As promised, I will share with you my experience in getting a South Korean visa. Honestly, I really didn’t expect to get it. I am not even going in the first place cos I missed my chance to get a promo fare ticket. For about four months, I did research for my sister who was determined to go on her own and celebrate her birthday alone in Seoul. One of her good friends was supposed to go with her, promo ticket or not.
But when the universe conspires towards you, you do nothing but go on.
After doing all the research for my sister, I started getting interested. But you know, being interested is different from having the means to get the visa. I didn’t have the means, so I decided that Seoul can wait. Then, universe started rearing it’s tiara’d head.
First, my sister’s companion had death in the family. Then, I learned that it won’t cost me anything to apply for a 59D visa (single entry), and finally, I realized I had enough on my bank account to risk it. And so, last Valentine’s Day meant a lot to me not because I was stuck in some cheesy-syrupy moment, but because I realized that I am indeed going to Seoul in three weeks. As my way of giving back to the unnamed faces whose post in the internet who helped me get through the visa application process. Process explained below is for TOURIST VISA.
Here’s the step-by-step process:
1. Make sure all your documents are complete. This includes the following:
– Application form (downloaded file from the South Korean embassy) which you print using A4 paper. On the application form, attach your most recent (for) passport-sized photo.
– Photocopy of the first page (the information page) of your passport.
– Certificate of employment from your current employer indicating your tenure in the company, salary and position. It’s important that your company letter head has its complete address and telephone number. For the love of God, do not even ATTEMPT to submit a fake employment certificate. I heard that someone from the embassy really calls our employers to verify.
– Bank certificate. The certificate usually indicates how much you have in the bank as of date of request. This is easy to request. In BPI for example, you can get your bank cert for as less than an hour. You will just have to pay PHP100 (USD2) to facilitate your request. For BDO account holders, my friend told me that you will get your bank certificate the next day.
– Income Tax Return (ITR) Form 2306 – this is a non-negotiable requirement. If you don’t have your current ITR, try submitting your old ITR either from the year before. In fact, I used an ITR issued to me by my former company. I stayed for less than six months in that company hence my contribution rate was minuscule. I was most worried about this document, but apparently the one I submitted qualified.
2. As soon as you have all your documents in order, you are ready to take the next step! Go directly to the South Korean Embassy located in McKinley Hill in Taguig. If you are based in Manila and can spare a few hours of your time, you do not need to have your applications coursed through a travel agency. The application process is easy and very fool-proof. The embassy accepts visa applications from 9AM to 12NN from Monday to Friday. Please bring valid ID so that you can go past the kind guards manning the gate.
3. Submit all your documents. As soon as you enter the Visa Application area, you will see a receptionist stationed near the door. She will ask you if you have a visa in any of the OECD countries (like Japan, USA, Australia, Shengen, etc) — she will ask you this in order to identify which window will accept your application. If you are a first time traveler or don’t have visa from any of the countries indicated in the list, you will be referred to Window 1. She will give you a stub indicating your number.
My sister and I was assigned to Window 1 — while waiting for our number to be called, we arranged our documents and made sure they are neat and presentable. We also arranged them based on the order indicated in the embassy website.
When your number is called, approach the assigned window and give your papers to the Consul. He may or he may not ask you questions about your trip. Don’t get nervous and answer him as truthfully as possible. Tell him you are going to Seoul so that you can make Lee MinHo realize that he is meant to be your better half. Or that you are there on a mission to stalk Super Junior.
4. After submitting your documents, the consul will hand you a piece of paper which will indicate when you can pick-up your passport. Whatever happens, do not lose that paper. Guard it with your life.
After you have the paper, you can now go home and hyperventilate in the safety of your room. You have done your share, let the universe (and fate) take over.
PICKING UP THE PASSPORT
First, a word of caution –just because you submitted the documents does not mean that you are automatically granted a visa. No one knows what will get you approved or denied, except the Consul. You can pick-up your passport on the date indicated on the piece of paper (2PM to 4PM ONLY).
Leave your ID at the guard, pass by the receptionist and get a number and wait for your number to be called. The consul will hand you your passport, and you may check if you have been granted a visa before leaving the embassy grounds.
If your passport does not contain anything but a stamp indicating “APPLICATION RECEIVED” and you are handed a piece of paper with procedures for reapplication printed, it means your application was denied. You will have to wait another six months before you can plot your KPOP staking campaign once again.
REMEMBER — These are based on my personal experience only, and should not be taken as hard facts. For a more comprehensive process, go to the embassy website.
So what did I learn?
1.It pays to do your research.
2. Always be nice to people. You will never know when you will be left wanting for their help and assistance.
3. Do not lie. Be honest always.
4. If in doubt, do not be afraid to ask for directions.
I hope this post will be of help to you. It may look daunting at first, but I am the perfect example that it is not impossible.