Work Permit Applications

Understand the legal requirements and necessary visas for working in South Korea...

The procedures for applying for a visa or work permit are similar. An application must be made by the applicant in person at a Korean Consulate or Embassy in their home country, with the endorsement of their Korean employer. Many visas are obtained by an applicant's Korean employer.

Once this application has been approved, a Certificate of Confirmation of Visa Issuance is granted. The Certificate must then be submitted, along with a Visa Issuance application, to the Korean Embassy in the applicant's home country.

For an application to be processed, all supporting documents must be provided and the visa application fee must be paid. The following documents, all of which should be originals, are usually needed to make a visa application:

  • Passport
  • Educational certificates
  • Curriculum Vitae or résumé
  • A certificate, or similar, confirming employment in South Korea
  • Job description of future work in South Korea
  • One colour passport photo of the applicant taken within the previous six months (35 mm x 45 mm)

Many visas also require a health statement, as well as proof of no criminal record. The criminal record check must be issued by the applicant's home country.

Most work visas take between two and four weeks to be processed and are valid for a year. They can be extended if the visa holder continues to work for the same employer. A visa must be collected within three months of the date of application, or three months from the date when approval was given. If a visa is not collected on time, a new application has to be made.

Local or district Immigration Offices designate where foreigners can work. Anyone who wishes to change their place of work must obtain permission from their local Immigration Office to do so, and the request must be submitted within 14 days of changing jobs.

An employee switching to an H-2 Working Visitor Visa may stay for up to 3 years after the date of entry into South Korea. However if an employee entered the country on an H-2 visa AND the employer wishes to extend the working contract, the H-2 visa-holder may extend their stay to 4 years and 10 months after the entry date. 

Foreign Registration Card

Anyone planning to stay in South Korea for longer than 90 days must obtain a residence permit or Foreign Registration Card from South Korea's Immigration Service.

For holders of an H-2 visa in a particular sub-category like studying abroad, additional information may be required. Re-entry is possible on an H-2 visa however foreign registration cards are collected at the airport so a new foreign registration card must be applied for within 90 days of re-entry.