Dreaming to step foot in South Korea? Well, first things first.
Seeing that many people have been scouring blogs after blogs and asking around for directions on how to apply–and get approved– a Korean VISA, I decided to pitch in a little and write a guide of my own.
Here, I’ll give a step-by-step detailed guide and try to cover the most basic and even the wildest questions I had when we were applying. Let’s start!
Yes, just like with anything, preparation is key. Note that single entry Korean VISA has a validity of 3 months from approval period so you don’t have to apply way before your planned travel date. Safest bet would be a month before.
To know the requirements, you have to go to the Korean Embassy website and get the list.
Let’s try to go through the requirements for employed applicants as this list is very comprehensive.
1. Application Form
You can download the form here.
For the form, make sure that you write in BLOCK letters, avoid erasures, and accomplish your own form unless you really need assistance to do so. Disregard all parts completely written in Korean.
Do not leave any required information blank. If not applicable, then write N/A. Parts 1 to 7 asks about your personal details so that’s a breeze. For no. 8, you can just indicate your sponsor details, if any. Part 9 asks for the address in Korea, you may indicate the address of your potential hotel–doesn’t really matter if you’ll actually stay there.
For part 10, if you don’t have any source of fund other than yourself then go write your name and indicate “Myself” in the relationship. If you’re unemployed, then write your spouse’s details and if you’re a student, your parent/s name. And of course, type of support is “Financial”.
Part 11, as I’ve said earlier unless you really needed help in accomplishing the form then you can easily indicate NO here and write N/A in the succeeding questions.
And for the last part, just place your date of application. We actually wrote an earlier date than our actual application date but it didn’t matter in the end.
2. 1 piece of Passport size colored picture
Attach it in the space provided (located under part 1 on the leftmost side)
Please make sure to paste it before you get to the Embassy so you won’t have to fall in line for the “glue station” while everybody else falls in line for their numbers.
Anyway, one question I toyed with is whether I need to get a new photo as it states that we should at least have a recent one (at least 6 months). But seeing that my face didn’t change a bit, I used a photo taken a year or more ago and just stuck with it. My mom used an old one as well. Just make sure you still look the same and that the photo is clear enough then you’re good to go.
Another issue I had is the name under my photo. That’s also okay as long as you have a white background. Again, passport size with white background is all you need.
3. Original Passport (should be valid for more than 6 months)
The requirement is pretty straightforward but in case you totally failed to renew your passport, then there might be a problem.
I think we worried about this part because it was only when we were there that we realized my bf’s passport is only valid for 6 months and a few days.
On one hand, reminders around the Embassy says that it should have AT LEAST 6 months validity not really more than.
NOTE: As an update on this, we had a minor glitch in the Customs as we had to confirm if SK allows tourists with passports that are valid for less than 6 months. Apparently, this is a no-no for some countries like Singapore but for SK, as long as your passport is valid on the day of entry, you’re good to go (whew!)
4. Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (page 2)
You may bring extra copies just to be on the safe side.
5. Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years (If applicable only)
If you have this, make sure to present it so you can shorten your processing time by 2 days.
6. Original Certificate of Employment (must include applicant’s position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number(cell-phone number is not allowed), HR e-mail address)
I strictly recommend that you follow all the needed details above especially the contact details as they will call your company. Make sure the certificate is dated within the month of your application, if not well, please request for a new one.
The certificate should also indicate your present role even if you were first hired under a different one.
7. Original Personal Bank Certificate (must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB)
If your bank is BPI, go there early ( they don’t process when it’s almost closing hours) and request for your bank certificate and bank statement. You only have to fill out a certain request form and wait for a few minutes for this.
If your bank is Metrobank though. I suggest you do this at least a week before your planned Embassy visit. They’re a bit on the traditional side and requires to communicate with your origin branch. In any case, it’s best to visit the branch where you opened your account.
8. Bank Statement (original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
This goes hand in hand with the bank certificate. Just make sure to request for the past 3 months.
9. ITR(Income Tax Return) or Form 2316 Copy
The latest one would be that of the prior year. Since I shifted from one company to another, my ITR reflected only half of 2015 but they were okay with it and I didn’t have to present both old and new one. No need to give them the original as well.
10. Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (If applicable only)
If you have this, include the front and back portion where you see your signature.
Optional (Birth Certificate and Marriage Certificate)
As we’re traveling as a family, I had to give an original copy of my birth certificate and my parents’ marriage certificate as well. Please make sure you have these or else you’ll be treated as individual travelers.
The rest of the requirements are for when you’re personally invited by Korean. I don’t know much about this so I excluded it from here.
1. Should my bank certificate dated within the same month of your application?
Not necessarily. My mom’s was not, mine was. They will call up your bank anyway to check on the validity of your account details.
2. How much should be my Average Daily Balance (ADB)?
I would say the safest is P50,000. But that’s only my opinion as I know of friends who got approved with that much. But it can be P20,000 or less as long as the Embassy feels you can support yourself while you’re there and you’ll actually go home as intended.
3. What if I’m currently unemployed?
Since my dad is not associated with any company at the moment and have yet to register for an ITR, we decided to just declare him as unemployed. If you’re married then you can do this.
For househusbands/housewives, you basically have to copy all the requirements of your spouse (except of course the application form). Marriage certificate is a must as well.
As long as your spouse is employed, then this wouldn’t be a problem. There’s a different set of requirements for retirees if that’s the category you’ll fall in.
If you’re single, then maybe add in a cover letter explaining your situation. This, as well as your bank certificate, might be enough to get you approved.
4. Do I need to book a flight and hotel and prepare an itinerary before I apply for VISA?
No. If you wanna be really safe, I suggest you do this the other way around (VISA first before you book). But seeing that we were able to get discounted tickets, we decided to take our chance.
5. How much do I need to declare as travel expense?
Just enough to support you and not too much to raise suspicions. For us, since we’ll be staying for 9 days in SK, we placed around $600 dollars. Also remember how much you have in the bank as that should count as well.
6. What if I fail to present one of the requirements? Will they still allow me to apply?
I’m not sure about this but I’ve read several blog posts saying that they just make a cover letter to explain the absence of the requirement. For birth certificate, I also read one experience where they forgot to bring this but were still allowed to apply as a family.
7. What are other reminders to make sure I’ll get approved?
Fill out the application form completely. Go back to my reminders in the first part. No need to place N/A in everything especially if it’s in pure Korean. If you don’t understand what you should put in, just comment below and I’ll try to assist you.
And please, never submit fake or falsified documents unless you want to be banned from going to South Korea.
There you go! Now that your requirements are ready.
Also read: How to Apply for Korean VISA Part 2 (Embassy Application)