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Foreigners who intend to stay in Korea should have a relevant status of stay for the period and purpose of their stay.

Foreigner stay

Foreigner stay is categorized as follows

  • Short-term stay: Limited, up to 90 days of stay
  • Long-term stay: Limited, more than 91 days of stay
  • Permanent Residency: Unlimited period of stay

Long-term stay and Permanent residency must register as a foreigner or file Domestic Residency Report within 90 days of arrival.

Scope of activities and employment for foreigners staying in Korea

Foreigners are granted rights to any activities granted by their visa, and may stay as long as their given period of stay. They are not, however, allowed to participate in any political activities except when specifically allowed by law.

Foreigners seeking employment during their stay in Korea must have a visa that allows it, and may only work in workplaces designated by local or district Immigration Office.

If they wish to change their workplace, permission must be received from the local Immigration Office prior to the change.

Visa statuses that allow employment are as follows.

  • Short term employment (C-4), Professorship (E-1), Foreign Language Instructor (E-2), Research (E-3), Technology Transfer (E-4), Professional Employment (E-5), Arts & Performances (E-6), Special Occupations (E-7), Employed Trainee (E-8), Non-professional Employment (E-9), Vessel Crew (E-10), Residency (F-2), Overseas Koreans (F-4), Permanent Residency (F-5), Working Holiday (H-1)

It is unlawful to hire, recommend, or arrange for hiring of foreigners who don't have appropriate visa status, and doing so is punishable offence under the Immigration Act

Therefore, one must check for the following before hiring any foreigner.

  • Valid foreigner registration card
  • Appropriate visa status - employment may be restricted depending on visa status. Consult the local Immigration Office for details.

Extension of Stay

In case of expiration of permission of stay, the foreigner shall receive permission for extension of stay if he/she desires to stay continuously in Korea

Application Period for Extension

  • The foreigner shall apply before 4 months from the current expiration date to the expiration date.
  • In case of applying for the extension after the expiration date, the individual shall pay the penalty according to Article 25 of Immigration Act.

How to Apply for Permission for Extension of Stay

  • Principal or principal’s agent shall prepare the required documents (See the documents by the qualification) to the Immigration Office having the jurisdiction
  • To check the documents by the qualification, click the qualification table on the upper part.

Changing Stay Status

Foreigners must receive permission to change of status of their stay if they want to participate in new activities which are not relevant or permitted for current status

General Principles

  • As a general rule, foreigners seeking to participate in activities not permitted under their current status must first depart from Korea, obtain a new status that corresponds with the desired status, then re-enter Korea with the newly obtained status.
  • However, should it be possible to meet the requirements for the new status without having to depart from Korea, limited change of status can be made upon passing a rigid examination.

Application Period

  • In order to engage in activities not permitted by the current status of stay, a permission to change the status must be obtained from the local Immigration Office prior to engaging in the said new activities.
  • A-1, A-2 and A-3 status holders seeking to change their status of stay due to change in their position/duties must receive permission for change of status of stay within 30 days of the said change.

How to apply for permission for change of status of stay

  • Present the Required documents to the local Immigration Office. (may be applied by an appointed agent)

Activities beyond the Given Status of Stay

Foreigners seeking to carry out activities beyond the limits of their current status (hereby referred to as unauthorized activity) without changing their status of stay must receive permission to do so prior to actually engaging in the said activity. Should the aforementioned activities become the main purpose of their stay, such permission will not be granted, and they must therefore leave the country and re-enter with a new visa, or apply to change their status of stay.

General Principles

  • Those with single-entry visa for less than 90 days of stay are not permitted to carry out unauthorized activities.
  • If hours spent in unauthorized activities are longer than the original workplace, or if it brings in more income, then permission for unauthorized activities will not be granted.
  • If the foreigner involved has a record of poor work conduct (such as maintaining multiple workplaces) or is otherwise considered to be acting against national interests, permission for unauthorized activities will not be granted.
  • Permission for unauthorized activities is not required for those foreigners seeking to learn Korean at a college-run foreign institute or receive instructions from specialists of Korean traditional culture or arts.

Application Period

  • Those seeking to participate in unauthorized activities must obtain permission to do so before engaging in such activities.

How to apply

  • Present the required documents to the local Immigration Office (may be applied by an appointed agent)