K-Pop and K-Drama fans, heaven heard your prayers. Dreams do come true!
I know a lot of people, K-fans or not, have read about the news about allowing tourists to visit Korea visa-free BUT I can tell they only read the title! Hah!
Well, it’s true, you can definitely visit Korea visa-free BUT….it’s only applicable when you are a
1. Tourist in transit to Third Countries
- Nationals of countries, except for the 24 excluded countries (Syria, Sudan, Iran, Macedonia, Cuba, Republic Of Kosovo, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Ghana, Yemen, Gambia, Senegal, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Cameron, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Egypt) that are not granted visa-free entry into Korea.
- Those who hold a visa to the United States (including Guam and Saipan), Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, who transit through Korea to enter the abovementioned countries; or those who stayed in and departed from one of the abovementioned countries and transit through Korea bound for the country of origin or a third country.
- Those who hold a visa or permanent residency to at least one of the 30 European countries (Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Rumania, Luxemburg, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Malta, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Iceland, Ireland, Estonia, United Kingdom, Austria, Italy, Czech, Cyprus, Portugal, Poland, France, Finland, Hungary), who transit through Korea bound for one of the 30 European countries; or those who departed from one of the 30 European countries, transit through Korea bound for the country of origin or a third country.
Condition of Permission
- You have a confirmed onward flight ticket for departure within 30 days after entering Korea, in addition to having no record of any criminal offense (e.g. overstaying)
- You had not been denied entry into Korea or had not been fined more than 5 million KRW or not have been forcibly evicted or received a deportation order for violation of law in the past 3 years preceding the date of entry
- You stayed no more than 3 days in the country of transit or stopover.
- For holders of U.S., Canada, Australia, or New Zealand e-visas, a visa sticker must be attached to the passport
2. Foreign Transfer Passengers
- Besides the passengers for transit mentioned above, the visa-free entry also applies to those transferring through the Incheon Airport and taking part in the Transit Tourism Program on their way to a third country or the country of their nationality (hereinafter referred to as “general transfer passengers”)
However, citizens of the 24 countries that need visas to enter Jeju island are not included (Syria, Sudan, Iran, Macedonia, Cuba, Republic Of Kosovo, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Ghana, Yemen, Gambia, Senegal, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Cameron, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Egypt)
Condition of Permission
- The General Transfer Passengers must possess a transfer ticket and must stay in the Seoul Capital Area for up to 72 hours only.
3. Tourist traveling to the Jeju Area
- Tourist arriving at ports of entry in Jeju without a visa for travel and transit, excluding people from the following countries whose visa-free entry is limited: Ghana, Nigeria, Republic Of Kosovo, Macedonia, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Palestine, Yemen, Egypt, Gambia, Senegal, Bangladesh, Kyrgyz, Pakistan, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, Myanmar
Tourists are allowed to stay in Jeju for a total of 30 days.
Condition of Permission:
- The tourist must use a direct international flight or ship to Jeju Island.
4. Tourist part of the Jeju Group Tourist Visa System (for Filipinos only)
This privilege is yet to be finalized but is said to take effect this year, 2020.
- This visa-free system is scheduled to be tested in the first half of this year for tour groups who have scheduled flights to enter Korea with the final destination of Jeju Island, using domestic flights.
Condition of Permission:
- Individual tourists are not eligible, only group tourists with certain requirements will be given these benefits
As of today, January 24, 2020, there is still no final decision on this matter and it will be further discussed with the related ministries in Korea until February 2020. So until then, those who plan to visit Korea must still secure their visas.
UPDATE: Visa-Free Suspension
Following the recent health crisis involving the Novel Corona Virus, the Korean Government has announced that the visa-free entry to Jeju Island and visa-free entry for transit passengers who departs from China suspended until further notice.
In addition, starting February 4, 2020, any foreigner (applicable to all foreigners) that have visited or stayed in the Hubei Province, China – within the last 14 days, are not permitted to enter Korea.
Reduced Visa Processing Time
Another good news! In case you haven’t known yet, by the end of February, the current visa processing period will be reduced from 25-27 days to 10-15 days. The Embassy of Korea in the Philippines has allotted additional visa staff to address the surge of visa applications. Those who plan to visit Korea starting March, the reduced processing period shall be retained even during the peak season (March-April).
How to Apply for a Korean Visa?
It depends on where you plan to submit your application forms. If you are from the Luzon area, you’d definitely need an agency to lodge your visa application. It started last 2018 when the Embassy of Korea no longer accepts walk-in visa applicants in their Embassy office in Manila, Philippines.
But, if you are in Cebu or in the nearby provinces, you can simply go to the Consular office in Cebu Business Park. They accept walk-in applicants between 8:30 AM – 11:00 AM.
Full details on how to apply for a visa in Cebu can be found here – Korean Tourist Visa Application Guide for Walk-ins in Cebu
Here’s the list of requirements based on the list I got from the Korean Consulate’s office in Cebu:
- Accomplished Application Form – Fill out this form completely and correctly. Provide the details which only apply to you. Put N/A in items that are not applicable. Write in block letters either in English or Korean. You can either submit a type-written form or a handwritten form.
- 1 piece of Passport size Colored Picture – Paste it to your application form.
- Original Passport – It should be valid for more than six (6) months.
- Photocopy of Passport Bio-page – If you have the newly issued Philippine Passport, include the page which has your signature. I met someone who was asked to come back because she wasn’t able to provide the third page.
- Original and Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past five (5) years – The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental economic organization with 36 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. Korea is part of the OECD but Korean visas will not be counted as part of the requirements. Other countries such as Australia, Japan, the United States, and/or other Schengen countries can be included.
- Original Certificate of Employment – This should include your position, date hired, compensation, office address, office landline number, and your HR’s e-mail address.
- Original Personal Bank Certificate – This should include your account type, current balance, account opening date, and average daily balance (ADB).
- Bank Statement – An original or a certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last three (3) months is required to be submitted.
- Photocopy of Income Tax Return (ITR) or Form 2316 – This should be checked and stamped by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). (Company Alpha List is no longer required.)
- Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card, if applicable
If personally invited by a Korean National, you are required to include the following:
- Invitation Letter
- Copy of Invitor’s Passport
If invited by a Company in Korean, you are required to include the following:
- Invitation Letter
- Copy of Korean Company Business Permit
For further details, contact the Consulate of the Republic of Korea in Cebu
- Address: 12/F Chinabank Corporate Center, Cebu Business Park, Cebu City, 6000 Philippines
- Contact number: (032) 231-1516
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