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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.

Article 5 of the Nationality Act-General naturalization
Article 5 of the Nationality Act-General naturalization
  • Address in Korea for five consecutive years or more
  • Adult under the Civil Act
  • Good conduct/behavior
  • Ability to maintain livelihood by relying on one’s own asset or skill or on one’s family members in the same household
  • Basic knowledge as a Korean citizen (e.g., Korean language skills and understanding of Korean customs)

Immigration Priority Card Issuance

출입국우대카드
What is the Immigration Priority Card?

Immigration Priority Card holders can use the fast-track lane (special passage for airline crew and diplomats) at the airport.
The card is issued by KOTRA, which will accept applications from eligible applicants such as foreign investors.

Eligibility

Any person who meets one of the following conditions can qualify for an Immigration Priority Card

  • The employees and executives of overseas parent companies or Asia headquarters of foreign-invested companies that meet the following foreign direct investment (FDI) amount requirements (declared amount)*
Eligibility
Classification Declared FDI Amount
Finance & insurance USD 50 million or more
Manufacturing USD 15 million or more
Retail·wholesale, transport, storage USD 5 million or more
Others USD 10 million or more
R&D center operations, Businesses with new-growth technologies USD 2 million or more

* When applying for a card reissuance after the expiration date, the arrival amount of FDI must amount to at least 50% of the amount declared at the time of application

  • The executives and employees of overseas parent companies or Asia headquarters of foreign-invested companies with 100 or more full-time employees
  • The executives and employees of foreign economic organizations in Korea
  • Members of investment delegations invited to Korea by central and local government agencies

* The Immigration Priority Card is valid for three years starting from the date of issuance. (six months for members of investment delegations invited by central and local government agencies)

Required Documents

1. Application form
2. For executives and employees of the overseas parent companies or Asia headquarters of a foreign-invested companies: a copy of the applicant’s foreign-invested company registration certificate
For executives and employees of foreign economic organizations in Korea: certified copy of corporate registration
For members of investment delegations invited by central or local government agencies: document certifying invitation to Korea
3. Certificate of employment at overseas parent company or Asia headquarters (or any other documents certifying that the applicant belongs to a company or group)
4. One of the following documents:
- For companies operating R&D centers: certificate of recognition of a corporate-affiliated research center or certificate of recognition of R&D department issued by the Korea Industrial Technology Association (or an official document by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy certifying designation as an R&D facility)
- For companies working with new growth technologies: certificate of tax reduction or exemption issued by the Ministry of Strategy & Finance
- For companies with 100 or more full-time employees: record of paid wages, list of insured employees issued by the Korea Workers’ Compensation & Welfare Service, or a report of the withholding of income tax issued by a tax office
5. Copy of applicant’s passport


※The application form and required documents can be submitted via e-mail in PDF format


Issuance process
  • Submission of application form and documents (Applicant → KOTRA)
  • Request for card issuance
    (KOTRA → Ministry of Justice)
  • Application approval and issuance of card (Ministry of Justice → KOTRA)
  • Send out card
    (KOTRA -> applicant)

* Application period: the 1st~10th of every month → Issued around the 25th of the same month / For applications received after the 10th of every month → Issued around the 25th of the following month

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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