PAKIBASA PO MUNA ANG BUONG ARTIKULO BAGO MAG-POST NG TANONG. I reserve the right to ignore any question that has already been covered by this article.
Also, I am not in a position to answer the question, “what are my chances of getting approved for an SK visa?” because only the embassy knows the answer to that. If that’s what you’re going to ask, I will most likely ignore your post.
UPDATE, February 28, 2013
Added a clarification regarding ITR/Form 2316 and National ID No.
UPDATE, November 2, 2012
The website of the South Korean embassy in the Philippines has been updated to include specific requirement lists per category/type of applicant. It includes clarifications and specific requirements for particular documents. For the details, please refer to this link: Visa Requirements.
UPDATE, August 24, 2012
Added an item to the Other Tips portion of the write-up.
UPDATE, July 31, 2012
According to accounts from recent tourist visa applicants, the South Korea embassy may require the applicant to submit utility bills (MERALCO, phone bills, etc), copy of payslip, barangay clearance, and other documents as they may require. No one was able to tell why this is so, but I think (take note, this is just my views on the matter) it is to establish the applicant’s residency in the home country and to prove that he has regular monthly obligations to fulfill.
However, it is important to remember that this is NOT among the basic requirements listed by the embassy. These are ADDITIONAL documents that they may require in case they are not fully satisfied with the basic requirements that the applicant has submitted. Therefore, if your basic documents are complete and proper, you shouldn’t be having any worries. It is always best to be prepared for any scenario, though.
UPDATE, April 07, 2012
Author’s Note: I have updated some parts of the write-up to reflect the latest information I gathered from those who have recently applied. Please take the effort to read them carefully before asking your questions.
Moreover, there are websites which contain outdated information about applying for a South Korea visa. To be assured that what you are getting are the most reliable information, please refer to the information posted at the Visa section of the Official Website of the Embassy of South Korea to the Philippines.
Latest issuance from the South Korea embassy, dated 01/26/2012:
Subject: Visa Denials
The reasons of the denial of visa application are as follows:
- Your passport is invalid;
- You are prohibited to enter Korea as per Korean Immigration law no.11 sec. 1 (Prohibition of Entry);
- Our record shows that you have previously violated the Korean law;
- You failed to submit the required document completely;
- The documents you have submitted cannot be verified;
- You failed to prove the purpose of entry to Korea;
- You failed to prove strong economic and family ties to the home country;
- Your inviter is not qualified to invite you;
- You failed to prove the relationship with your inviter.
※ In addition, the reasons of the denial of spouse visa application are as follows:
- You failed to give prima facie evidence of your marriage validity according to the Philippine law and regulation;
- You failed to give the correct information about your spouse;
- You and your spouse failed to prove keeping a normal marital life.
UPDATE, January 11, 2011
The South Korea embassy has posted the complete and updated requirements for applying for a South Korea visa (all kinds). Please visit this thread at the South Korea embassy’s Official Website or download the PowerPoint file here. Please read it thoroughly before posting your questions. Thank you!
UPDATE, January 9, 2011
Notice from the South Korea Embassy dated November 29, 2011:
Subject: Submission of fabricated and invalid documents for visa application
The submission of false or misleading document will be one of the reasons of refusal of a visa.
Please be reminded all the responsibility is on the applicant even if applying for a visa through a travel agency or agents. Please reconfirm all the documents before applying a visa.
(e.g. wrong TIN number in Income Tax Return, no office number in the certificate of employment, etc.)
For the latest updates, visit this thread at the South Korea embassy’s Official Website.
I will keep the old page for reference in case there are some information that might still be useful. But please take note that in case of conflict, the latest requirements (that is, the one I posted above) should be followed. Thank you!
I’ve been participating at the South Korea thread at a Filipino forum and I noticed that a lot of people ask the same questions over and over. Either they are too busy to backread the thread, or just don’t want to backread, period. It could get tiring especially for us who act as resource persons, so to make things easier for me, I decided to make a page that will contain all possible Frequently Asked Questions on how to get a South Korea tourist visa for Philippine passport holders. I do not consider myself an expert on the topic, but I can say that I have extensive experience on this having been granted a South Korea tourist visa several times since 2006.
Please do take note that the information contained on this page is only for Philippine passport holders residing in the Philippines who want to apply for a tourist visa. If you have any specialized cases (eg., transit visa, working visa, student visa), please refer to the South Korea thread at the Visas and Immigration forum of Pinoy Exchange (http://www.pinoyexchange.com) if you’re a PH passport holder. Or better yet, try asking Mr. Google or call the embassy to get a specific and more definite answer.
You may also post your specific questions at the Comments section and I will try my best to give an answer. Please do take note that if your question was already covered by the FAQ, I will just refer you back to the list so please read everything before asking. Thanks!
1. Where can I get the application form?
You could either get one at the embassy, or if you want to fill it out in advance, download the form from this site:
They do not accept outdated application forms, so download from this site to make sure that what you have is the latest one.
2. What are the requirements for applying for South Korea visa for tourists?
Please download the attached file at the link I posted above for the updated visa requirements and procedures.
3. Given my qualifications, what are my chances to be granted a South Korea visa?
To be honest, ONLY THE EMBASSY KNOWS OUR CHANCES. They are very unpredictable with their decisions. There were cases wherein the applicant has complete requirements and sufficient funds in the bank but still gets denied. There were also cases wherein the applicant only has a meager bank balance and no previous travels but the application was approved. From our observation, the only ones who are 99.9% guaranteed to be granted are those who hold visas from and have been to OECD countries within five years prior to applying for a Korea visa.
4. How long shall my visa application be processed?
Five working days for first-timers/non-holders of any of the visas listed above; three working days for visa holders, except those who have been granted and/or used one South Korea visa prior to this application (processing time shall be five working days).
5. When should I apply for a visa? (eg., If I’m leaving in November, can I apply now [February])?
An ordinary tourist visa is valid for 90 days from the date of issue. Therefore, your probable date of arrival in South Korea should fall on or before the 90th day from your probable date of visa issuance. Just do the Math.
6. How much money should I have on my bank balance?
Based on what I have observed with those who have been granted visas, it’s the stability of the source of income that bears more weight for the SK embassy, not the actual bank balance. There were cases wherein the bank balance is just enough for grocery shopping but they got approved, and there were those who had millions in the bank but got denied. The best way to determine this is to have at least enough money in the bank for you to afford a holiday trip in South Korea without spending all your savings.
7. What if I don’t have an ITR because I do online jobs/I am an OFW/my parents work abroad/I work at an organization that is exempt from tax?
The South Korea embassy in the Philippines is kinda OC when it comes to documentary requirements. You can plead your case all you want and they will still ask for your ITR if you don’t have one. Some of those who had similar cases and have been granted SK visas have shared what they submitted as substitute for an ITR. You may:
- Ask your employer to indicate on your Certificate of Employment that you are exempt from filing an Income Tax Return pursuant to [indicate the exact Tax Law citing the exemption]; or
- Fill out an ITR and have it stamped [EXEMPT] at the BIR Revenue Regulation Office near you.
For OFWs or those whose trip will be sponsored by an OFW, you may also attach a copy of the OFW’s Overseas Employment Certificate from the OWWA in place of the ITR.
PS: Online or work-from-home jobs are not exempt from filing and paying of income tax. If you didn’t at least file an ITR, you are at fault.
PPS: For those who are confused regarding the ITR and Form 2316:
Income Tax Return is NOT Form 2316. Do not confuse the two because they are two different forms. The embassy asks for Income Tax Return OR Form 2316.
Form 2316 refers to the Certificate of Income Tax Withheld on Compensation. It is issued to taxpayers by employers who have withheld their income taxed from their salaries. Per BIR Regulations, an employee who has had only one employer for the year and whose income tax due has been withheld and remitted 100% by the employer are qualified for substituted filing, that is, they are not required to file an Income Tax Return anymore. The Form 2316 already acts as the Income Tax Return for these employees and are, thus, accepted by the embassy as the applicant’s ITR.
Therefore, if you do not qualify for substituted filing, you should have an ITR. If you have an ITR, do not stress yourself worrying that you don’t have a Form 2316. Either of them will do.
7.a. (Applicable for those applying from January to April 15 of any year) My ITR for last year is still not available, may I submit my ITR from the year before that?
Yes, of course. If you shall be applying from January to April 15, t is understood that the ITR from the immediately preceding year may not be available yet since the deadline for filing is on April 15. You may submit the ITR from the year before that.
8. I have just graduated from school and I don’t have a job yet. What documents should I submit in my application?
Sadly, this case usually yields unwanted results because of the lack of documents that will prove that the applicant will return to the Philippines. There were cases wherein their papers were not even accepted for processing due to lack of the required documents. You can always try, though, because like I said in Item Number 3, the South Korea embassy is very unpredictable. Some applicants state that their trip will be sponsored by their parents or guardian and submit their parents’/guardian’s financial documents.
8.a If I will sponsor my children/parents/relatives/etc, do they still need to submit a separate application form?
YES. Each applicant must submit a separate application form with complete set of supporting documents. Photocopy of the supporting documents would suffice as long as the sponsor, or one of the applicants in your group in case the sponsor is not traveling with the one(s) being sponsored, has the originals attached in his application form.
8.b When do I need to submit an affidavit of support?
Affidavit of support is needed when:
a. The child is sponsoring the parent’s trip;
b. The sponsor is a person who is not the parent(s) of the applicant (except for corporate sponsorships, at which a letter of sponsorship from the company shall be required).
9. Do I need to submit copy of airline and hotel bookings/any other documents which are not in their list in order to beef up my application?
NO. The embassy will only accept the documents which are in their list, no more, no less. They will just return those to you so don’t bother burdening yourself by bringing them.
10. Will it help if I ask a travel agency to process my application?
NO. It will make no difference as to the processing time, and it is not a guarantee that you will be granted a visa. There were cases where the applicant was denied even if he employed the services of a travel agent. Besides, an ordinary SK tourist visa is FREE. Travel agencies will charge you at least php1,000 for the visa processing. If it won’t be such a hassle for you, just do it yourself.
11. Do I have to appear personally at the embassy? Will there be an interview?
Personal appearance is not required. You may ask a representative to submit your application and claim your passport (hopefully, with a visa). However, it is recommended that the applicant is there during submission so that if ever there will be problems, it shall be addressed promptly.
Generally, there won’t be an interview. But the applicant may be interviewed by the consul if they see a need for it.
If you shall be asking a representative to claim your passport, make sure your representative has the claim stub that was given when you submitted your application. No claim stub, no passport.
12. Does my passport-sized photo have to be in white background?
No, they don’t have any specific requirement to that effect.
13. I will be travelling with my family/my friends. Can we submit our application as a group?
The South Korea embassy does not accept group applications.
The only solution we can think of in order to make it appear that you’re applying as a group is to submit your application at the same time, preferably through a representative who will act as the ‘agent’. For those traveling with family members, you may declare them via Item No. 34 of the application form.
14. Should my bank certificate and Certificate of Employment be issued on the same month as the application?
Not necessarily, but the nearer, the better. In other embassies, they require the COE to be issued at least six months prior to the date of application. As for the bank certificate, I think within one month is still acceptable as long as there are no significant changes to your bank balance by the time you apply.
15. I have a US visa but it’s already expired. Would that still be accepted as attachment to my application?
YES, although it’s optional. The point of this is to show that those other countries have trusted you enough to grant you a visa, therefore, South Korea has no reason to deny you one.
16. My other visa(s) is in my old passport. Should I attach my old passport, as well?
YES. Their list of requirements say that we should submit both original and copy of the visa(s).
17. Regarding the application form: on Item No. 14 (Classification), what does DP, OF, OR, Others mean? Which one should I choose?
Item 14 refers to the type of passport you have. DP = Diplomatic; OF = Official; OR = Ordinary. Unless you are in government and you are going to SK on official business, therefore you shall be using a red passport instead of maroon, you should choose OR.
18. Still on the application form: What should I put as ‘Address in Korea’/'Phone No. in Korea’?
If you don’t have any hotel/hostel bookings yet, just indicate a random name of hotel/hostel or write down, ‘undecided’. If you already have a place to stay in Korea, write the address there. For the phone number, unless you already have a contact number in Korea, just put N/A on that field.
Bottomline is, NEVER LEAVE ANY FIELD BLANK. Write ‘N/A’ on those fields where you don’t have an answer.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Unlike other countries, we don’t have a National ID System in the Philippines. Therefore, you should just put ‘N/A’ on the ‘National Identity No.’ field.
19. Where can I find the South Korea embassy in the Philippines?
Detailed information on the embassy, including the location map, can be found here:
They accept applications in the morning; releasing is in the afternoon. Please take note of the release time indicated on your claim stub.
How to commute going to the embassy (information courtesy of Lou):
- Take the MRT and get off at Guadalupe Station.
- At the North-bound side (meaning, if you’re coming from the Southbound side of the MRT [North Avenue going to Taft], you should cross to the other side), look for the jeepney going to FTI, Tenement or C5. Tell the driver that you’re getting off at McKinley Hill.
- When you reach Market! Market!, look out for the Petron gas station with a Jollibee outlet on your right side.
- After the Petron Station is the South Korea embassy. You will see a long, black wall and a South Korea flag, so you will definitely know that you’re at the right place.
You may also take a cab. The drivers know where the embassy is.
20. If my application was denied, when can I apply again?
You may re-apply six months after your previous application.
20.a. If I was given a single-entry visa and I was able to use it, but I have to go back to Korea again, do I have to wait six months before I could re-apply?
No. The six-months rule apply only to applications which were denied.
- Read the Instructions at the back (or at the second page, if you have downloaded the form) to familiarize yourself with how to fill out the application form.
- IMPORTANT: Except for bank certificate and Certificate of Employment which can be obtained again at any time (not to mention that the Embassy specifically requires these documents to be original), NEVER EVER SUBMIT ORIGINALS OF YOUR IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS. The documents that you will submit to the embassy will not be returned to you anymore so be sure that you won’t be giving away anything important without keeping a copy for your own files.
- Don’t hesitate to ask the Information desk or even the guards at the embassy to assist you. They are very helpful and accommodating.
- Don’t stress yourself with finding out whether you should submit your papers to Window 1 or Window 3. When you enter the embassy, you would still have to pass by the Information Desk where they will screen your application. They will tell you where to go.
- Arrange your documents in the order indicated on the list I posted above.
- Accomplish the application form neatly, with no erasures. The SK embassy is very particular with that.
- If you don’t have an invitation from a Korean, do not put any name on the ‘guarantor in Korea’ field nor mention that you will be visiting someone in Korea. They will require an invitation and a copy of the invitor’s passport’s first page from you if you fill out those fields in the application form.
- Suggested answers to the ‘Purpose of Entry’ field:
- Holiday (I do not highly recommend this, though, because it’s too vague)
- Tour Korean Drama filming locations
- Attend concert/fanmeeting of [name of entertainer]. We have observed that the embassy seems to like Hallyu-related reasons.
- Visit famous places in Korea such as… (mention famous Korean tourist spots)
- Experience Korean culture
You don’t have to write a novel or list down your full itinerary. A few words will do, but you have to be specific.
- If you forgot to photocopy anything, don’t worry. They offer photocopying services at the embassy. It’s a bit expensive, though (it cost php8.00/copy back in 2008), so you may want to reconsider.
***This page will be updated as the need arises.***