Seoul of a Cebu Office Girl (How to File a Visa to South Korea)
Why do you want to go to South Korea?
For most people, the answer comes easy: K-pop and K-drama. Others will include wanting to go there to shop in Myeongdong, Namdaemun, or Dongdaemun.
With the spread of Hallyu wave, Filipino fans will want to take the opportunity to travel to South Korea and take a tour.
However, traveling to South Korea as a tourist needs more requirements than traveling to other Southeast Asian countries like Singapore or Thailand. With our Southeast Asian neighbors, you don't need to file for a visa if you travel as a tourist (and you need to stay for a specific number of days, depending on which country). You need to obtain a visa to enter South Korea.
But I am in Cebu!
Well, I am one of those wanting to go to South Korea too. I know that, as a Filipino, I have to file for a South Korean visa. But I am in Cebu, and I don't know at first where to file for a visa.
The first thing to seeking your answers? Research, of course.
Worry no longer. You have options!
Previously, people here in Cebu will need to submit their requirements directly to the Consulate of the Republic of Korea in Cebu. The building is found in the Chinabank Corporate Center in Cebu Business Park. Before, there was a specific time when one needs to file the requirements. One needed to submit between 9-11 in the morning.
However, there was a news posted by ABS-CBN last year, regarding the new regulation for processing of visas to South Korea. With the increasing number of applications, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines announced that processing will now be done through accredited travel agencies.
I thought I will still be filing at the consulate, but it wouldn't hurt to go through the list of agencies stated in the news. Of course, I was hoping there will be travel agencies in Cebu who will process.
You can go through the list of the agencies in the news and check if these have branches in Cebu. But yes, my dear friends, I found one. I contacted the agency through e-mail, asking them if they do process a visa to South Korea.
To my delight, they said that they do.
Finally, I will be taking my first step to my dream to go to South Korea for a vacation.
I can only jot down notes for fellow employees like me
You read it right. For fellow employees like me. Only.
If you are a freelancer, a doctor holding your own private practice in your own clinic, a student, or an entrepreneur, then you certainly have different requirements.
You can refer here to check where your circumstances apply.
Tourist Visa Requirements for Filipino Employees
Here are the requirements for Filipino employees, according to the Consulate of the Republic of Korea in Cebu:
1. Application Form
2. 1 piece of Passport-size colored picture
3. Original Passport (should be valid for more than 6 months)
4. Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (page 2)
5. Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years (If applicable, and Korean Visas will not be counted)
6. Original Certificate of Employment
(including applicant's position, date hired, compensation, address, office landline number, e-mail address)
7. Original Personal Bank Certificate
(must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB (average daily balance))
8. Bank Statement
(original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
9. Photocopy of ITR (Income Tax Return) or Form 2316 (Checked by BIR with stamp)
10. Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (If applicable only)
•If personally invited by Korean : Invitation Letter & Copy of invitor’s Passport
•If invited by Company in Korea: Invitation Letter & Copy of Korean Company Business Permit
■ Processing Time : 7 working days
■ Visa Fee: 59 days (or less) stay in Korea -- GRATIS
60 to 90 days stay in Korea -- PHP 2,000.00
Regarding the visa fee, it depends on your agency. Mine charged Php 1,500 for the processing fee. I am not sure if the consulate still accepts walk-in applicants, but when I went to the bank to get my requirements late January of this year (2019), one of the bank employees said that she filed the requirements at the consulate herself, and she filed hers around December 2018. So, if you will be submitting your requirements by yourself, and if you will only be staying for less than 59 days, processing will be free of charge. But if you let an agency do it for you, there's fee, of course.
Processing time of 7 working days will mean Monday to Friday only. Counting excludes weekends and holidays.
Where can I find the application form?
Okay, so I will be making your life easier. This page will lead you to the visa application site itself.
Just hover the pointer to "Consular/Visa Service." It will automatically lead you to more options. Click on "VISA APPLICATION FORM," and your download will automatically start.
Check your download folder to open the PDF file.
And oh, may I remind you that you need to print that using A4 paper.
You also do not need to fret. There are English text in the application form.
Let this photo inspire you to continue with your goal
Things to consider
Here are things you need to remember when processing your South Korean visa:
* For your application form, you can either type your details on your desktop and print it on an A4-size paper, or write it down by hand. Ere in the side of caution to always use black pen for legal documents.
* If you are to write the application by hand, I suggest you use a pencil first. Always check entries twice, thrice, as many times, before you use a black pen. You don't want to waste paper or your effort for printing.
* If this is your first time filing for a South Korean visa, please do not wish for a multiple-entry visa. If you will be granted a visa, it will usually be a single-entry visa.
* If you are not familiar with how you should dress up for the passport-colored photo, please make sure your shirt has a collar on it. You can dress up like you're going for a corporate interview. And please, do not wear glasses or caps. Headbands are not allowed too. Keep them inside your bag when having your photo taken.
* For the certificate of employment, I suggest you ask for two original copies from your company. Here's why.
The first one will be for the visa processing.
The second one is for immigration purposes. In case you'd be granted a visa, you might need additional papers when you will face the immigration officers at the airport. They might ask you of proof of strong ties to your home country. Hence, a certificate of employment will give them the idea that you are still working for the company where you are employed. Even if it's just a tourist visa, you will still need to prove that you will go back home after a vacation.
* Circumstances differ from company to company. But what if your company doesn't have a working landline as of the moment, and your vacation is scheduled? I suggest you ask your travel agency. It is beneficial to process your papers to an agency since you have people to ask in case you have questions. Our company had some difficulties with our phone line, so I asked the agency what I should do. The visa officer informed me to just give the mobile phone number of the HR representative, as well as an explanation letter why a mobile number is given in lieu of a phone line.
* With regards to bank details, there is a reason why the embassy and the consulate would want to check your bank transactions for three months. They will also check how old your bank account is. If your bank account is already an old account which you have for months (or years), and if your transactions have little fluctuations in it, there will be a probability of your application being approved.
* If you want to get a good chance of having your visa application approved, the money in your bank account should be appropriate and congruent for the length of stay. One blogger gave a tip of having around Php 10,000 per day. You cannot expect to stay in South Korea for 50 days and just have Php 75,000 in your bank account.
* In the application form, you will be asked for a hotel accommodation. According to the visa officer, it's not necessary to book a dummy itinerary, but it is also not required to book a hotel accommodation (or hostel, or Airbnb house) in advance. I think this is just common sense. You can just make a dummy itinerary, or you can look for a place to stay. However, please make sure to write the complete address of the accommodation. If you do not put in the complete address, your visa application may be denied. Include the phone number of the accommodation too.
* I had been given this advice twice already: If this is your first time traveling abroad, visit non-visa countries first before visiting visa countries. Non-visa countries are not limited to ASEAN countries. There are other countries where Philippine passport holders can visit without any visa.
* This travel is a DIY travel. My sister and I planned it by ourselves. If you want hassle-free travel, you need to consult a travel agency for booked tours. This is beneficial if you want more places to go, and this is beneficial if you are traveling with kids.
* If you have lots of questions, you can always ask the travel agency of your choice.
* Funding details are necessary, and it is included in the application form. Indicate who will be funding your travel if someone is sponsoring you. If you fund your own travel, write your own name. "Relationship to you" will be "myself."
* Honesty is the best policy. Put in your details as truthfully as possible.
* You may have traveled already to other countries which require visa. But just because you had been granted a visa to Japan or to Australia, it does not mean that you'll automatically get a visa to South Korea. You still need to submit complete requirements and abide by the rules. And again, if your visa to South Korea gets denied despite submitting your complete requirements, there is no way to know why, and it is still the prerogative of the consulate.
Need more inspiration?
My requirements are complete. Now what?
As I had mentioned earlier, visa processing will be 5-7 business days, excluding weekends and holidays.
Will I finally get my visa?
As I did my research, there were instances where visas were not granted despite the applicant passing the complete requirements. If that happens, you will need to wait for three months to apply. As to why such things happen, we don't know.
But if your requirements are complete and thorough, just hope for the best. There is a high chance your visa will be approved.
One of the best feelings in the world is knowing your visa application is approved and seeing the visa on your passport.
So, what are you waiting for? Don't delay fulfilling your trip to South Korea. Not only will it be a great experience to travel out of the country, it will also provide you with great memories.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Sampaguita Pearl Anahaw