I have never applied personally for a visa before. The first time I applied for a visa was for my Japan trip in 2016. It was through an agency, as the Japan Embassy in the Philippines does not accept walk in applicants.
So, needless to say, I was a little nervous about it. But information from the Korean Embassy website, travel blogs and my friends’ personal experiences made it seem easier.
I went ahead and completed the required documents as they apply to me. If you are a Filipino passport holder, regardless of your employment status, make sure you complete these basic requirements::
1. Completely filled out application form. Put N.A. on fields that do not apply to you.
2. 1 piece of Passport size (3.5 cm x 4.5 cm) color picture. Please attach on the application form. (For people like me who don’t attach photos until submission, I found that they have bottles of glues for applicants to use!)
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 only). I have been to Japan last year, so I provided a copy as well. Frequent travelers say this is a plus point as it increases your chances of being approved. To know more about the OECD countries, click here.
Moving on, here is the list of additional requirements for Tourist/Business Visa Requirements for Employees:
1. Original Certificate of Employment
(must include applicant’s position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number(cell-phone number is not allowed), HR e-mail address)
Now, take all their MUSTs seriously as they could be very strict about this. My friend on her COE request, forgot to advise our HR to include her compensation on the letter. And in less than 5 minutes that she was in front of the consul’s window, she got her share of sermon for not complying with the requirements.
2. Original Personal Bank Certificate
(must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB)
3. Bank Statement
(original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
4. ITR(Income Tax Return) or Form 2316 Copy
5. Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (If applicable only)
6. If personally invited by Korean submit the following:
. Invitation Letter
. Photocopy of inviter’s Passport or Identification Card
7. If invited by Company in Korea
. Invitation Letter
. Photocopy of Korean Company Business Permit
If you are not employed and you are not applying as a tourist, don’t worry, the embassy’s website is very simple and easy to understand. Just click here and select the category that will apply to you.
After completing the requirements, I went to the embassy and I got overwhelmed with the long line of applicants. A friend of mine said it only took her less than an hour to complete the process. Mine took 2! Senior citizens and ladies in their lovely stilettos had to endure. Good thing I was in my jelly shoes!
Also, make sure before you fall in line, you have your documents complete. There are staff who will check your documents before you even get a queue number. I heard, there were applicants who didn’t get past them and were sent home.
If you comply and have your documents complete, they will give you a number to the window where you’ll be submitting these. Frequent travellers with OECD visas will be directed to Window 3 while first time travellers or those who have no previous tourists visits to OECD member countries within the last 5 years should go to Windows 1 or 2. I mentioned that I went to Japan which is one of the OECD countries, so, I went to window 3.
Waiting at this time was not that long. After I got my number, it only took me about 30 minutes to get my number called and receive the claim stub. I was surprised how fast it was with the number of applicants that came in.
How much did I have to pay?
I only applied for a 5-day-visit. There is no fee for this visa application. South Korea allows 59 days or less of stay free! It is PHP1800.00 for visits for 60 to 90 days.
How long do I have to wait for the result?
Their processing time is as follows:
1. 3 working days (for those who have been to OECD member countries within 5 years as tourist)
2. 5 working days (for those who have not been to OECD member countries within 5 years)
Then you just have to return to the embassy on the date indicated in the form given to you. Releasing of visa is from Monday-Friday 1:30pm-4:00pm.
That’s it! It was really easy and I am so proud I did it without an agency. It’s just me though, it felt good to know I did it and saved money at the same time. For some people who do not have enough time to do this, agencies really are a great help.
For now, I just have to wait. My claim stub says I can claim my passport (with visa or not) after 3 business days. I am keeping my fingers crossed!
I claimed my passport and… (drum roll) I got approved! They granted me 3 years with multiple entries! How cool is that?
Please read My 3 Years Multiple Entry Visa to Korea to know more.