As of 7 July 2020, the government policy task force has lifted the ban on non-essential outbound travel for Filipinos. This means that Philippine passport holders, even those who are not OFWs, can now travel to foreign countries. This decision has been a subject of much debate, given the fact that COVID-19 cases in our country are at an all-time high.
That said, it’s probably best to check which countries currently allow entry for Filipino citizens — and of course, if your visas are still valid. Some of you are probably eyeing South Korea as your next travel destination. But hold that flight booking first! Last 8 July, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea announced that most Korean visas will still not be accepted for entry.
Korean visas that will not be accepted
Initially, short-term stay visas (category C-3) issued before 5 April this year were voided. However, the Embassy updated this recently by announcing that Korean visas are only temporarily voided.
In the meantime, these short-term Korean visas may be issued only for spouses of Korean citizens and/or entrepreneurs with urgent business purposes in South Korea. This means that such visas won’t be issued for tourism purposes! The Central Disaster Safety Headquarters made this decision to prevent any further spread of COVID-19 in South Korea.
The Embassy also clarified that those who are candidates for the Marriage Immigrant visa (F-6) may not apply for the short-term visa. But given the ‘exceptional circumstances’ of the pandemic, those who are exempted from the Korean Marriage Guidance Program are eligible for the application of short-term visa.
For further information on this exemption, you may refer to the Consular/Visa Service-Korean Spouse Visa board on the Embassy’s website.
Requirements for those still eligible for a Korean visa
As of writing, the Embassy will only process select applications for short-term Korean visas; specifically, for spouses of Korean citizens and those with urgent business matters in South Korea. Again, the Korean government still doesn’t allow non-essential travel like tourism.
All those eligible for entry via short-term Korean visas will be required to go to the government isolation centre for quarantine. This is upon their entry to South Korea.
However, spouses of Korean citizens may transfer to their personal homes instead, for self-quarantine. Furthermore, these spouses with short-term visas may not change their visa status to the Marriage Immigrant visa (F-6) while in South Korea.
What about the long-term Korean visa?
The Embassy currently only processes long-term visas for those set to travel to South Korea on diplomatic, official, and other humanitarian reasons. Clearly, this may include those with urgent business purposes or those who are spouses of Korean citizens.
Long-term Korean visas require a stay of more than 91 days. All applicants must submit the following additional documents:
- Medical certificate stating that he/she has no COVID-19-related symptoms within 48 hours prior to the visa application date.
- This must be issued by Embassy-designated hospitals.
- Consent to Quarantine stating that the applicant — upon arrival in South Korea — will undergo a quarantine period at the government isolation centre.
- Health Condition Report Form
All these documents are in addition to the usual visa application requirements of the Embassy.
We get it — you can’t wait for the day when you can travel around South Korea again. TBH, same! But in the meantime, maybe take up Korean language lessons or buy some Korean goodies from a local store? Oh, and there are lots of K-dramas that you can travel vicariously through, too!