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South Korea

Visas

With a confirmed onward ticket, visitors from nearly all West European countries, New Zealand, Australia and around 30 other countries receive 90-day permits on arrival. Citizens of Italy and Portugal receive 60-day permits, and Canadians receive a six-month permit. Visitors from the USA receive 90-day permits

Around 20 countries, including the Russian Federation, China, India, the Philippines and Nigeria, do not qualify for visa exemptions. Citizens from these countries must apply for a tourist visa, which allows a stay of 90 days. You cannot extend your stay beyond 90 days except in rare cases such as a medical emergency; if you overstay the fine starts at W100, 000. Log on to www.moj.go.kr or www.mofat.go.kr to find out more.

Applications for a work visa can be made inside Korea, but you must leave the country to pick up the visa. Most applicants fly (or take the Busan ferry) to Fukuoka in Japan, where it usually takes two days to process the visa. You can also apply for a one-year work visa before entering Korea but it can take a few weeks to process. Note that the visa authorities will want to see originals (not photocopies) of your educational qualifications. This a safeguard against fake degree certificates.

You don’t need to leave Korea to renew a work visa as long as you carry on working for the same employer. But if you change employers you must normally apply for a new visa and pick it up outside Korea.

If you don’t want to forfeit your work or study visa, you must apply at your local immi­gration office for a re-entry permit before making any trips outside South Korea. The fee is W30, 000 for a single re-entry or W50, 000 for multiple re-entry, but permits are free for some nationalities.

If you are working or studying in Korea on a long-term visa, it is necessary to apply for an alien registration card within 90 days of arrival, which costs W10, 000. This is done at your local immigration office.