Finally, after 45 days in Korea I am a legal resident! I can now get a cell phone, open a bank account, and exchange money again! All foreigners living or working in Korea must apply for an Alien Registration Card (ARC) or Alien ID card within 90 days of arriving. Without this card, you are not a person.
The processing time for the ID's takes anywhere between 7-14 days. Of course mine took the entire 14 days to process because of the Chuseok holiday. The fee varies from $10 to $20 depending on location, and most companies will take their employee's documents to the immigration office for them to make the process easier. One thing that people need to be aware of is that they will not have their passport during this time. I was completely caught off guard when my boss told me about this.
I felt totally naked with no passport and no way to exchange money. My wallet contained a lousy California Drivers License and a few hundred U.S. dollars. Some of my friends at work had to exchange money for me because a passport is required at the bank. Personally, I think the ARC system is completely bogus. What if North Korea decided to invade or there was a national disaster! The American Embassy would have a field day if I told them my only form of identification was a driver's license and a Nordstroms Credit Card.
This card is your lifeline in Korea and pretty much serves as your passport and visa. Everything on the ID card is in Korean except for your name, your country, and your visa type. You cannot open a bank account, or get a cell phone contract without this card.
Apparently when you leave the country, all foreigners have to surrender their Korean ID's. If you do not hand the card over, you will be forced to stay in Korea for the rest of your life.
|This stamp will be placed in your passport after you receive the ARC card.|
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