Another Bumpy Road Courtesy of COVID-19…
Flashback to December 2019, I had just accepted a contract and working visa sponsorship offer from an entertainment company in Seoul, South Korea. After just about 8 years, I would finally be able to begin a career as an international model, singer, dancer, actress, and entertainer. By the end of January 2020, documents were underway and I’d booked mine and Nabi’s flight to Incheon Airport. We were all set to fly, land, and begin again at the end of March. March 27th. Just a handful of weeks left until Take 3, but then February came, and Mother Nature slammed on the breaks. We were in store for some silent sabotage courtesy of COVID-19.
The exponentially worsening COVID-19 epidemic in South Korea caused our plans to get delayed a bit. After discussing the situation with the company, it was decided that my new arrival and contract start date would be pushed back to May 2nd. I won’t lie. I was a bit disappointed. But, in the end, it was what it was. I couldn’t magically ask a global pandemic to please go away. Though it’d be nice, wouldn’t it?
By the second week of April it seemed like the situation was steadily getting better in Korea, but unfortunately that was not the case for my home country, America. Everyone has their own opinions on why the USA’s situation got so severe. But the fact is, we were blindsided and unprepared. We also underestimated Mother Nature- and she kicked our tails. It wouldn’t be long until our departure was delayed again.
** Quick lesson on visas. In Korea (and probably many other countries of the world), in order to obtain a working visa, you need to have a sponsor such as a school for teaching, or in my case, an entertainment company for entertaining. The actual issuance protocol of your visa can be a bit different depending on your particular working visa. In the case of my visa, the E6-1 visa, your sponsor company will first submit an application/resume to immigration. Next, if accepted, immigration will then give the sponsor your visa issuance number and your sponsor will relay the info to you. After this, it is the visa holder’s (i.e. mwah) responsibility to submit the visa application, issuance number, and their passport to a consulate outside of Korea. So, easiest way to do it is to get this all taken care of while you are still in your home country. Now just FYI, if you come to Korea, accept any money for any work and get found out by the government, you’ll be in serious doggy doo-doo. Fines, possible jail-time, and very possible deportation. Quite stinky. So it only makes sense that, once you get a working visa, you are only legally allowed to do and accept Korean money for the jobs listed in the description of said visa. **
Okay so back to mid-April. Understandably visa processing got a bit delayed in Korea, and I still hadn’t received my visa issuance number. I found out I would be receiving it by the end of the month. Normally, this would be no problem. Normally, you can personally walk into your consulate, submit everything, and have your visa within the next 24 to 48 hours; however, in the current world, things were not so normal.
Being a Jersey Girl, my closest, go-to consulate would be the Korean consulate in New York City. Unfortunately, “The Big Apple” was hit pretty hard by COVID-19 and the consulate there was completely shut down until further notice. After trying to contact and inquiring with several consulates around the country, the consulate in Washington D.C. became my hero. Normally, in the US, a consulate will only do the final processing of your visa if you are a resident of the consulate’s specific jurisdiction. This is why I got a few “sorry, but no” type responses before Washington D.C. agreed to give me an exception after hearing my situation. But life teaches us there is no perfect solution. I was told that it would probably take two weeks for my visa process to be finished. Plus, it takes about 3 1/2 to 4 hours to drive from The Garden State to D.C- that wasn’t happening. Especially during the age of COVID-19. #StayHomeStaySafe. Luckily, we also live in the age of express overnight shipping. So, I called the original airline we had booked our flight with. I told them my situation, and was about to reschedule my flight for the end of May when I reminded the kind airline employee of Nabi riding with me in the cabin. “Due to the Corona virus, we are not allowing any pets to ride in the cabins during our flights. She would need to go in the cargo hold”. Oh. No thank you.
Well alrighty then! So now I needed to find a new airline. Korean Air saved the day! I initially flew with Korean Air round trip in 2016 when I studied abroad at Ewha Womens’ University in Seoul. Let’s just say they will, from now on, be both mine and Nabi’s first choice airline where applicable. After doing some math, I decided it should work out to book the flight for May 18th. Now to wrap this up: my visa issuance number came out during the last week or so of April and by the week of May 11th my E6-1 visa! Then it was time to pack my bags, again, and over again, and again. #packingstruggles. Still learning the art of packing light and efficiently, but getting better every time~. 😛
In becoming a legally international flying canine, Nabi had a few steps and documentation involved in her preparation as well. Head on over to Nabi’s Corner and she’ll tell you all about it.