This article is for international students in Korea who want to extend their visas while also transferring universities. Although my case was a little bit special, I hope it still helps you in one way or another.
My Case: Transferring Universities & Studying Abroad
I want to start by explaining my situation. Maybe you’ll find yourself in a similar circumstance, but even if you don’t, the information presented here may be useful.
I began my studies at Incheon National University. But after one semester, I transferred to Konkuk University. We decided to switch mid-year since I truly wanted to study in Korea’s capital, Seoul. My first application only enabled me to study at INU for a year. But after some discussion, I was permitted to apply to KU as well because there were some open spots.
I had known that I would be transferring universities before I came to Korea. However, I never imagined that – even with all parties involved knowing the arrangement, transferring universities in Korea would be so stressful.
First Approach to Transfering Universities
My visa was only valid for one semester at first, since it was only granted for my enrollment period. My visa would have been valid for a year if I continued at INU for two semesters. However, as a result of my shift in universities, I had to completely renew my Visa in January/February, just before the new semester began.
My native university had never faced such a situation before, thus they were unable to assist me in any way. My second thought was to contact the International Office at INU. But, they were also a little lost because they had never dealt with a situation like this before as well. You’d think it’s as simple as signing a contract and submitting the documents from your new university, right? Well, I wish it was…
The International Office called the Immigration Office for some guidance but was met with a rather rude employee. After some back and forth, she simply stated that I needed to return to Germany and reapply there before returning to Korea.
We were all astonished, to put it bluntly. Given that we were in the midst of a pandemic, my traveling back and forth would require me to endure quarantine twice. It was not only costly but also dangerous. I had to go into quarantine for the first time for two weeks, and it cost me roughly 800€… The one-way flight ticket would cost me 700€, so if I did it all over again, I’d be broke by the end of this journey.
The Search for the Immigration Office Begins
So, the International Office told me to visit there in person and explain my situation – hopefully with a different employee. I went. But, it was the wrong immigration office. I found out only after I had waited for almost an hour.
My immigration office had changed! Since my new university is in Seoul, the Immigration Office in charge of my new visa would also be in Seoul! Keep that in mind, it’s your new district that counts, not your old one! Your Immigration Office will remain the same for those staying at the same university. So don’t worry, it’ll be a lot simpler.
Searching for the Right Immigration Office
The next thing I did, was look up Immigration Offices in Seoul. There are actually six of them, so I asked two other friends to help me. They also had to go to an immigration office to sort out their visa problems in the past, so I figured they could recommend one with friendly staff.
Well… This led me to go to the wrong immigration office – again. See, even if the universities are all in one city, they all belong to different districts, and hence each has a different immigration office in charge of handling student visas. However, at least this time the guy working there told me where I needed to go, which made it a lot easier than trying to look it up on my own.
At the Immigration Office
Once I was finally at the right immigration office, I had to take a number. Then, I waited until it was my turn to go to the counter. It took about an hour because even if you make a reservation beforehand (which I definitely recommend) there are a lot of people waiting. While l waited, I had to fill out some basic forms for my visa application. It was mostly basic information. So, it was pretty easy to fill out there and I didn’t have to print it out before!
But that’s not the only thing. Usually, the International Office will be able to provide you with information on which documents are needed, but a quick Google search does it too! For me, I needed my passport and documents from the new university that proved I was enrolled AND very important: a document from my home university that also states I changed universities for the purpose of studying. This is really important if you switch universities while studying abroad.
All the Documents You Need for Transfering Universities and More
I almost wouldn’t have had that document, but I asked my home university beforehand since I just wanted to take some precautions. It saved my life this time. It wouldn’t have been the end of the world. I probably would have just needed to re-schedule everything and wait for another week or two for the next appointment. But it saved me from a lot of pain.
The other thing you need to know is, that processing the visa costs 30,000 Won which I had to pay at the office counter then take the receipt with me back to the officer. After all of that was done and I answered some questions, they approved my visa and took my ARC to update my new address. This was needed because I had to move from Incheon to Seoul, otherwise, it’s not needed. After two weeks I was able to get my ARC back and everything was done!
A little message
As someone unfamiliar with Korean, dealing with immigration issues was really scary. Normally people in Korea are really helpful and friendly but I feel like every time I called the immigration office, the most unfriendly worker possible answered the phone and gave me the worst possible news.
If you are faced with a difficult or unclear immigration situation in South Korea, sometimes the best thing is to just show up in person and be as friendly as possible. I hope everything can work out well for everyone in the end!
For information on how to extend your D-2 student visa online, Click Here.