This will be the hardest administrative task for most exchange students in Korea. I don’t understand why they made the process so hard for foreigners but oh well.. if you are going to be in Korea for more than 90 days, brace yourself cos you have to go through it.
The ARC has similar functions to Singapore’s Student Pass (Green Card NRIC). It allows you to sign up for a phone line, make memberships in cosmetic stores 😉 and more importantly, travel out of Korea and get back in without being deported for not having a valid visa (Your student visa is only a single-entry visa).
What to Prepare
There will be several items that you will need to prepare to get your ARC:
- Registration form – if you don’t have a printer, you can get the form from the immigration office on the day of your visit
- One 3.5 x 4.5cm passport photo with white background – if you did not bring a photo, you can also use their photobooth in the office which will cost you 8000KRW for 6 printed photos
- A copy of your passport – your passport won’t be kept in the office, just a copy is enough
- A copy of your student visa
- A certificate of enrolment from your university – Yonsei exchange students will get it on the day of orientation. If you can’t wait for the orientation day to make your ARC, then you can try using the certificate of admission that was given in the admission package sent to your home university that was used for your visa application. I did that and the officer accepted it – it’s your risk though not all officers may accept it!
- A Tubercolosis test report if you are a citizen of the following 18 countries:
Bangladesh Cambodia China East Timor India Indonesia Kyrgyzstan Malaysia Mongolia Myanmar Nepal Pakistan The Philippines Russia Sri Lanka Thailand Uzbekistan Vietnam
Note that the test must be done in Korea in a Public Health Center. You can’t just go to any hospital to get it, it must be a public health center. Since I am an Indonesian, I had to do it. I had a TB test from Malaysia but they did not accept it. I had to fax in the results after I submitted my application, thankfully (again) the officer accepted it! It cost me 1500KRW for the test so it was fine 🙂
- A reservation confirmation – I recommend the confirmation to be printed, but if not, you can just show the text message. You must make a reservation and must make the right reservation. I made a wrong reservation and was lucky enough that the officer was kind to accept my form. My friend was asked to go home and make another reservation. How to reserve a visit will be shown in the next part.
How to make a reservation
The step by step guideline to make a reservation provided by Yonsei University can be found here. Some key points to take note of when making a booking:
- You’ll need a computer with Internet Explorer (IE). You can not make a reservation on other browsers (including Microsoft Edge, so please check if you are really using IE) as all the extensions will not work on any other browser. Plus, if you try to access hikorea website from other browsers, it will give you a notice that the site is harmful for your computer and it won’t allow you to go to the page. Ever.
- You will need to be prepared to install at least 2 softwares from the website. You will prompted to install some kind of software, please install it. If not, you would not be able to reserve a visit. If you are not willing to install any of these random softwares, use the school’s computer. There are 3 public PCs available in the basement floor of International House for those who stay in I-house.
- For those staying on campus in Yonsei, your region will be “Seodaemun-gu” and the office that you should make a reservation to is the Seoul Southern Immigration Office. The Southern office is located on the Omogkyo office, which is named the “서울출입국관리사무소” which is “Seoul Immigration Office”, at level 3. Make sure you make the right reservation: Seoul South Immigration Office. Although the building is the same, the reservation systems are different.
Some Tips and Trouble Shooting
Apart from the guide, I would like to share some of my own experiences with visit reservation and what were the difficulties I faced so that you would hopefully get a smoother process:
- When I clicked visit reservation, the page in step 6 of the Yonsei guide was different from what I got. I got a page that shows that I need to input my passport details or visa details. When I inputed only one, the system did not work. It only worked when I input BOTH my passport and visa details on both tabs. So you can try this if it happens to you too.
- Even after we pressed “English”, the reservation page after the identification input page keeps popping up in Korean. If this happens to you, you have no other choice but to continue in Korean. Because.. if you click “English” again, it will bring you to the homepage and you will have to start all over again. I will try to make a separate explanation on how to continue the booking in Korean soon.
- The reservation confirmation printing function did not work for me. It just did not pop up. So what I did was I screened shot the page and I just printed out the screenshot instead.
- Most of the officers in the building will speak to you in Korean….. I know it sounds stupid but its true. There are some officers who speak English but you will never know which one you will get. I was lucky and I was helped by an officer who speaks English relatively well. I was even more lucky because I met a Korean American who helped me in many ways when I was there for my appointment. So.. If you have any kind Korean friends who can help you (either by going there with you or by helping you through the phone), that would be good! Of course, don’t forget to treat them lunch after that to thank them! 🙂
How to get to the Immigration Office
Take line 5 to Omokgyo Station and leave exit 7. Go straight and follow the road to the right (Keep right at the junction). Continue straight until you get to the end of the road (T-junction). The Immigration office is across the street on the left. The building is about 10 floors high and grey in colour. There is a sign outside the building. It should take about 10-15 minutes by foot from Omogkyo.
Alternatively, you can take line 2 to Yangcheon-gu office station and leave exit 1. Head straight until you get to a big intersection, turn left and continue heading straight until you get to a park. The immigration office is on the right.
If you can read Korean, or if you want to try, you can use buses to get there as the walk from the train stations are quite far and taking buses are so much more convenient. The best way to find out what bus to take is by using Naver Map (an App that is only available in Korean, sadly). I will also put up a post on how to use Naver Map if you are new to Korean Language, wait for it and follow me in the meantime 🙂
If you are going to study in other universities. Please double check which office you need to go to. From what I know, Korea University students have to go to another office in Seoul altogether. So double check! Goodluck!! (Really, you’ll need it LOL)