For those planning to work in South Korea who are not native to the country, there are strict regulations and processes to follow to ensure you have the right to do so legally. South Korea’s work visa system is more complex than in other countries, with a wide range of different visa types for ex-pats depending on the purpose and the type of work you’ll be doing.
MSC Notaries have outlined the different types of South Korea work visas and the process involved in obtaining one so you can ensure you are prepared with the correct documentation ahead of starting work abroad.
What are the different types of work visas?
There are various types of South Korean work visas and permits. The suitable option for you should be advised by your future employer who will need to act as a sponsor for your application if you are to be successful.
E-1 Professor Visa
This visa is designed for those who plan to study or carry out research in a specific field in South Korea. The job must be secured at a tertiary institution such as a university and some examples of roles that fit this category are lecturers, professors, or researchers.
The E-1 visa is valid for one year, at which point it can be renewed for another year, and allows for multiple entries to the country within that time.
E-2 Foreign Language Instructor Visa
The E-2 visa in South Korea is a common one due to the volume of young people planning to teach English abroad and get to see different cultures and areas of the world at the same time. The E-2 visa is specifically for those who plan to teach a foreign language, whether it’s at a company or school. To be eligible, you must have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and your application must be sponsored by the company or school you will be working for.
These visas are valid for two years, at which point they can be renewed for another two years, and allow for multiple entries into South Korea during that time.
E-3 Research Visa
This visa is for those who are invited to South Korea to conduct research and continue a career in research in the areas of natural science or technological advancement at a research institute or university.
E-4 Technological Guidance Visa
This visa is aimed at professionals with careers in the fields of science and technology who have a position lined up with an organisation in South Korea. This visa can be applied for as a multiple entry visa for a longer period of one year, or as a single-entry visa for three months.
E-5 Special Profession Visa
If you are internationally licensed in a specific profession, such as you are a lawyer, architect, engineer or accountant and have been authorised by the South Korean government to practise your profession in the country, this visa is for you. You can apply for a multiple entry visa for a year, or a single entry visa for three months.
E-6 Culture and Art Visa
This visa is designed for foreigners with experience and skills in music, art or literature who plan to practise a profession in this field while in South Korea. This is a multiple entry visa for one year.
E-7 Specially Designed Activities Visa
This visa is applicable for any ex-pats who have been invited to South Korea to carry out certain activities designed by the Korean Ministry of Justice which are broadly for the enhancement of national competition. This can be a multiple entry visa for one to three years or a single entry visa for three months.
D-5 Long-Term News Coverage Visa
This visa applies to news reporters travelling to South Korea and is a single-entry visa valid for three months.
D-10 Job Seeker Visa
This visa applies to those who will qualify for one of the above visa categories but haven’t yet been offered employment or become employed.
To be eligible to apply for the Job Seeker visa, one of the following conditions will need to be met too:
- Your previous employer has been featured on the Fortune 500 list in the last three years
- You have a university degree from a university listed on the Times Higher World University Rankings
- You are a recent graduate in the last three years of a Korean college or university
- You have a degree or have completed a research program from a Korean university in the last three years
- You are recognised by the head of a diplomatic mission
H-1 Working Holiday Visa (WHV)
This visa is for those travelling to South Korea under the Working Holiday Programme (WHP), where you will be working in the country short term whilst travelling. The WHP in South Korea is designed to encourage tourists to visit the country to sightsee whilst working to fund their trip.
This visa can be applied for a maximum of one year and cannot be renewed. Once you have obtained a WHV, you aren’t eligible to reapply and obtain another in the future. It’s important to note that certain occupations are exempt from the Working Holiday Visa in South Korea, including working in entertainment venues or working in specific professions such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, reporters, researchers pr pilots.
If none of the above South Korea work visa categories apply to you and you are instead an entrepreneur or business person, you will likely need a business visa. Business visas are for those planning to expand a company into South Korea or those who are investing in an existing company in South Korea.
There are various types of business visas to be aware of too:
- D-7-1 Intra-Company Visa (foreign). This is for those who have worked at a foreign branch of an organisation or business for at least a year and are being transferred to a business location in South Korea due to their specific expertise.
- D-7-2 Intra-Company Visa (domestic). This is for those who are being relocated to a business with headquarters in South Korea, for example, to provide training or share knowledge gained at a foreign branch.
- D-8 Corporate Investment Visa
- D-8-2 Business Venture Visa
- D-8-4 Technology and Business Start-up
- D-9 Trade Management Visa
How do I get a work visa for South Korea?
Now you’re aware of the specific types of work visas in South Korea, it’s important to understand how to obtain one in advance of your moving to the country and starting work.
There are different requirements for an application depending on the type of visa you require. If you have a position secured abroad, your employer should be able to identify and advise on the suitable type and sponsor your application to ensure it’s successful.
Some general requirements for documents to submit when applying are:
- Application form
- Original valid passport
- Coloured passport photo
- Employment contract and job offer letter
- Educational or other qualification certificates
- Criminal record check
- Application fee
The place you will be working will also need to submit various documents when sponsoring an applicant:
- Letter of invitation
- Information on the company’s employees and the number of foreign employees
- Copy of Certificate of Tax Payment for the previous year
- Copy of financial statements for the previous year
- Copy of company’s registration certificate
- Copy of Certificate of Incorporation
You can apply for a South Korea work visa via the online portal, via post, or from a South Korean embassy or immigration office. Companies employing an ex-pat must obtain an application and sponsor this on behalf of their future employees that are travelling to South Korea.
There are certain eligibility requirements that a company must meet, however, to be able to sponsor an applicant:
- Companies must be licensed and incorporated to be able to sponsor applications on behalf of employees. If the company you will be working for is still in the process of incorporation, they can sponsor your application through a Global Employment Outsourcing (GEO) Employer of Record.
- Companies must have a certain number of South Korean nationals employed – usually can’t have more than 20% of foreign employees.
Applications can take between one to four weeks to be processed and approved, depending on the type of visa, so it’s important to consider what documentation you’ll need and prepare in advance of your travel.
If you are planning to move to work in South Korea with families such as a spouse or young children, you will also need to obtain F-3 visas for each member of your family. F-3 visas mean they can then stay in the country as long as you do and provided you are working.
For family visas, you will need:
- Application form
- Passport photograph
- Family relation certificates such as a birth or marriage certificate
- Proof of financial stability such as an employment contract or tax certificate
In addition to South Korea work visas, all those residing in South Korea will need to obtain an Alien Registration Card (ARC). Without this, you are unable to open a bank account, sign a lease on a property, apply for a driving license or even set up a phone contract.
You can obtain an ARC from your local immigration office, you will need:
- Employer’s business registration number
- Passport photo
- Application fee
- Criminal record certificate
- Academic credentials and certificates
How much does a Korean work visa cost?
The costs of obtaining a South Korean work visa can vary depending on how long you plan to stay in the country. The approximate costs are:
- 90 days or less single-entry visa – USD 40
- 91 days or longer single-entry visa – USD 60
- Double-entry visa usable for two entries – USD 70
- Multiple-entry visa – USD 90
Enquire about preparing documentation for a South Korea work visa
MSC Notaries have decades of combined expertise in helping those looking to work in a foreign country such as Thailand or Vietnam to notarise, translate and legalise their documents for a work visa and permit applications. We help our customers by making the process as streamlined and efficient as possible with remote and affordable services. You can get in touch with our team for more information or submit an enquiry online.