The F-Series Visas in Korea

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

The F-series visas in Korea are a dream for many but sadly a reality for only a few. These visas are all long-term residency visas, and unlike most other visas they are not sponsored by a company or workplace. The benefits of them are great: you can live and work in Korea freely. You are not tied to a contract or job out of your own choice. If something goes wrong at your place of work, you don’t have to flee the country. You can quit and move on. An F-series visa also allows you to take some time off work, kick back and relax– that sounds nice, right? The major drawback is that these visas are tough to get. Korean immigration isn’t about to give long-term resident status to any old ‘Joe’ that strolls into the country. It’s coveted and precious. So if you’ve got one, lucky you, and if you don’t, read on to learn how it might be possible.

 

àNote: The information from this article is from research done in January, 2013. Immigration laws are constantly changing, and some immigration offices are more lenient while others are very strict. We aren’t the Korean encyclopedia (surprise!), so double check this information with your district immigration office before you apply for any visa.

 

The following is a list of the current F-series visas:

  1. F-1: Visiting or Joining Family (방문동거)
  2. F-2: Long-Term Resident  (거주)
  3. F-3: Accompanying Spouse (동반가족)
  4. F-4: Overseas Korean (재외동포)
  5. F-5: Permanent Foreign Resident (영주권)
  6. F-6: Foreign Spouse (국민의 배우자) (recently replaced the F-2-1 visa)

 

General Process

  1. For all F-series visas, you must visit Korean immigration in Korea. It is usually unnecessary to apply for these visas from your home country although there are a few exceptions.
  2. It takes about three months to process the F-2, F-5 and F-6 visas.
  3. You may be required to supply additional information not listed here.
  4. When you arrive at Korean immigration, you need to purchase visa ‘stamps’ to continue. Do that first. The stamp office is usually located in a separate area or booth from the immigration counters.
  5. For any F-series application process, one copy is required for all passports, ARCs and any original documents needed (as listed below). Bring the originals plus the copies to the immigration bureau in your district.
  6. In the case of F-1, F-3 and F-4 visas, once you have arrived in Korea, you have 30 days to take your visa issuance number (issued by the Korean consulate in your home country) to the Korean immigration office to receive your alien registration card (ARC).

 

F-1 Visiting or Joining Family (방문동거)

The F-1 visa is for those living with people legally working in Korea. These holders are usually not employed in Korea. They may be employed by the person they are living with or they are being taken care (they are a minor) of by someone working here.

 

The F-1 visa process needs to be started in the home country prior to arriving in Korea. Documents need to be submitted to a Korean embassy/consulate abroad. From then, you will be given a visa issuance number which can be taken to the Korean immigration office in Korea. A proper F-1 visa card (ARC) will be issued at that point in Korea.

 

The validity period of the F-1 visa is between one and three years. It expires in conjunction with the person you are with who has a legal working visa. If you are staying with a Korean family, it is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

 

F-2 Eligibility

  1. You are visiting relatives, or living with a family for an extended period of time.
  2. You are a Korean national with foreign citizenship and you are being given special permission to stay in the country (this is excluded from those who have F-4 status).
  3. You are a domestic employee for a diplomat or embassy personnel working in Korea.
  4. You are a domestic employee for someone who holds one of the following visas: Corporate Investment (D-8), Residency (F-2), and Permanent Residency (F-5) as a foreign investor (including executives of the investing company).
  5. You are living together with someone who holds one of the following visas: Diplomacy (A-1), Official Business (A-2), and Conventions/Agreements (A-3).
  6. You are a Korean adoptee into a foreign home abroad and you would like to stay in Korea for an extended period of time (this is excluded from those who have F-4 status).
  7. You are a first generation Korean who left Korea before the R.O.K became a country (Aug, 15, 1948).
  8. You are a child of someone who holds one of the following visas: 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), Trade Management (D-9), Professorship (E-1), Foreign Language Instructor (E-2), Research (E-3), Technology Instructor (E-4), Professional Employment (E-5), Arts/Entertainment (E-6), and Specially Designated Activities (E-7) status.
  9. You are the spouse or child of someone who has Residency (F-2) status.
  10. You are a minor/child that is being supported by a Korean national (adopted, fostered).
  11. You are an overseas Korean with foreign nationality and you are subject to the Employment Management System.
  12. You are for some other reason (as determined by immigration) allowed to stay in Korea for an extended period of time without employment.

 

Documents required

  • Your passport
  • Completed visa application form 3 color passport photos 3cmx4cm
  • Documents proving your status depending on what category you fall under. This could be your marriage certificate (eligibility number 5 or 9), your contract of employment and formal written invitation (eligibility number 2 or 4), your Korean family registry (eligibility number 2, 6 or 7), and birth certificates (eligibility number 8 or 10), foster care certificates or adoption papers (eligibility number 10).
  • 30,000 to 50,000KRW. You will also have to pay fees to your Korean embassy/consulate. Those differsfrom country to country.

 

F-2 Long-Term Resident (거주)

The F-2 visa is the first step towards long-term residency in Korea. It’s a great choice for professionals who aren’t married to a Korean national but who are planning to stay in Korea for an extended period. The visa lasts for up to three years from the date of issue. The F-2 visa allows you to live freely, rather than be tied to your job or school. It also shows that you are interested in Korean culture and do not view living in Korea as a stopover on your way to something else in your life. The F-2 visa is a new visa and a new concept. In the past, foreigners had to be married to a Korean or pursue naturalization or permanent residency in order to stay for a long period.

 

The F-2 visa status application process is based on a point system. You must obtain 80 out of 120 points to apply for an F-2 visa. Points are awarded for things like education level, job status, income, Korean language proficiency, age, and knowledge of Korean culture.

 

What’s good about the F-2?

  1. Dependants of F-2 applicants enjoy the F-2 status, too.
  2. You’re free to work where you please, and you can have more than one job.
  3. If you’ve got an F-2, you can start your own business easily. You don’t need 100 million KRW in start up money.
  4. After the three years is up, you can apply for permanent F-5 status and stay in Korea permanently.
  5. The F-2 visa application process does not require a visa run; rather, you must gather the documents and prove you have over 80 points. An interview and test are required to demonstrate language proficiency and cultural knowledge.
     

F-2 Eligibility

  1. You must be a professional visa holder
  • E-Series: E-1 Professor, E-2 Foreign language instructor, E-3 Researcher, E-4 Technology expert, E-5 Professional, E-6 Artist and Entertainer«, E-7 Specially designated activities

à Note: E-6 holders must not be working for a hotel or entertainment establishment

  • D-Series: D-2 International student«, D-5 Press, D-6 Religious practitioner, D-7 Intra-company transferee, D-8 Business Investor, D-9 Trade company manager, D-10 Job seeker«

à Note: D-2 and D-10 holders must be pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree and have job prospects lined up.

  1. Must have lived in Korea for more than one year

 

What are the Points?

In general, the more you have, the more points you get. Although the process sounds straightforward, accumulating enough points to pass can be a struggle. If you’re determined to get an F-2 visa, practice your Korean and study at a Korean institution. Those are two good ways to get heaps of points. The application process is specific, and therefore Korean immigration examines each applicant on a case-by-case basis. You may be able to obtain points for other activities in which you have participated that are not listed here.

  1. Age: The older you are doesn’t mean the more points you get.
  2. Income: In this case, the more you make, the more points you get.
  3. Education: Again, the higher your degree, the more points you can receive. If you have studied in Korea, you will also earn points for that.
  4. Language Proficiency: The goal is to reach level 4 on the TOPIK test (the Korean proficiency exam similar to TESOL in English). A level 4 score will earn you 20 points.
  5. Volunteer work: Get out and about in the community. It’s a great way to grab points and it doesn’t require dedication like learning Korean.
  6. The Social Integration Program: It is a course run by Korean Immigration. It was designed by foreign spouses of Korean nationals to help foreigners adapt to Korean life in the long-term. It’s worth 10 points if you complete it.

 

Points Chart

Age

Points

Academic Achievement

Points

Study in Korea

Points

Income (KRW)

Points

Language Proficiency

Points

Volunteer Work

Points

18-24

20

Junior College

25

Korean Language Course

3

Less than 35mil

5

High Beginner

(TOPIK Level 2)

10

Less than 1 year

1

25-29

23

1 Bachelor’s Degree

26

Junior College

5

35mi-  50mil

6

Intermediate

(TOPIK Level 3)

15

1-2 years

3

30-34

25

2 Bachelor’s Degrees

28

Bachelor’s Degree

7

50mil– 80mil

7

High Intermediate- Advanced (TOPIK Level 4)

20

2+ years

5

35-39

23

1 Master’s Degree

30

Master’s Degree

9

80mil- 100mil

8

 

 

Professional Work Experience (out of Korea)

Points

40-44

20

2 Master’s Degrees

32

Doctorate Degree

10

100mil+

10

 

 

1 year

1

45-50

18

1 Doctorate Degree

33

Social Integration Program

10

 

 

 

 

1-2 years

3

51+

15

2 Doctorate Degrees

35

 

 

 

 

 

 

2+ years

5

 

 

  • Example: A 28 year old (23pts) who earned his/her master’s degree (30pts) in Korea (9pts) making 40 million KRW per year (6pts) and who can speak at an intermediate level (15pts) is eligible for an F-2 visa. Total= 83/120 points

 

Additional documents required

  • Your passport and ARC
  • Completed visa application form + 1 color passport photo attached (3cmx4cm)
  • Proof of accumulated points: bank statements, income statements, birth certificate, employment certificate(s), university degree(s), TOPIK test score, volunteer certificate(s)
  • 80,000KRW

 

F-3 Accompanying Spouse/dependant (동반가족)

There isn’t much to be said about this visa. You get it if your spouse or mother or father is working legally in Korea. It expires when their visa expires and you have to renew it when they renew their visa. This visa simply allows you to enter and live in the country. It does not permit you to work. If you would like to work, you need to find a job that will sponsor a legal working visa instead.

 

F-3 Eligibility

  1. You are the spouse and/or children (unmarried, under 20) of a person holding one of the following visas: 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) status

 

Process

You can either apply for this visa while still at home or once you have arrived in Korea. If you submit your documents to the Korean consulate in your home country, you need to provide the visa issuance number of the legal visa holder plus all of the documents listed below. After acquiring your visa number, you may then apply for your F-1 visa card in Korea. It takes about five business days.

 

If you come into Korea on a tourist visa, you can then change your short-term travel visa to this long-term stay visa. You need to provide all of the documents listed below plus your spouse/parent’s ARC. The administration process may take slightly longer in this case –about two weeks.

 

Documents required

  • Your passport
  • Completed visa application form and 2 color passport photos 3cmx4cm
  • Documents proving your relationship to the legal visa holder (marriage certificates, a copy of your family’s register, a birth certificate).
  • The legal visa holder’s ARC (if applying if Korea)
  • The legal visa holder’s visa issuance number (if applying outside of Korea)
  • 30,000-50,000KRW per person. You will also have to pay fees to the Korean embassy/consulate which differs from country to country.

 

F-4 Overseas Korean (재외동포)

The F-4 visa is a long-term resident visa, but it differs from the other F-series visas in that it is a birth-right visa. The Korean government acknowledges ethnic Koreans born outside of the country with this visa. You must visit the Korean embassy/consulate in your home country prior to arriving in Korea. There you will be given a visa issuance number that can be changed to an F-4 ARC at Korean immigration. The F-4 visa is issued within five business days and it lasts for two years. Upon expiration you can either renew it or it can be transferred to an F-5 visa to gain permanent residency. It is also quite easy to obtain full Korean citizenship if you are living in Korea for the long term and wish to give up your foreign citizenship. See the article Obtaining Korean Citizenship for information on that.

 

Documents required

  • Your passport
  • Proof of citizenship in a foreign country (citizenship/naturalization certificate notarized by your home country immigration bureau)
  • Completed visa application form +2 passport photos (3cmx4cm)
  • Documents proving you are ethnically Korean (your Korean family registry, your parent’s birth certificates or passport copies–if they hold Korean nationality, and your birth certificate)
  • Document(s) showing that you have completed your Korean nationality renunciation report—this report needs to be filled out and shown to the Korean consulate in your country of residency. It is necessary that the Korean consulate confirms your ethnicity prior to your arrival in Korea (indeed most of the paperwork is done at the consulate, not at immigration in Korea). You must take these completed documents to immigration in Korea once you arrive.
  • 61,000KRW + processing fees paid to the Korean consulate. Those fees differ depending on what country you are applying from.

 

àNote

  1. If you are a male F-4 applicant and have not served in the Korean military, you must confirm that you did not seek alternative citizenship to evade military service. If you are found guilty, you will not be allowed to return to Korea or you must serve your duty.
  2. If you are a Korean adoptee, it is still possible to get F-4 status. If you do not know your birth parents Global Overseas Adoptees Link (G.A.O.L) can help you locate your family registry. You will need to submit your official adoption papers to the consulate as well.

 

F-5 Permanent Foreign Resident (영주권)

The F-5 visa is landed immigration status. It’s what some other countries refer to as ‘getting a green card’. In Korea you, don’t get a green card (you get a permanent resident card that looks like all the other alien registration cards and it’s greenish-beige), but you do get to stay in Korea as a permanent, landed resident forever. Once you get F-5 status, it never expires. An F-5 visa shows that you’re a person dedicated to Korean society and you are determined to keep on living and working in the country. It’s one step below naturalization. It’s also nearly impossible to get because the standards are high.

 

What’s good about the F-5?

  1. The F-5 visa is nearly citizenship. It never expires and you always have it (unless you do something crazy like murder a man and get sentenced for more than five years in prison, commit treason or help people enter into the country illegally - then you’ll probably get deported).
  2. You never have to visit the immigration office again.
  3. After three years, you can vote.
  4. You don’t need permission from immigration to re-enter the country and you don’t have to pay for the re-entry passport stamp either.
  5. You are no longer sponsored by anyone to stay in the country (not your job, not your school, not your spouse). That means if you get divorced, you will not be forced to leave.
  6. You are free to work anywhere you want. You can even start your own business!

 

F-5 Eligibility

As mentioned, this is a special status, so there are some requirements for who can apply. You must be one of the following. The first 4 requirements (1-4) are all related to F-6 visa holders (married to a Korean national). The last requirements (5-8) are not related to being married in Korea. Those requirements show that you are committed to Korea and plan to make Korea your home, unrelated to your relationship status.

  1. You are an F-6 visa holder who is married to a Korea national and have lived for 2 consecutive years in Korea while married.
  2. You are an F-6 visa holder with a legally-pronounced deceased or missing Korean spouse.
  3. You are an F-6 visa holder who is divorced or separated from your Korean spouse. You must prove that the Korean spouse was the cause for divorce/separation.
  4. You are an F-6 visa holder who is raising minors (born of you and the Korean spouse) although you are separated for whatever reason from your Korean spouse.
    • Note: for ALL of the above circumstances you (the F-6 visa holder) must have lived in Korea for 2 consecutive years to apply for an F-5 visa.

 

  1. You are an F-4 visa holder and have lived for more than 2 consecutive years in Korea.
  2. You are an E series (professional) visa holder and you have lived in Korea for 3+ or 5+ consecutive years.
  3. You are an F-2 visa holder and you have lived for more than 2 consecutive years in Korea after acquiring the F-2 status.
    • Note: If you fall into category 6 or 7 you need to earn twice the national income average (about 2 x 20,000,000KRW)
  4. You have invested at least 500,000USD (500 million KRW) in a business in Korea and you employ more than 5 Korean nationals.

 

For the eligible visa holders (above), the process to change to an F-5 is simple. Gather your documents and take them to immigration. You do not need to go on a visa run. It can be done all within Korea.

 

Documents required for F-6 Holders

  • Completed visa application form +1 color passport photo attached (3cmx4cm)
  • Your passport and ARC
  • Copy of spouse’s family registration (indicating marriage and including the foreign spouse’s name)
  • Copy of spouse’s resident registration
  • Documents proving you have a house and a steady income such as bank statements showing at least 30 million KRW in your spouse’s name, a copy of real estate registration, a copy of house lease contract, a certificate of employment from your Korean spouse, a certificate of employment from you
  • Letter of Guarantee (by the Korean spouse)
  • 80,000KRW

 

Documents required for the rest

  • Completed visa application form +color passport photo attached (3cmx4cm)
  • Your passport and ARC-indicating your most recent visa status
  • Documents proving you have a house and a steady income such as bank statements showing at least 30 million KRW, a copy of real estate registration, a copy of house lease contract, a certificate of employment,
  • Documents proving you have invested 500 million KRW in Korea and employment records from your business –in the case of number 8.
  • 80,000KRW

 

F-6 Foreign Spouse (국민의 배우자) (recently replaced F-2-1 visa)

This is another great visa to have. For one, it means you’re married! That’s exciting. Secondly, it means you’re married to a Korean and you can live in Korea as a landed immigrant. This visa differs from an F-5 visa because it simply means you need to stay in the country with a permanent living status so you can be married to your spouse. Marriage is the only requirement. An F-5 visa requires much more than a simple marriage certificate.

 

Unlike the F-5 visa which never expires, the F-6 visa does. Although your spouse can’t threaten to deport you at any time, when the visa expires after a maximum of three years you do need to renew it. That means if you get divorced you have to give up your visa status once your visa expires.

 

The F-6 visa can be acquired within Korea if you are already living and working here. You do not need to go on a visa run to your home country. If you are marrying a Korean national but you have not lived in Korea under a working visa status, you will need to apply for the visa from your own country of citizenship. The Korean embassy/consulate will issue a visa issuance number. Once you arrive in Korea, you need to take a trip to your local immigration branch to apply for your F-6 residency card.

 

Required Documents

  • The original marriage certificate indicating you are married to a Korean national issued within 6 months (혼인관계증명서)
  • A employment certificate of the Korean spouse (재직증명서)
  • Invitation letter from the Korean spouse (초청장)
  • Guarantee letter from the Korean spouse (신원보증서)
  • Your Korean spouse’s family registry certificate (가족관계증명서)
  • Your Korean spouse's birth certificate (출생증명서/기본증명서)
  • Financial statements from a Korean institution that prove 3 months of financial stability (bank statements/bank book). (재정입증 관련서류)
  • Proof of housing in Korea (등기부등본 or 월세임대차계약서)
  • Completed visa application form + one passport color photo attached (3cmx4cm)
  • Your Passport and ARC
  • Your spouse’s Korean passport and ID
  • 80,000KRW

 

Visiting Immigration

All application documents can be downloaded from the HiKorea Immigration Website. You can also make reservations for an appointment at immigration so you won’t have to wait in the long lines. Do that online too.

Immigration Homepage

HiKorea Homepage

Phone: 1345, press 3 for English

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Dasfaa

Tags : Visa. Travel. International.

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.

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