On Monday, August 10th, Gary and I received two emails from our contact at Chung-Dahm Learning in Seoul. The first contained our VISA codes and these instructions:
“Please take this code to the Korean Consulate with your passport and a set of sealed transcripts to complete your visa and conduct the interview. You need to call them beforehand to arrange an interview.
“We would like for you to enter our August 21st training session. Therefore, you need to arrive in Korea on August 19th. You will have orientation on Friday and begin training the following Monday. Please speak to your Aclipse recruiter who can assist in arranging a flight.
Please update me as soon as you get the visa. Thank you, and I look forward to meeting you.
It is important to mention here that the Korean Consulate is in LA, necessitating our communicating with the consulate by mail.
The second email instructed us to ignore the VISA codes in the first email because they were incorrect. I’m glad we received both emails at about the same time, otherwise this would have been the 2nd installment of four rather than three VISA debacles blog postings.
As you might expect, these emails sent Gary and I into a whirlwind of activity. First, we logged onto the Korean Consulate’s website, downloaded and printed the E-2 VISA Health forms. Then we purchased our money orders from our neighborhood grocery store. Lastly (at least we thought lastly) we headed to the post-office to express mail the forms along with our original passports to the Korean Consulate (I was relieved to find that, despite instructions otherwise, the consulate did not in fact need our sealed, official transcripts, as that would have taken another week to acquire).
It was while assembling our documents at the post office counter that we realized that we had forgotten to bring the address for the Korean Consulate with us – so back home we went to get the address.
We made it back to the post office just moments before closing time, assembled our packet of information and paid our $34 in express mailing fees. The clerk explained that, because it was after 3:00 pm, our express envelope wouldn’t be delivered to the consulate “next-day,” but would certainly be delivered by Wednesday.
He was right, because Wednesday morning around 10:00 AM we received a phone call from the Korean Consulate – my first experience talking with someone possessing and very strong Korean accent. The man on the phone asked just a few questions, really just verifying the information I had written on my form, then asked to speak with Gary. Gary answered more or less the same questions I did and the interview was over. Receiving this phone call gave us confidence that our VISAs were well on their way to being processed.
We had not yet begun to make our travel arrangements because we wanted to be absolutely certain we had our passports and VISAs in hand before committing to a travel date. As the Korean Consulate indicated it would take a week to process our VISAs, and we had only received our VISA codes on the 10th, and wouldn’t likely see them again until the 17th (at the earliest and if all went smoothly), and were instructed to arrive in Seoul on the 19th, and would likely have to leave on the 18th (at the latest) we decided to negotiate a later travel date with our recruiter and our contact at Chung-Dahm.
And it was a good thing we did, as you will learn from my next blog.