I was super enthusiastic about coming to Korea in early 2008, and I figured the sooner I got here the better. So I arranged to arrive in Korea about a week before I had to start to work, so that I had enough time to settle in and get myself sorted out before I had to start work.
The jury is still out on whether this was a good idea, but one of the unintended consequences is that my E-2 visa expires before my contract ends. This is because the work visa is valid for 1 year after arriving in Korea, not from your first day of your employment. As such, my E-2 visa expires on 26 February, but my contract states that I have to stay until 28 February. Uh-oh…
Extending your E-2 can be a task of Herculanean….nay Schwarzenegger…proportions, and not worth the effort if you aren’t staying for another year. Definitely not if it’s only for a few days. So what to do? You’re in luck. There is an answer, my friend.
It’s called the “Temporary extension of stay for departure of registered foreigners”. Basically you can get yourself a tourist visa once your E-2 visa expires, without having to leave the country first. This is pretty cool. You can stay in Korea for up to 30 days after your E-2 expires, as long as you have a flight ticket showing that you will leave the country within that time. You aren’t allowed to work during this time, though, no matter what your boss says. It’s purely for tourism purposes.
But wait! It gets better! It’s free! And you don’t even need to go into an Immigration office to get this extension. You can apply online. All you need is a jpeg image of your flight ticket.
Here’s how to do it (just make sure you’re using a Windows PC, with IE6 or higher):
1. Go to this website: http://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/index.html (If the website isn’t in English, you can change the language by clicking on “English” on the menu to the right of the page.
2. If you aren’t already registered on the website, do so. You can join under the “Log-in” page to the left of the screen. You’ll need your ARC number and some personal details.
3. Once you’ve registered (or logged in), look at the top menu bar. Click on “E-APPLICATION”, and then “File an application”.
4. A list of available applications should appear. The 8th option under “Sojourn”, titled “Temporary extension of stay for departure of registered foreigners” is the one you want. DO NOT use the 2nd option, titled “Extension of stay for departure of registered foreigners”. It’s something else.
5. Click on the little mouse next to “Temporary extension of stay for departure of registered foreigners”.
6. Read through all the requirements and administrative procedures. All you need to know is that you must have a jpeg file of your flight ticket, and that this visa extension is FREE.
7. Click on “I agree” at the bottom of the page, and then click “APPLY (PRINCIPAL)”. This will take you to another page where you fill in some personal details and upload the jpeg file of your flight ticket. You will also need to state how long you need to extend for (until the date of your flight) and why you need to extend (for me it was “To visit some tourist sites in Korea before I leave the country”).
8. Once you’ve filled in all the compulsory fields and have uploaded your flight ticket, click “Submit”. That’s it. You’re done. You should get an email confirmation of your application.
9. It takes about three days for Immigration to process your application, and you will receive an email saying whether you were successful or not. You can check the progress of your application by logging-in on the HiKorea website.
10. When you get the email stating that your application was successful, you can log-in at the HiKorea site and print out a copy of this confirmation.
11. Take a copy of this confirmation with you to the airport, and hand it to the immigration official. After that, you’re homefree!
I found this to be pretty easy process, and far less pain than having to go all the way to an Immigration office. Now if only they could make the E-2 visa application this easy…