My heart skipped a beat when the releasing officer in the Korean Embassy handed over my passport. “Will I be APPROVED or DENIED?” One deep breath… I flipped open my passport and… Thank God I got approved! Woohoo! I couldn’t contain my happiness that day.
You see, getting a tourist visa is not a piece of cake for most Filipinos, especially for those who get income from online sources like me. Not to brag about it, but I was granted a single-entry South Korea visa without ITR (Income Tax Return) yet.
Note: The Consulate of the Republic of Korea in Cebu has a different set of Korean visa requirements. Please check their official website to double check your requirements. Also note that the consulate does not grant exemption of ITR for those who have travelled to OECD countries. You are only exempted if you have travelled as a tourist to Korea at least once within 5 years. Please read full details of the update here.
Now, let me just share with you some easy steps and personal tips to make your South Korea tourist visa application smooth and successful.
Step 1: Gather your Korean visa requirements
South Korea visa requirements vary depending on the type of visa. Check your respective Korean visa requirements from the Korean Embassy in Manila or Korean Consulate in Cebu. As for me, I applied for a tourist visa For Employees at the Korean Embassy in Manila.
1 piece of Passport size coloured picture (Tell the studio that you’re applying for a South Korea visa, and they already know the size. Paste your photo on your application form.)
Original Passport (should be valid for more than 6 months)
Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (page 2)
Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years (If applicable only)
Certificate of Employment (must include applicant’s position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number (cell-phone number is not allowed), HR e-mail address)
Personal Bank Certificate (must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB)
Bank Statement (original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
ITR (Income Tax Return) or Form 2316 Copy
Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (If applicable only)
If personally invited by a Korean
Photocopy of invitor’s Passport or Identification Card (authentication not required)
If invited by a company in Korea
Photocopy of Korean Company Business Permit (authentication not required)
To those applying at the Korean Embassy in Manila: Frequent travellers who have travelled as a tourist to OECD member countries or to South Korea within 5 years are exempted from submitting an ITR. Please see the list of ITR exemption cases here.
To those applying at the Korean Consulate in Cebu: The consulate does not grant exemption of ITR to those who have travelled to OECD member countries. You are only exempted if you have travelled as a tourist to South Korea at least once within 5 years.
Step 2: Fill out the South Korea visa application form
This is the tricky part. Although you can get a South Korea visa application form from the travel agency, I suggest that you print out the application form in advance to save time and to minimise errors. Print it in an A4 size bond paper.
Erasures are a BIG NO-NO so write all information carefully. Note that you must write in BLOCK LETTERS (ALL CAPS). If the information needed is not applicable to you, put N/A.
Tip 1: If you’re like me whose handwriting sucks, you can download the .docx format of the application form. You can find it here under Application for Visa. Type all the needed information and print away. It’s cleaner to look at and saves you time and effort in writing. That’s what I did and it’s totally fine.
Tip 2: If you want to save on paper, you can print on both sides but make sure the sequence of pages is correct. Page 1 (front), Page 2 (back) and so on.
Some important fields you need to take note of:
1.7 국가신분증번호 National Identity No. –> N/A because Filipinos don’t have this
9.8. 동반입국 가족 유무 기재 Are you travelling to Korea with any family member?Note: Family Member means your spouse, father, mother, children, brothers and sisters. Your fiancée, boyfriend / girlfriend and best friends are NOT family members, so don’t put them on the list.
10.2 경비지불자 Who will pay for your travel-related expenses? (any person including yourself and/or institute)
a) 성명/회사(단체)명 Name of Person/Company(Institute) –> WRITE YOUR NAME if you are funding your travel. If not, provide the name of the person or institute who will fund you
b) 관계 Relationship to you –> SELF or your relationship to the person or entity funding you
c) 지원내용 Type of Support –> FINANCIAL SUPPORT or indicate which part of your trip is being funded (eg. flights, accommodation, tours, etc.)
Handling fees could vary depending on your travel agency. RELI Tours & Travel for instance charges ₱700 to process your South Korea visa application.
Step 4: Keep calm and wait for your South Korea visa
After submitting all your South Korea visa requirements, you just have to wait for it.
New South Korea processing time:
The South Korean Embassy announced that from 1 April 2019, those who apply for a temporary visitor’s visa (C-3) will have to wait up to 7 working days due to the increase in the number of South Korea visa applications.
Frequent travellers: from 3 working days to 7 working days
First-timers: from 5 working days to 7 working days
Step 5: Claim your Philippine passport
This is it! The day you’ve all been waiting for! Your travel agency will usually contact you via text when your passport (with or without a South Korea visa) will be ready for pick up.
Just a friendly advise: Worrying doesn’t change the outcome so just hope for the BEST! If it’s your time to go to Korea, it’s really your time and you deserve it! If not, there’s always a next time. You can apply again after 6 months.