This little piece of plastic means I’m finally one step away from legal residence in Korea. It’s my Alien Registration Card (ARC).
It arrived by mail from the Immigration Office a little later than the two weeks they told me it would take, but at least it arrived. I plan on making an E-2 visa walkthrough to complement my Korean Travel Walkthroughs page. It is a complex and tedious process, and there is no place that I was able to find on the vast interwebs (over months of searching) that had all the information one needs to complete the process. Especially when it comes to the details, like where to get passport photos once one arrives in Korea or how to get an apostille on one’s FBI Background Check.
It took me six months to complete the process so far. I hope writing my guide to the process will take slightly less time.
This isn’t even my first round with the frustrations of international bureaucracy. In Chile, it took nearly five months out of the six I lived on the South American continent to receive my legal registration card. At one point, it came to me standing in the Registro Civil of Puerto Natales and refused to leave until someone gave me my passport. I lived in a legal limbo for a while, as my tourist visa had expired and my teaching visa had not been approved. When going to the visa office became a once-per-week drama, I began joking with my colleagues and host family that my life had become a bureaucracy themed-telenovela.
I know carry three pieces of identification, in my wallet. My driver’s license from Colorado (circa. November 2008), my Chilean Cédula (May 2011), and my Korean ARC (March 2012).
I don’t even look like the same person.
It’s more than simply the glasses or the hair color. The entire shape of my face appears to have morphed over the last four years. My personal style is vastly different. My eye color even appears changed from the difference in my hair’s hue. If I were stopped by the police and asked to empty my wallet, I might look like an identity thief. Or an international woman of mystery.
I no longer identify with my identification.