I am looking for advice about E2's. My 2 friends are at a shit korean kindergarten (not hagwon, but a korean school that thought it would be cool to have English teachers but have no idea how things work). things have not worked out and they have agreed to give them release letters. they have been there 4 months and have agreed to pay back the flight here. The school is now telling them they must pay back the recruiter fee too since the recruiter is not agreeing to pay it back himself. as we know this is bullocks!
My questions are 1) can they just do a runner (and pay back the flight by working the last month free) and still get a new E2 for with a new school? or do they have to wait for their year to be up on the original visa? 2) if they get the release letter do they have to go to Japan to get a new E2 or can it just transfer over to their new schools?
thank you in advance.
This is one of those stories that everybody reads about on countless sites and blacklists. There are a couple ways to approach such a situation, but each must be done done well and with relative calm and finesse.
This is total advice since there is no proven formula for a painless exit from a bad school.
Technically speaking, your friends "shit kindergarten" has every right to demand repayment of the flight tickets and it's not at all uncommon for them to demand recruiter repayment as well. A lot of schools will dock fifty or so bucks from each paycheck for the first six months as a safety net in case a teacher doesn't work out or decides to pull a midnight run. So unless this school has a deduction system in place, they will try to get that money from them. Since contracts in Korea are not binding in the least, they have very little ground to stand on.
You ask if they can do a "runner". Of course, you're referring to the infamous "midnight run" where a disgruntled English teacher bent on sticking it to the man picks up in the middle of the night, catches the red eye and laughs all the way home. I don't recommend this option in most cases (and especially not in public), but in all honesty, your friends are going to lose a lot more if they don't. If they run, then they need to do it sooner than later. Ethics aside, there is no reason to continue showing up to work if they are going to surrender all of their wages to the boss for repayment. They should quietly pack up, store their stuff at a friends place and hop on a cheap flight to Japan. Their absence at school will obviously be noticed and once the school discovers that their apartments have been abandoned (but don't trash it as that presents other problems), they will cancel the visa within a few days. Schools do not want the responsibility of having sponsored teachers MIA and wondering the countryside. That said, it is important to be out of the country by that time and/or be in contact with a new recruiter.
Once the school has cancelled the visa (and their new recruiter will know if it has been done), they can start the process over again, totally new and unknown to the unorganized and unmotivated immigration officials. All they need to have is their documents (diploma, criminal background check, transcripts, health exam...) and be out of the country to get another E2 visa. Some say that a midnight runner must remain out of the country until their previous contract expires, but the contract has little to do with the visa itself and should not be a problem.
I recommend this, but I don't really like it. It'll save your friends a heap of money, but it might screw a fellow teacher. And like always, they might have to deal with some unforeseen song and dance with immigration.
The release would be the safest option, but it looks like it's going to cost them. Traditionally, they would not have to fly to Japan since E2 sponsorship would simply to transferred, but if their current school is playing hardball and doesn't want to issue the letters until all debts have been repaid, then it would make a smooth transfer difficult.
It's a difficult situation to be in really and one that could be so much easier if their current school was being just a little bit more cooperative with the recruiter fees. Personally, I would get in contact with a recruiter, be honest with them about the situation, take a boat to Japan, save some of that repayment cash and start over at a well-researched and established school. Publicly, I would press for the letter of release as soon as possible and move on with as little hassle as possible.
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