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What is a visa?

A visa is a kind of endorsement or acknowledgment whose meaning is interpreted differently from country to country. Generally, it has one of the following two meanings: one being the confirmation of permission to enter a certain country, and the other being the counsels recommendation for a foreigners entry request. In the case of the Republic of Korea, the latter definition is used. Therefore, even if a foreigner holds a Korean visa, he/she can still be denied entry to Korean soil if an officer at Immigration should find some requirements unsatisfactory after inspection.

Visa Types

Single entry visa
  • A single entry is permitted while the visa is valid.
  • Duration of the visa: 3 months from the date of issue.
Multiple entry visa
  • Multiple entries are permitted while the visa is valid.
  • Duration of the visa: from the date visa is issued.
    • 3 years for diplomacy (A-1) or agreements (A-3) visa status.
    • Duration specified on the agreement for visas provided under Multiple Entry Visa Agreement.
    • Duration specified by the Minister of Justice for visas issued in consideration of reciprocity or national interests

Visa issuance procedure

Where to apply for visa issuance.
  • Korean Embassy or Consulate
  • A visa is issued at a Korean Embassy or Consulate appointed by the Minister of Justice. (Immigration Act Article 2, Section 2, Immigration Regulation Articles 11, 9)
    In special cases, you may apply for a visa at the Immigration office after receiving a certificate of visa issuance approval.
    (Immigration Act Article 9, Immigration Regulation Articles 17)

Required Documents
  • Passport, visa issuance application form and other documents required by the applied visa status.
    ※ Submit certificate of visa issuance approval, too, if necessary.
  • When applying for a Korean visa, a foreigner must identify the status of stay appropriate for the purpose of his/her entry and submit the required documents to the Korean Embassy or Consulate.
    For visas an ambassador or consul is not authorized to issue, applicants need to request approval by the Minister of Justice. For visas where the issuance is entrusted to the Embassy or Consulate, the ambassador or consul can issue them at their discretion. A visa specifying the applicant status of stay, expiration date, etc. is attached to the applicant passport and granted to the applicant.
    ※ Make sure all the information on your visa is correct before entry.
  • Applicant : submit required documents
  • Authorities : Embassy/Consulate
  • Approved authorities : Minister of Justice
  • Application
  • Inspection
  • Request for approval / Review
  • Approval
  • Visa attached / Issued
  • Issuance

Visa Exemption

  • Those granted permission or immunity for reentry who enter before the expiration date.
  • Those who are the citizens of a country that signed a visa waver agreement with Korea.
  • Those with refugee travel certification that enter before the expiration date.
  • Those who fall into the following categories may enter Republic of Korea without a visa.

Visas for Medical Tourism: C-3 (M), G-1 (M)

These visas are exclusively for foreign patients entering Korea for the purpose of treatment at hospitals within Korea.

Target Group for Visa Issuance
  • Those wishing to be hospitalized at specialized medical clinics or rehabilitation facilities for treatment of diseases and disorders, or for recuperation purposes, and for cases requiring treatment periods of 91 days or longer.
  • The patient and members of the patient’s immediate family, including patient’s spouse to help provide care and patient’s children (duration of stay is one year; multiple-entry visa effective for one year)
    • C-3 (M): For cases where the period of treatment and travel is 90 days or less (simple procedures, e.g., cosmetic procedures, including plastic surgery, etc.)
    • G-1 (M): One year (i.e., long-term treatment and rehabilitation)
Where to apply: Embassies or consulates of the Republic of Korea
Documents to be submitted
Documents to be submitted
Documents to be prepared by the inviter Documents to be prepared by the invitee
○ Application for confirmation of visa issuance?Attach one 35x45mm color photo of invitee
○ Letter of invitation explaining reason for visit
○ Copy of Certificate of Business Registration or Corporate Registration
○ Copy of registration document as member medical institution or Korean healthcare promotion firm recruiting overseas patients
○ Documents issued by a medical institution confirming medical purpose of visit
  Diagnosis document and medical opinion document issued by a medical institution
  Document issued by a medical institution in Korea confirming appointment for treatment/recuperation
  Tour schedule
  Any other documents to verify purpose of visit
○ Foreign patient invitation confirmation (applicable to invitees from China)

〈Additional documents, if application is made by an agency〉

○ ID and proof of employment (certificate) ○ Notarized statement (name of representative) ○ Certificate showing completion of training with the immigration office (to be submitted starting Nov. 1, 2009)
○ Copy of passport
○ Copy of resident card and household registration (applicable to visitors from China)
○ Affidavit of financial support proving ability to procure funds to cover the cost of treatment and stay

〈Additional documents required when patient’s family member(s) are included in invitation〉

○ Documents proving family relationship
Agency Business
  • Agencies that are registered with the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) to carry out promotion business to attract international patients and have authorization from the Ministry of Justice to perform visa-related services
  • As of Nov. 1, 2009, only employees of recruitment firms who have completed training at an immigration office can submit agency applications; when necessary, agency applications may be subject to restrictions, and supporting documents may be required.
More details
  • Application forms and work information : http://immigration.go.kr reference
  • Online immigration appointment advance reservations : http://www.hikorea.go.kr reference
  • Questions by telephone : 1345(Immigration Contact Center, multilingual counseling for foreigners)