Hello, hello! What’s up dear readers and friends? I know it’s been a while since my last post and that I promised to be active in this blog but I still can’t seem to keep that promise. Do know though that I am still around, this blog is among my plans, and that I will continue to keep in touch through blog posts no matter how sporadic they may seem 🙂
In case you’re wondering about what’s keeping me busy, well, I have been occupied by life at home which pretty much revolves around my preschooler as well as some work related to my business. The first quarter is also that time of the year when we celebrate so many occasions — wedding anniversary in January, my son’s birthday in February, and our birthdays (mine and husband’s) in March. That translates to left and right parties at home.
And speaking of birthdays, I just celebrated my 40th but I personally did not choose to have a huge party. I opted for a quiet, peaceful, laid-back, low-key celebration in exchange for something that I have always wanted to do. Can you make a wild guess? 🙂 About 2-3 years ago, when my hubby and I were planning for our respective 40th birthdays, we shared what we have always wanted to do. He was asking if I wanted to tour Europe or maybe go back to the United States. But there’s just one thing that I wanted to do for my 40th and that is to return to and spend some time in Korea.
So there, in exchange for a huge blowout for family and friends, I will be going to Korea this April and I will spend 10 days there — the first 6 days without my husband and preschooler (gosh, just writing about it now is already making me miss them!), and then they will join me in the last 4 days. And that leads me to this post. Whew, what a long intro!
I realized that the most visited and most active post in this blog is the GETTING A KOREAN VISA entry that I first posted in 2012 and updated in 2014. And that needs serious updating; hence, this post. I have chronicled my adventures in my Seoul Series 2012 and Heart and Seoul 2014. I am still thinking about a name for my 2017 adventures but this blog entry is the first in that series. So, without any further blurb, let’s get down to business.
TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HOW TO GET A KOREAN VISA, CONTINUE AFTER THE JUMP.
You have probably read my Getting A Korean Visa blog post before. You may also have read other blogs to help you with your visa application. However, the best resource for your needs is the website of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea itself. You can find everything that you need to know there.
- Website of the embassy
- Visa announcements – This is where you can find announcements related to revision of schedules, BPI and BDO cardholder benefits, etc.
- Visa requirements – This is where you will find the complete list of requirements for each type of visa application.
- Downloadable forms – This is where you will find the visa application form, guarantee letter formats, etc.
- Visa Application Form – This is the direct link to the visa application form. It is a PDF file that you need to print and fill out personally. You don’t need to type out the entries; handwritten form is fine. Just be sure to use block letters or what you call plain capital letters when filling it out.
What I’ll post below are the requirements for tourist visa only and I have selected these requirements because I have had personal experience applying for these groups.
There are some visa officers who are very strict with the order in which the documents are presented while there are some who are lenient. The best practice would be to follow the order in which the documents are listed above, i.e., specifically, the ORIGINAL Certificate of Employment (COE) should come after the photocopies of the OECD visas. Take note that an original COE is required, i.e., not photocopy. If aside from the COE, you also have a professional license issued by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) or Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), submit a copy of that and insert that after the COE. The same requirements apply whether you are employed by the government or by private companies.
If you are managing/operating a registered business or professional/law firm, then you will need to submit copies of registration documents like DTI registration, SEC registration, and Business/Mayor’s Permit. These document are in addition to your PRC or IBP card. However, if you are into solo practice, you only need to present your PRC or IBP card. Take note that the Embassy only requires photocopies of registration documents. You may bring the originals in case they need them for comparison but do not submit them as what’s required are only photocopies.
For Retired Senior Citizens
These requirements apply only to retirees who are senior citizens and who do not have any source of income. If a retiree acts as a business owner, he/she must still submit the documents required for businessmen as shown above. What is important here is the submission of a copy of the senior citizen’s ID as well as proof of ownership of bank accounts. If the bank account is a joint one which is under the name of spouses, then the retiree-applicant must show proof of relationship by submitting a Marriage Certificate. If the retiree has no bank account but, for example, a child will support his travel, the retiree-applicant must submit his/her child’s bank account documents plus proof of relationship such as the child’s Birth Certificate. You do not need to submit the original Marriage Certificate or Birth Certificate. Photocopies are allowed.
If your child is a toddler or a preschooler enrolled in a playschool or daycare, then you don’t need to submit a copy of school ID. But if your child is of school age and is going to school, then you will need to submit the school ID. So for minors, you basically submit the same supporting documents required of the parents. If their parents are employed, then you submit the requirements for employees. If self-employed, then you submit the requirements for businessmen or professionals. What is important is that you submit a copy of the parents’ Marriage Certificate plus a copy of the child’s Birth Certificate.
For Household Staff/Nannies
If you are bringing your yaya or some members of the household staff with you, you may submit the same documents that we submitted. I could not link to the exact requirements from the website because I cannot find one. Please know that the documents I am listing below are the ones that we submitted when we applied for our child’s yaya.
First and foremost, we, as the sponsors for our yaya’s visa, secured our valid Korean visas first. This means that we got our visas first before we proceeded to apply for our yaya’s visa.
- Application Form
- 1 colored Passport-sized photo pasted on the box provided for in the application form
- Original passport of our yaya
- Photocopy of the bio-page of her passport (page 2)
- If your yaya has previous visas to Japan, US or Korea and has traveled there in the last 5 years, then photocopies of those visas with arrival stamps
- Certificate of Employment stating her position, her compensation, when she was hired, house address, contact numbers and email address
- Affidavit of Support stating that we will sponsor her visa application as well as support her financial needs during the trip
- Photocopy of our valid Korean visas
- Supporting documents (please see requirements for employees/businessmen)
For Housewives/Househusbands/Unemployed Individuals
For housewives, househusbands or unemployed individuals, what is important is for the applicant to submit supporting documents pertaining to the person who will sponsor his/her visa and trip, as well as proof of relationship. For housewives or househusbands, they need to show documents pertaining to their employed spouse or spouse doing business. In addition, they need to submit a copy of the Marriage Certificate.
To give another example, suppose that you are unemployed and your brother or sister will support your trip, then you need to submit documents pertaining to your brother or sister’s employment or business. In addition, you need to submit a copy of your parents’ Marriage Certificate, and copies of your Birth Certificates (applicant’s Birth Certificate and brother/sister’s Birth Certificate).
It would be hard to establish relationship for strangers or remote relatives. I am not very familiar with the requirements for such applicants.
For BPI Cardholders
The Embassy of the Republic of Korea has agreed to give BPI Gold Credit Cardholders, BPI Platinum Credit Cardholders, and Gold BPI Express Teller Debit Cardholders multiple-entry visas. The applicant must:
- Bring the original credit card which should be under the name of the applicant;
- Submit a copy of the credit card; and
- Credit Card or Debit Card statement.
These documents are in lieu of the Bank Certificate and Income Tax Return. This means that the applicant does not need to submit a bank certificate and ITR. However, the other supporting documents are still required, i.e., COE, PRC or IBP Card, Business Registration docs. This BPI arrangement is valid until December 31, 2019 as per the Embassy’s announcement dated January 18, 2017.
- 3 years multiple-entry: BPI Gold Master Cardholders
- 3-5 years multiple-entry: BPI SkyMiles Platinum Master Card and BPI Amore Visa Platinum Cardholders
- 3-5 years multiple-entry: Gold BPI Express Teller Debit Cardholders
Eligible applicants are not automatically issued a multiple-entry visa. Issuance of visa whether single or multiple-entry is subject for approval of the consul in-charge.
For BDO Cardholders
The Embassy of the Republic of Korea has agreed to give BDO Gold and Elite Cardholders multiple-entry visas. Applicants who are BDO Gold and Elite cardholders must submit their credit card account statement in lieu of the Bank Certificate and Income Tax Return. All other documents are still needed. This means that the applicant must still submit a COE, or PRC/IBP card, or business documents.
The BDO arrangement is valid until December 31, 2019 as per announcement of the Embassy dated February 6, 2017.
- 3 years multiple-entry: Gold Visa Credit Card, Gold MasterCard Credit Card, Gold UnionPay Credit Card, Gold JCB Credit Card
- 3-5 years mutiple-entry: Platinum Visa Credit Card, Titanium/Platinum and World Elite MasterCard Credit Card, Gold/Platinum/Cathay Pacific and American Express Charge Cards issued by BDO, Diamond UnionPay Credit Card, Diners Club Premiere
As stated above, eligible applicants are not automatically issued a multiple-entry visa. Issuance of visa whether single or multiple-entry is subject for approval of the consul in-charge.
COMMENTS ON THE REQUIREMENTS
Call me OC or what but it is my personality to come to whatever appointment overly prepared. It applies all the more to certain situations like this one, applying for a visa. I read and re-read the requirements over and over again just to be sure that I have everything that is required. And it beats the sanity out of me to see people lining up at the Embassy with incomplete requirements.
I’ve seen people lining up without application forms and they hold the line up by asking the people behind them to reserve their spots so that they can sit down and fill out the form at one of the desks inside. I’ve seen people ask others to reserve their spots so that they can photocopy some documents. I’ve also seen people, already at the visa officer’s window, asking for time so that they can paste their passport-size photos on the correct box in the application form. I’ve seen so much time and money wasted when the officer rejects extra copies of the bank statements because what’s required is just the statement for the last 3 months whereas the applicant would submit statements for the last 6 months.
Original or Photocopy?
The requirements above will tell you whether the Embassy needs the originals or just photocopies. The best practice is to bring the original even if what is required is just a photocopy. Again, the keyword is BRING. Just bring it with you in your envelope or in your bag. Do not submit the original if what is required is just a photocopy. Conversely, if what is required is the original, don’t just bring the original. Be ready to submit it.
How many copies?
Just one copy for each person’s application. What if you are applying for a family and your family members will need your supporting documents? Then bring as many copies as needed so that you can submit one copy per application.
What should you do with the ID photo?
There is a box in the application form specifically designated for the ID photo. Paste your photo there.
On Bank Certificates
A bank certificate is different from a bank statement but you can get both documents from your bank. A bank certificate is some sort of a summary that sets out the type of bank account, when you opened it, your latest balance, as well as your average daily balance. On the other hand, the bank statement is more like a detailed list of the movement of your bank account — all the deposits and withdrawals. What is needed for bank statements is that you present the movement of your account in the last 3 months.
WHAT HAS CHANGED SINCE MY 2012/2014 POST?
The experience that I had when I applied in 2012 or 2014 was different from what I experienced last week. I am not saying that what I will post below are new requirements or processes. In fact, the requirements did not change and the process remains largely the same. However, there’s a difference with my personal experience from the queue outside the building of the Embassy and even up to when I claimed my passport with approved visa. I am not sure since when the process has been like that but since it has been 3 years since I last applied for a Korean visa, it is only now that I realized that there were small changes in the process.
But just to be clear and safe, let me state that this is my experience at the time I applied for my visa and that I am not an official spokesperson or representative of the Embassy so please do not construe my narration of experience as something that the Embassy generally implements and that thus, you should expect the same.
Queue Outside the Building
With my experience in 2012, I had to be at the Embassy at 6am so that I can physically fall in line. There was no calling out of names so the drill then was that you just follow the last person in line when you arrive at the Embassy. Because all the applicants were waiting in line, the exterior of the Embassy looked crowded and it started to look that way around 6:45am.
I did the same thing in 2014 and arrived a little past 6am at the Embassy. At that time, the security guard outside the building was handing out queue numbers. Around 7:45am, the security guard started calling out the numbers and that’s the order we followed for entering the premises.
Fast forward to 2017, I arrived at the Embassy around 7:30am and noticed that the exterior wasn’t too crowded. Apparently, the applicants were dispersed as they were looking for shady places because it was too hot. As compared with my 2014 experience where the guards were handing out queue numbers, this time I was asked to write my name on the Visitor’s List. Around 8am, the security guard started calling out the names in the order that they were signed up in the Visitor’s List. That’s the order for entering the premises.
US Visa vs. OECD Visa
Way back in 2012 and 2014, there was a separate line for “US Visa Holders.” Now, I have observed that the term used is “OECD Visa.” If you want to know who are the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) member countries, you can visit the OECD Website. The most common OECD visas encountered by the Embassy are US, Japan and Korean visas.
The requirement now for the OECD line is for the applicant to have a valid visa issued in an OECD country and that he/she must have actually traveled to that country in the last 5 years. Had I not traveled to Korea in the last 5 years, I would not have been eligible for the OECD line even if I have a valid US visa. This is because my last travel to the USA was 7 years ago whereas the requirement is that I must have traveled to that country in the last 5 years.
What if you have a valid Japan visa but you have not used it or did not travel to Japan? You are not eligible to queue at the OECD line. Just to be clear, mere possession of a valid visa is not sufficient. The applicant must have traveled to that country in the last 5 years. Otherwise, the applicant will need to queue up at the first-time tourist/visitor line.
What if you have already traveled to Singapore or Taiwan or Hongkong and Macau before? Are you still considered a first-time tourist/visitor? For Korean visa purposes, yes, you are a first time tourist/visitor because those are not OECD member countries.
So, you are qualified for the OECD line but your minor child who is traveling with you is not? Do you need to line up twice, i.e., at the OECD line and at the first-time visitor/tourist line? From our experience, we were allowed to pass the application altogether as a family in the OECD line.
But what if you and your friends are traveling together, some have OECD visas while some don’t? Can your application be processed together at the OECD line? No. Those who don’t have valid OECD visas will need to queue up at the regular line.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I have compiled below some questions that were frequently asked in my Getting A Korean Visa post.
How much is the visa application fee?
I have been asked this question twice at the Embassy. For C3/Tourist visa applicants who are staying in Korea for 59 days only, the application fee is gratis or free. That is, you don’t have to pay for any visa application fee. If you are staying for more than 59 days, then the fee is P1,800 per applicant.
Is personal appearance required?
No. You can ask a representative to do the application and claiming for you. They did not ask for a power of attorney or authorization letter from me when I applied for the other members of my family. But to be on the safe side, prepare one when you go there. When it comes to claiming of visa/passport, don’t forget to remind your representative to bring the claim stub.
How much bank deposit is required?
You might be asking how much bank deposit is required to be reflected in the bank certificate. There’s no hard and fast rule here. What is important is for you to establish strong economic ties with the Philippines and that you can finance your trip. I have heard about someone who only has P40,000 in his bank account but was able to secure a visa because he was able to establish that he has a job and that he can finance his expenses. On the other hand, I have also heard of someone who has P100,000 in his bank account but was not able to get a visa because he was not able to connect his job with his compensation as stated in the COE and also with his ITR.
There’s also someone who just submitted his/her IBP card with only P80,000 deposit but was able to get a multiple-entry visa, while there’s someone who presented a similar IBP card and P300,000 bank deposit but only got a single-entry visa.
So the bottom line is, the grant or denial of visa as well as the appreciation of supporting documents rely solely upon the judgment of the consul. Again, what you need to establish is that you have strong economic ties with the Philippines and that you can finance the expenses for your trip. To prove this, your documents must be consistent, i.e., your COE, your bank accounts, your ITR.
I’ve been reading a lot of horror stories about how hard it is to get a Korean visa. I’m a professional with a steady source of income. What are my chances of getting a visa?
No one can really tell. However, based on stories from other people, they say that those who hold OECD visas are almost always granted a Korean visa.
When should I apply for a visa?
These are the things that you need to consider:
- A single-entry visa is valid for 90 days. Just compute for when you want to apply as long as your return to the Philippines falls within that 90-day period.
- It just takes 3-5 working days for the visa to be released. You can fly as soon after that or anytime during the validity of your visa.
But for me, I personally like to put in an allowance for the unfortunate circumstance that the visa does not get approved as we all we hope for. In case of denial, you need to wait for another month before you can re-apply. Based on this and counting backwards after considering the visa processing time, I usually apply for a Korean visa about 1.5 months before my intended date of travel.
And that’s it, pansit! This is massive. Totally a long wall of post but I really hope that it will be helpful to all of you. Good luck with your visa applications and stay tuned for my upcoming Korea trip! Annyeong!
The post is based on my personal experience. I have followed the requirements that were outstanding at the time that I applied for our visas. This post does not guarantee the same treatment or the same results with respect to your visa applications. I may also not be able to update this blog regularly so as stated above, the best resource for the requirements is the website of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea itself.
As with my old post, I will try my best to answer your questions. I will skip those that I don’t know the answers to. I will also skip those that I have already answered. And more importantly, I will skip those that seek for a specific legal advice because I don’t wish to be bound by any attorney-client relationship. If your question has not been answered before and is something within my limited knowledge to answer, rest assured that I will get back at you no matter how busy I am.
I will soon launch something that will help people plan for their Korean itineraries and apply for a Korean visa but until then, please do not get my assistance in making or rearranging your itinerary or applying for your visa.
I would like to thank you in advance for reading this blog and I apologize too if I won’t be able to answer all your questions