Work Permits for South Korea

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Paperwork for work permitVisas and work permits are usually filed by the sponsoring employer in South Korea. Once your work permit has been approved, the Ministry of Justice will issue a Certificate of Confirmation of Visa Issuance (CCVI). This certificate must then be submitted with the relevant visa application forms to the South Korean embassy or consulate in your country of residence.

Most people moving to South Korea to work do so to teach English.

Documents needed

A number of documents need to be submitted with your CCVI. These include:
  • passport photos
  • a copy of your ID passport page
  • your resume or CV
  • original copies of your academic credentials
  • along with certified copies and apostilled documents
  • an original assignment letter or contract
  • proposed job description

In many cases a criminal clearance certificate will also need to be presented. A work visa is usually valid for one year and takes about two to four weeks to process. It is not possible to change from a tourist visa to a work visa within South Korea – this must be done from an embassy or consulate outside the country.

You can find relevant forms at the South Korean Ministry of Justice Immigration Service web site.

When applying for your visa it is important to tell your employer and the staff at the South Korean embassy that you would like a multiple or single entry visa. If you get a single entry visa and then need to leave South Korea for a vacation or business you will need to get a re-entry stamp from the immigration office at the airport, which will cost US $40. It is also possible to change your visa from single to multiple entry when you register for your Alien Registration Card.

The Alien Registration Card

An Alien Registration Card is required for opening a bank account, signing a lease, getting a cellular telephone number and applying for a driver’s licence. You can obtain an Alien Registration Card from the immigration office in your suburb. You will need your employer’s business registration number, three passport photos, your passport, US$10 application fee and a further US$50 if you want to change your visa to a multiple entry visa. It is also advisable to take your criminal clearance certificate and academic credentials with you to the immigration offices. Once you have completed the application form and handed it to the immigration official, your fingerprints will be taken. You will then be handed a receipt with date on which your passport and Alien Registration Card will be ready for collection.

Changing employers

Changing employers is a complicated procedure as your visa is sponsored by your employer. This means that in order to change employers your visa needs to be changed. This can be done without leaving South Korea if you have all the relevant documents needed for a visa and if your current employer signs a Letter of Release which is then submitted to the Korean immigration office with your passport and Alien Registration Card. You may also need to undergo a full medical in a South Korean hospital. A valid criminal clearance certificate is also required.

Finding work

Expats need to apply for a work permit for employment from a sponsoring employer, which can be done from overseas. Most nationalities are given 30 to 90 day tourist visas on entry, but an in-person interview at the South Korean embassy or consulate in your home country, is usually required in order to obtain a work permit. For this reason, it is far less complicated to find work before travelling to South Korea. This rule is particularly strict for those wishing to teach English.

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