All companies looking to employ workers in South Korea will need to sponsor their work permits to stay compliant. However, South Korea has many temporary visa types, as well as at least eight different work permit categories that depend on the type of skilled worker. This complexity can make it more difficult for companies to know what visas their workers need and how to get them.
Types of Work Visas in South Korea
There are several types of working visas in South Korea that allow for long-term employment. These permits let your employees stay for more than 90 days.
- E-1 professor visa: Expats wanting to give lectures or do research in their field at a college-level education facility should apply for this visa. It’s a multiple-entry option valid for one year, and employees can typically renew it in one-year intervals.
- E-2 foreign language instructor visa: This visa is an option for expats looking to teach a foreign language at a company, broadcast station-owned school, elementary school, middle school, or high school. It is a multiple-entry visa valid for two years and can be renewed every two years by the employee.
- E-3 research visa: E-3 visas are for expats researching natural science or advanced technology through an invitation by a public or private institution. The E-3 is another multiple-entry visa good for one year with the option to renew every year.
- E-4 technological guidance visa: Expats with unmatched experience in science or technology can come to South Korea on an E-4 visa when invited by a public or private organization. A multiple-entry version of this visa is good for one year and can be renewed each year, while a single-entry visa is good for three months and can also be renewed every year.
- E-5 special profession visa: The E-5 visa is for architects, lawyers, physicians, accountants, and more who are internationally licensed and have permission from the South Korean government to practice in their chosen field. Choose a multiple-entry visa to stay for a year and renew in one-year intervals or a single-entry visa to stay for three months.
- E-6 culture and art visa: Expats with musical, artistic, or literary backgrounds can work in a variety of jobs to obtain this multiple-entry visa valid for one year. They can renew it every year, as well.
- E-7 specially designed activities visa: Expats must participate in activities the Korean Ministry of Justice designed through a public or private organization. Employees can choose the multiple-entry option to stay for one to three years and can renew it in one- to three-year intervals. They can also obtain a single-entry visa for three months and renew it every year.
- D-5 long-term news coverage visa: This visa is specifically meant for reporters working in foreign media such as broadcasting, newspapers, magazines, and more. It’s good for three months and can be renewed yearly.
Requirements to Obtain South Korea Work Visas
Every South Korea working visa has different stipulation. However, most mandate that the applicant submit a completed application form, an original passport and copies, and a colored passport-style photo. Other requirements may include:
- A copy of the employment contract
- Educational and professional certificates
- Criminal record
- Recommendation letter
South Korea allows both online and in-person visa applications, including:
- E-visa application through the visa portal
- Application from a foreign South Korean diplomatic mission
- Confirmation of the visa on the portal
- Confirmation of the visa at a South Korean immigration office
Often, your employees’ job determines what visa they need and how they should apply for it. Keep in mind that your company must be a legal entity in South Korea to obtain an application for every employee. You will then act as a sponsor for all of your work visa applicants.
Other Important Considerations
Employees who want to bring their family members to South Korea will need to go through an extra step. A spouse and any unmarried minor children must obtain F-3 visas to come to South Korea. They may only be allowed to stay as long as the principal applicant, or your employee. Other family members will only be allowed a single-entry visa that is good for three months. However, they can renew this visa every year.
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