Student visa to Korea

Do you want to go to university in Korea? In this article, we look at what visa you need and how to apply for a student visa to South Korea, step by step.

1. Decide which visa you need

What kind of visa you can apply for depends on your nationality and for how long you will study in Korea. There are four different visa variants to choose from for those who want to study in South Korea:

Take a short course on visa waiver - up to 90 days for most nationalities

Citizens of EU (except Cyprus and Portugal), the United States, Australia and many other nations are entitled to travel to Korea for 90 days as a tourist without a visa. Canadians can stay for 180 days while Portuguese and Russians can stay for 60 days. Some nations are limited to 30 days, and some countries cannot travel to Korea without a visa. Read more here.

Pre-registration under the K-ETA system is no longer needed for students from USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong or most EU countries, read more about the exempted countries here.

You can take a short program on visa waiver in South Korea within your allowed time limit. You can, for example, take a language course at Lexis Korea or a summer course at a university. If you don’t have time to apply for a student visa to Korea, it might be possible to enter Korea on visa waiver and switch to a student visa after you arrive but before you have overstayed your visa waiver. To do this you book an appointment at HiKorea. Please talk to your school before attempting this solution. We recommend applying for a student visa before going to Korea.

When traveling on visa-waiver, you get a stamp in your passport on arrival, and you don’t need to apply for a visa back home. Please note that you must be able to show that you leave Korea within the allowed time period. You don’t need to have a return ticket home; you can show a ticket to another country as well as long as you can prove that you will leave Korea on time. The airlines usually check this when you check-in, and without an exit ticket, you might be denied to board your flight to Korea.

If you need to stay in South Korea for more than 90 days, and you can’t apply for a student visa (for example, if you take a long language course at a school that can’t sponsor a student visa), you can leave South Korea temporarily and go back again to extend your stay with another 90 days. For example: You leave South Korea on day 88 of your visa waiver to visit Tokyo during a weekend. When you return to South Korea, you get another 90-day stamp in your passport. Note that you can only do this once. This is a loophole and nothing that the authorities in South Korea would recommend. Please double-check with your school to see what they recommend before attempting this.

Student visa – valid for your entire study period

If you are planning to study at a Korean university for more than 90 days, then you should apply for a student visa. To apply you need a Certificate of Admission from a Korean university. To obtain such a document, you usually need to pay for at least 2 terms of 10 weeks each. Korean universities provide 4 terms of 10 weeks per academic year.

A student visa is called a D-visa, followed by a number that varies depending on what you will study in Korea. On a student visa, you can apply for the right to work part-time after you have studied in Korea for six months. Talk to your university for more information.

Working Holiday visa - study or work for a year in South Korea

Another option for those who want to stay for a longer period of time in Korea is the WorkIing Holiday visa (H-1 visa). It's valid in a year; you can only get one's life when you are between 18-30 years old. On a Working Holiday visa you have the right to work and study at private institutions such as language schools.

According to our latest information South Korea has Working Holiday Agreements with Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, UK and The United States. Read more about the Working Holiday Visa at the Korean Embassy.

Family Visas - The best visa for people of Korean heritage

If you have previously had Korean citizenship or if you have a parent or grandparent who has had it, you can apply for a F-4 visa that is only available to people of Korean heritage. This visa entitles you to work and study in Korea for two years without any restrictions. Then you have the opportunity to extend your visa. Read more about the F-4 visa here.

During the remaining steps, we will primarily focus on the student visa since that is what most students would apply for.

2. Apply to a school in Korea

Before applying for a student visa, you must apply and get admitted to a Korean university. Universities often have specific application windows. For the application you usually need:

  • The school's application form
  • A copy of your passport
  • Your high school diploma in English
  • Proof that you have can finance your studies in Korea (usually at least $10000)
  • Motivation letter

We can assist you with the application to study abroad semesters and degree programs in English at Hankuk University of Foreign studies in Seoul and korean language courses at Konkuk University in Seoul and Yeungnam University in Daegu. Then you do not need to submit a financial statement.

3. Get your visa documents (if you have applied for a university)

After you have been admitted to a university program, it is time to pay the tuition fee (which usually is very reasonable in Korea) and get a good study abroad insurance. Once it has been paid the university will send you a Certificate of Admission. When you have received this document, you can apply for a student visa at the Korean embassy in your home country. If you wish to enter Korea on a student visa, we recommend that you pay your tuition fee no later than 2 months before your program starts. This should give you enough time to receive your admission documents and apply for the visa. If you don’t have enough time to get a student visa before your program starts you can travel to South Korea on visa waiver, as a last resort, and transfer to a student visa on-site as we described under headline 1 above. Contact your school for more information about this before you leave.

4. Apply at the Korean Embassy in your country

You apply for a visa at the Korean embassy in your home country. Here you can find the addess, website and other contact details to the Korean embassy in your home country.

Contact the Embassy or your school if you have questions about the visa application. Below you which documents that is usually requested at the embassy when you apply for a student visa or Working holiday visa. Please note that this information might differ for different embassies and nationalities so make sure to check the instructions on the Korean Embassy’s website in your country for more details.

For student visa

  • Your passport in original with a copy of the photo page. The passport must be valid at least 6 months after the planned entry to Korea.
  • Visa documents from a Korean university CoA or Confirmation of Visa Issuance (where you fill out section 2 and 3.5)
  • Visa application fee
  • 1 passport photo (not needed for students with a Confirmation of Visa Issuance)
  • A filled in visa application form (see the embassies’ website for an updated version).
  • Some Embassies might also ask for Proof of financing, vaccinations, and your high school diploma, so always double check with the Korean Embassy or Consulate in your country which documents they need.
  • If you attend a university exchange program, additional documentation may be required.

For working holiday visa

  • Your passport in original and a copy of the photo page. The passport must be valid at least 6 months after the entry to Korea.
  • A filled in visa application (see the embassies’ website)
  • Visa application fee
  • 1 passport photo
  • Proof that you have access to at least $ 12,000
  • A return ticket within one year
  • Proof that you are insured during your stay in South Korea
  • A one page description, in English, of what you will do in South Korea
  • A health certificate filled in by your doctor

All documents must be in English or Korean. Don’t forget to double check with the Embassy which documents are required in your country.

5. Get your visa

In Sweden it usually takes about two weeks to get your visa after the Embassy has received your visa application. Waiting times might differ in other countries. Contact the embassy if you are short of time to see if they can help you faster. You must collect your visa personally at the Korean Embassy unless you use a visa agency that does the job for you.

A student visa is usually valid for entrance in 3 months after issuance, and you can currently stay in Korea for 6 months before the visa needs to be renewed, but to some schools you can get visas that last longer without renewal. Your school can help you with this if you take a longer course at a university. Please note that these data can differ in various countries so double check what is written under Validity Period of Visa and Period of Stay on your student visa.

6. Flight and landing card

From October 1, 2022 most nationalities no longer need to take a PCR-test before or after arriving in Korea and from July 15 Q-code registration is no longer needed according to our latest information.

Make sure to leave enough margin if you book your flight before you have received your visa. Otherwise, you can book it as soon as your visa has been issued but then prices might be higher. Do not forget to get a good student insurance for your studies in South Korea.

On arrival to South Korea you will be asked to fill in a landing card. If you are traveling on visa waiver, you can indicate that you should check Tour. If you enter on a student visa, you should check Study.

7. Alien registration and possible visa extension

Foreign nationals with a visa that lasts for longer than 90 days shall apply for an Alien Registration Card at the Immigration Office in Korea. Apply within your first 90 days in the country to avoid fines. If you have travelled to Korea on visa waiver you cannot apply for Alien Registration until you have switched to a student visa. Your Alien Card can be used as an ID card in Korea. An alien card in combination with a single entry visa can serve as multiple entry visa according to the Korean embassy.

If you extend your study period in Korea or if you were unable to secure a student visa for your entire stay before traveling to Korea, you may apply for / renew your student visa on-site. First, you pay the school for remaining semesters then you can go to the Immigration Office to prolong your visa. Talk to your university for more instructions. You can read more about fees and required documents at here you can also apply for a visa extension directly online at a discounted price.

Please note that the Korean authorities and schools can make changes to the visa process without informing us. Always read the instructions from your school and the Korean authorities carefully. The information in this article is based on our experience and is correct to the best of our knowledge, but we cannot be held liable for any errors in this article or any problems you run into based on our advice here. Always read the latest instructions from the embassy and contact them if you have any questions about the visa process. We can never guarantee you will be granted a visa.

More information

Find Korean universities and language schools here and read more in our article study in Korea. We can help you apply to selected schools in Korea. Fill out an info request for more information.

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Korea Seoul Visa      © Johan Asplund (the article was last updated 2024-06-03)

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