Travel Info

Feeling lost? Here’s a guide to the Korean Working Holiday visa!

General information

For visitors who want to visit South Korea for more than 90 days, it is possible to apply for a H-1 Visa or Working Holiday visa. This visa allows holders to stay in South Korea for a year. As its name implies, holders of the H-1 visa are legally allowed to get a job in the country. Only 25 hours of work per week are legally allowed, so you won’t be able to work full time, but enough to earn money for touristic activities. Holders are allowed to leave and re-enter the territory as much as they would like in the 1-year validity period of the visa. This visa can only be attributed once. There is an extension possibility for residents of the USA (6 months) and the UK (1 year). This visa exists for citizens of the 25 different countries & regions listed below:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • U.K.
  • U.S.A.
  • Israel

All of these regions have quotas over which they can’t accept demands, but usually, applications are easily accepted if all the documents are provided because the demands remain lower than the quotas.

Conditions and documents

The point of this visa is to give visitors who aren’t students or full-time workers an opportunity to discover the country for more than 3 months without having to apply for a long-term visa, which are usually more difficult to obtain. The only conditions are:

  • to be a first timer
  • to be between 18 and 30 years-old
  • to not be accompanied by parents or dependents
  • to apply from your country of origin
  • to not have a criminal record
  • to be healthy

To apply for the visa, you need to refer to your country’s specific document list and application location. But, for your general information, here’s a list of the documents that are most likely to be required (from the Korean government’s website):

  • Visa application form
  • Valid passport and one passport photo (3.5 x 4.5 cm)
  • Return flight ticket or evidence of financial ability to afford one
  • Supporting financial documentation (e.g. a certified copy of bank statement)
  • Health insurance that will remain valid throughout your stay in Korea (minimum coverage: KRW 40,000,000)
  • Travel plan
  • Application fee
  • Criminal record check
  • Medical certificate
  • Proof of student status or the highest academic qualification

My personal experience

I applied in France for a working holiday visa in the month of December 2022 as I planned on staying in Korea for almost 5 months starting in February 2023. The application process was made relatively easy: I had to pay a service fee and send the payment proof to the email address of the KVAC (Korean Visa Application Center). Then, they replied to me, saying that the payment was received and that I could send my application. In France, the process was a bit special as I had to send my documents through the mail, which was very stressful considering I had to put my passport in the envelope.

It took me almost a month to gather all of my documents: catching an appointment to the doctor to issue a health certificate was probably the hardest thing to do… It also took some time to get my criminal record, as it the whole process was by mail too. I booked my plane tickets and subscribed to an insurance before writing out a travel plan and sending the whole thing to the KVAC.

Then came the wait… The approval took around 2 weeks (2 very stressful weeks), but I heard that it depends on when you apply. Some people say that it could take around a month. So, finally, I received an email telling me I could come and pick-up my Visa!

Overall, I would say that the process is quite simple but can be stressful. You really should gather your documents in advance to avoid bad surprises.

Additional info

When you’re staying more than 3 consecutive months in South Korea, it is mandatory to issue a Foreign Registration Card, (formerly called the Alien Registration Card). If you don’t, you will get into trouble when leaving the territory! But I will tell you more about this process next week!

Have a good one!

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