Exotic cuisine and world-class technology - that's South Korea for everyone. A perfect blend of old and new, South Korea is home to 50 million residents and is a much-loved destination among tourists and the locales alike. However, it is the regional power of the country that made the country being dubbed as a global head in the industrial and technological sectors. So, no wonder why South Korea has become a top-notch spot for foreign citizens to head there for employment, so much that foreign students are heading to the country to study and potentially get employed in-country.
However, take note, you can't simply whiz away to South Korea - you will need a visa to South Korea, or more specifically, a student visa to South Korea.
Let's go into the details!
What is the visa policy of South Korea?
The visa policy of South Korea states the rules, regulations and requirements that a foreign citizen has to meet to travel to South Korea.
The requirements of a South Korea visa states that all the foreign citizens who enter the country - whether they have a visa or not - must have a valid passport for at least 6 months with at least 1 or 2 blank pages.
Upon arrival in the country, the foreign citizens may have to prove that they have enough funds to sustain themselves during their stay in the country.
According to the South Korean visa law, there are 110 visa-exempt nationalities for the country; these foreign citizens can enter the country for different periods of permitted stay visa-free.
Depending on the nationality of the foreign citizens, the visa-exempt foreign citizens can stay in South Korea for 30 to 180 days. However, from September 2021, these foreign citizens will be required to have an approved ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) to visit the country for the same periods of stay.
ETA, also known as K-ETA, is an Electronic Travel Authorization that is implemented by the South Korean government to expedite the entry of visa-exempt passport holders at the border points. The introduction of K-ETA also allows for the pre-screening of visa-waiver citizens for any infectious diseases before they land in the country.
Only recently, in May 2021, the K-ETA was introduced, but on a trial basis for select visa-exempt citizens. However, very soon, by September 2021, it will become mandatory for all foreign citizens with visa-exemption for South Korea to have an approved K-ETA to visit the country.
Having an approved K-ETA will allow the foreign citizen to enter South Korea for tourism purposes, or, let's say, to visit family or friends, or to attend meetings or conferences or even for commercial activities. From the date of issuance, the K-ETA is valid for 2 years, and it will allow the holder multiple entries to the country during its validity.
To get an approved K-ETA, it's important to fill up the online South Korea ETA form, followed by providing necessary information. The applicants will also have to provide a valid email address. The approved K-ETA Tourist Authorization will be sent to the given eMail address. Once approved, the foreign citizen has to take a hard copy of the approved ETA visa waiver to present to border officials upon arrival in South Korea.
No matter what the period of stay is or the purpose of travel is, there are 130 nations and territories around the world whose individuals require a visa to travel to South Korea.
South Korea offers foreign citizens to obtain a visa through a government diplomatic office, be it a consulate or an embassy, as a visa on arrival is not available for the country. This involves having to attend an appointment in person and providing the embassy with a range of necessary supporting documents depending on what visa the foreign citizen needs to travel to South Korea.
Do I need a visa to study in South Korea?
Yes, you need a visa to study in South Korea. If you plan to study at a South Korean university for more than 90 days, it's best to apply for a student visa. For that, you will need a Certificate of Admission from a South Korean university. To obtain the certificate, you have to pay for at least 2 terms of 10 weeks each. The Korean universities provide 4 terms of 10 weeks each.
A study visa in South Korea (also known as a student visa) is known as D-visa. It is followed by a number that will depend on what you will study in South Korea. If you have studied in South Korea for 6 months, then you can apply for a right to work part-time on a study visa in South Korea.
There's another visa - a Working Holiday visa. You can also apply for this visa if you plan to stay in South Korea for a long time. Note that this visa is valid for 1 year and can only be applied if you are between 18-30 years, and can't be renewed. With the Working Holiday visa, you can work and study at private institutions in South Korea at the same time.
That said, if, as a foreign citizen, you previously held Korean citizenship or you have a parent or grandparent who had it, then you can apply for the F-4 visa. The F-4 visa is available to those citizens who have a Korean heritage. With this visa, you can work and study in South Korea for 2 years without any restrictions. If needed, you also get the opportunity to extend the F-4 visa.
How to get a student visa for South Korea?
To get a student visa for South Korea, you need to apply and get admission to a Korean university. Different universities in South Korea have different requirements, but the following listed are seen in most universities.
- The application form of the university
- A copy of your passport
- Your high school diploma in English
- Motivation letter
- Proof of sufficient funds (at least $10,000) to show that you can finance your studies in South Korea
After getting admission to your desired South Korean university, you have to pay the tuition fee, following which, the university will send you the Certificate of Admission.
After receiving the document, you can then apply for a student visa at the Korean embassy in your home country.
If you plan to enter South Korea on a student visa, then you have to pay the tuition fee no later than 2 months before the university study session starts. This will give you enough time to put your admission documents in order and apply for the student visa.
What are the student South Korea visa requirements?
It's of utmost importance to follow the student South Korea visa requirements if you are to apply for one.
- Your original passport. You must also have a copy of the photo page. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months after entry to Korea.
- Visa documents from a Korean university or Confirmation of visa issuance, where you are to fill out sections 2 and 3.5
- Pay the visa application fee
- 1 passport photo. However, it's not required for students who have a Confirmation of visa issuance)
- Get the student South Korea visa application form and have it filled out.
- There are some Korean embassies that might ask for your high school diploma and proof of financing. It's better to confirm with the Korean embassy or consulate as to what documents they ask for. They may ask for additional documents if you attend a university exchange program.
Note that if you apply for a South Korea student visa now in the time of the pandemic, you may need to fill out a Health Condition report form and a Quarantine Consent form. You may also have to take a COVID test before you arrive in Korea. It's recommended that you check out the details with the Korean embassy before you arrive in South Korea.
When will you get the student South Korea visa?
After the Korean embassy receives your student South Korea visa application, it will take a few days to get your visa processed; however, the waiting time may vary based on different countries.
If you have a short time, then you can contact the Korean embassy to help you faster. And yes, unless you use a visa agency that will do all the hard work for you, you have to collect your visa personally at the Korean embassy.
After the student South Korea visa is issued, the visa is valid for entrance in 3 months. You will be able to stay in South Korea for 7 months before the visa has to be renewed.
Remember that the above information will vary based on different countries, so be sure to double-check what is written under the visa's validity period and period of stay on the student visa.
How much is a student visa to South Korea?
The cost of a student visa to South Korea differs - it will be based on your nationality as different countries have different costs. So please contact the Korean diplomatic mission in your country before applying.