the policies and regulations that I need to face in Korea. However, I just try to look at them as obstacles I have to go through to live in a foreign country. I will continue to work on gathering information and if you find out more information and would like to share them with other teachers, please let me know.
Just for clarification, the documents you submitted to EPIK was for employment purpose only. In order to hire instructors, EPIK had to know who you are and what qualifications you have. Immigration Service is under Ministry of Justice and going through their verification is for obtaining working+residing status / permit in Korea.
Thank you for reading this long e-mail. I hope it helped everyone in certain way. Have a nice day, everyone.
Ji Won Shin
Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education
Namgu Daemyeong 2 Dong 1819-37
Daegu, South Korea
Tel: +82-053-606-6583 (Ji Won Shin)
+82-053-606-6585 (Jae Jin Yang)
Updates as of 10/25/10:
For NETs who need to their FBI criminal background check for extension:
FBI Background Check Walk Through For E-2 Visa Holders (via the waygook effect)
- Just Show Me Pictures! When your Expat Honeymoon Fades (Pt II:Visa Extensions & then…Korea again) (grrrltraveler.com)