This year hasn’t been the right year for traveling abroad. This is true for everyone everywhere in the world. One can travel for business, but for pleasure and family visits, then it is hard. In my case, I am used to taking some time off to visit family yearly. I had my vacation dates set aside well in advance. They were plans made pre-covid. So, of course, those plans were canceled once covid struck. As an English teacher and the faculty manager of two branches, I don’t have the time to travel to my family in the US. In order to spend two weeks with family, I would have to request four weeks off! The additional two weeks is due to the mandatory two week quarantine for those entering the country from abroad. So, I truly thought seeing my family this year was going to be impossible.
Luckily, my sister’s work got converted to being fully remote! So, she can be anywhere with an internet connection and laptop to get work done. She decided I was worth the quarantine time. Family is great!
There are so few resources out there for how to steer away from government quarantine facilities and their hefty price tag! It seemed like the only way to avoid it was to be coming here on a long-term visa for work or school. However, I had only heard of Korean-Americans traveling for less than three months avoiding government facility quarantine when staying with their family relatives.
Thus, with a little research and MANY unhelpful phone calls, I was informed that it was UNLIKELY my sister could quarantine at my home. Nobody knew for sure though! There aren’t a lot of cases like it for there to be a precedent that cleared the path for clear guidelines/rules for such a situation. So, there was so much mixed information. Still, these were the main three reasons, I was told it would not work. First, she wasn’t coming on a visa for school or work. Second, my home is a studio apartment, so there isn’t a separate room for her to stay in. Third, even if I stayed out of my house for those two weeks, my housing isn’t under my name, since it is provided for me by my employer.
My sister decided that she would make the trip out to see me, even if she had to stay in the government facility. Still, we wanted to give it our best shot to get her to use my place. If in the end she couldn’t then at least we tried. In the end, she could stay at my place though!!
Here is how my sister was able to use my place:
1) Get the person who’s on the lease’s approval
I asked my boss if it would be possible for her to permit my sister to stay at my place. I would be out of my home the entire two weeks, so I could still work and not be quarantined as well. She said yes! So, later my sister would provide my boss’s phone number at the airport, so the immigration officials could call to check if it was okay for my sister to use my home.
2) Prepare Proof of Direct Family Relation
I had my sister prepare a copy of our birth certificates as proof of blood relation.
3) Proof That Relative is a Permanent or Long-Term Resident
I had my sister prepare a copy of my Korean ID card, which states my visa type.
4) Proof of Relative’s Address
The copy of my Korean ID card helped prove this, too.
5) Relative Airport Sign-off
I had to be at the airport when she arrived to sign some documents stating I would be responsible for my sister during her stay in Korea.
AND SHE WAS APPROVED! Success~
Here is some additional information/tips to help your loved one when they visit:
First, get a KT Roaming SIM card at the airport! Moreover, be sure it isn’t the WiFi egg or the data SIM card. It should be the SIM card that grants you a Korean phone number! The health officials will have a difficult time communicating and giving instructions otherwise. It has to be a 010-####-#### number, too! Make sure it is an UNLOCKED phone. Otherwise, it won't accept the SIM card.
Second, your relative should take an airport taxi. The driver will take him or her to get their covid test at the local health center in the district of your home. Then, the driver will take your loved one directly to your home. You two cannot take the same transportation from the airport. So, I took the KTX. This may also be influenced due to the fact that I wouldn’t be staying at my place with her. So, just be prepared to take separate transportation.
I hope that this information helps anyone who is non-Korean with a long-term visa in Korea to be able to make it easier for their loved ones to come visit!
Giselle Moreno is from California, USA where she attended the University of California, Riverside. While a student, she always worked with international students and she decided to teach English abroad upon graduating during her third year of university. It was through the experiences of being an English tutor for international students that she felt really fulfilled. She found it particularly easy to get along with Korean students which is why she decided to pursue a teaching opportunity in Korea. She even attended Yonsei University in Seoul for a semester as a study abroad student and fell in love with the city. She is currently working at ChungDahm Learning’s April Daechi branch located in Gangnam, Seoul.