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The Complete Guide to the E-9 Visa in South Korea [2023]

Updated: Dec 5, 2023


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South Korea offers great jobs and a rich culture. If you're thinking of working there, you probably need the E-9 visa. This guide is here to help. We've made it simple and clear. Follow along to understand the E-9 visa process. Start your exciting journey to work in South Korea.


I. Understanding the E-9 Visa: Basics


1.1 What is the E-9 visa in Korea?


The E-9 visa, officially designated as the Non-Professional Employment Visa, allows for the entry of foreign nationals into South Korea for non-specialized work in specific industries. Introduced to address labor shortages in certain sectors, this visa serves as a bridge between international workers and South Korean employers.


1.2 Who is eligible for the E-9 visa in Korea?


The primary criterion is nationality. South Korea has opened the E-9 visa doors to 16 countries, ensuring a diversified pool of workers. While we’ll delve into specific eligibility criteria for each category in subsequent sections, there are common threads:

  • The applicant should not be seeking a professional job requiring specialized qualifications, certificates, or significant work experience.

  • The applicant should be free from any criminal background or past immigration issues with South Korea.

1.3 Subcategories of the E-9 Visa:


The E-9 visa is systematically organized into five main subcategories, each catering to a different industry. Here’s a brief overview:

  • E-9-1 (Manufacturing): Geared towards those aspiring to join the manufacturing sector. To qualify, an applicant typically seeks employment in a company that has no more than 300 full-time workers or a capital that doesn’t exceed 8 billion KRW.

  • E-9-2 (Construction): This category targets those interested in the construction industry. It covers almost all public construction firms, except a few specialized areas like power plant or petrochemical construction.

  • E-9-3 (Agriculture): Tailored for individuals looking to contribute to agriculture or livestock sectors. The jobs can range from harvesting and animal husbandry to related services.

  • E-9-4 (Fishery): Designed for those drawn to the fishery sector, but with specific constraints on the type of vessels used.

  • E-9-5 (Service): Encompasses a range of services from construction waste processing and cold storage to press publishing.

1.4 Visa Length How long can E-9 visa holders stay in the Korea?

E-9 visa holders are eligible to stay in Korea for an initial duration of 3 years. After this period, they can apply for an extension, which, if granted, allows them to stay for an additional 22 months. So, in total, E-9 visa holders can potentially stay in South Korea for up to 4 years and 10 months.


II. The Application Process: Step-by-Step


2.1 Determining Eligibility: Which Countries Are Eligible for the E-9 Visa?


Before diving into paperwork, it’s essential to confirm your eligibility. Ensure you match the sector-specific requirements and fall under one of the 16 designated countries.

  1. Bangladesh

  2. Cambodia

  3. China

  4. East Timor (Timor-Leste)

  5. Indonesia

  6. Kyrgyzstan

  7. Laos

  8. Mongolia

  9. Myanmar

  10. Nepal

  11. Pakistan

  12. Philippines

  13. Sri Lanka

  14. Thailand

  15. Uzbekistan

  16. Vietnam

2.2 Gathering Documents:


Ensuring that your paperwork is impeccable is the cornerstone of a successful application. Here's a universal list of documents required:

  • Visa Application Form: Completely filled out, providing all the requested details.

  • Photograph: A recent passport-sized photograph taken within the last six months.

  • Passport: It should be valid for at least six months beyond your planned stay.

  • Biographic Data Page Copy: A clear photocopy of the main passport page.

  • National ID Copy: Photocopies of both sides of your national ID.

  • Medical Report: Specifically for Tuberculosis diagnosis. This should be from designated hospitals and include chest X-ray examination results, sputum examination, and tuberculin-skin test.

  • Police Report: A comprehensive report from your birth to the present date.

  • Certificate of Negative PCR Test Result: From hospitals specified by the Embassy.

  • Consent to Quarantine and Health Condition Report Form: As outlined by the South Korean guidelines.

2.3 How to Apply for the E-9 Visa:


Applicants must apply in their home country via their Korean embassy or a designated agency. Find an embassy in your country here: [https://www.mofa.go.kr/eng/wpge/m_5756/contents.do]

  • Designated Agencies: For instance, Sri Lankan applicants must go through the Foreign Employment Bureau or an EPS center. It’s crucial to check the agency designated for your country.

  • No Personal Applications: Embassies, like the Korean Embassy in Sri Lanka, don’t accept individual applications. They must be collectively processed.

2.4 Paying the Visa Fee:


A fee of 60 USD (or its equivalent) is generally charged. However, make sure to check for any updates or changes in this fee. Payment methods can vary, but it’s usually recommended to pay in the local currency equivalent of the U.S. dollar as per the embassy’s prevailing exchange rate.


III. The Skilled Worker Points System Visa (E-7-4 Visa)


The Skilled Worker Points System Visa (or E-7-4 visa) is a natural progression for those who've demonstrated commitment and proficiency during their stay in South Korea.


3.1 Eligibility Criteria:

The primary eligibility revolves around experience. A foreign employee must have worked legally in South Korea for 5 years or more within the last decade on the E-9, E-10, or H-2 Visa. This visa recognizes the value of skilled labor and seeks to retain talent that has integrated into the South Korean work ecosystem.


3.2 Ineligibility Factors:

While experience is a significant advantage, certain factors can disqualify an applicant. These include a criminal background, being a tax defaulter, or having violated the Immigration Act more than four times. It's worth noting, however, that settling overdue taxes can restore eligibility.


3.3 Employment Quotas:

South Korea has put in place employment quota limits based on various industries and company sizes. This ensures that there's a balanced influx of skilled workers across sectors.


3.4 Annual Quota Limits:

There's a cap on the number of skilled workers admitted annually. General applicants have a quota of 400 individuals per year, with priority given to high scorers. Moreover, high scorers and outstanding enterprises that hire Korean nationals also receive a separate quota, fostering an environment that encourages excellence.


IV. Documents Required for E-9 Visa Application


Applying for an E-9 visa requires close attention to detail, ensuring that all relevant documents are in place. Here's a comprehensive list of necessary documents, regardless of the applicant's country of origin:

  1. Visa Application Form: This is the primary document where applicants input their details, background, and purpose of stay. Make sure every section is completed accurately.

  2. Recent Photograph: A passport-sized photograph taken within the last six months. It should be clear, with a neutral background.

  3. Valid Passport: The passport should have a validity period of more than six months. This is crucial as immigration officials often cross-check visa durations with passport expiry dates.

  4. Biographic Data Page of Passport: This is typically the second page in your passport, which contains personal details like name, date of birth, passport number, etc.

  5. National ID Card Copy: A clear photocopy of both sides of your national identity card.

  6. Confirmation for E-9 Visa Application: A document, typically provided by the employer in South Korea or a relevant government body, confirming the reason for your visa application.

  7. Certificate of Visa Issuance: This certificate number is proof that your visa application has been reviewed and accepted by Korean Immigration.

  8. Medical Report: A comprehensive health report, focusing especially on Tuberculosis diagnosis. It should include results from chest X-ray examinations, examination of the sputum, and tuberculin-skin tests.

  9. Police Report: This is a certificate of good conduct, indicating that the applicant has no criminal record from their country of origin. It should cover the period from the applicant's date of birth to the present.

  10. PCR Test Result: Given the ongoing health concerns, a negative PCR test result from designated hospitals is mandatory.

  11. Consent to Quarantine: A formal document where the applicant acknowledges and consents to undergo mandatory quarantine upon arrival in South Korea, if required.

  12. Health Condition Report Form: A detailed form highlighting the applicant's current health condition.

  13. Visa Fee: As of the current update, the fee stands at 60 USD. However, the payment is often made in the local currency equivalent, so applicants should keep an eye on the prevailing exchange rate.

E-9_E-10_H-2자격 사증신청자 건강확인서
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Self-Report Medical Document for E-9 Visa


V. Challenges and Considerations


While the E-9 visa offers numerous advantages, there are challenges and considerations to be aware of:

  1. Cultural Differences: Adapting to a new work culture and societal norms can be challenging initially. However, with time and open-mindedness, this transition becomes smoother.

  2. Language Barrier: While Korean is the primary language, learning the basics can go a long way in making daily life easier and more fulfilling.

  3. Regulations and Compliance: It's essential to stay updated on visa regulations and ensure compliance. Any deviation could lead to legal complications.

  4. Economic Adjustments: The cost of living varies across South Korea. While urban centers like Seoul might be on the pricier side, other regions offer a more economical lifestyle.

VI. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q1: How long does the E-9 visa application process take?

Answer: The duration varies, but generally, once all documents are submitted, it takes about 2-3 weeks for processing.


Q2: Can I bring my family to South Korea on an E-9 visa?

Answer: The E-9 visa is primarily for individual workers. It does not allow workers to extend invitations to family members.


Q3: What happens if I change jobs while in South Korea?

Answer: Ensure that you inform your local office of immigration and apply for an E-7 or D-1 job-seekers visa before changing to a job that is outside the scope of the E-9 visa.


Getting the E-9 visa for South Korea can be hard but worth it. Doing good research and being ready are very important. This guide helps you know what you need to do. Working in South Korea can be a great experience.


VII. Resources and Further Reading


information centers for foreign workers in Korea

information centers for foreign workers in Korea

information centers for foreign workers in Korea

information centers for foreign workers in Korea

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