Complete-Guide-To-South-Korea-Visa-Requirements

Complete Guide To South Korea Visa Requirements

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Around 17.5 million foreigners visited South Korea in 2019—a number that is only expected to increase as the country is overflowing with unforgettable experiences

But before you head to this traditional yet contemporary wonderland, I advise you to get familiar with its visa requirements. In this article, I’ll shed light on the options available, but let’s first understand— 

Why South Korea Has Become Such a Desirable Tourist Destination 

In South Korea, you can tantalize your taste buds with the most amazing dishes. There are also high-speed trains and exclusive bus lanes for public transport, friendly and helpful locals, an expansive WiFi network, futuristic buildings at every twist and turn, and templestay programs for those interested in its spiritual side. 

And since the country enjoys all four seasons, you’ll always be surrounded by beautiful scenery and seasonal fares at prices that won’t break the bank.

Factor in a range of teaching opportunities (as long as you have the right certifications) with incredible benefits like flight reimbursement and health insurance, and you’re guaranteed to have a good time.

It’s no wonder it has become THE spot for vacationing and working!

Visa-Free Countries in 2023

South Korea has a visa-waiver agreement with over 100 countries, giving their citizens easy entry into this dynamic land. Just remember that approval for the Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) must be obtained at least 24 hours before arrival.

So, if you’re a national from the below-listed countries or regions, you can benefit from their travel authorization waiver. I’ve segregated the exemptions based on how many days you can stay in South Korea, visa-free, depending on where you hail from. 

30 Days 

You can stay visa-free in South Korea for a month if you’re from:

  • Tuvalu
  • Tunisia
  • Tonga
  • South Africa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Seychelles
  • Saudi Arabia
  • San Marino
  • Samoa
  • Palau
  • New Caledonia
  • Monaco
  • Micronesia
  • Mauritius
  • Marshall Islands
  • Kiribati
  • Kazakhstan
  • Honduras
  • Guyana
  • Guam
  • Fiji
  • Eswatini
  • Cyprus
  • Brunei
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bahrain
  • Argentina
  • Andorra
  • Albania

You can also enjoy a 30-day visa-free stay if you’re from the Vatican City, Oman, Paraguay, Nauru, and Montenegro.

60 Days 

You can stay visa-free in South Korea for two months if you’re from Lesotho. In addition, a Russian passport gives you a waiver for 60/90 days for a 180-day period.

90 Days 

You can stay visa-free in South Korea for three months if you’re from:

  • Venezuela
  • Uruguay
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Turkey
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Thailand
  • Taiwan
  • Switzerland
  • Suriname
  • Spain
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • Singapore
  • Serbia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Kitts-Nevis
  • Romania
  • Qatar
  • Poland
  • Peru
  • Panama
  • Nicaragua
  • New Zealand
  • Netherlands
  • Morocco
  • Mexico
  • Malta
  • Malaysia
  • Macau
  • Luxembourg
  • Lithuania
  • Liechtenstein
  • Latvia
  • Kuwait
  • Japan
  • Jamaica
  • Italy
  • Israel
  • Ireland
  • Hungary
  • Hong Kong
  • Haiti
  • Guatemala
  • Grenada
  • Greece
  • Germany
  • France
  • El Salvador
  • Ecuador
  • Dominican Republic
  • Dominica
  • Czech Republic
  • Croatia
  • Costa Rica
  • Colombia
  • Chile
  • Bulgaria
  • Brazil
  • Botswana
  • Belgium
  • Barbados
  • Bahamas
  • Austria
  • Australia
  • Antigua and Barbuda

Apart from these, those from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, and Sweden can also stay visa-free in South Korea for 90 days during a 180-day period.

180 Days 

You can stay visa-free in South Korea for six months if you’re from Canada. 

Please note: If you wish to visit for longer, you’ll have to apply for a visa.

Make sure to explore Korea’s traditional sites when you visit

Types of South Korea Visas 

Planning on visiting South Korea? Here are some single and multiple-entry visas available. Browse through them to find the most appropriate one for your needs:

Tourist Visa

Suppose your K-ETA application is rejected, or you’re not eligible for the exemption. 

In either case, you can apply for a South Korea Tourist Visa through the embassy or consulate. It will allow you to stay in the country for a maximum of 90 days!

Depending on the purpose of your visit, here are some visa types you can apply for:

  • Group Tourist (C-3-2) – for travelers guaranteed by the traveling agency
  • Medical Tourist (C-3-3) – for patients receiving medical treatment. Their caregivers may also be eligible to enter the country with this visa. 
  • Ordinary Tourist (C-3-9) – for tourism and leisure
  • Short-Term General (C-3-1) – for visiting a family member, attending events, taking lessons, and more. 
  • Short-Term Visitor (Overseas Korean, C-3-8) – for Koreans with foreign nationalities under 60 

Please note: Working with these visas, whether full- or part-time, is illegal. 

Business Visa

The South Korean Business Visa, which falls under the same category as “work,” has two sub-categories based on the nature of your business:

  • D-8 Visa: Also known as Corporate Investment Visa and Foreign Company Employee Visa, it is issued to those who want to carry out business activities in the country as a representative of a foreign company. 
  • D-9 Visa:  Also known as International Trade Visa, it is issued to individuals who have registered a business, are overseeing the installation, operation, and maintenance of industrial or ship-building equipment, and more.

These visas typically allow multiple entries though their validity differs. 

Family Visit Visa

A South Korea family visit visa is issued to people staying with relatives who are South Korean nationals. Valid for 90 days or longer, it’s also applicable for:

  • The spouse of a South Korean national
  • The dependents (spouse and children U-19) of South Korean residents, temporary or permanent
  • Overseas Koreans who once held South Korean nationalities

Furthermore, those who are a part of the South Korean diaspora can also avail of it.

Work Visa

Planning on getting a job in South Korea? Apply for one of the following:

  • E-1 Visa: This is for native English speakers who want to give lectures or carry out research at an educational facility. Residents of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, or South Africa are eligible. 
  • E-2 Visa: This visa allows native English speakers with a bachelor’s degree to teach a foreign language at any private, public, or language school. Here’s a guide on how you can get a Korean V2 Work visa in Japan as an example.

There’s also an E-3 visa for professionals who have been invited for research, an E-4 Visa for individuals with unmatched knowledge who have been called upon for guidance, and an E-5 visa which allows intentionally licensed individuals to work in their field in Korea. 

If you qualify for a work visa but have yet to find suitable employment, you can take advantage of the D-10 or Job Seeker Visa. It employs a point system that’s specifically designed for:

  • People who’ve worked in South Korea for at least a year
  • Students who’ve graduated from a Korean University
  • Those who’ve completed a six-month language course 

Something to remember: The Job Seeker Visa is a temporary solution that’s only valid for six months. You can, however, get it renewed for up to 2 years.

Student Visa

If you want to study at academic institutions in South Korea, you can obtain a D-2 Student Visa which is good for up to 2 years. But if your course doesn’t require a long stay, you can avail of a short-term visa which is valid for up to 3 months.

There are also other visa types available, such as the General Trainee (D-4 visa), for those who wish to learn the Korean language or practice certain skills or techniques. 

Working Holiday Visa

If you’ll be staying in South Korea for more than 90 days, you can engage in remunerative activities to cover your travel expenses with a Working Holiday (H-1) visa. This is only available to passport holders from the following countries:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Taiwan
  • Sweden
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Poland
  • New Zealand
  • Netherlands
  • Japan
  • Italy
  • Israel
  • Ireland
  • Hungary
  • Hong Kong
  • Germany
  • France
  • Denmark
  • Czech Republic
  • Chile
  • Canada
  • Belgium
  • Austria
  • Australia

To be considered for this year-long visa, applicants must be 18 to 30 years old and shouldn’t have a criminal record, among other conditions.

South Korea Visa Requirements

If you want to know the South Korea visa requirements for US citizens, here are some general requirements for visa application:

  • A passport that’s valid for at least six months. It should have a minimum of 2 to 3 blank pages. 
  • A payslip showing you’ve paid the visa fees
  • Two high-quality passport-size photographs. They must have a white background, your face must have a neutral expression, and you should not wear anything that obscures your face and ears such as glasses. 
  • A confirmed return flight 
  • Bank statements from the last six months to prove that you have sufficient funds for the duration of your stay.
  • Proof of accommodation (hotel confirmation and so on)
  • Invitation letter (if you’re visiting a relative)

Requirements are the same for South Korea tourist visa requirements (and every other South Korean visa). With these documents on hand, you can apply for the visa online or at the embassy. 

If you’re going there to teach, you’ll need to provide additional documents like:

  • A notarized copy of your bachelor’s degree
  • A copy of a certificate stating that you’re in good health
  • Your university transcripts, signed or stamped by the appropriate authority

In addition, you’ll also need to pass a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) check. Ask for two or more authenticated copies (available for a fee) to be safe. 

Conclusion

South Korea is a wonderful country whether you’re looking for a vacation or a longer stay. Though the different types of visas can be confusing, this guide should give you a head start by making the types of visas easier to understand.

While you’re at it, follow this travel packing list to ensure you’ve got everything you need for a pleasant stay. 

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Linda

Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.

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