I highly suggest you join F Visa Help on Facebook. Many members there have gone through the process of getting their own F visas.
Here is a document with all the F2-7, F2-99, and F5-A options. Here is the F2-7 English version and the F2-7 Korean version.
F2 and F5 visas are fantastic because they aren't tied to your employer. However, your employer may still prohibit you from working elsewhere even if you have an F visa. Traditionally these visas were only available to those married to Koreans. However, now there are 3 ways to get an F2 and an F5 even if you're not married to a Korean.
Hi Korea has a sojourn guide for foreigners. It's over 300 pages long. If you go to Hi Korea and then click on the visa/sojourn guide on the top right you can see it.
F2-S aka F2-7
This is the points visa which they keep making harder and harder to get. Supposedly in December 2015 they will be easing the requirements. But for now, in order to apply you have to have had your E1, E2, E3, E4, E5, or E7 Visa for at least one year and to get 80 points out of 120. Here is the F2-S English version and the F2-S Korean version. Here is a guide with part 1, part 2, and part 3.
Your dependents will get an F2-3 visa. See this thread for more info. You should also check immigration's website, which says 본 인, 배우자 및 그 미성년 자녀에게 거주자격(F-2)을 부여하여 기존의 체류자격에 관계없이 자유로운 취업활동이 보장되며, 1회 부여 체류기간의 상한이 3년으로 확대됩니다. It states that you, your spouse, and your dependent children will all get F-2s.
The KIIP (Korean Immigration and Immigration Programme) has two parts: Korean Language and Korean Culture. In order to go directly into the Culture Programme you need to have about TOPIK level 4 or get 90 out of 100 points on the pre-test. There are 6 levels: level 0 to level 5. Level 0-4 is the language part and level 5 is the culture part. Level 0 is 15 hours. Levels 1-4 are 100 hours each and last 10 weeks. Level 5 is 50 hours and lasts 5 weeks. This means that the whole KIIP programme takes 1.5 years. You might be able to attend the online course if you qualify.
If you've done volunteer work in Korea, you’ll need a 봉사활동인증서 /a 봉사활동확인서 in order to prove it.
Old info, no longer valid: You can find a chart at Korea 4 Expats and info at Dave's ESL Cafe. It seems to be getting harder and harder, look at what pacificman (a D-8 visa holder) went through.
The former (F2-99) is a long-term sojourner (Visit Hi Korea, this post and this post on Dave's.) Welshguy got this visa in January 2011. If you get the F2-99 your dependents should be able to get an F2 as well. You should apply for their visa at the same time that you apply for yours. If you apply afterwards they may not be able to get the F2.
The latter (F5-A) is permanent residency. Also check Hi Korea and Dave's ESL Cafe. Supposedly you need fewer documents if you apply for the F5-A, but it is harder to get. Most people try to get the F2-99 first. If you have an E1 it's easier to go straight to the F5-A than if you have an E2. Some immigration officers ask for all of these documents, others only ask for some. If you have an F5, your dependents can definitely get the F2.
- You'll need to be on the same visa for 5 years (i.e. no visa runs) as an E1-E5, E7 visa. You can change visa types, ie changing from an E2 to an E1 as long as you don't have a visa run. If you spend more than 3 months at a time out of Korea it won't count towards the 5 years.
- You need to write a 4 page essay (it should be 4 pages when translated into Korean) on how you contributed to Korea in the past, how you'll contribute to Korea in the future, and why you want the visa. Get it translated into Korean.
- Proof of residency. You can show your lease or get a document from your gu office. You might also have to have your lease verified by the gu office.
- Tax forms to prove you pay taxes in Korea. Supposedly, you can only get the tax forms that you need in May from the tax office.
- Criminal background check from your home country. If you've recently submitted one, you might not need one. ie, get one anyways just in case.
- Criminal background check from Korea.
- Korean: you must have at least TOPIK level 2. Good news is that they're dumbing down the TOPIK. If you've been here on the same visa for 10+ years they usually waive this requirement. If you complete the entire KIIP program you don't have to take the TOPIK. I also know of people who have been given the F2-99 with TOPIK level 1. It's certainly worth a shot to apply, especially if you have been here longer than 5 years and have more than the minimum monetary requirement.
- Income: you must have at least 30 million in the bank / down on an apartment OR make at least 26 million a year legally. This amount changes annually as it's the GNI of Korea. You must have documents to prove this. The bank will issue you a special document called 예금/신탁잔액증명서. It costs 2,000 won and you can't make any transactions for the day. The gu will give you a document if your money is down on your apartment. Your school will give you an income certificate if you're showing your salary, 원천징수영수증.
- Proof of employment, 재직 증명서, for past and present jobs.
- Copy of your contract.
- If you have an E1 visa, supposedly there is no income requirement, but they do require you to get a reference letter from your university president. Allegedly. If you can't get one, try for the visa anyways. Most admin offices have a stamp with his signature on it, so it's not as hard as you'd think it would be to get.
- Any diplomas, certificates, or degrees that you have you should bring. Master’s degrees, TEFL certificates, Korean language certificates, etc would work. People have said this helps.
- Application form and fee.
- Passport, ARC, and photo.
- No longer required as of July 2012: A Korean has to sponsor you by filling out 신원보증서. The higher up they are (ex. doctor, lawyer, government official, CEO, professor, administrator, etc) the better is it. Some immigration officers may still require you to have this!
Kimmi is actually easing visa requirements. Here's the article about getting permanent residency if you have graduated from a Korean university.
- Application form #34 and fee.
- Passport, ARC, and photo
- Letter of Guarantee from a Korean national stating they will be responsible for you if you get into legal trouble and cannot pay (downloadable on immigration's website)
- Housing contract
- Last year's tax statement from the NTS as proof of salary (you need to make around 25 million to qualify)
- Business registration certificate from current employer
- Korean university degree
- Proof of employment, 재직 증명서
- You need to have lived in Korea for at least 3 consecutive years
Changing from an F2-S or F2-99 to an F5-A
It takes about 4-6 months to get an F5-A visa and you can't leave the country while your application is in process. You will also need a new criminal background check from your home country.
Option 1: Wait 2-3 years and apply. I've been told that some places will accept you after 2 years. I know of one person who applied after 18 months.
Option 2: You can apply for the F5 immediately after you get the F2-99 (but not the F2-7) if you fulfill two requirements.
- Prove that you legally earn double what an average Korean does (i.e., the Gross National Income (GNI). Some people say you only need to earn what the GNI is. In 2014 it became 26 million won. Kimmi cannot refuse your application, which costs about 230,000 won. (You used to need three times the GNI.) You'll need an income certificate from your employer,
- Pass TOPIK level 2. (You used to need TOPIK level 5.) Good news is that they're dumbing down the TOPIK.
You might also want to consider getting a lawyer. A friend of mine also recommended this one: Union TNC, Seoul, Jongro-gu, kyong eun dong, SK Building, 1st floor, Office 113. (Its by Anguk Station).Tel: 02-318-5274; Email:email@example.com
What do you think about TEFLing in Korea?
Also published at Chris in South Korea.
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