Thursday, May 14, 2015

a day with the rellies

I'm out with relatives tomorrow. We're going on a quest to obtain—I hope—a document informally known as a hojeok,* i.e., a family register. Slowly, painfully, I'm piecing together the paperwork I need in order to switch from my current E-1 "professor" visa to an F-4 "dongpo" visa, i.e., a visa for people with Korean heritage. An F-4 would free me up in many ways: I wouldn't have to be paranoid about working multiple jobs, for one thing, and I'd never have to be tied down to a sponsor/employer again. F-4s also require renewal only once every two years, which would halve the amount of bureaucratic agony I normally go through. Employment prospects would also open wide.

Assuming we're successful in our quest for the legendary hojeok, the next step for me will be to track down my mother's naturalization papers—proof that she became an American citizen. While it's possible that my father knows where those papers are, he and I aren't on speaking terms, which pretty much closes off that avenue. I'm planning to contact the US government directly. The old Immigration and Naturalization Bureau has now become the USCIS: US Citizenship and Immigration Services. I'm sure it's the same clunky, labyrinthine bureaucracy, though, and there's a good chance that obtaining the desired documents will mean coming to the office in person—something I can't do until I can afford a plane ticket. I sense that I'm going to have to ask my brothers to help out with this part of the process.

If all goes according to plan, I ought to have all the documents I need before July, and I ought to have transitioned to the Golden Goose, full-time, by the beginning of August. But it all begins with tomorrow's day trip to a district office to obtain the hojeok. Fingers crossed.

*The "eo" in hojeok should be pronounced somewhere between an "aw" and an "uh" sound: somewhere between "ho-juck" and "ho-jawk."


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