As it was the ending of my third year working in Seoul and for ChungDahm, it was time for me to make my dreaded one hour trek to the Seoul Immigration Office. For many first timers going to any immigration is a daunting task. Trying to get the right information prepared before going in itself is an event. So here is some advice that can help make this process as smooth as possible.
First, the Seoul Immigration Office is near Omokgyo Station (purple subway line #5). It is outside of Exit #7 and it’s about a 10 minute walk away from the subway. Many teachers have gotten lost and decide to take a taxi the short distance to get there. If you stick to my directions, you should get there correctly. Stay on the side of the exit and continue to walk until you see an Audi car dealership. It’s about 5-7 minutes away from the station; if you see it, then you are almost there. Once you turn the corner of the dealership, you should see the end of the street. Cross that street and head left. You will see the Seoul Immigration Office on your right hand side. There are a few signs that will guide you the right way. When I first went, there were a bunch of American and Canadians standing outside the exit so we all decided to go find the place together.
Upon entering the building, go to the offices on your right hand side. You will see a kiosk/ticket distributor that will give you your assigned number. The first clients are called at 9:00 AM but the doors to the immigration office open around 8:30. Try to get there before 9:00 so that you can get out of there quickly. If this is your first time going for your Alien Registration Card, allow yourself about an hour to an hour and a half to have the process completed. If you are going to renew, well you’re in luck! If the line is short, it’s only about 20 minutes.
Make sure that you have the following documents ready. If you have a Korean teacher/staff member that can help, that would be optimum.
Working Contract (verify your workplace)
Housing Contract (verify that you are living in Korea and not on a visitor’s visa)
Seoul Immigration Paperwork and head shot (the paperwork you can fill out while you wait)
Paying the fees can be a bit tricky. Once you enter the building, you will see two banking ATMs. If this is your first time getting your ARC, you will be paying there once the immigration agent gives you the bank account number. For Alien Registration and/or reissue of card, it is 30000 won. Do yourself a favor and spend the extra 3000 won for shipping so that they can mail it directly to your house or preferably your academy.
Here is a price list for other major changes to your ARC:
Extension of Sojourn - 600000 won
Change of Sojourn Status - 100000 - 200000 won (higher amounts for F5 visa + more paperwork)
Change of registration or change of information - free
If you are doing any of the three mentioned above, you can go ahead and purchase stamps from the agent next to the ATMs. Do so before you have go see the immigration agent, this can save you some time and hopefully not anger any of those waiting behind you. You must purchase them using cash so bring cash! Furthermore, the agent will make copies for you but you have to pay extra per page.
For first time purchasers, it will take up to three weeks for them to have your ARC card ready. So go ahead and just have them mail it to you. If you just need adjustments done to your current card, you do not have to wait too long. The agents at the Seoul Immigration Office speak close to perfect English. They can help you with the majority of the information you need. If you are not quite sure, the phone number is +82-2-2650-6211. If you are not living in Seoul, here is a list of phone numbers that can help you so that you can get your ARC going. Congratulations on making it to South Korea!