Hunting for Hallyu, Exchange in Korea

This blog is about my exchange year & adventures in South Korea!

Tag Archives: South Korea

How to get VISA for South Korea

So here are the things you need to know about getting a visa for South Korea. Depending on the reason for your stay you might need a VISA to travel & stay in Korea, but South Korea also has an agreement with some countries for visa waiver.

So for the students from Finland: (similar way for anyone, but check your country requirements)
– So for us the VISA application if your going there to study is fairly simple actually. Finland is on the list for visa waiver so if your traveling to Korea or just going there to study in a summer school for 30 days you will not need any visa. However if your going there to study for longer 1 or 2 semesters you will be needing the D-2 visa or the D-4 visa.

D-2 visa: This one is what you need if you go to Korea for a regular exchange period!

D-4 visa: This on is meant for those students who go to Korea for Language program only so it is not something a regular exchange student will need. Also this one does not allow working part-time at all.

Here is a easy guide for you to get your visa application done:

  1. Go to this website: http://fin.mofa.go.kr/english/eu/fin/main/index.jsp
At the website
  1. Find the current visa application form for students and fill it with the required info.
  2. Continue the application process according to the instructions on the embassy website.

 Basically what you will be needing to complete your application is:

  • 1. Filled visa application form
  • 2. Valid passport
  • 3. Admission documentation from the university in Korea
  • ( The ORIGINAL COPY & at least one copy from it)
  • 4. Proof of finance: How will you pay for your stay in Korea, you will need you personal bank account records stamped and signed by your bank OR records from KELA if you don’t have the needed funds in your bank account in the time of the application. You should also add all the other ways you will pay for your stay like for example: JAMK’s grant for exchange students and any other way you can proof your financial guarantee.
  • 5. Many passport pictures!!! be prepared to have multiple ones since you will need these while making the application as well as in Korea when registering for different permits and school things. I recommend to have at least +10 and +5 when you get to Korea.

All of these documents are required to get the visa approved. Remember to always check the current situation tho, since these all applied for me and they might not be the same for you. You can find all the needed links at the end of this post!

South Korea maintains a visa waiver agreement list and a designated visa-free entry list with countries not included on those lists requiring a visa to enter the country. In addition foreigners wishing to engage in certain activities such as diplomatic work, gainful employment, study or residence must apply for the appropriate visa prior to engaging in that activity in country.

Visa-free entry
Visa-free entry times range from 30 days, in the case of Tunisia and several other countries, to as long as six months for Canadians.

Overseas Study (D-2) visa

  • The Overseas Study (D-2) visa is issued to foreigner who are planning to study at the undergraduate or above level of school.
  • Due to the high cost of education and difficulty in attracting foreign students the government considered granting special work visas to parents of students on D-2 visas in 2006. Parents would have been able to remain and work in the country for up to five years. In the same year it was noted that foreign students often taught illegally to keep up with their finances. Immigration law allowed D-2 visa holders only to work part-time in some businesses which paid an average of 3000W per hour. Students were allowed to work only 20 hours per week. However, students could earn 30000-50000W per hour teaching languages as tutors. In 2007 over 1800 foreigners on D-2 visas were found to be working illegally. Foreigners who have a D-2 visa are prohibited from working full-time. 2009 saw concern raised over Chinese nationals who overstayed their visas. There was an 11.7 times increase in overstays on the D-2 and other visas. It was also reported that “a number” of those entering on D-2 visas from China were doing so only to find a job illegally. In 2010 68 illegal tutors on D-2 visas were caught by the immigration department.

Corporate Investment (D-8) visa

  • The Corporate Investment (D-8) visa is issued to foreigners who are going to own and manage a small or medium business in South Korea or who are sent as specialists to work at businesses owned by companies outside Korea. Individuals wishing to apply for this visa on their own must invest a minimum of 50 million won.
  • The amount of money required as an investment by foreigners to obtain the visa has risen over the years. In 1991 a foreign investor was required to invest only 25 million won, then in 2001 this was raised to 50 million won. In 2010 the government announced that it was looking to increase this further to 100 million for a number of reasons. Due to inflation, a rise in the cost of living and other costs they felt that 100 million was more representative of what was required as a minimum investment to start a business in Korea. However, there was also concern that some foreigners were taking advantage of the visa and using it to reside permanently in Korea without actually creating any business. Once the visa has been issued the government doesn’t keep track of the investment, so some foreigners were using agents who provided the investment money for a fee in order for them to obtain the visa. Concern was raised that the increase would do nothing to deter abuse of the visa and would instead discourage foreign investment in Korea. The regulations surrounding the visa and foreign business ownership have been criticized for requiring a Korean guarantor even though the foreigner has invested a large sum of money and been given permission to open nearly any business they wish.

Foreign Language teaching (E-2) visa

  • The Foreign Language teaching (E-2) visa is issued to foreign language teachers who work in South Korea. Applications are required to be native residents of a country whose mother tongue is the same as the language they will teach and they are also required to hold a bachelor’s degree from that country. Applications are required to submit criminal background checks, health checks, sealed transcripts, verified copies of their degree, contracts and a fee to obtain the visa.
  • In 2007 the government introduced several new regulations to the E-2 visa. Included in these were a criminal record check, health check, and consulate/embassy interview for first-time applicants. In 2008 several English-speaking countries that were disqualified from applying for the E-2 visa denounced it as discriminatory. The Philippines ambassador met with Korean Immigration officials to try to persuade them to change the policy and allow teachers from The Philippines to teach English in South Korea. However, the government had already indicated earlier in the year that they planned to look at expanding E-2 visas to additional countries but it required the approval of various government agencies, so there was no timeframe for when it would come to fruition. In the same year, foreign instructors already working in Korea also called the rules surrounding the visa discriminatory because they were subject to health criminal and other checks, unlike other foreigners on different visas, such as ethnic Koreans born abroad or foreigners who had married Koreans. Korean Immigration responded that it was their policy to favour ethnic Koreans and that other nations and territories followed similar policies. Increasing crime was cited as a reason for the regulations, but some teachers felt it was a knee-jerk reaction to a suspected pedophile who had taught in South Korea, but never had a criminal record in the first place. Immigration again claimed the right to decide how and to whom it issued visas. Later in 2009, a challenge was filed with the National Human Rights Commission in Korea over the checks by law professor Benjamin Wagner.

Residency (F-2) visa

  • The Residency (F-2) visa is issued to spouses of Korean nationals or holders of the F-5 permanent residency visa. Applicants must provide documents proving financial ability and relationship. The visa is also issued to refugees who gain permanent residence status in Korea.
  • Concern was raised in 2008 that “unqualified foreigner teachers” were using F visas like the F-2 to gain employment in Korea. The government passed a law in 2009 that would change the visas issued to government employees of foreign countries from E7 to F2. In 2010 the government announced that foreigners who invested over US$500,000 on Jeju Island can also obtain an F-2 residency visa. It was also announced in 2010 that foreigners already on certain visas would be given an opportunity to change their visa to an F-2 visa after meeting certain criteria and accruing a certain number of points.

Working holiday visa (H-1) visa

  • The Working Holiday (H-1) visa is issued to young-adult foreigners in some countries which have reciprocal agreements with South Korea. Holders are allowed to stay in the country for up to one year and engage in some employment activities as well as some educational activities. However, the main purpose of the trip is intended to be vacation. Applicants must show proof of onward travel and sufficient funds to support themselves for the short-term as well as being aged 18-25 (18-30 in the case of Canada and Denmark). Korea has signed working holiday agreements with Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand and Denmark.
  • The working holiday programme was introduced in 1995 in an agreement signed with Australia. In 1998 Korea signed a similar agreement with Japan. New Zealand’s agreement was inked in 1999 and began in May of that year. For the World Cup in 2002 Korea and Japan increased the number of working holiday visas from 1000 to 5000. In 2006 Korea and Japan doubled the amount of participants allowed in the working holiday programme from 1800 to 3600. Korea signed an agreement with France in 2008 to allow 2000 students to travel between the countries as part of the programme. Ireland signed a working holiday agreement the following year.

Here are the important sources for information you will need for the application. Check the updated info from these since these mentioned in this post applied during my time of travelling to South Korea:

http://fin.mofa.go.kr/english/eu/fin/main/index.jsp
Korean Embassy of Finland -website

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_South_Korea
Visa-information from Wikipedia, but for the official current info check your embassy website!!!