How to Get Your ARC in Korea

Disclaimer: This information is based on the process I went through in 2011-2012 and 2016. It is not legal advice. It is quite possibly not up to date. Visa regulations change all the time (as you will see later on in this article). Check with the Korean Embassy for the most up to date information.

2016 Updates in this chic purple colour!

It’s a rite of passage for almost all foreign teachers who decide to teach in Korea. Running the gauntlet to live legally inside Korea’s borders, also known as obtaining one’s Alien Registration Card (ARC). Keep in mind that this process is for an E-2 Visa, one for teaching English in a hagwon or public school when one is not ethnically Korean.

Before I begin with the steps to achieve this feat of bureaucratic maneuvering, let me give you a disclaimer. These instructions are subject to change at any time, for no reason, without warning, and are for guidance ONLY. Please don’t get on my case ten years from now when it isn’t the same.

It took me 118 days to get my visa and another 56 to obtain my ARC. It cost countless hours of legwork and over $800.  Prepare ye. 

First things first. You must obtain a teaching visa in order to live and work in Korea. Before you can apply to the Korean consulate with jurisdiction over your state/area, you must obtain a Visa Issuance Number (VIN).

To get your Visa Issuance Number (before departure), you will need:

  • A photocopy of the face page of your passport
  • Your signed contract with your school and/or all EPIK paperwork
  • A national criminal record check (FBI background check in the United States, website here)

2016 UPDATE: As of this year, the Korean Consulates in the US are accepting FBI checks obtained through channelers. This is a more expensive but totally worth-it option. Instead of taking five months (like my first ones), it took a week. Worth it. 

  • A copy of your actual university degree

You must send all of these documents to Korea, in order for your school to request a VIN from immigration. *Do not* send your original degree, because you may never see it again. Wait about ten days. Once you have the VIN, you need to apply ASAP to your local Korean consulate to get your visa. When I did this, I had less than a month left until departure.

To get your visa, you will need:

  • Your passport
  • The VIN
  • A completed visa application (see here)
  • The full address of your school in Korea
  • One sealed set of official university transcripts (2016 UPDATE: Maybe. Get them and be ready to send them if your consulate requests them)
  • One passport photo

All that for a damn sticker.

You need to make an appointment to visit your consulate immediately, or send the required documents to them via insured overnight mail. Enclose a self-addressed, paid return overnight envelope for them to return your passport.

Once you have the visa in your passport, you can leave for Korea.

2016 UPDATE: We had less than three weeks until departure when we sent everything off this time. My visa in the US came back from the San Francisco Consulate in about five days. Russell’s took a week in London. 

But wait, there’s more! You must register with immigration and obtain an ARC as soon as possible once you arrive. If the impetus of impending deportation isn’t enough to get you in gear, know that you can’t use the Korean National Health service until you get your ARC. If you’re like me and get sick easily, this could pose a problem.

2016 UPDATE: Speaking of health, you must complete a hospital health exam for the ARC once you arrive in Korea. The cost is 90,000-120,000 KRW, and it will be self-paid. You will need:

  • Your passport
  • The address of a hospital certified in giving foreigners health checks
  • Dolla Dolla Bills (I mean copious won), y’all
  • Good health 
  • Clean urine

Your health check includes a chest X-ray for tuberculosis, a drug test, STD/HIV testing via blood draw, an eye test, and  possibly a dental examination (in 2012-2013 this was the case in Suwon, but not in 2016 in Busan). 

No, there is no way around this. No, you should not fake your pee. Be ready to squat if you are a lady. Work it out! You live in Korea now! Squat toilets are cleaner and better for you, anyway. 

On the day of your health check, do not drink. Do not have too much caffeine. Do not take over-the-counter medications (even Advil or Tylenol). Be healthy!

To obtain your ARC, you will need:

  • Your passport with the E-2 visa inside
  • An official letter from your school
  • 10,000-30,000 KRW 2016 UPDATE: Apparently an ARC costs 3x as much these days. Maybe only in Busan. 
  • ARC Application form (get this from your school)
  • Two receipts for a clean health check from a recognized hospital in Korea (the health check costs 120,000 KRW and is often not covered by the school)
  • Yourself
  • A good book, or maybe just lots of soju to pass the time

You must go to the immigration office in your area with these documents and wait to be seen by an official. You cannot have someone from your school go in your place as in the past, as you must provide a digital scan of all five fingerprints on your right hand in person. I waited eight hours over the course of two separate days.

MAKE SURE YOU ASK FOR A RECEIPT from immigration that you have submitted your documents. You can request that the ARC be sent directly to your school and pay 4,000 KRW. Worth it. Do it. Don’t waste more of your life in the immigration office trying to pick it up. It should arrive about two weeks to one month after you submit all the forms.

Stupid piece of expensive plastic!

Once you have your VIN, your visa, and your ARC, you’re done! Just kidding.

You still have to register with the Education Office. You have to duplicate many documents because they aren’t friends with the Immigration Service.

To register with the Education Office, you will need:

  • Your physical, actual university degree (not a copy)
  • A **second** national criminal record check
  • Apostilles for both (they will copy your degree, but you still have to have the original)
  • Your passport with the E-2 visa
  • Your ARC
  • A letter from your school
  • Anything else your school requests

If you manage to make it through all four gauntlets, you should throw a legal residence party!

In all, I spent over $800 in fees and shipping in order to obtain all the necessary records. Your total costs will vary according to how much shipping and fee spending you must do.

These requirements are constantly shifting. I was all set with my VIN and visa when I suddenly had to obtain a second FBI background check and another degree apostille for the Education Office, and without the support of my family in the States I would not have been able to move to Korea.  The bureaucratic process is so complicated that one is almost required to break it somewhere in order to move here. Don’t be surprised if things get a little sketchy.

A couple of final tips:

  • DO have someone whom you could trust with documents inside your home country in case of sudden changes.
  • DO make and keep copies of every single document and carry them with you on your flight.
  • DO ask questions of your school and recruiter.
  • DO consult others who’ve been through the process before you.
  • DON’T try to fake your drug test. It’s just not worth it.
  • DON’T get a national apostille from the State Department in the US. It will take over six weeks. A state one is just fine.
  • DON’T try to get a degree from another country apostilled in the USA. They will reject it if it is from England, Colombia, etc.
  • DON’T wait until the last minute for any of this.
  • DON’T freak out when the requirements change.

Happy hunting! Please post comments if you have any recent changes or if you have questions.

How to Apply for a Work Visa For China (Z Visa)

Disclaimer: This information is based on the process I went through as a United States applicant in 2014-2015 to obtain my Z Visa. This guide is *not* legal advice, and it may not be up to date. Visa regulations change frequently, without warning. Check in with your Chinese consulate for the most up to date advice

Yes, it’s that time again, folks! Time to attempt another international migration, and time to apply for another visa. This time takes us to China, with the Z visa for work. We will be living in Shanghai, teaching English in an academy.

Please keep in mind that the visa process may differ depending on:

  • Where specifically you will be working in China
  • Where you live in the United States
  • Which consulate you send your application to
  • Other factors that I just can’t predict 🙂

The process has to start early, as it does for all visas. For Korea, it took me 118 days to obtain a similar visa (the E-2 English Teacher’s visa). This one’s shaping up to be similar, but some of the early documents were gathered last July, before we had a job offer or were married! Prepare early, and make sure you use good habits to keep yourself organised (and sane) during the long process. Contact me below if you have questions.

This is going to be stressful. Here's a kitty.

This is going to be stressful. Here’s a kitty.

Step 1: Obtain Documents for Job Hunting

This process is more relaxed and can be done ahead of time. You should begin gathering these documents at least six months before you intend to arrive in China. 

You will need:

  • A spotless FBI Background Check, also known as a Criminal Record Check. Use my guide to help you apply. ***NOTE: FBI checks currently take 12-16 weeks to process. Yes, that’s three to four months of waiting.***
  • A TEFL Certificate indicating at least 40 hours of instruction (online is fine)
  • A Bachelor’s Degree from a four-year university or an advanced degree
  • An up-to-date resume or CV
  • A cover letter geared specifically toward teaching in China
  • A professional picture of yourself. This should be a headshot with a neutral background, with a big smile and professional clothing.
  • Some recruiters may ask for a health check to be submitted. In my experience, this was not necessary and might be duplicated once you reach China. It can also be very expensive. Check with your recruiter/employer.
  • A valid passport with at least two full pages available. You must have more than six months’ validity after your intended date of leaving China (i.e. 1.5 years at least). ***NOTE: Chinese visas CANNOT be placed in added passport pages. I had to renew my passport for this reason.***

Find stuff to keep you occupied while you wait for the documents. I find that crocheting and planning a wedding are great pastimes. Once you have your FBI check and the other documents, get started with interviews and really push to apply to a bunch of schools. We had several interviews over the course of a week, all over Skype. Once you obtain an offer and confirm it, you can move on to Step 2.

BEWARE: If a school says that you should come over on a Tourist or Business visa instead of a Work Visa, run away! They might not be committed to bringing you legally into the country. You could be personally liable for immigration mishaps, and face criminal charges or deportation. 

Time to put it to use.

Step 2: Obtain Permission to Work in China

This part took a long time, but that’s what you expect when it comes to letters for visas. You will need to submit documents to your employer in China, which they will then submit to local authorities for approval. This is the list we submitted to our employer, but always check with yours. Chinese authorities are extremely strict about formatting. Be precise!

You will need:

  • A CV completed to Chinese Standards. I’ve uploaded an example below. Some key points:
    • Make sure that you explain any gaps in employment
    • Ensure that none of the dates overlap with one another
    • List three job responsibilities per position
    • Be certain that you use the Chinese date order (i.e. 2015-03 for March, 2015)
  • A professional passport photo
  • A scan of the face and information page of your passport
  • A scan of your degree
  • A scanned reference letter from your most recent employer on official letterhead. ***NOTE: For some jobs in China, you must have at least two years of full-time teaching experience. This must be reflected in this letter.***
  • A scanned, typed (never handwritten!) Work Permit Application (provided by your employer)
  • A scanned list of at least two contactable professional references.
  • A scan of your spotless FBI Background Check
  • Anything else requested by your recruiter or employer. For example, we completed a second background check through a private company.

    Example CV

    Example CV- Don’t misspell achievements like I just did.

None of these documents can have any part of the scan cut off or blurry. Get familiar with the settings on your printer, or just have a professional do it. Check whether your documents should be sent as a .pdf or a .doc!!!!

Once you submit these documents, your employer will begin the process to obtain a Work Permit and Letter of Invitation. In our case, this process took 46 days. You should be a professional relaxer/crochet fiend at this point, so use those skills to fill the time again until your documents arrive.

Step 3: Prepare to Apply

You may have to wait a long time for your documents to arrive. In the meantime, familiarise yourself with the visa application process for the consulate with jurisdiction over your home state.

Courtesy of the Chinese Embassy

Courtesy of the Chinese Embassy

Every consulate’s process is different! Some require documents that the others do not. I lucked out, because Chicago seems very straightforward. In almost every case, it is recommended that you use a visa agency to apply.

Do research on the agencies in the area of your consulate. Save as much money as you can during this waiting period; you will need a reserve of several hundred dollars to apply for the visa, and you might need to buy a plane ticket if they call you for an interview (rare, but possible!).

Keep in regular contact with your recruiter, and do the other things you need to get ready to move to China. Get an eye exam. Renew your birth control. Eat as much cheese as humanly possible. You know, normal things.

Label your folder!

Label your folder!

Step 4: Submit Your Visa Application

Gods of immigration willing, your official Work Permit and Letter of Invitation will arrive without issue. Be certain that you are prepared to submit the application as soon as they do. Follow the instructions from your visa agency to the letter.

You will need to submit:

  • Your original, valid passport
  • A photocopy of your passport’s information page
  • A signed, typed (NEVER handwritten) Visa Application Form
    • Attach a professional passport photo to this form with a PAPERCLIP. DO NOT STAPLE.
  • A photocopy of the Visa Application Form
  • A signed, typed Supplemental Form
  •  The original Work Permit
  • A photocopy of the Work Permit (both sides)
  • The original Letter of Invitation
  • A photocopy of the Letter of Invitation
  • Payment for the visa fees, courier services, and expedite fees

Your agency may ask you for additional documents. These could include proof of address, a photocopy of your diver’s license, additional forms, or a plane ticket. The above documents were for my submission to the Chicago Consulate.

NOTE: Don’t ever send visa documents, for any country, in the regular mail! Always use FedEx, DHL, or another courier and always get the tracking number. 

Step 5: Receive Your Visa, Rejoice, and Prepare to go!

I’ll update this section once I’ve got the visa in hand next week.

UPDATE: Visa is in hand. Make sure that you also get back your work permit and letter of invitation originals so that you can go to China.

It's here!

It’s here!

I definitely recommend the First Class services from Travisa. They handled this so well, and made sure that I knew what was going on every step of the way. Worth every penny.

Short Survey Results: Passports, Travel, and Immigration

It’s always interesting to me to talk about travel.

As someone who makes travelling a lifestyle, I find it fascinating to hear the opinions of others on the subject and the impressions that they gather on the road. Sometimes the conversations go better, sometimes worse. The other day I had someone bring up the supposed ‘No-Go’ Zones in England for non-Muslims, the product of this divvy asshat’s Fox News tirade. I had to draw on all my powers of English reserve gathered in sixteen months to set the record straight (“With all due respect, no.”).

It was a good reminder that it’s difficult to approach common ground on travel and living abroad, especially when the perceptions here in Boulderiorfieldville, CO are influenced mostly by what happens to hit the news. For my part, living in a ‘highly Islamised’ area of East London was never once uncomfortable. In fact, I miss the Halal butcher desperately. Where else can I get frying steak for £1 a kg? Of course, if one never travels one never gets exposed to the realities than underpin the narrative shown on cable news.

I wanted to get some data about travel. The myth is that about 15% of Americans hold a valid passport at any given time. Americans are known worldwide for not travelling, and if they do take any time to do so at all, for not leaving the US. In fact, the percentage is much higher, approaching 50% (based on the numbers crunched here). There are still pockets of low passport use, like West Virginia (~19%) and Mississippi (~18%).

I devised a short survey to spot check the official numbers (discussion below) and added a question about emigrating/immigrating to another country. I put it up on Reddit’s Sample Size section, which allows surveys like this to get more exposure and participants. The answers were a little surprising!

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  • Respondents: 79
  • US Citizens: 59
Survey Participants' Nationality

Survey Participants’ Nationality

  • Total passport holders (valid): 64 (81%)
  • US passport Holders: 50 (84.7%)
Participants by number of trips abroad per year

Participants by number of trips abroad per year

  • Total planning to immigrate into a new country: 32 (40.5%)
  • US planning to immigrate elsewhere: 21 (35.5%) 
  • Non-US citizens, planning to immigrate: 9 (45%)
  • Most common income range of participants (mode): $75,000+
Destinations for travel, US Participants

Destinations for travel, Total Participants

  • Travel by continent (total continents marked = 112):
    • North America: 31 total, 24 USA
    • South America: 8 total, 8 USA
    • Africa: 4 total, 2 USA
    • Europe: 46 total, 32 USA
    • Asia: 16 total, 9 USA
    • Oceania: 4 total, 2 USA
    • Middle East: 3 total, 3 USA
Percentage destinations for trips abroad, US Participants

Percentage destinations for trips abroad, US Participants

  • Most common range of trips per year (mode): 0 times (29 total, 26 USA)
  • Percentage of total participants who take no trips abroad each year: 36.7%
  • Percentage of US participants who take no trips abroad each year: 44%
    • Of US citizens with valid passport: 20%

      Percentages for Trips Abroad

      Percentages for Trips Abroad (total)

Those are some shockingly high numbers for valid passports. The US State Department estimates that 46% of the US population has a valid passport. This cross-section (admittedly a particular one, being drawn from Reddit) has almost double that percentage. Higher than any one state in the US, and much higher than the Colorado average (47%).

I was surprised at the high number of participants planning on immigration! Especially for the US, in my experience I don’t believe I’ve met another person who wants to move abroad permanently. Good to know at least in this group of people, I’m not alone. 35.5% is a really high number for US citizens planning on emigrating, contradicting my personal experiences. But then, that’s precisely why one does a survey, right?

Things got more interesting when I asked for specific details on travelling abroad. It appears that most US participants with a valid passport take at least one trip abroad every year, but a high ratio of Americans surveyed take no trips abroad (44%). This could be contributing to the ‘American=No Passport’ myth.

This is obviously not a fully scientific study, and is probably flawed in several ways. One such way is the apparently high income average that was self-reported here. I have no way to know whether any of that is accurate. It’s the internet. Likely, people are making some of it up. Especially the six ‘students’ claiming $75,000+ a year. But then, maybe they were counting their whole family’s income. In addition, the sample size of those from outside the USA is tiny (20), so it’s not likely that the stats correlate in the general population.

This was a great little survey. What do you think of the results? Do they seem accurate, based on your experiences?

Click here if you’d like to add yourself to the survey. I’d love to get some more data to share!

How to Apply for an FBI Background Check

Full-page sticker for my E-2 visa in the ROK

Full-page sticker for my E-2 visa in the ROK

Disclaimer: This information is based on the process I went through in 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015 to obtain myFBI background checks for international immigration. It is not legal advice. It is not necessarily up to date. Official processes change at random and are unpredictable. 

Check with the FBI for the most up to date advice. 

When you move abroad as much as I do, you get really, REALLY good at being fingerprinted. I’m not an international mastermind criminal; I just have to prove that I have no criminal record all the time. For most working visas and a handful of student visas, a national criminal record check is required. For those who live outside the USA, this can take a whopping two days.

Rather unfortunately, for those of us who are form the USA it’s a lot more complicated to get an Identity History Summary.

On September 7, 2014, CJIS installed a new IT system. As a result of this installation, we are experiencing delays in processing. Please be assured that each issue is being identified and resolved as quickly as possible, but at this time anticipated processing time for an Identity History Summary is approximately 14-16 weeks. Allow additional time for mail delivery. –

To be clear, 14-16 weeks is more than three months. With mailing, closer to four and a half. Plan accordingly. If you want to be in Korea by October or earlier this year, you’ll need to apply now. Be aware of how many checks you’ll need! In Korea, you typically need a check for your visa and one for the Education Office.

To submit your FBI background check and get the process started, you’ll need the following: 

  • A set of official fingerprints for each check you need, taken at your local police precinct. Mine cost $11 each.
  • The Applicant Information Form, completed in block capitals and black ink. Download it here.
  • The Credit Card Payment Form, to pay the application fee of $18 per background check. (I highly recommend the credit card payment option; everything else is a certified P.I.T.A)
  • A method of sending these items with a tracking number to the FBI in West Virginia. NEVER send without a tracking number.

Submit all of those things, and wait. And wait. And wait.

You can try calling the FBI and pleading with them to speed up the process, as I did on my lunch break in 2011. It won’t do any good. They won’t even necessarily know whether they’ve received your application or not (and this was three months in). Check your tracking number, and watch your bank account for the charges.

Eventually, you will get a very plain envelope in the mail with a record check in it. The check itself will look something like this.

Redacted for privacy.

Redacted for privacy.

Even though it says that this check is no good for employment, pay no attention. They mean employment in the USA. The most important things are the signature and stamp, and the Result stating ‘no arrest history.’ You can now send this to your prospective university, employers and/or recruiter and get going on the actual visa process.

A word on ‘Channelers’

You may notice that there is an option to pay a company to run the background check instead of the FBI. In fact, these companies are approved by the FBI and listed on their website. In a pinch, it is possible to apply through these companies but you need to keep two things in mind.

#1- Channeler checks may NOT be accepted for apostilles or official use by immigration offices. 

#2- Channeler checks cost a lot more to process, even though they are faster. I applied for one just in case we need a backup location and end up in Korea this year, and the whole process took about a ten days. 

Make certain that you ask the consulate or embassy to which you will apply for your visa BEFORE assuming a channeler check will suffice.

What to Know About Applying for Visas: Become a Bureaucratic Ninja

This morning I arose after a night tossing and turning, with visions of paperwork and stamps in my head. I turned on NPR and jumped in the shower, carrying my pre-laid-out professional-but-not-flashy in person application outfit. I grabbed my Go Folder and headed out the door into a mini-snowstorm. Fifty minutes of intense winter driving later, I was at the Colorado Passport Agency.

Today, I renewed my trusty passport in preparation for moving to Shanghai, China. My international life had taken up too many pages. The passport that ushered me across the borders of 25 countries was suddenly no more, with two precise holes punched through it.

This is normal for me. I have applied for more than five full-pager visas. This is what they can look like.

Full-page sticker for my E-2 visa in the ROK

Full-page sticker for my E-2 visa in the ROK. Chile’s is above. 

I don’t know which process was more intense, the E-2 work visa for Korea or the Tier 4 student visa for the UK. Both were months long, involved huge amounts of paperwork, and required various biological data (biometrics for the UK, a full-blown health exam and fingerprinting for Korea). Italy’s Schengen study visa was the first I ever applied for. India required a full application even as a tourist. Chile’s took me far longer than my programme said it would because I lived in a tiny town in Patagonia. In seven years, five major visa applications. And I’m in the middle of my sixth.

You could say I’m familiar with immigration and visas.

I know from experience that this amount of involvement can feel less like red tape and more like a bureaucratic Ninja Warrior course. It’s not something that many people mention when talking about study and work abroad, perhaps because it would re-traumatise those who make it through. Being able to get a visa is the step that can make or break a trip abroad.

My best advice for getting yourself into Paperwork Warrior shape is here:

Before you do anything else, make certain that your passport is in hand. It must be valid for at least six months after you intend to leave your destination in most cases. You also need to consider how many pages you have available. Some countries (ahem, Korea and China) may discourage the use of ‘additional visa pages’ and require the originals. Renew as necessary.


Get a folder. Label it on the front in black, permanent, HUGE letters with words to reflect the seriousness of the process. Something to the effect of “VISA DOCUMENTS. Do not move, touch, re-arrange, or put away this folder or I will chuck my passport repeatedly at your thick head!” (don’t actually write that….). This will be your Folder of Doom.

Organize thyself!

Organize thyself!

Take this Folder of Doom and make sure it has a home. Always put it back in that home. It gets homesick if it’s out for even a few minutes, if it’s not doing the work for which it was born. Be consistent. Losing this shit will make you lose out on your trip.

Depending on the country to which you are applying, and the nature of the visa you require, the list of documents that must go into the Folder of Doom will change. For example, a student visa will generally require a letter of enrolment (official), proof of funding and means, and more. A work visa is generally more intensive, requiring criminal background checks, degrees that have been officially recognised, letters of reference, you firstborn, etc.

An FBI Background Check for a visa (required for work and some student visas) should be your first priority to submit. It requires:

  1. A set of fingerprints taken at your local police station.
  2. A completed form and payment (you can pay with a credit card).
  3. 14-16 WEEKS for processing (an international embarrassment; the UK takes two days). According to the FBI’s website as of 4 February 2015:

On September 7, 2014, CJIS installed a new IT system. As a result of this installation, we are experiencing delays in processing. Please be assured that each issue is being identified and resolved as quickly as possible, but at this time anticipated processing time for an Identity History Summary is approximately 14-16 weeks. Allow additional time for mail delivery. “

As soon as you possibly can, submit this. Even before you have a job secured in Korea or a place on your year-long study abroad program in Spain or Chile. Before applying for a passport, if you need one.

Get familiar with your local notary.

Get familiar with the term ‘apostille.’ This is a special recognition of the authenticity and importance and general expensiveness of an official document like a university degree or a criminal record check. It can be quite stressful to obtain, and takes time. Check your state’s Secretary of State website for more details, and consider going with a channeler.

Get familiar with being fingerprinted. It takes practice, believe it or not.

Always show up early for appointments at the embassy or any other official office. Leave time for getting lost/a giant random snowstorm. Bring only what is necessary for that appointment, and leave the Folder of Doom in its home.

Be stubborn, but practical. If necessary, ask to speak to a manager. I once sat down on the floor of the Chilean equivalent of the DMV and refused to leave until they gave me my passport back. It had been two weeks that I’d been walking around passportless, and I couldn’t go on a trip to Argentina without it. I gauged the situation carefully, and I don’t recommend this except as a last resort. The woman eventually opened an unlocked filing cabinet (!) and attempted to hand me a Russian passport. I walked out with the passport and that damn sticker, ready to complete the next step of any work permit: the residency card.

Three different kinds of ID, lined up from three different adventures

Three different kinds of ID, lined up from three different adventures.

Keep all your receipts. ALLLL you receipts. You never know when you may need them. Put them in the Folder of Doom.

If your visa requires a health check, either before or after arrival, assume that you will be drug tested. Don’t take any risks. I live in Colorado now, and there are temptations. Just don’t do it. The laws regarding drug use of the country you are going to is all that anyone will care about. Get healthy and get used to giving up illegal activities. It’s just not worth the consequences.

Find something to do in offices and at home that will keep your hands busy while you wait. Crochet is a great one, I’ve found.

And finally, once you do send away the documents and your passport make certain that you get a tracking number. Put that tracking number into your Folder of Doom. Depending on the embassy and national holidays, you should get the package back in a few days to a few weeks. Make sure you have your ‘No Idle Hands’ activities ready.


Gathering all your documents and getting them to the embassy or consulate on time is enough to give me an ulcer. It comes and goes. It’s cool. Visas and immigration are a big part of my life, and it doesn’t look like they will be leaving it any time soon. When my husband and I go through the partner visa process in one of our countries, or emigrate to a third party country that will accept us both, I’ll post a guide.

If you have any questions, I will do my best to help you out. Contact me here: