Introduction to Visas

Category : Visa/Legal Issues/Tax
Nov 28, 2014

Let this serve as a brief guide to Korean visas. Most of the visas in Korea have a self explanatory title but in case something is still a bit unclear, there are short definitions provided here. For more information on working visas, student visas, working holiday visas, F-series visas, the E-2 visa and tourist visas please see the individual articles. Below are the visas and other terms and procedures that you may run across during you the expat immigration process in Korea.


Keep in mind that Korean immigration does change its policies quite frequently. Documents required for visa application change and differ from visa to visa. It is important to double check exact details. This guide was researched and written in January 2013. As of publication, the information is current and up-to-date.


List of Korean Visas


Official Visas

  1. A-1 Diplomat (외교): Given to diplomats and foreign consulate staff.
  2. A-2 Government official (공무): Issued for those that are not diplomats but are here for official government related activities.
  3. A-3 Agreement (협정): Given to those that are exempt from visa application because of an agreement between Korea and their home country.


Tourist Visas

  1. B-1 Visa exemption (사증면제): This is a passport stamp for citizens from countries which do not require a visa of any kind to travel in Korea for 30, 60, 90, or 180 days.
  2. B-2 Tourist/transit (관광통과): This is mostly for Chinese citizens to travel in Korea or to travel through Korea to other countries.


Short-Term Stay Visas (valid for three months)

  1. C-1 Temporary news coverage (일시취재): It’s for journalist and news media personnel coming to cover a short term media event.
  2. C-2 Short-term business (단기상용): This is mostly for business people coming over to do negotiations with a Korean company or to purchase goods from a Korean company.
  3. C-3 Short-term general (단기종합): This visa does not allow employment. C-3 visas are given to those extending their travel stay or for special purposes like medical treatments and other not for profit activities.
  4. C-4 Short-term employee (단기취업): This is for artists working for a few months in Korea. Usually the artist is doing a show or has a performance that is running here for three months or less.


Non-Employment or Business Related Visa

  1. D-1 Artist (문화예술): Given to people doing artsy things without making a profit.
  2. D-2 Student (유학): Issued for foreign students studying in Korea at the undergraduate or graduate level.
  3. D-3 Industrial trainee (산업연수): This is for people who have to come to Korea to get training to do their job back at home.
  4. D-4 General trainee (일반연수): People who get this visa are usually studying Korean or they could be getting some skills at a college or training center (not job-related).
  5. D-5 Journalism (취재): This is for journalists who will be staying in Korea for longer than three months. They aren’t just covering one news event.
  6. D-6 Religion (종교): Given to religiously affiliated persons doing religious work in Korea.
  7. D-7 Business supervisor (상사주재): This visa is given to those working at the managerial level for a foreign company stationed in Korea.
  8. D-8 Corporate investor (기업투자): This is a business person’s visa. It’s given for people who have invested in Korean companies and are at the management level.
  9. D-9 International trade (무역경영): Issued to managers engaged in the import/export business working in Korea for an extended period of time.
  10. D-10 Job Seeking Visa (취업): This is given to those who are searching for a job in Korea. It’s valid for six months and conditions apply.


Employment Visas

  1. E-1 Professor (교수): Given to professors and lectures working at the post-secondary level.
  2. E-2 Foreign language instructor (회화지도): Mostly for ESL teachers, but it’s also given to anyone teaching a foreign language.
  3. E-3 Research (연구): This is for people doing any kind of research at any institution.
  4. E-4 Technology transfer (기술지도): Issued to someone coming to provide technological expertise from a foreign institution.
  5. E-5 Professional employment (전문직업): Mostly for doctors and lawyers.
  6. E-6 Artistic performer (예술흥행): Given to performers in various fields of performing arts.
  7. E-7 Designated activities (특정활동): This is a catch-all visa for people that are gaining employment in Korea and do not fall under other categories. Writers get an E-7 visa.
  8. E-8 Training employment (연수취업): This is given to someone who needs training in Korea in the long term.
  9. E-9 Non-professional employment (비전문취업): This visa is for non-skilled laborers.
  10. E-10 Vessel Crew (내항선원): This is issued to seaman operating sea vessels for passenger or freight transportation.


Long Term Stay Visas

  1. F-1 Visiting or joining family (방문동거): This is given to dependents or persons joining a family member who has a work visa in Korea. They can also be people employed domestically by the legal visa holder, like a nanny in a diplomat’s home.
  2. F-2 Resident (거주): This is a special visa granted to those who want to stay in Korea for the long term. A test must be passed in order to receive it and it does not require sponsorship via an employer.
  3. F-3 Accompanying spouse (동반): Given to a spouse or children moving to Korea with a person who will be working in Korea. F-3 holders may not work.
  4. F-4 Overseas Korean (재외동포): The only requirement for this visa is that you are ethnically Korean.
  5. F-5 Permanent resident (영주): This visa is one step below naturalization. It’s for people who are permanently living in Korea.
  6. F-6 Marriage to Korean Citizen (국배우자): Another way to stay in Korea in the long term is to marry a Korean. Spouses of Korean nationals get this card.


Working Holiday Visas

  1. H-1 Working holiday (관광취업): Young citizens from countries that signed working holiday agreements with Korea can come to Korea to travel and work temporarily on this visa.
  2. H-2 Working visit (방문취업제): This is given to overseas Koreans from China or Russia to come to Korea on a working visit. In some cases these persons may apply for an F-4 visa instead.



  1. G-1 Miscellaneous: This visa is issued to people who don’t fall into any other category. One example is for medical treatments that take longer than three months.
  2. M-1 Military (군인): Given to foreign military personnel stationed in Korea, most commonly USA military soldiers.


General Visa Procedure

There are two main ways to get a Korean visa, either applying from the Korean embassy/consulate in your home country or by applying directly to Korean immigration in Korea.


Most employment visas require you to apply from abroad. For those it’s a three step procedure:

  1. Send your documents to Korea: Send all your relevant documents to your employer in Korea. They will apply for a working visa issuance number on your behalf with their sponsorship.
  2. Go to the Korean Embassy: Once your employer sends you a visa issuance number, you can take it to the Korean Embassy/consulate in your home country. The Korean Embassy/Consulate issues a visa in your passport to travel into Korea.
  3. Go to Korean Immigration in Korea: Once you arrive you have 30 days to apply for your alien registration card (ARC). With registration (and the card) you are permitted to stay legally in the country for the duration of your visa.


You may be coming to Korea without a job sponsorship. In that case, you don’t need to send your documents to Korea to get a visa issuance number. You just need to go to the Korean embassy/consulate with your documents. They will provide you with an issuance number and a visa in your passport. Then you just have to go to immigration once you land.


Visas applied to at the Korean Embassy/Consulate:

  1. All E-Series visas
  2. F-1, F-3, F-4, and F-6 (depending on current visa status)
  3. H-1 and H-2
  4. G-1 and M-1
  5. All A-Series visas
  6. D-5 to D-9 visas


Visas applied to within Korea:

Some visas can be obtained within Korea. All you need to do for these ones is gather your documents and go straight to Korean immigration. They will change your ARC card for you.

  1. F-2, F-5, F-6 (if you have a valid working visa status prior to application)
  2. D-2, D-3, D-4 (If you are in the country and decide to study you can visit immigration in Korea to obtain the visa. If you are applying to Korean schools outside of the country you can have your visa issued from the Korean embassy/consulate abroad.)
  3. D-10 (This visa is unique and conditions apply to get it but it can be obtained either inside or outside Korea.)


Visa Runs

A visa run means you have to leave the country to apply for a new visa status from abroad. If you come to Korea as a tourist and find a job while traveling here, you’ll need to go on a visa run to have the visa sticker put into your passport. As well, if you’re changing visa statuses you’ll also have to leave the country. For example, you’ll need to go on a visa run to go from an E-2 visa to an E-7 visa. Visa runs are most commonly done to Osaka or Fukuoka in Japan because both cities have a Korean consulate and are close to Korea.


à Check out the article on Visa Runs from Korea to Japan to learn more about the procedure.


Extending your Visa

Extending your visa is a simple procedure that requires a quick trip to immigration. If you have a working visa (E-series), your visa will be extended up to the day you leave the country and must not exceed one month. You must show a ticket out when you apply for an extension. For other kinds of visas it may not be possible to get an extension. You will have to leave the country and reapply. Please read the article Extending your Visa and The D-10 Visa Option in Korea for details.


Visiting Immigration

In most cases, visiting Korean Immigration in Korea is very straightforward although it can take up a whole afternoon. Bear these tips in mind before you go!

  1. All application documents can be downloaded from the HiKorea Immigration Website.
  2. You can make reservations for an appointment at immigration so you won’t have to wait in the long lines. Do that online too.
  3. The basic documents you need to register your visa at immigration are (some visas require other documentation like a health check, so check each specific visa criterion carefully):
  • Your passport
  • The completed visa application form (can be downloaded or picked up at immigration)
  • 1 color passport photo (3cmx4cm) glued to your application form
  • Your ARC (if you’re extending your stay or changing your status)
  • The visa processing fee (the basic fee is 10,000KRW but it can be more)
  1. At immigration, you need to buy ‘visa stamps’ (they literally are stamps) that show you paid the processing fee. You must glue the stamps to your application form. Buy the stamps from a separate counter at the immigration office before you see an immigration official. If you forget, you’ll have to wait all over again. Also bring cash. They don’t take cards.
  2. Chinese nationals must visit a separate room for all visa processing. Make sure you’re not in the wrong room waiting your turn.
  3. At immigration, there are multiple lines for different processes. You need to take a number ticket when you first arrive to wait your turn. Make sure you get the correct ticket for the process you need done. It’s easy to end up waiting for the wrong thing.
  4. Immigration offices are organized by city and by district. You need to visit the office in your home jurisdiction. Double check it before you make an appointment or head out for the day- waiting at the wrong office is a real pain.


Immigration Inquires

Immigration Homepage

HiKorea Homepage

Phone: 1345, press 3 for English- use this number to call for all visa or immigration inquires. Do not call the individual branch offices.


Major Immigration Offices



Seoul Regional Headquarters

  1. Phone: 02-2650-6212~5
  2. Address: 319-2 Sinjeong 6 (yuk)-dong, Yangcheon-gu.
  3. Directions: Omokgyo Stn: line 5, exit 7. Walk straight for 10 minutes.

Google map:,+Yangcheon-gu&hl=ko&ie=UTF8&ll=37.521725,126.869473&spn=0.009888,0.021136&sll=37.519144,126.869521&sspn=0.15712,0.338173&hnear=%EB%8C%80%ED%95%9C%EB%AF%BC%EA%B5%AD+%EC%84%9C%EC%9A%B8%ED%8A%B9%EB%B3%84%EC%8B%9C+%EC%96%91%EC%B2%9C%EA%B5%AC+%EC%8B%A0%EC%A0%956%EB%8F%99+319-2&t=m&z=16


Sejongno Branch Office

  1. Phone: 02-732-6220
  2. Address: SK Hub Bldg. 2F, 89-4, Gyeongundong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  3. Directions: Anguk Station: exit 6, walk straight about 200m.
  4. Google maps:,126.986107&spn=0.004906,0.010568&sll=37.575535,126.985484&sspn=0.002453,0.005284&oq=%EB%8C%80%ED%95%9C%EB%AF%BC%EA%B5%AD+Seoul+Jongno-gu+Gyeongun-dong+89-4+SK&hq=sk+%EC%A3%BC%EC%9C%A0%EC%86%8C&hnear=%EB%8C%80%ED%95%9C%EB%AF%BC%EA%B5%AD+%EC%84%9C%EC%9A%B8%ED%8A%B9%EB%B3%84%EC%8B%9C+%EC%A2%85%EB%A1%9C%EA%B5%AC+%EA%B2%BD%EC%9A%B4%EB%8F%99+89-4&t=m&fll=37.576496,126.986665&fspn=0.004906,0.010568&z=17



  1. Phone: 032-890-6305~6   117
  2. Addess: Hangdong 7 (chil)-ga, Jung-gu, Incheon
  3. Directions: Bus: Take Incheon City Bus #3, #12 or #24 to Jungbu Police Station. Then walk for 10 minutes.
  4. Google maps:,+Jung-gu,+Incheon&hl=ko&ie=UTF8&ll=37.460961,126.663094&spn=0.157243,0.338173&sll=37.575629,126.986107&sspn=0.004906,0.010568&hnear=%EB%8C%80%ED%95%9C%EB%AF%BC%EA%B5%AD+%EC%9D%B8%EC%B2%9C%EA%B4%91%EC%97%AD%EC%8B%9C+%EC%A4%91%EA%B5%AC+%ED%95%AD%EB%8F%997%EA%B0%80&t=m&z=12



  1. Phone: 031-695-3817
  2. Address: 1012-6 Yeongtong-dong, Yeongtong-du, Suwon-si
  3. Directions: Bus 5, 7, 7-2, 9, 310, 900 to Yeongiljung bus stop. Walk in the same direction as the bus. Look for Yeong-il School. It’s behind the school beside Bandal Park.
  4. Google maps:,+Yeongtong-gu,+Yeongtong-dong,+Suwon-si,+Gyeonggi-do,+South+Korea&hl=ko&ie=UTF8&ll=37.252433,127.073236&spn=0.01971,0.042272&sll=37.460961,126.663094&sspn=0.157243,0.338173&oq=1012-6+Yeongtong-dong,+Yeongtong-du,+Suwon-si&hnear=%EB%8C%80%ED%95%9C%EB%AF%BC%EA%B5%AD+%EA%B2%BD%EA%B8%B0%EB%8F%84+%EC%88%98%EC%9B%90%EC%8B%9C+%EC%98%81%ED%86%B5%EA%B5%AC+%EC%98%81%ED%86%B5%EB%8F%99&t=m&z=15



  1. Phone: 051-461-3091/3095
  2. Address: 17-26, 4-ga, Jungang-dong, Jung-gu.
  3. Directions: Jungang-dong Station: line 1, ex. 10 or 12. Walk straight for 10 minutes.
  4. Google maps:,129.037321&spn=0.010129,0.021136&sll=35.104725,129.033265&sspn=0.010129,0.021136&hq=immigration+office&hnear=%EB%8C%80%ED%95%9C%EB%AF%BC%EA%B5%AD+%EB%B6%80%EC%82%B0%EA%B4%91%EC%97%AD%EC%8B%9C&t=m&z=16



  1. Phone: 053-980-3512
  2. Address: 1012-1, Geomsa-dong, Dong-gu.
  3. Directions: Dongchon Station: line 1, exit 1- about 200m
  4. Google maps:,128.644409&spn=0.020062,0.042272&sll=35.89795,128.629818&sspn=0.080236,0.169086&hq=immigration+office&hnear=%EB%8C%80%ED%95%9C%EB%AF%BC%EA%B5%AD+%EB%8C%80%EA%B5%AC%EA%B4%91%EC%97%AD%EC%8B%9C&t=m&z=15



  1. Phone: 042-220-2201-2204
  2. Address: 16-8, Jungchon-dong, Jung-gu.
  3. Directions: Oryong Station is the closest subway station. Take a bus from there to Sun Hospital. It is across the street.
  4. Google maps:,+Jungchon-dong,+Jung-gu&hl=ko&ie=UTF8&ll=36.33594,127.411666&spn=0.019947,0.042272&sll=35.886894,128.644409&sspn=0.020062,0.042272&hnear=%EB%8C%80%ED%95%9C%EB%AF%BC%EA%B5%AD+%EB%8C%80%EC%A0%84%EA%B4%91%EC%97%AD%EC%8B%9C+%EC%A4%91%EA%B5%AC+%EC%A4%91%EC%B4%8C%EB%8F%99+16-8&t=m&z=15



  1. Phone: 062-381-0312
  2. Address: 366-1, Hwajeong 3 dong, Seo-gu.
  3. Directions: Ssangchon Station: exit 1. It is about 500m from the exit.
  4. Google maps:,126.877627&spn=0.020248,0.042272&sll=36.33594,127.411666&sspn=0.019947,0.042272&hq=immigration+office&hnear=%EB%8C%80%ED%95%9C%EB%AF%BC%EA%B5%AD+%EA%B4%91%EC%A3%BC%EA%B4%91%EC%97%AD%EC%8B%9C&t=m&z=15



  1. Phone: 064-722-3494
  2. Address: 673-8, Geonip-dong, Jeju-si, Jeju
  3. Directions: Take a bus to Jeju Girls’ Commercial High School. Then walk about 5 minutes.
  4. Google maps:,+Geonip-dong,+Jeju-si,+Jeju&hl=ko&ie=UTF8&ll=33.511415,126.536794&spn=0.020646,0.042272&sll=35.145845,126.877627&sspn=0.020248,0.042272&hnear=%EB%8C%80%ED%95%9C%EB%AF%BC%EA%B5%AD+%EC%A0%9C%EC%A3%BC%ED%8A%B9%EB%B3%84%EC%9E%90%EC%B9%98%EB%8F%84+%EC%A0%9C%EC%A3%BC%EC%8B%9C+%EA%B1%B4%EC%9E%85%EB%8F%99+673-8&t=m&z=15
Tags : VISA. Visa run. Visiting Korean Immigration. Visa application procedure.

Lindsey lived and worked in Seoul, South Korea for over 5 years. While there, she dabbled in different areas of work and explored the culture. She spent time teaching elementary students, business English to adults and high school students about college preparation. She also studied Korean, wrote blogs and tasted as many foods as she possibly could including fermented skate fish. Over the years, Lindsey developed a love for Korea and the culture. She is keen to share her knowledge of Korea with others and she will always consider Korea a second home.