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Immigration

Visa

Foreigners need visas to enter Korea. Korea regards a visa as the consul’s recommendation of entry for the entry permission of a foreigner. The immigrations office personnel at the airport can refuse the entry of a foreigner if he decides that the foreigner does not meet the requirements for entry permission even if the foreigner holds a visa.

Visa types

  • Single visa: A foreigner can enter Korea only once within the effective period. (Effective period: 3 months from the issuance date)
  • Multiple visa: A foreigner can enter Korean more than twice within the effective period.

Stay in Korea

  • Short-term stay: 90 days or less
  • Long-term stay: 91 days or more

※ People with long-term stay status shall perform alien registration
within 90 days of the entry date.

Scope of foreigners’ activities

A foreigner may reside in Korea only within the scope of his/her status sojourn and sojourn period, and is not permitted to engage in political activities unless otherwise prescribed by law. A foreigner wishing to be employed during his/her stay in Korea should hold a sojourn status that allows employment, and he/she should not work at a place other than his/her designated place of work.

A foreigner wishing to change or add his/her place of work within the scope of his/her status of sojourn should obtain permission from the Minister of Justice in advance. However, foreigners with professional knowledge, techniques or skills as prescribed by Presidential Decree shall report the change or addition of place of work to the Minister of Justice within 15 days of the date of such change or addition.

Employment in Korea

The following sojourn statuses allow employment activities.

  • Short-term employment (C-4), professorship (E-1), foreign language instruction (E-2), research (E-3), technology transfer (E-4), professional employment (E-5), arts and performances (E-6), special occupation (E-7), non-professional employment (E-9), vessel crew (E-10), and working visit (H-2)

 

※ These sojourn statuses of residence (certain visa types under the F-2 category) and spouse of a Korean national (F-6) do not restrict employment activities.

※ Permanent residence (F-5) status does not restrict employment activities except for simple labor and activities that negatively affect public morals or disrupt social order.

Permission of activities outside the current status of sojourn

Where a foreigner, in addition to activities permitted under his/her status of sojourn, intends to engage in activities that are permitted under a different status of sojourn, he/she should obtain permission from the Minister of Justice in advance. However, if the new activit is his/her main activity, he/she should obtain permission for change of sojourn status.

Naturalization

A foreigner who is not a Korean citizen may obtain Korean nationality with the Minister of Justice’s permission of naturalization. Naturalization is divided into general naturalization, simplified naturalization, and special naturalization.

Naturalization
Type 5 years or more residence
General naturalization

The applicant:

  • Must have had a domicile in Korea for 5 consecutive years of longer.
  • Must be of good conduct.
  • Must have basic knowledge befitting a South Korean national.
  • Must be a legal adult under Korea's Civil Act.
  • Must have the ability to maintain a living on is/her own assets or skills.
Simplified naturalization

The requirements are identical to that of general naturalization, with eased requirements on period of residence:

  • 3 years: Those with one or more biological parents of Korean nationality, but have since abandoned citizenship for a foreign nationality; and those with one or more adoptive parents of Korean nationality who were of legal adult age at the tme of adoption.
  • 1-2 years: Foreign spouses of Korean nationals, even after divorce.
Special naturalization

The requirements are identical to that of general naturalization, with eased requirements on period of residence, ability to maintain a living, etc.

  • Foreigners with at least one parent of Korean nationality
  • Those with one or more adoptive parents of Korean nationality who were legal minors at the time of adoption.
  • Those who have made special contributions, or with outstanding talents

※ Refer to Articles 5-7 of the Nationalit Act.

For details on domestic residency requirements, the place of application, how to download documents to be submitted at time of application for naturalization, and the conditions of naturalization (e.g., simplified, special), please refer to “entry and exit / residency>nationality / naturalization” at www.hikorea.go.kr

Immigration Priority Card Issuance

What is an Immigration Priority Card?

Upon request from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Invest KOREA issues Immigration Priority Cards to enable the speedy entry and exit at airports of foreign investors contributing to the Korean economy.

 

Investor Express Card holders are eligible for speedy entry and exit at investor/diplomat-only screening counters. Likewise, the Immigration Priority Card, introduced in February 2014, enables an even speedier entry and exit at airports by allowing the use of exclusive security counters and immigration fast lanes.

Eligibility

Employees of the overseas parent company of a foreign-invested company that meets the minimm investment amount (notification basis) in the table below.

  • Officers of foreign economic organizations in Korea
  • Investment delegations invited by central and local governments

 

※ The number of cards issued for each business establishment may be limited depending on the total number of applicants.

Eligibility
Classification Notified FDI
Manufacturing industry USD 15 million or more
Finance & insurance USD 50 million or more
Tourism USD 10 million or more
Logistics & distribution USD 5 million or more
R&D & advanced technology projects USD 2 million or more
Immigration Priority Cards

Immigration Priority Cards are issued to enhance the convenience of foreign investors. Cardholders are entitled to benefits including the use of an immigration fast lane.

 

출입국우대카드 발급 및 관련 규정마련
Name Immigration Priority Card
Image 출입국 우대카드 (영문명 : Immigration Priority Card)
Benefits
  • Use exclusive counter at the immigrations screening counter (Fast Track included)
  • Use exclusive counter at the security counter (new)
Eligibility
  • Employees of a foreign-invested company’s parent company and Asia HQ (shall exceed the minimum notified amount by business type)
  • Officers of foreign economic organizations in Korea
  • Investment delegations invited by central government agencies and local governments

※ Issued to a maximum of five persons per place of business

Effective period Three years from date of issuance
Beneficiaries Carholder and up to three accompanying persons (up to 4 persons in total)
 

 

Required documents

1. 1 application for issuance
2. 1 certificate of employment
(or documents showing that the applicant for the card belongs to a company or organization eligible for card
issuance)
3. 1 copy of certificate of foreign-invested company registration
(Certified copy of corporate register for foreign economic organizations and invitation letter for investment
delegations)
4. 1 copy of passport and 2 photos (3 cm × 4 cm)
5. 1 JPG photo file


※ Applying via e-mail with attached application form and documents in PDF format is allowed.

Application period

Documents submitted between the 1st and 10th of each month → the card will be issued around the 25th of the same month

  • Where documents are submitted after the 10th, an application to Woori Bank shall be made in the following month and the card shall be issued on the 25th of the same month
  • When the card is issued, KOTRA staff shall receive it from Woori Bank and send it to the applicant by registered mail (two to three working days required)
Issuance procedure
  • Send application and supporting documents (Applicant → KOTRA)
  • Approval by relevant agencies (KOTRA → relevant agencies)
  • Apply for card (KOTRA → Woori Bank) * Between the 1st and 10th each month
  • Issuance and modification
    (Woori Bank -> KOTRA)
  • Send the card
    (KOTRA -> applicant)
Application & inquiries
  • Kim Heeyoung, Investment Consulting Center, KOTRA
  • Address: Office no. 203, IKP building, 7 Heolleung-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul
  • Tel.: (82-2)-3497-1625
  • Fax: 02-3497-1611
  • E-mail : heeyoungkim@kotra.or.kr

※ The information above is subject to change in accordance with the Ministry of Justice guidelines.

Online
consultant
Ministry of Justice
KIM Tae-hwan Senior Officer

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