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Letter to the Korean Immigration Office
by [name withheld]

October 4, 2005

To: Korean Immigration Offices

Re: Foreign Teachers’ Credential Check


Dear Sir or Madam,


As a Korean citizen, I wish to make some suggestions to you about a current issue: your checking of credentials for foreign teachers now working in Korea. Specifically, I wish to address the topic of university diplomas and transcripts.


There is a perception now, rightly or wrongly, that a significant number of foreign teachers have obtained E-1 or E-2 working visas from Korean Immigration under false pretenses: that they have provided Immigration with falsified documents, such as forged (“fake”) university diplomas and transcripts.


If indeed this is the case, I would agree that the situation is deplorable and needs to be rectified. However, I also would submit that our Immigration authorities might want to rethink some of the ways in which they are trying to rectify the situation.


First, having police officers remove foreign teachers from their classrooms, in plain view of their students, may not be such a good idea—especially without any proof of wrongdoing. I have heard of people to whom this has happened, allegedly because Immigration had received “fake” diplomas bearing the name and crest of their university. In other words, because (allegedly) some dishonest foreign teachers had given Immigration “fake” university diplomas, for which they got caught and arrested, Immigration officials decided to simply arrest other foreign teachers with diplomas from the same schools. This is a real problem, because “fake” university diplomas usually bear the names of real, legitimate universities—schools whose real, legitimate graduates may well be working legally in Korea. Considering the way our Korean schools work, and our Korean universities especially, foreign teachers who get arrested in their classrooms in plain view of their students tend to not get rehired at contract renewal—even if they never actually did anything wrong. I’m sure you can see the potential for abuse.


Next, I would respectfully suggest that our current policy of requesting mailed transcripts in sealed envelopes from visa applicants’ universities is not really the best way to go. In the first place, it is much too lengthy: an envelope in the mail from America or Canada takes weeks to get to Korea, if it gets here at all. I know: my husband requested mailed transcripts from his own university over a month ago and he is still waiting for them. In the second place, asking for mailed transcripts does not really negate the potential for fraud: someone in America or Canada could easily print “fake” transcripts and “fake” envelopes and simply mail them to Korea.


Therefore, humbly, I propose the following alternative: that immigration officials prepare a standard form for all foreign teachers to complete and sign. I have attached a suggested form herewith. The Immigration officials would then send this form by fax directly to the universities of record; and they would receive the visa applicants’ transcripts by fax directly from the universities of record. This would be much faster and would eliminate the potential for fraud.


Registrar’s Offices’ fax numbers are available on all real, fully accredited universities’ websites. Korean Immigration already has a list of fully accredited universities worldwide; all you would need to do would be to add the fax numbers next to the names. If you agree that this is a better system than the one currently in place, and if your personnel would like help compiling lists of fax numbers for all of the world’s fully accredited universities (and, of course, beware of non-accredited, diploma-mill schools), I am certain that many foreign teachers would be more than happy to help, for a nominal fee. In any case, if you still agree that the system I have just proposed would improve on the current one’s deficiencies, but your personnel would prefer to compile universities’ fax numbers themselves, I respectfully suggest that they look for the fax number of the “Registrar’s Office” at each university; this will help avoid delays or errors.


I hope my suggestions may be of some help to you.


Sincerely,

 

(Name withheld for security reasons)



(FORM LETTER)

To:

Registrar’s Office at __________________ University / University of ______________

Fax Number:


From:

Student Name:

Student Number:

Degree and Program of Study:

Year of Graduation:


Korean Immigration Reference Number (Please include in your faxed reply):




Dear Sir or Madam,


I hereby request that you send by fax a copy of my university transcripts to me, care of the South Korean Immigration office. I need this copy of my transcripts for visa purposes, and therefore would kindly appreciate a prompt response.


Please fax my transcripts to this number:


Thanking you in advance for your speedy reply, I remain,


Yours truly,

 

(Signature)


P.S.: Please bill my credit card (VISA / Master Card / Other: ____________________)


Number: _______________________________________ Expiration Date: ____/____

Name on Card: __________________________________

 

_____________________________________________________

Editorial note : We normally expect stories on Koreabridge Writings to carry the name of the author. This is a small check on authenticity. We felt that the case of this letter to the Korean Immigration Office was a legitimate exception. ed.

 

October 7 , 2005