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Visa / Immigration

A foreigner can enter Korea via one of the following three procedures.

Visit types

  1. Sojourn
    A foreigner may enter Korea without a visa, and undergo an entry inspection at the port of entry to obtain the status of sojourn and the maximum period of sojourn.

  2. Visa holders
    A foreigner may enter Korea, holding a visa issued at a diplomatic mission abroad.

  3. Certifacate holders
    In the event that the authority to issue visas is not delegated to the head of the diplomatic mission abroad, a foreigner may enter Korea after he/she obtains a visa issuance certificate (or a visa issuance certificate number) issued by the immigration control office having jurisdiction over the inviter's sojourn place, presents said certificate to the diplomatic mission abroad, and obtains a visa.

All foreigners entering Korea shall obtain the status of sojourn under Presidential Decree (the Immigration Control Act, Article 10). Status of sojourn is classified into 36 items, depending on activity scope. Essential professionals and foreign investors fall into the category of business investment (D-8) status of sojourn.

Foreigners' sojourns in Korea are divided into long-term stays and short-term stays based on a ninety-day criterion. Changes to the status of sojourn may be permitted or restricted depending on his/her status of sojourn. Most short-term visas are issued immediately by a diplomatic mission abroad, since the authority to issue short-term visas is delegated to a consul. However, the issuance of a long-term visa may take longer, as it is issued at a diplomatic mission abroad after the approval of the Minister of Justice is obtained.

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