Hopefully you don’t have to do this.
Or maybe hopefully you do.
Depends on the kind of person you are. Sean and I were excited about the visa run.
So what’s a visa run? Well, you might already know if you’re reading this. But if not, the visa run is for people who are already in Korea looking for another job or for those whose Korean Consulate takes too long to process a visa so you flew to Korea to get it done faster via the visa run. Basically you just can’t be in Korea to get a Korean visa and Japan is your closest option. Sean and I were flown on a tourist visa to Korea then sent to Fukuoka, Japan to obtain our E-2 work visa. You get a tourist visa just for visiting any country. They stamp it at the airport upon arrival. Sometimes they will give you shit for not having a return flight. If so, you just tell them you are taking a ferry boat to Japan when you leave Korea.
Sean and I did a visa run because it saved us and our employer over a week’s wait since the Seattle consulate takes over a week to process a visa and Fukuoka takes 24 hours. In our mind this was win-win. We got to Korea sooner and got a mini paid for vacation to Japan. And for our employer, well it cost a little more money for them but we were available for the start of their mid-term session which is what they wanted.
So this post will give you step-by-step directions for getting an E-2 Work Visa in Fukuoka, Japan. Our next post will be the fun things we did in Fukuoka on our extended stay. If you think this is a bit overkill or exceptionally detailed, do a google search for Fukuoka visa run. It was a life saver for us and for many other people. You would be surprised at how easy it is to get lost, be late, or feel overwhelmed when doing this run.
The general consensus among the blogs was 3 steps and a list of things to bring:
TYPICAL BLOG STEPS
1. Take subway from the airport to the Tojinmachi stop by the Korean Consulate
2. Walk to Korean consulate to apply for visa, be sure to arrive before 11:30am
3. Return to Korean consulate the following day between 1:30-4:00pm to pick up passport with visa
TYPICAL BLOG’S BRING LIST
1. A passport photo, or pay ¥600 for one from a photo booth at the consulate
2. Your passport
3. The visa issuance number your employer received from Korean Immigration
4. Your new home address, work address, boss’ name, and boss’ phone number
MY PERSONAL EXTRA ADVICE
1. Pack light, preferably in a backpack.
2. Check the weather, it can get hot and sunny.
3. Do your currency exchange before you arrive.
4. Wear comfortable shoes.
Easy enough right? Well it should be, but again, I’m so glad I read other blogs before I left. The best blog I found was American in Seoul.
This blog had some great photos to help with walking directions. My boss actually told me to print them out and keep them with me just in case. And it helped, and worked, since I am typing this from my work desk in Korea. I only decided to do a follow up blog to mention the spots where it may have been possible to get lost, confused, or annoyed.
Follow through to check out some Fukuoka Visa Run fine print.
At the expense of looking very dumb, Sean and I are going to list the things that popped up and either confused us or pissed us off on our visa run. Basically, things that weren’t mentioned on other blogs that we felt needed some highlighting.
Step 1 – Take subway from the airport to the Korean Consulate
STEP 1A. CATCH THE SHUTTLE
So PS, the subway isn’t at the airport. You can’t just walk down the stairs or outside and there it is. I didn’t find any other blog that mentioned you will leave the airport (after going through Immigration and Customs) and catch a shuttle to the subway station. We asked a tourist stand in the airport when we didn’t see any signs for the subway. They told us what’s up with the subway.
So you will walk out of the airport and find a bus that has “to Subway” in English on that scrolling destination thing on the front of the bus. You stay on til the very last stop. The bus will have an English announcement on it every once in a while telling you when and where the stops are. It takes about 10-15 minutes on the shuttle. Once you hop off the bus follow signs to the subway. Hint: when you get off the bus look to your right for a set of stairs heading down.
STEP 1B. SUBWAY FROM AIRPORT TO TOJINMACHI STOP
Now it’s time to get on the subway. Have you ever been on the subway? I hope so if you’re going alone and didn’t read any blogs about the visa run.
ATM? Wrong. Eats your bills, spits out coin change, all in exchange for a subway ride.
We didn’t see that English option til we were leaving. Oops. So select that if you want to make it easy on yourself. I think you should take it easy on yourself, there is enough to stress about as it is.
You will stick your ticket into a turnstile thing near the subway ticket machines and walk through as it pops out the other side. If you look dumb or confused someone will help you. They helped us.
There is only one line to catch from here and it goes in only one direction. So just get on the next subway that comes through. Once on board, just hang out til Tojinmachi, which is the 8th stop. Above the doors you can watch the subway progress on a little screen that blinks lights between stops. Tojinmachi is labeled so you will see that it is the next stop before you get there. Subway ride is about 15-20 minutes.
Step 2 – Walk to Korean consulate to apply for visa, be sure to arrive before 11:30am
Most blogs had great directions for leaving the subway and getting to the consulate. Here are just some extra for your viewing pleasure.
You are looking for yellow signs that say EXIT 1. There will be quite a few.
Once you’ve exited the turnstile the EXIT 1 signs will lead you leftwards. The walk out of the subway takes about 5ish minutes. And there are a lot of stairs. Bummer when you’re in a hurry. Just keep following it til you get to the sunshine.
Glorious sunshine. You walk up these stairs and just keep going straight.
Now the walk begins. This is a 15-20 minute walk. This is where my advice comes in handy. I got hot and I wished I’d left my laptop at home. Then again it came in handy for food hunting. Sean ended up carrying my messenger bag and my feet hurt. Oh well.
Keep walking for a few blocks, maybe 5-10 minutes til you come to your only turn at an intersection. It’s a right turn, even better.
See that BMW place. You are approaching your right turn, it’s the next big crosswalk.
There it is. Your intersection. Cross the street first then turn right.
You got across the road. Good job. Take a right so this ugly building is on your left.
Once you turn right and are walking down this road, you will keep walking for about 10 minutes til you see the Korean Consulate and the Yahoo! Stadium.
In the consulate you will fill out an application, pay the ¥4500, and leave your passport. You MUST get there before 11:30am. Apparently they will turn you away otherwise. The following day you can pick it up between 1:30-4:00pm.
Once you leave, your employer or recruiter should have set you up with a hotel. I hope they gave you better directions than we got. Sean and I went to McDonald’s (remember that one right you took? if you took a left instead McDonald’s is down that block) and got on his GPS to find our hotel. It wasn’t that bad, they know to get you one close.
We had a great time exploring the area around our hotel and the consulate. We didn’t stray too far, but we also didn’t have to. Within a 35 minute walking distance there was a lot to see and eat. Well, a lot to eat if you aren’t vegetarian. We had a harder time with that, but we won’t get into it here.
STEP 3. Return to Korean consulate the following day between 1:30-4:00pm to pick up passport with visa
STEP 3A – You will check out of the hotel long before you pick up the visa
10:00am was our checkout time. This sucked because my feet hurt and my bag was heavy. Pack smarter than me. You can pay around ¥2100 to check out late at most hotels. We didn’t do this, I just sucked it up and loitered a lot.
Try to remember your directions to the hotel and landmarks around the area when you leave the consulate your first day. You will return to the consulate the next day for your awesome visa and you don’t want to get lost between the hotel and the consulate.
Oh yeah, 13 month residency.
Once you’ve gotten this the chances are pretty high that you will have a few hours to kill before finding the subway back to the airport. We happened to arrive during a holiday so we actually got an extra day in Japan, which is why we will post about it separately. It’s not the norm, but it was a lot of fun.
STEP 3B. Leaving Fukuoka via the right subway
Make sure you get on the line that is heading towards the airport. You can check this by seeing what number the airport stop is and looking at the lines for the sign reading “heading towards #”. Sean didn’t catch this important info, but luckily I did and we got on the right line no problem.
Don’t forget about that shuttle, as you will need it once you leave the subway to go to the International Departures part of the airport. Look for the same kind of shuttle bus that says “International Terminal” and stay on til the end.
Oh, and spend all your coin change if possible, since you can’t convert it at a Currency Exchange. Once you’ve paid for your subway ride go nuts at the airport. We didn’t have any extra coins so no trinkets for us.
Sean and I had a few hiccups but overall the visa run went smoothly. So don’t worry, just read a few blogs and pack light. It can be a fun overnighter and now you’ve gotten to visit two countries in just a few days.
Have fun getting legal.