Things to Know
- All foreigners that enter South Korea intending to stay for longer than 90 days have to register with local immigration authorities within the first three months of their stay.
- South Korea sees visas as consul recommendations to allow the foreigner to enter the country. This means that having a valid Korean visa does not guarantee entry and a customs officer can still refuse your admittance to the country.
- South Korean visas are valid for three months after approval. The applicant must claim the visa (pick it up from the immigration office) in that time or it will become invalid.
- One cannot enter Korea while their visa is being processed. If you do so, your visa application will be withdrawn.
Employment Based Visas
The type of work permit and employment visa you get in South Korea depends on what you do. Your options for a long-term employment visa (allowing you to stay for more than 90 days) are the following:
E-1 Professor Visa
This visa is aimed at expats seeking to give lectures or do research in their field at above college level educational facilities. The multiple-entry visa is valid for one year and can be renewed in one-year intervals. In some cases, you can be allowed to stay as long as needed, with renewals available every five years.
E-2 Foreign Language Instructor
This visa is designed for expats that wish to teach a foreign language at a company or broadcast station-owned schools, above elementary school level educational facilities, or similar institutions. Foreign language teaching assistants for elementary, middle, or high school also qualify for this visa. The multiple-entry visa is granted for two years and can be renewed in two-year intervals.
The E-3 visa is for expats that are invited by a public or private institution to conduct research in natural science or advanced technology. The multiple-entry visa is valid for one year and can be renewed in one-year intervals. In some cases, you can be allowed to stay as long as needed, with renewals available every five years.
E-4 Technological Guidance
Expats with expertise in natural science or high technology that are invited by a public or private organization or offer skills unavailable in Korea can apply for this visa. The multiple-entry visa is valid for one year and can be renewed in one-year intervals. The single-entry visa is valid for three months and can be renewed in one-year intervals.
E-5 Special Profession
Architects, lawyers, physicians, accountants, and other such professionals can apply for this visa. They must be internationally licensed and hold Korean government permission to practice their field of expertise. The multiple-entry visa is valid for one year and can be renewed in one-year intervals. The single-entry visa is valid for three months and can be renewed in one-year intervals.
E-6 Culture and Art
Designed for expats that participate in musical, artistic, and literary activities. This includes for-profit modeling, pop entertainment, adult entertainment, hotel and business entertainment, and sports. The multiple-entry visa is valid for one year and can be renewed in one-year intervals.
E-7 Specially Designed Activities
Aimed at expats that participate in activities designed by the Korean Ministry of Justice through a public or private organization. The multiple-entry visa is valid for one-to-three years and can be renewed in one or three-year intervals. The single-entry visa is valid for three months and can be renewed in one-year intervals.
D-5 Long-Term New Coverage
A visa for reporters working for foreign media (broadcast, newspapers, magazines, etc.). The single-entry visa is valid for three months and can be renewed in one-year intervals.
Alien Registration Card (ARC)
Most people that are staying in South Korea for more than six months need to get their Alien Registration Card (ARC). Expats use ARC in Korea as a personal identification card. With this card you will get a Resident Registration Number that is necessary when opening a bank account or registering at the local medical practice.
To apply for this card, you need to book an appointment at the nearest Immigration Office. They typically work form 09:00 to 18:00 every working day. On the day of the appointment, be on time and bring your passport, a colored passport-style photograph (3.5 mm by 4.5 mm), and other documents necessary for your type of visa. If you do not know which documents you need, you can call 1345 (in Korea) or 821345 (outside of Korea) to check. Make sure you get the names of the documents you need in Korean as translations might lead to confusion.
When applying, you will need to complete an application form that is freely available at the Immigration Office. Employees at the office are available to help you fill the form and see if you brought all the right documents. That is where having the Korean names comes in handy as they will be able to tell you if you are missing anything.
You will have to pay an issuance fee that at the moment stands at 30,000 KRW (25 USD).
Applying for a D-10 Job Seeker Visa
Do you qualify for one of the above-mentioned visas, but do not have a job yet? You can still move to South Korea as a job seeker by applying for a D-10 visa. However, the eligibility standards are quite high. You will need to meet one of the following requirements:
- Your previous employer has recently (no later than in the last three years) been featured in the Fortune 500 list.
- You are a graduate of a university listed on the Times Higher World University Rankings.
- You are a recent graduate (graduated in the last three years) of a Korean community college or higher education institution.
- You have a bachelor’s or higher degree and have completed a research program at a Korean research institution in the last three years.
- You are recognized by the head of a diplomatic mission.
You can also obtain this visa if you are planning on doing an internship in Korea.
If the purpose of your stay in South Korea is continuing your business endeavors you started abroad or becoming an investor in a Korean company, you might need to look into specifications about the following visas:
- intra-company transfer (D-7);
- corporate investment (D-8);
- trade management (D-9).
More details on self-employment possibilities and starting a business in Korea are discussed later in the guide.
South Korea’s Work Visa Document Requirements
The documents you need to present when applying for a visa depends on which type of visa you opt for. However, all work visas require you to have:
- a completed application form;
- your passport (original and/or copies, digital or physical);
- a colored passport-style photograph (3.5 mm by 4.5 mm).
Some visa application procedures also require you to present your employment contract, educational and professional certificates, criminal record, or recommendation letter. When applying, you will also need to pay a fee.
South Korea’s Work Permit Visa Application Form
South Korea allows for both online and physical visa applications. They are:
- e-visa application (via the visa portal);
- visa application (via Korean diplomatic missions abroad);
- confirmation of visa issuance application (via the visa portal);
- confirmation of visa issuance application (via Korean immigration offices).
The type of job you are planning on doing determines how you should apply for a visa. For example, people that have an offer to work as pilots in Korean airlines or a local transportation company should apply for an E-5 visa at a diplomatic mission. Expat professionals who work as lawyers or physicians will also need to apply for an E-5 visa.
No matter the type of work visa you apply for, the application is only obtained if you apply through a sponsor (i.e. your employer) or a visa agency. The latter can be found with the help of InterNations GO!. Visas (both e-format and regular) can be obtained by the applicant or with the help of a sponsor.
The application forms can be found online. They are available in Korean and English languages.
Spouses and unmarried minor children of holders of all the above-mentioned visas need to get an F-3 visa to legally stay in South Korea. In addition to paying the issuance fee, the applicants need to present the following documents:
- filled-out application form
- a colored passport-style photograph (3.5 mm by 4.5 mm)
- family relation certificate (birth, marriage, etc.)
- proof of financial stability (proof of employment, tax payment certificates, etc.)
Depending on the method of application, the family members might be granted a visa that will allow them to stay for as long as the principal applicant (e-visa and confirmation of visa issuance). In other cases, they can only apply for a single-entry visa that is valid for three months and can be renewed in one-year intervals.
South Korea’s Work Visa Costs
Visa issuance fee for a South Korean visa should be paid in USD. Note that if you are applying for your visa online, you will be charged additional fees for electronic payment services.
|Type of Visa||Costs USD|
|90 days or fewer single-entry visa||40|
|91 days or more single-entry visa||60|
Keep in mind that some countries, such as the US, the UK, and Australia, have adjusted visa fee systems while others have fee exemptions for specific types of visa. Find whether different rules apply to your country by visiting the official Korean visa page.