There's just something about South Korea that is irresistible for Filipino travelers. Whether it's the spectacular sights, the K-pop idols, the K-dramas, the exquisite food, or even the affordable cosmetics, the pull of this country has been so strong that numerous Pinoys have planned and succeeded in seeing South Korea in the flesh.
If you also want to heed the call of your wanderlust, there's something that you have to do first before you jet off to see the Land of the Morning Calm: get a Korean visa. Let this article serve as your step-by-step guide.
Note: South Korea offers various kinds of visas. This article only covers the application process for a tourist visa.
STEP 1: Accomplish all the requirements.
The documents you will need to submit play a huge part in determining whether or not your visa will get approved. It's imperative that you pass the complete requirements for a bigger chance of being granted a visa.
Below are the basic requirements you need to secure:
The Korean embassy requires your passports to be valid for more than 6 months prior to your intended travel date. If you need to renew your passport, here's a useful blog that will guide you towards the renewal process:
Accomplished application form
You can download it here. Erasures are not allowed so take your time in filling it out. Make sure to provide accurate details about your trip intentions and yourself.
One passport size colored photo (35 mm x 45 mm)
You will need to attach this to your application form. If you can't take your own photo, you can go to a photography studio to get your picture taken. Most studios are familiar with the Korean embassy's photo specifications.
Photocopy of the bio page of your passport (page 2)
Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD countries for the past 5 years (if applicable)
This is a helpful requirement if you want to expedite the processing time of your Korean visa. If you've been to an OECD member country within the past 5 years as a tourist, you are eligible to have the processing time of your visa shortened to three (3) working days from the standard five (5) working days. Remember as well to bring the passport which bears the visas and arrival stamps of these OECD member countries. For a list of the OECD member countries, click here. Note that only used visas are counted. If you have an unused visa, refer to the tips below.
If you've been personally invited by a Korean resident to visit, you will also need to submit an invitation letter and a photocopy of his/her passport or authentication ID.
Itinerary of your stay
This is not in the original list of requirements but some people we've talked to recently claimed that they were required to provide an itinerary. Have one ready just in case.
In addition to these basic requirements, the Korean embassy also needs you to prove that you can afford your trip so you would need to provide additional requirements to support that. The requirements differ depending on each traveler's occupation and purpose of visit to Korea.
For employees, here are the requirements you need to submit:
Original Certificate of Employment
The following details should be mentioned in your COE: your office address, the landline number of your company's HR department, as well as your position in the company, your hiring date, and your compensation.
Original Personal Bank Certificate
It should mention the account type, current balance, account opening date, and ADB.
The embassy requires the original or certified true copy of your bank statements or passbook for the last three (3) months.
Original Copy of your ITR or Form 2316
Now, if you lack any of these requirements, you are encouraged to write a letter of explanation and submit it along with the rest of your requirements. For example, if you're a freelancer and you don't have a COE and an ITR, explain clearly the nature of your job in a letter addressed to the Korean embassy so they would understand your circumstances.
Students can also be granted a visa. You just need to show the embassy the following documents in addition to the basic requirements above:
Original copy of your parents' Certificate of Employment (if they are employed)
Photocopy of your parents' Business Registration from SEC or DTI and photocopy of their Business Permit or Mayor's Permit (if they are self-employed)
Photocopy of your parents' ITR
Photocopy of your parents' NSO Marriage Certificate
Photocopy of your birth certificate
Photocopy of your school ID
Original copy of your school certificate
Additional requirements are needed if you’re self-employed, a housewife, a businessman, or have Korean relatives. Click here to know more.
After completing all of your required documents, you can now proceed to Step 2.
STEP 2: Submit your documents to the Korean embassy.
You can either submit your requirements to the Korean embassy directly or you can course your application through an agency, just like you would for a Japan visa. But since the application for a South Korean visa is simpler, we strongly suggest to do it yourself so you won't have to pay for unnecessary fees.
The Korean embassy is located at 122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. The application schedule for Korean visas is only from 8:30 AM until 11:00 AM every Monday to Friday. It's a first-come-first-served basis so make sure to come as early as you can. The embassy advises all applicants to arrive before 10:30 AM to allow time for processing. Take note as well that the embassy is closed on both Philippine and Korean holidays.
Once you're at the embassy, a staff member will check your documents first. Once they're satisfied with your documents, you will be given a number for the queue. There are separate windows for first-time applicants and for applicants with OECD member country visas.
When your number is called, approach your designated window, where another staff member will collect your documents and passport and give you a slip that indicates the release date of your passport. That's only when you'll know if your visa is approved or not.
Again, the standard processing time for visa applications is five (5) working days, but for those who have been a tourist to an OECD member country, it will be expedited to three (3) working days.
Applying for a Korean visa is free if you plan to stay for 59 days or less. A longer stay of 60 to 90 days will cost you PHP 1,800.
STEP 3: Show up to your scheduled release date.
Claiming of passports at the Korean Embassy is scheduled during weekdays from 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM. Applicants, especially first-timers, are advised to personally claim their passports from the Consular office. While an interview is not required in applying for a Korean visa, there are instances when a consul will ask you questions about your application, or even require you to submit additional requirements, before they deliver the results. So in this case, it's best to be prepared.
When you do get your hands on your passport, which, hopefully, will bear your Korean visa, take time to check if all your details are correct, so the embassy can make the necessary adjustments if needed.
Boost your chances of getting approved with these tips!
1. Make sure that your requirements are COMPLETE.
We've mentioned it before in this article, but we'll say it again: complete your requirements! You’ll definitely lessen your chances of getting a visa if you lack even just one of them. But again, if you lack some documents, provide a letter of explanation. Be clear in the letter and make sure that your reason is valid enough. Double check as well that your application form is filled out properly.
2. Show proof of your previous travels.
Traveling frequently might not guarantee that you will be granted a Korean visa, but it will be a huge advantage to your application. You want to show the consul that you have every intention of coming back to the Philippines, which hopefully, will be proven by the used visas and the arrival stamps on your passport.
3. Have sufficient savings in your bank account to fund your trip.
Since you're the applicant, the burden of proving that you can afford your South Korea trip rests on your shoulders. A safe amount would be PHP 10,000 for every day that you will spend there, so if you're going on a 5-day trip, have at least PHP 50,000 in your account. Note that bank statements also indicate your banking activity so if you deposit a huge amount in one go, the embassy might become suspicious.
For your reference, see this link for the possible reasons why an application for a Korean visa gets denied.
There you have it! Good luck!
*This story originally appeared on TravelBook.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.