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LifestyleGuide for Expats
Korean residency visas: How can I get one?Jeju National University Law School answers your questions
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승인 2011.06.10  10:12:54
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I’ve heard that F-2 (residency) visas in Korea are available to people who fulfill certain requirements and have certain skills. Since they allow the freedom to work multiple jobs, I would like to know more about the best way to get a F-2.

Dear reader,

Generally, the spouse of a Korea national or a spouse of one with permanent residence status (F-5 visa) is eligible for an F-2 visa, but Korea implemented a Point System on Feb. 1, 2010.

Under the Point System, professionals who have the status of professorship (E-1), Foreign Language Instructor (E-2), Researcher (E-3), Technology Instruction (E-4), Speciality Occupation (E-5), or Particular Occupation (E-7) — lawfully residing in Korea for more than one year become eligible for the residence status (F-2) if they acquire a certain number of points based on their qualifications. The criteria for assessing their qualifications include age, academic career, and income among others.

If professionals acquire residence status (F-2) through the Point System, their spouse and child can obtain residence status as well, and residence status allows holders to engage in a wider range of employment activities. The maximum period of stay may be up to three years.

If a person resides in Korea for three years after obtaining residence status (F-2) through the Point System, he or she will be eligible to apply to change his or her status into permanent residence status (F-5). (Currently F-2 status holders are required to reside in Korea for five years to get F-5 status.) This is the additional advantage of the Point System.

General criteria of the Point System are age, academic career, Korean proficiency, and income. Weighted criteria are as follows:

-whether the applicant has completed the social integration program
-whether the applicant has studied in Korea
-whether the applicant has worked in professional areas outside Korea
-whether the applicant and his or her dependents have violated immigration laws and regulations in Korea. The Point System is below.

Age - (maximum 25 points)
18-24 years old = 20 points
25-29 years old = 23 points
30-34 years old = 25 points
35-39 years old = 23 points
40-44 years old = 20 points
45-50 years old = 18 points
51 or older = 15 points

Academics (maximum 35 points)
Graduate from Junior College (more than 2 yrs course) = 25 points
Bachelor’s degree = 26 points
2 or more Bachelor's degrees = 28 points
Master’s degree = 30 points
2 or more Master's degrees = 32 points
Ph.D degree = 33 points
2 or more Ph.D. degrees = 35 points

Korean proficiency (maximum 20 points)*
General Comprehension/Basic Commu-nication =10 points (TOPIK 1 or 2)
Topic Comprehension/Communicates well in Familiar Subject = 15 points (TOPIK 3 or 4)
Proficient Communication for Everyday Life = 20 points (TOPIK 5 or 6)
(*based on results of S-TOPIK, the Standard Test Of Proficiency in Korean)

Yearly income (maximum 10 points)
Under 35,000,000 won / year = 5 points
35,000,000 - 50,000,000 won / year = 6 points
50,000,000 - 80,000,000 won / year = 7 points
80,000,000 - 100,000,000 won / year = 8 points
100,000,000 won or more / year = 10 points
(no change in income section)

Additional Categories:

Completion of Social Integration Program = 10 points.
Korean Academic Studies *
A Korean language certificate = 1 point
B.A. = 3 point
M.A. = 5 points
Ph.D. = 10 points
(*certificate/degree earned in Korean institution)

Public Service in Korea *
Under 1 year = 1 point
1-2 years = 3 points
Over 2 years = 5 points
(*refers to volunteer work that can be credibly documented - no change in points in this category)

Overseas Work as a Specialist*
1 year = 1 point
1-2 years = 3 points
Over 2 years = 5 points
(*no definition of specialist included - no change in points in this category)

Deduction of Points:
There are also some penalties built into the point system for a maximum loss of 5 points. It appears that infractions by both dependents and the invited person are included.
illegal stay = -1 point
noticed disposition (probably means some other legal infraction) = -2 points

Points Chart retrieved from

The social integration program is a free class taught in Korean. Jeju offers the program four times a year. A placement test is required. Applicants who score above a certain percentage must take 50 hours of class. Applicants who score below that percentage must take 100 hours of class. Classes are twice a week for two hours, generally from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. There is a final test. To find out more about the social integration program, go to your local immigration office.

Park Jung Hwan is a graduate student at Jeju National University Law School and a legal counselor at the JNU’s Legal Clinic. JNU Law School graduate student Son Minsoo and editor Alpha Newberry contributed to this article.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues commonly encountered in Korea. Readers should consult a lawyer for detailed legal advice. As a service to the non-Korean community, the Jeju National University Legal Clinic (064-754-2989) is available for consultations during regular business hours, Monday to Friday.

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