Travelling to South Korea was always a dream for us, ever since my wife and I were college sweethearts. We were just drooling over the country’s beauty in K-Dramas back then, but 12 years later, it finally happened!
So after months of preparation, finally, we got our South Korean Visas! And it’s not just for Single Entry but Multiple Entry for 3 years! Let me share with you how we did it — our strategy, how we prepared and lots of tips. Read on!
Me: Employed and has not been issued a South Korean VISA before.
Wife: Housewife, unemployed and has not been issued a South Korean VISA before.
The plan is, I sponsor my wife’s travel expenses and make use of BDO’s credit card promo to avail both of us a multiple entry visa. I contacted BDO to upgrade my BDO classic card to Gold credit card to avail the promo.
Where to Get a Korean VISA
Image credit: Slleong
Address: 122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig city 1634, Philippines
- VISA Application – 8:30 am to 11:00 am
- Releasing of passports – 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm
Parking: You can park in Tuscany just near the British embassy where the restaurants are at.
Tip: Arrive early! At least 30 minutes before. Upon entry, the guard will inspect your documents and hand you over a number and on what window you will submit your documents. Processing is fast and efficient! Only took us 30 minutes.
A representative or one in your group can submit your documents and claim your passports after. No need for personal appearance.
- 3 working days (for those who have been to OECD member countries within 5 years as tourist)
- 3 working days (for those who are BDO Gold/Elite cardholders, BPI Gold/Platinum cardholders and BPI Gold Express teller debit cardholders)
- 5 working days (for those who have not been to OECD member countries within 5 years)
- 59 days (or less) stay in Korea — GRATIS
- 60 to 90 days stay in Korea — PHP 1,800
Please note that this guide will focus on the VISA requirements for employees and for housewife/househusbands. For other types, kindly check the requirements on South Korea’s embassy website here.
VISA Requirements for Filipino Employees
- Application Form
- 1 piece of Passport size coloured picture
- 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).
- Original Certificate of Employment (must include applicant’s position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number [cell-phone number is not allowed], and HR e-mail address)
- Original Personal Bank Certificate (must include account type, current balance, account opening date, and Average Daily Balance – 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)
Visa Requirements for Housewives / Househusbands
Same as numbers 1 to 5 for employee requirements above with additional requirements below:
- Additional documents
- If spouse is employed: Husband’s Employment Certificate Original (must include position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number [cell-phone number is not allowed], and HR e-mail address)
- If spouse is self-employed: Business Registration from SEC or DTI (Copy), Business Permit or Mayor’s Permit (Copy)
- Original Personal or Spouse’s Bank Certificate ‘(must include account type, current balance, account opening date, 6 months average balance – ADB)
- Personal or Spouse’s Bank Statement (original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
- Spouse’s Copy of Income Tax Return (ITR)
- Copy of NSO Marriage Certificate
If personally invited by Korean (authentication not required):
- Invitation Letter
- Photocopy of invitor’s Passport or Identification Card
If invited by Company in Korea (authentication not required):
- Invitation Letter
- Photocopy of Korean Company Business Permit
*Frequent travellers who have travelled as tourist to OECD member countries within 5 years are exempted from submitting ITR.
Also read: 16 Things to Know Before Travelling to Korea
Let’s discuss each of the requirements here:
1. Application Form
Click here for the application form. Print the form and fill it up completely with no erasures! Don’t leave a field/item blank. Put n/a or Not Applicable instead. I will try to explain some of the fields in the new form but most are self-explanatory.
- 1.7. National Identity no. – We Filipinos don’t have this, so just put n/a (Not Applicable).
- 9.4. Address in Korea / 9.5. Phone No. in Korea – You can put undecided if you haven’t decided yet where to stay in Korea. But for me, I advise you to put a place where you intend to stay like the name of a Hostel in Seoul even though you haven’t booked a reservation yet. There are also Hostels/Hotels in Korea that accept reservations with no down payment, so if ever you get denied, you can just cancel your reservation. Easy as that!
- 9.7. If you have visited more than 5 countries in the last 5 years (as there are only 3 spaces in the application form), write the other details on a separate sheet of paper. If the stamps of these countries are in your old passport, then bring your old passport too. It won’t hurt if you photocopy the stamps and bio page as well.
- 9.8. If you are travelling with any member of your family, then write it down in this section. I think this is for the embassy to check easily who is sponsoring who in case there is, like me and my wife where I am sponsoring our trip in terms of funding.
- 10.1. Write here the estimated travel cost (in USD) of your whole trip in S. Korea. Be realistic and maybe increase it a little, but make sure that what you write here is equal or lesser than the fund in your bank statement or bank certificate. For example, if your fund in your Bank is PHP 50,000 (reflected in the Bank Statement), then put around USD 857 (PHP 40,000). I subtracted PHP 10,000, assuming that the maintaining balance in your account is PHP 10,000.
- 10.2 Who will pay for your travel related expenses. Write here the person or company who will pay for the expenses of your entire trip. For the Type of Support here, you can write Financial support or a particular expense like airfare, accommodation. If you are funding yourself, then put ‘myself’.
2. 1 piece of Passport size coloured picture
We got our picture taken at Great Image for a more professional look. We paid PHP 370 each (PHP 740 total) for 8 pcs of passport size coloured picture with white background. Just tell them it’s for a S. Korea VISA application and they know the size for it.
3. Original Passport (should be valid for more than 6 months)
- Make sure your passport is valid for 6 months.
- If female, married and your expenses are sponsored by the husband, be sure that your name in your passport is your married name, not your maiden name.
- Bring your old passports too if there are any. The consul did look at our old passports (maybe skimmed a bit on the stamps) but quickly gave it to us on the day of the application.
4. Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (page 2)
It should be a clear one but not necessarily coloured. Just enough to see the details.
5. Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years
(If applicable, and Korean Visas will not be counted)
6. Original Certificate of Employment
(must include applicant’s position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number [cell-phone number is not allowed], and HR e-mail address)
- Request for a COE with your HR Department at least a week before your VISA Application as this needs to be recent.
- Request for additional copies if you are travelling with a dependent. In my case, I requested two. One for me and one for my wife.
7. Original Personal Bank Certificate
(must include account type, current balance, account opening date, 6 months average daily balance or ADB)
- You request this at your branch of account. I requested mine at BDO where I paid PHP 100 for each certificate (I requested two, one for me and one for my wife). Just tell the staff at your bank you are requesting such for a Korea VISA Application.
8. Bank Statement
(original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
- This is different from the Bank Certificate. It is a list of your transactions with your Bank (credit, debit items) for the past 3 months just like what is shown in your passbook.
- If you are travelling with a dependent, then you must request a copy for each dependent.
9. Photocopy of ITR (Income Tax Return) or Form 2316
- You will request this from your HR and you only need to submit a photocopy or photocopies for your dependent(s).
- Make sure your TIN number appears in this document.
- If you don’t have an ITR yet because you are fairly new to your job, then I think you can prepare a letter stating your situation.
10. Photocopy of NSO certified Marriage Certificate (For Spouse category only)
- You can request a certified true copy of your Marriage Certificate in NSO on their e-census website. No need to go personally in their offices. This is a proof that you are married to each other.
- You only need to submit a photocopy.
How much cash do you really need in your bank account?
This is not set in stone. I guess you should also ask yourself first. If you are staying in Korea for around 5 days, how much pocket money do you need then for your expenses? If you say your budget is PHP 10,000 a day, then PHP 50,000 is enough to have in the bank account. But if you are staying for 30 days, then logically, you should have a bigger amount in your stash.
Also, since they ask for the ADB (Average Daily Balance) for 6 months, make sure that the amount you estimated to spend in Korea matches or close to the ADB in your account. In my case, since I’m also sponsoring the expenses of my Wife, I have to double the estimated expenses per individual. I also steadily increased my BDO Savings for the last 6 months and I seldom withdraw large amounts. Basically, if you are just staying around 5 to 7 days, I think PHP 50,000 is a safe bet (I heard that others were approved by only having PHP 30,000). Just make sure you don’t withdraw that P50,000 for 6 months before your VISA application.
Credit Card Promos
- If you are a BDO Gold/Elite, BPI Gold/Platinum or a BPI Express Teller Debit cardholder then you are eligible for a 3-5 years Multiple entry visa and are exempted from submitting a Bank Certificate and ITR when applying. For more information on this promo, go to the Visa Announcement section in the Korean Embassy’s website.
- Bring your credit card with you, photocopy of the front of the card and 2 months of the most recent credit card statements. In my case I only have 1 month statement on my BDO Gold card but they still accepted it anyway.
- The reason why I still submitted my ITR and bank certificate is to show proof that besides having the credit card, I can support my wife’s travel expenses in Korea through my financial capacity.
- You will line up at Window 3, and you will claim your passport 3 days after the application.
- No need to submit your itinerary, plane tickets, hotel bookings, tickets to Everland/DMZ, etc, just submit what is required in the application.
- Bring a Valid ID (aside from your passport). You need this to enter the Embassy.
- How can I be exempt from securing a VISA? Read from this link or see screenshot below:
- If using Philippine Official and Diplomatic Passport
- If transiting only and going to the U.S., Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. But must not stay beyond 30 days and with confirmed onward ticket to the 3rd country
- If the individual has been to Korea for four (4) times within the past two years with a C2 or C3 visa. Or has been to Korea for more than ten (10) times already
- If Nationality is among the list of those exempted from securing a visa. For information, or list of these nationalities, you may visit the website.
- For other visa information, you may also refer to this site.
- Reasons why the embassy denies an application:
The reasons of the denial of visa application are as follows:
- Your passport is invalid;
- You are prohibited to enter Korea as per Korean Immigration law no.11 sec. 1 (Prohibition of Entry);
- Our record shows that you have previously violated the Korean law;
- You failed to submit the required document completely;
- The documents you have submitted cannot be verified;
- You failed to prove the purpose of entry to Korea;
- You failed to prove strong economic and family ties to the home country;
- Your inviter is not qualified to invite you;
- You failed to prove the relationship with your inviter.
In addition, the reasons of the denial of spouse visa application are as follows:
- You failed to give prima facie evidence of your marriage validity according to the Philippine law and regulation;
- You failed to give the correct information about your spouse;
- You and your spouse failed to prove keeping a normal marital life.
If your application is denied, you have to wait for 6 months to re-apply.
So guys, it is advisable to check the Korean Embassy’s official website from time to time for new announcements. You can avail the credit card promo if you want for less hassle and more chances of approval. Be sure to prepare all the documents, arrange it in the order listed above and hope it gets approved so you can enjoy South Korea in no time!