In principle, a foreigner should obtain a visa in advance to enter the Republic of Korea. Unauthorized entry and departure are not permitted even for a person who obtained a visa or is eligible for no-visa entry, which means every person must go through the immigration declaration process at the border, airport, and seaport, and entry may be prohibited because of a failure to meet any of the requirements therein. In addition, a foreigner who intends to stay in Korea for more than 90 days should file for alien registration at the immigration office in the jurisdiction of the place of residence or regional immigration service.
Issuance of Visa
The Minister of Justice has the authority to issue Visa · Stay in Korea although this authority may be delegated to the heads of overseas diplomatic missions as prescribed by Presidential Decree. For this reason, there are three methods of entry for foreigners; by obtaining a visa issued at a diplomatic mission abroad; by obtaining the status and the period of stay through immigration declaration after entry in the case where a foreigner holds the status of stay for a short-term visitor is eligible for entry without a visa; by obtaining visa issuance certificates (or certification number) from a regional immigration office in the jurisdiction of the inviting party’s residence and submitting it to an overseas diplomatic mission.
2. Method of Visa Issuance
• The head of an overseas diplomatic mission issues a visa upon acceptance of an application.
- Scope of Visa Issuance: Only valid for a visa delegated by the Minister of Justice,
- the majority of which fall under short-term visit.
• A foreigner who plans to enter Korea can apply for a visa or receive a visa issuance certificate or certification number from a regional immigration service in the jurisdiction of the inviting party’s residence with the application made by the inviting party. In the case of the latter, a foreigner can obtain a visa by submitting the application stating the visa issuance certification number to the head of an overseas diplomatic mission.
• A foreigner with a short-term visa or who is eligible to enter without a visa must change the status of sojourn (D-8, etc.) at an immigration office or a regional immigration service.
A foreigner with a long-term visa which permits a stay of longer than 90 days must apply for alien registration within 90 days to a local immigration office or a regional immigration service in the jurisdiction of his/her residence.
Changing Status of Sojourn
For a foreigner to engage in other activities that do not fall under the previously approved status of stay, he/she must obtain permission to change the status of sojourn in advance. A foreigner who engages in other activities without permission may be punished with a fine not exceeding KRW 20 million or receive a deportation order.
1. Change of Workplace
A foreigner who plans to change or add his/her workplace within his/her status of sojourn must obtain a change of workplace approval as well as any additional approvals in advance. However, a foreigner who possesses professional knowledge, technology, and skills (E1-E7 visa) may apply for approval within 15 days from the day of the change/addition of the workplace. A workplace that engages or recommends a foreigner without permission may be subject to a fine not more than KRW 10 million. The foreigner may also be deported in such cases.
2. Activities beyond the Status of Stay
For a foreigner to engage in activities beyond the status of stay, he/ she must obtain permission for the activities. A foreigner who engages in other activities without permission may be punished by a fine not exceeding KRW 20 million or a deportation order.
3. Change of Residence
A foreigner who changes his/her place of residence must report the change to the head of the Si/Gun/Gu/Eup/Myeon/Dong office or to an immigration office or a regional immigration service in the jurisdiction of the new place of residence within 14 days of moving into the new place of residence. Failure to do so can result in a fine not exceeding KRW 1 million.
4. Obligations of Employers of Foreigners
When an employer who hires a foreigner eligible for employment has dismissed the foreigner, or when the foreigner resigns, dies, goes missing or important matters in the terms of employment are amended, the employer shall report this to the head of the competent regional immigration service within 15 days of becoming aware of such circumstances. Failure to do so may result in a fine not exceeding KRW 2 million.