Applying for VISA is kind of scary especially when you find out there is this so-called show money. Not to mention having booked plane tickets and hotels already before obtaining one. It is so much easier when you visit countries that don’t require VISA. But when it is South Korea (SK) or Japan or Taiwan, all first-timers will probably have to go through that phase of constant dread of VISA rejection.
But guys, after my friends and I applied for our SK VISA, believe me when I say there is honestly, really and surprisingly no need to fret about applying for one. Even when it is your first time to go out of the country. I know that because it was the first time for one of my friends to go outside the country when we visited South Korea. They say there’s a little chance for approval when your passport is still empty. But that is really just some crap by some really pessimistic friends of yours. 🙂
Anyway, as to the show money, unfortunately this is real but this is where your good old friends come really handy. Although if you are traveling more than six months from now, I don’t see why you can’t save at least ₱30,000 beforehand. Or like in my case, I was able to save ₱20,000. Then, I borrowed money from my friends two days before I applied and returned such when my VISA was approved. I shouldn’t probably be sharing that but everyone’s doing it so there you go.
South Korea Visa Requirements
Note: The requirements below are for tourists who are employees. If you are a student, a businessman, etc., visit the website of the embassy here for your applicable requirements.
- Application Form. You can download the form here. See also guide in filling out the form here.
- One piece of passport size colored picture. Common mistake with this requirement is that applicants submit a picture with their name on it. This is probably because they’re used to the board exam or passport application requirement. Don’t do this, my friend had to reprint her picture because of this mistake. Also, please bring more than one piece. They asked for two even when the requirement in the website says only one.
- Original Passport. Make sure your passport is still valid for more than six months. This means that the expiration date of your passport must be more than six months away from your application date. Also, please make sure your passport is still in perfect condition. A friend of mine thought her passport was still valid even with a single torn page. She got laughed at inside the embassy. This story is actually very funny but it’s not my story to tell. Hi dai!
- Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (page 2).
- Original Certificate of Employment. Your COE must include your position, date hired and compensation. Indicate also your office address, HR landline number (cell-phone number not allowed) and e-email address.
- Original Personal Bank Certificate. This must include the account type, current balance, account opening date and the average daily balance (ADB). I don’t know with other banks but BPI charges ₱100 for Bank Certificates. For this requirement, it is very important that your current balance is enough to convince the Embassy that you can afford this vacation. There is no specified amount for this but in my experience, at least ₱30,000 is enough already. For your ADB, I’m not really sure how much should this be for your VISA to be approved. But mine was ₱19,000. In my opinion though, ADB is not really as important as the current balance because it could be that you just opened your bank account six months ago and you are using this account to save money for this specific vacation. If your account is newly opened, for sure the ADB is below ₱10,000 unless at the opening date, you already deposited ₱10,000 and you never withdrew the amount until the bank certificate date.
- Original or Certified true Copy of Bank Statements/Passbook for the last 3 months. Ask the bank personnel for this together with the bank certificate requirement above.
- ITR or BIR Form 2316 Copy. If you will be applying in Cebu Office, please make sure your BIR FORM 2316 is stamped and signed. Normally, employers don’t give the signed and stamped form to their employees. You have to ask your HR to provide you a photocopy. Two of my friends weren’t able to secure this from their HR. If this happens to you, don’t freak out, apply to the Manila office instead. Apparently, the office there isn’t as strict here in Cebu. Did you guys notice I’m just spilling beans everywhere?
Where to Apply
There are two offices where you can apply for your VISA:
- The Korean Embassy located at 122, Upper McKinley Road, Mckinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Contact number is (02) 856-9210 visa local no. 270, 500, and;
- The Consulate in Cebu, 12th Floor, Chinabank Corporate Center, Lot 2, Samar Loop Cor. Road 5, Cebu Business Park. This building is accessible via 13C jeepney. Contact number is (032) 231-151(6-9).
If you are not from Cebu or Manila, find a friend from these cities to apply on your behalf. Send all your requirements including authorization letter. Make sure to send your friend dried mangoes with a thank you note for their time and effort. Offer also to pay their transportation expense. They have to go to the embassy twice, upon application and upon approval.
There is NO VISA FEE as long as you will stay in Korea for no more than 59 days! God bless you SOUTH KOREA! 🙂
When to Apply
You can apply as early as a month before your scheduled trip. VISA application usually takes 3-5 working days but I applied a month before our trip. Thank goodness I did because there were few problems with my requirements. Like the unsigned BIR Form 2317 I mentioned above, I had to go back to the office and email our HR in Manila to provide me a copy.
Also, after I submitted my VISA requirements, the embassy called to conduct an interview. They asked me to secure a guarantee letter from my office manager, including a photocopy of her ID and passport. It was exhausting and frustrating tbh especially because my friends already got their VISAs from Manila while I was still gathering those additional requirements. If you wish not to go through what I went through, I suggest you apply to Manila office instead. Although if you can secure beforehand a guarantee letter from your manager and submit it together with the requirements above, then there’s no need to send your requirements in Manila. LBC rate is ₱165 (x2) btw.
About the interview, it’s nothing to worry about as long as you are applying in good faith, of course. They will just ask you where you work, where you live, where will you be staying in South Korea, who is with you during the vacation and whatnots.
Comment below if you need help. I will pray for your VISA approval, just please make sure you follow the steps above. No private messages in fb please. Thank you for reading (and sharing)!
Have a Sunny Someday!