List of South Korean Visas to Consider for Working in Korea – Best Tips

There are many South Korean Visas out there and it can get pretty complicating.  For those interested in working in Korea, they first need to find the right Visa.  The process can take some time and the documents that are required can be extensive.  The article breaks down everything you need to know about South Korean Visas.  When looking to work in Korea, the most important thing will be your Visa.  So as for every kind of Visa you will need to fill out the Visa application form, bring your passport and ARC(Alien Registration Card if you have one) and a standard-size photograph.  These are pretty much a given.

Below you will see a breakdown of the most popular South Korean Visas.  Take a look and see which one would work best for you.  Remember that the requirements and functions are constantly changing so make sure you contact the immigration office in Korea if you have any questions.  Contact the Korean immigration website: www.hikorea.go.kr or call immigration helpline at 1345.

C-4 Visa – South Korea Visa for Short Term Employment

This Visa should be for those looking to work for a short period of time like in the summer or winter.  Most that apply are those looking to work for short-term marketing events, fashion events, lectures, research, workshops, concerts, conferences, etc.  Whatever the work is it needs to be under 90 days.  Therefore most that apply for the C-4 Visa are creative artists that are looking to make money by performing.  These include musicians, painters, photographers, dancers, or activities related to forms of entertainment such as movies or sports.  Therefore professional athletes, musicians, or fashion models looking to work in Korea for a few months should apply to this Visa.  Technically you don’t have to be the artist themselves, you can even be their manager.  There have been some paid speakers who were able to get the C-4 Visa for Korea.

D-7 Visa – The Corporate Resident/Company Assignment  Visa (Intra-company Transfer)

These South Korean Visas are for those that are already working for a company and are going to be transferred to a registered branch in Korea.  Most that apply are high-level executives, senior managers, head developers, or specialists.  They must have been with the company for more than 1 year.  The D-7 Visa process will usually be handled by the company and if they meet all the requirements.  Some of the documents that the company will need to prepare will be business registration documents, a document proving the wire transfer to a foreign country, and a certificate of business registration.  This also applies for people who are working for a Korean company outside of Korea who are then transferred to the companies headquarters in Korea.   With the D-7 Visa, you will be able to stay in Korea for up to 2 years but can be extended.

D-8 Visa – The Foreign Investment Visa 

The D-8 Visa is mainly for investors and individuals who want to start a business in Korea.  Most foreign investors in Korea are under the D-8 Visa.  Those that are working at a Foreign Investment Company in Korea can also apply for the D-8 Visa.  Also if you are interested in investing in a company run by a Korean citizen, you will be able to get the D-8 Visa.  The investment must be at least 100 million Korean won.

This Visa is used by the Korean government to promote global investments in Korea.  The application will ask for the Foreign investment report or a copy of the investment companies registration certificate.  In addition, documents that show the transfer of the investment amount.  Tech startup founders can also apply for the D-8 Visa.  Documents that will help would be patents in utility and design.  Investors can stay 5 years on the D-8 Visa and IT startups can stay for 2 years.

D-9 Visa – The Trade Management Visa 

This Visa is mainly for overseas traders.  They need to get an ID number from the head of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).  Applicants need to show that they have the technical knowledge to help with installation, repair, or operation of industrial equipment or machine.  Supervisors for shipbuilding or manufacturing companies apply for the D-9 Visa.  If you are looking to start a business related to trading, shipping, or manufacturing can also apply.  Remember to have your certificate of annual tax payment when filling out the application.  The length of stay is at the discretion of the association but on average it can be for 1 to 2 years.

D-10 Visa – Job-Seeking Visa 

This is the most popular of the D Visas.  These are given to those who need to stay in Korea to search for a job.  This also applies to those who are in internship programs in Korea.  Once they are hired or find a job they will need to switch their Visa type to an E Visa.  Those that are looking to work for a Korean startup are usually on the D-10 Visa to start off with.

Some of the documents you will need will be proof of education, employment activities outline, a diploma, or any form of Certificate of Education.  There are many international University students who go on the D-10 Visa after graduation.  They will need to have their proof of education and transcript as well as an outline of the job seeking process.  You can only be on the D-10 Visa for 6 months, therefore during those 6 months, you will need to constantly look for a job.

E-1 Visa – Higher Education Teaching Visa

Now we are moving on the E-Series of the South Korean Visas which are for those in specialty industries.  Most of the Visas require a sponsor by a company or enterprise.  The E-1 Visa is pretty much the same as an E2 Visa.  The requirements are the same, however, the E1 Visa lets you work for colleges and universities.  Most Foreigners teaching at Universities or colleges in Korea are on the E-1 Visa.  Therefore to apply you must be a native English speaker and have a Bachelor’s Degree from a college or University.  This means in order to apply for the E-1 Visa, one must be from either the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa.  The E-1 Visa is good for up to 2 years.

E-2 Visa – English Teaching South Korean Visa 

The E-2 Visa is by far the most popular Visa for foreigners in Korea.  The rise of Hagwons (private English education institutions) has grown in the past 15 years.  This Visa allows foreigners to work in both public and private schools or Hagwons.  You can apply for the E-2 Visa by visiting the Korean consulate.  The requirements are simple.

First, you need to be a native English speaker and have a notarized Bachelor’s degree.  Second, you must have a passport from what the Korean government considers an English speaking Country.  Third, you will need to do a criminal backgrounds check.  Also, you will need to have a sealed transcript pertaining to your degree.  Once you get the E-2 you must ONLY work for the company that sponsored you.  Most that come to Korea under the E-2 Visa will be working with a recruiter that can help with the Visa process.  Those on the E-2 Visa can stay no longer than a year.

E-3 Visa – Research Visa 

The E-3 Visa is very specific Visa.  You need to have professional expertise in the fields of science and technology.  The Visa is primarily for those that are looking to do research in the natural sciences or in advanced technology at a Korean research institute or University.

E-4 Visa – Technical Guidance

This Visa is granted for those that have special expertise in technology that is unavailable in Korea.  These Visas are usually given out by the Korean government.  They offer this Visa to bring in experts in the fields of technology or natural sciences that is lacking in South Korea.

E-5 Visa – The Professional Job Visa 

This Visa is mainly for professionals that want to practice medicine, law, or architecture in South Korea.  Some of these professionals include doctors, aircraft pilots, medical interns or nurses, captain of vessels, lawyers, and other specialists.  Those on the E-5 Visa can stay for up to 2 years.

E-6 Visa – Culture and Arts Visa 

This Visa is for those that are interested in performing arts, music, sports, fashion, as a profession.  Different from the C-4 Visa because this allows you to work in Korea for a longer term (6 months compared to 3 months).  Those that are looking to act, dance, sing, etc on tv or film should apply for this Visa.  You will need a recommendation letter of performance from the Motion Picture Grade Committee, a reference letter from an employer and an HIV-negative confirmation statement.    Usually, your employer in Korea will handle the Visa details.  The process should not take longer than 2 weeks.

E-7 Visa -The Specific Job Visa

Recently the Korean government made it easier for migrants to get the E-7 Visas in order to raise Korea’s foreign workforce.  Now Korean startups can hire foreigners easily and migrant workers can apply for sectors such as casting, plastic working, metal molding, welding, and etc.  The number of E-7 Visas will almost double from 700 to 1,300.

Applicants should have their resume, copy of academic credentials, and contract ready to submit.  The company will do most of the work and will submit a copy of their company’s registration certificate, corporate registration, certificate of Tax payment, and financial statements.  A company can only have a certain number of foreign employees (less than 10%).  The Visa process takes a long time.  Sometimes it can take up to a month, however, there are those that got their Visa in a week.  Workers can stay under the E-7 Visa for up to 2 years.

F-1 Visa – Visiting or Joining Family Visa

The F Visas are some of the best South Korean Visas out there.  You can think of the F1 Visa as a long-term tourist visa.  However, you can get approved to work if it is necessary to raise the child of a Korean family.  While the F-1 Visa is not as famous as other F Visas, it has multiple activities.  For example, many expats in Korea sponsor the F-1 Visa for their helpers who are foreigners and can speak English.  Regarding the application process, if the employee is about to relocate to Korea with the current helper and the help was employed for more than 1 year, the F-1 Visa can be applied at Korean consulate outside of Korea.

If the employer is already in Korea with a proper visa and he or she is going to sponsor the visa for the helper, the employee needs to go through the visa issuance confirmation process first in Korea, then the helper needs to go through the consular process to get the actual visa stamp with the visa issuance confirmation number.  The initial visa period the helper can get from Korean consulate is 90 days, but it can be extended up to 1 year when an alien registration card is applied.  The F-1 Visa process can be more complicated than other visa types.

F-2 Visa – Resident Visa

Those looking to stay long term in Korea can apply for the F-2 Visa.  With the F-2 Visa foreigners can work freely in Korea as a freelancer.  Therefore those that have the F-2 Visa have almost complete freedom to work wherever they please.  To qualify for the F2 Visa, you must have a certain about of points.  There is a points system that shows how many points you need to quality and how to get those points.  The points are given for the applicant’s education level, age, Korean language ability, income level, and other bonus points.  These bonus points can be obtained from volunteer work and taking Korean language courses in Korea.  The F2 is divided into 5 different sections.

  • F-2-1: spouse of a Korean.
  • F-2-2: issued to an underage foreign child of Korean national.
  • F-2-3: issued to the spouse of a resident visa holder (F-5).
  • F-2-7: Awarded on a points-based system
  • F-2-99: 5 years of continuous residence

The qualify for the F-2-7 Visa, applicants need to get 80 out of 120 points.  This would be the easiest way to get the F-2 Visa.  The other would be going for the F-2-99, but you would need to be under the same Visa, if you come back to Korea under a different Visa the clock starts all over.  Of course, if you marry a Korean with an F-5 Visa the process would be easy.

The ‘Point System’ chart

F-2 Point System Visa

F-4 Visa – Overseas South Korean Visa

This is the Visa I am currently under.  This is one of the best Visas out there.  It is a long term residency Visa that is renewable indefinitely.  So basically, I have the same basic rights as a Korean citizen expect I can’t vote and I don’t have to go to the Korean military.  To apply for the F-4 Visa, you must have Korean ancestry which means you need to have at least one Korean parent who renounced their Korean citizenship and is now a citizen in another country.  Therefore Koreans living in China, Japan, US, etc can apply for this Visa.  The documents you will need to submit will be your birth certificate, passports, proof of a change in citizenship, and your Korean family registry (Most important).  Most Korean Americans are under the F-4 Visa.

F-5 Visa – Permanent resident Visa

Those that apply for the F-5 Visa must have stayed in Korea for more than 2 years under the F-4 Visa.  With the F-5 Visa, you will never have to visit an Immigration office ever again.  Those that are married to a Korean spouse and have lived in Korea for over 2 years can apply as well.  Some requirements include not committing a crime in Korea, having at least 30 million won in the bank, and having a KIIP certificate of Level 5 or higher.

F-6 Visa – Marriage to South Korean Citizen Visa

This South Korean Visa offers the same amount of freedom as the ones mentioned above.  These are given to foreign spouses of Koreans who want to live and work in Korea.  Of course, in order to get this Visa, you need to marry a Korean citizen.  Then you need to show Korean language ability (TOPIK Level 1), your spouse’s income status and have a rental contract for a residence in Korea.

H-1 Working Holiday Visa 

South Korea has agreements for working holiday Visas for certain countries.  This allows you to work in South Korea for a short period of time while you travel around Korea.  With this Visa, you can stay and work in Korea for up to one year.