IMPORTANT UPDATE: Due to the influx of tourist visa applicants, the embassy no longer walk-in applicants. Tourist visa applications must now be processed through travel agencies accredited by the embassy. The Korean Embassy has previously announced that it will publish the list of accredited travel agencies on May 14, 2018. Unfortunately, I could not find it in the embassy’s website.
After finalizing our travel date and booking our flights, it is now time to cross out the next item on our list of must-dos before flying to South Korea. The third item on our checklist is Korean tourist visa application. This is probably the item I dreaded the most because I haven’t traveled outside of the country yet. Moreover, news of Korean visa denials also makes one cower in fear. For us not to be bothered by denials, our friend suggested that we don’t read more blogs.
Visa application is the primary deterrent against travelers who don’t intend to go back to the Philippines upon arrival in Korea, or what we Filipinos colloquially refer to as TNTs (Tago Ng Tago). Visa application also aims to establish the applicant’s capability of funding or supporting his travel. Hence, it is important to establish that the applicant has a reason to come back, such as a stable job or business.
It wouldn’t escape the naked eye that the main gauge for visa approval is employment. A gainful employment can easily complete three of the requirements listed below (2316/ITR, Certificate of Employment and Bank Statement). However, it is still not a guarantee for visa approval. Nonetheless, it is imperative to establish financial capacity and intentions upon submission of the requirements.
Steps on Visa Application
The steps to Korean Visa Application is enumerated below:
- Download and fill up application from from Korean Embassy site.
- Collate all the documents required. Requirements are listed below.
- Submit the documents and other attachments.
- Claim your visa on the scheduled date of release.
Korean Visa Application Requirements
Below is the list of primary requirements for Korean visa application:
- Accomplished application form. Application form can be downloaded from the Korean Embassy website.
- One piece of Passport size colored picture to be attached on the application form;
- Original passport which should be valid for more than 6 months from date of application;
- Photocopy of passport bio-page (page 2);
- Original and photocopy of valid visa/s arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past five years (if applicable);
- Original certificate of employment (COE). COE must be printed on employer’s letterhead and to a minimum, must include applicant’s position, date hired, compensation, office address, human resources (HR) landline number and email address. Please note that cellphone number is not allowed to be presented as the HR’s number;
- Original personal bank certificate. To a minimum, bank certificate must include account type, current balance, account opening date and average daily balance;
- Original or certified true copy of bank statements or passbook for the last three months.
- Latest income tax return (ITR) or Form 2316 for employed individuals; and
- Copy of Professional Regulatory Commission card or Integrated Bar of the Philippines card (if applicable only).
- If personally invited by a Korean, the invitation letter and the photocopy of the invitor’s passport or identification card.
- If invited by a Korean company, the invitation letter and photocopy of Korean company business permit.
Accomplishing the Application Form
The Korean visa application form is five-pages long and must be printed on an A4 paper. It must be accomplished using BLOCK letters. As much as possible, avoid erasures or any marks that will taint the application form. Moreover, don’t leave anything unanswered unless it is inapplicable to you.
The questions are straightforward and can easily be answered. Aside from personal details, passport details, contact information, education and employment details must also be provided. However, there are some tricky portions like the funding details. If you are personally funding your travel, please put yourself as the one who will fund your expenses. There is a parenthesized portion on the funding details that says that it will include “any person INCLUDING yourself and/or institute”.
On the details of visit, addresses and contact numbers in Korea is to be listed so I advise that one has an idea where he will stay. However, booking an accommodation is not required prior to visa application. Accomplish the form to the best of your knowledge and in good faith.
Visa Requirement Submission and Approval
Once all visa requirements have been completed and collated, the documents must be submitted on either of the following:
KOREAN EMBASSY IN MANILA
122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig city 1634, Philippines
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact No.: (63-2) 856-9210 visa local no. 270, 500
KOREAN CONSULATE IN CEBU
12th Floor Chinabank Corporate Center, Lot 2, Samar Loop Cor. Road 5, Cebu Business Park, Mabolo, Cebu City
Email Address: email@example.com
Contact No.: (63-32) 231-1516(-9)
Important note: For Manila applicants, document acceptance starts from 8 AM up to 11 AM ONLY. However, if there is a long queue, cut-off is usually moved to an earlier time. It is always advisable to be early. Meanwhile, claiming of visas starts from 1 PM up to 4 PM ONLY daily. You can neither submit nor claim beyond the designated hours.
For the Korean Embassy in Manila, below is the process for the submission of documents:
- Before entering the embassy, register and leave an official ID at the guard’s station.
- There is usually a queue going inside so please wait for your turn. Inside, numbers are being issued by the personnel stationed by the door. Before issuing a number, he will evaluate all the documents you are going to submit. Once he is satisfied, he will give you a number.
- Once you’ve been issued a number, wait for it to be called. Numbers are flashed on a monitor above the counters, there is no need to line up for a queue. There are separate windows for applicants with and without past OECD visas.
- Upon submission, the staff will double check the requirements. Some document receivers ask simple questions while some just goes over the requirements without any queries. If everything is in order, they will give you a slip of paper with the DATE OF RELEASE written on it.
- Three working days for those who have been to OECD member countries within five years as tourist;
- Five working days for regular applications.
- Seven working days for those applying in Cebu, with or without OECD visas.
- Visa application is free for those who are staying for less than 59 days
- PHP 1,800.00 for those who are staying for 60 to 90 days.
Me: Upon submission, our nervousness didn’t subside because we still had to wait for seven more days (five working days plus weekend) to learn about our fate. Seven days thence, we had our friend collect our visa and much to our relief, all of us were approved! Yahoo. It means we can finally move on to the next phase of our travel – planning our itinerary. Thankfully, my companions began drawing up our itinerary way ahead of our visa application so it is not going to be much of a challenge.