How to Immigrate as a Family
Making the decision to move abroad can be very stressful when you are on your own. When you move with your family you have a hundred more considerations to factor in. Most people’s first concern is how their children will adapt to life away from home – followed by job, home, spouse, cultural differences, language, food, weather, friends and so many more things. The visa regulations mean that only those coming to work in Korea can live here. Job opportunities for couples make Korea a very attractive destination for those prepared to relocate.
The process of securing a visa for family members is dependent firstly on one family member getting a visa that allows them to work in Korea. See An Introduction to Korean Visas for information on different visa types and procedures. Once an employment visa (there are many types, listed below) has been offered/granted you can also apply for visas for the family members you will be bringing to Korea. The following visa types are eligible to bring family members with them to live in Korea:
Cultural Arts (D-1), Overseas Study (D-2), General training (D-4), Journalism (D-5), Religious Affairs (D-6), Supervisory Intra-Company transfer (D-7), Corporate Investment (D-8), Treaty Trade (D-9), Professorship (E-1), Foreign Language Instructor (E-2), Research (E-3), Technology Transfer (E-4), Profession (E-5), Arts & Performances (E-6), or Special Occupation (E-7).
Family members will be granted an F-3 Family Dependency visa.
F-3 Family Dependency Visa
This visa is for dependent family members (married spouses or children) of visa holders. Applicants for the F3 visa:
F-3 visas can be applied for either before or after you arrive in Korea. There are two ways to do this. For those wishing to apply before arriving in Korea, you must submit all the relevant documentation to the Korean embassy in your country at the same time as the working visa holder applies. Alternatively, it is also possible to enter the country on a tourist visa and then change the visa at the immigration office in Korea. To be safe though, it is advised to get all visas sorted before leaving for Korea.
In both cases the F-3 visa applicants must submit the following:
For full information on the F-3 visa process, see the article on The F Series Visas in Korea.
Adapting to life in Korea
Getting your bearings in a new place can take time so here are links to some articles that might offer advice and help you find your feet.
Learn Korean – preferably as soon as you can! Learning Korean is fun, challenging and incredibly useful. Whether you just want a command of the basics or want to become an advanced Korean speaker, see the articles listed below for detailed information on the best ways to learn.
Also see Test of Profiency in Korean (TOPIK) which explains about the Test of Proficiency in Korean and the article on Seoul Global Centers where free English lessons are offered.
Television, Music and Movies – Korean music, television and film is gaining worldwide recognition. The word hallyu (Korean wave) is used to describe the growing popularity and the increased interest garnered by Korean entertainment. For an introduction to the worlds of Korean Pop Music, TV and cinema see the articles on Popular Korean Dramas in 2013, Popular K-Pop Bands and Popular Korean Movies.
Also see the article ‘English TV and Radio’.
Food – Adapting to the Korean diet isn’t always easy. Korean food is generally quite spicy and meals are almost always served with rice and accompanied by lots of side dishes. If you want to learn about Korean tastes, are a vegetarian or are looking for places to pick up Western groceries, see the articles below:
Throwing yourself in head first is the best way to hit the ground running. Korea offers lots of programs and activities for families to enjoy. Being a mountainous country, surrounded by ocean on all but one of its coasts, Korea has plenty in the way of beaches, national parks and ski resorts. It is also a well-connected and fairly small country, meaning that all parts of Korea can be reached relatively quickly. See some of the articles below for ideas for activities and trips:
Culture – when moving to a new country, understanding the expectations and the norms is crucial to fitting in. Culturally, Korea is distinct from any other nation or society and it is very important to get to grips with the differences. See the articles below for a look at what defines Korean society and separates it from other cultures.
Weather – Korea’s climate is characterized by scorching, rainy summers, bitterly cold and dry winters and relatively mild spring and autumn seasons. To learn more about the weather in Korea and how to best prepare for the four seasons, see the article on Korea’s Climate.
Keeping in touch with home
The feeling that you are losing contact with family and friends is a concern of anyone living away from home. For information on how to send mail read the Korean Post article and for details about setting up phone landlines and international calling package deals read Landlines in Korea. See also the Mobile Phones article for information on those.
For working parents there are childcare options. See the Daycares and Kindergartens in Korea article for more details.
Shopping – Have a look at the following articles for tips on where and how to shop:
Holidays – Korea observes a number of holidays each year. The two main ones, Seollal (Lunar New Year) and Chuseok (an autumnal harvest festival), are celebrated with three day holidays. See the Korean National Holidays 2013 article to find out which other days are celebrated and when you will get a day off!
Books – there are bookstores throughout the country that house literature in various languages. Seoul in particular has many bookstores that sell foreign books. Click here to see a rundown of the English Bookstores in Korea.
Immigration Centers – Should you encounter any problems along the way, it is important to know where your nearest immigration center is located. At the end of An Introduction to Korean Visas there is a list of all the major immigration centers in Korea, as well as their contact details and locations. You can also visit the Immigration Homepage for additional information.