Now that we have definite news on our visa application to South Korea, it now merits its own post. Finally, we got our visas for autumn 2022. Whew!
I have shared last July that we were supposed to go to South Korea, but we postponed that trip for Singapore. Having experienced summer back in 2011, and a couple of winters years ago, it made sense to go back for autumn instead. We, however, are no longer full-time employees. It was not a straightforward application as before and we found ourselves asking: how to even apply for a visa to South Korea as self-employed individuals/freelancers?
It took us weeks to prepare our documents because somehow, we felt that we may be missing requirements to prove that we have something to go back to. Granted we did register ourselves a couple of months ago, and we have graduate school to go back to (I have a compre and thesis to still work on), the application this time just seemed a bit complicated.
But eventually, we just threw our hands up in the air and just said: let’s get this over with. So applied we did.
As an insomniac, I found it difficult to sleep early the night before. We had to wake up early before 7:00 am just to get ready (at least for me, 7:00 am is early).
It has been half a decade since our last application. We knew that with the pandemic and other changes that had taken place since we last applied for a visa (e.g. there was a time that they only allowed applications to go through accredited agencies), we were not too sure what the process would be.
Anyway, not eating any breakfast and arriving at the McKinley 30 minutes after, we reached the Korean Embassy almost at 8:30 am.
At 8:30 am, there had been already 822 applications ahead of us. We’ve got to give it to the Embassy for handling that much application in a day. In fact, the Embassy even made an announcement a couple of days after we applied that they were to limit the number of applicants or have the releasing reasonably delayed because of the influx of applications.
Autumn is obviously peak season. It also did not help that BTS is scheduled to have a concert in Busan in mid-October, around the same time of our travel dates. As we are obviously not trekking all the way to Busan, as we only wanted to do the usual stuff we do in South Korea but only now in autumn, we may have dodged a bullet having to apply earlier than what we had originally planned. It was a good 2 months before our trip.
Inside the Embassy, we waited only for around an hour and a half before we were called.
It was the first time we have submitted a cover letter in our application (as we never submitted one in the past). We just felt that given our status, we may have to justify a bit. Even if we already had previous trips to South Korea, we just felt the need to establish not only our capability to travel, but that we also have a lot of things to return to (and we have a lot, goodness).
Our passports also were very new, with me having renewed mine towards the end of 2019, and Mon only last year. We only used it once for SG last July. We also brought our last 2 expired passports with us, which contained all of our travels in the last 10 years (including our last 3 visas to South Korea).
We may have submitted a bit more (in my case, a copy of the title of my house; and for both of us, some proof of our current work activities, and even some school-related documents, etc). Fortunately, all of our documents were accepted. That was a good sign, I guess.
As soon as we finished, we immediately went to Venice Piazza to eat breakfast. We have not yet eaten anything, except for a cup of black coffee before we went to the Embassy.
Funnily, I wanted to take a Grab going to Piazza.LOL Mon insisted it was a short walk, but I was too lazy. While we used to work in McKinley Hill near Piazza, I already forgot how long the distance was.
We initially wanted to eat at Banapple but it was still closed at 10:30am. We then went to the labyrinthine Piazza (which did not open not until 11am).
We seriously got lost inside. It has been pushing a decade since I used to frequent this area, and a lot of things have already changed. We also were not sure where to eat, so we ended up at Popeyes. I did not know they even serve soup, as we usually just order chicken. Nothing to heavy, at least, since we were to eat lunch in 2 hours anyway.
Fast forward to a couple of days and the grueling weekends, it was almost time for us to receive the results of our application.
Same as what we did in 2016, we used the helpful online tool to check our visa’s status: https://visa.go.kr/. We did the usual thing: entered our passport information, our name (last name first name), and date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd).
It has been showing ‘Application Received‘ for several days. It however changed to ‘Under Review’ on a weekend. We were not sure if this was pre-programmed but I bet that consuls at the Embassy may have been working even on a weekend to review the insane volume of application they receive.
Then very early in the morning, the same day scheduled for us to claim our passports, it changed to ‘Approved‘. Great! We’re really going to South Korea for autumn this year! ^_^
We were excited to claim our passports that afternoon, knowing ahead the fate of our application. We waited for only around an hour before our passports were released.
One noticeable difference, though, was the absence of a visa sticker compared to our previous issued visas:
I’m pretty sure this is in their system and we won’t face any issues should we decide to un-staple this from our passports.
On the other hand, we may likely keep it as it is. We have a trip again next week to Singapore(?!) as we double booked both the South Korea and Singapore tickets in almost the same days. We just waited for the visa results to come out before we rebooked the other one! That stapled visa may hopefully lessen some questions from the immigration officers next week: we have an autumn to enjoy in October, sir!
So before we even plan the finer details of our trip to South Korea 2 months from now, we’re excited to celebrate the 14th on SG first!