Guest post: getting a F-visa without getting married to a Korean
CISK note: Today’s guest post comes to you courtesy of Sharon de Hinojosa, a university professor and TEFL teacher for just under a decade. Her blog - tefltips.blogspot.com – offers plenty of tips on TEFL, and is recently renovated.
I’m currently working at a university on an E2. I’ve been here since last February and would like to get an F visa since my husband is my dependent and we’ll be having a baby in the fall. It’s pretty much impossible for my husband to get a visa due to his background and his job. I’ve lived abroad for nearly a decade and it’s been over 5 years since I’ve had a visa that was connected to my employer. While I have a good job, I’d much rather have an F2-S, F2-99, or F5, whereas I would basically own my own visa (even though you need a Korean sponsor for the F2-99). The other benefit would be that if I were to get an F-5, my husband could then get an F2.
I’ve done a lot of research on the different types of F visas available, but have not applied yet. I’ve thought about the F2-S. I’d have exactly 80 points, if I apply next August when I’m 30, but there are a lot of “ifs” involved. IF they accept my teaching experience abroad and IF TOPIK level 1 would count as basic communication. I’ve also thought about just waiting until I have 5 years on my E2 and applying for the F2-99 since it seems like that would be a lot easier.
There’s been a lot of information on Dave’s ESL Café as well as korea4expats.com. I’ve gotten a lot of information from Welshguy, crossmr, jinju necklace, and ililnine from Dave’s ESL Café. From these sources I’ve compiled information and organized it into the 3different F visas. These 3 ways are: the F2-S (also known as the points visa), the F2-99 (formally known as the F2-5 visa), and the F5-A. If you have a non-Korean dependent spouse and you get an F2, then your spouse will get an F1. Once you get an F5, your non-Korean dependent spouse can then get an F2.
Last year Korean immigration came out with the F2-s visa. In order to apply you have to have had your E1, E2, E3, E4, E5, or E7 Visa for at least one year. There are 120 points possible and you need 80 to get the F visa. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as it seems and some parts are rather vague. Some people, such as ililnine (he got his PhD in Korea) and crossmr on Dave’s have gotten this visa.
For example, once you hit 35, your points in the age category start going down. If you have a master’s degree, you get 30 points, 2 master’s and it’s 32. With a PhD you can get 33 and in order to get the maximum of 35 points, you need 2 PhDs, something that very few people on E visas have. To get the maximum points for income, you need over 100,000,000 won. Again, something that very few E visa holders could ever attain, legally.
The KIIP Programme provides a whooping 10 points, but it’s not that easy either. There are two parts: Korean Language and Culture. There is a pre-test to see which level you get into. In order to go directly into the Culture Programme you need to have about TOPIK level 4 or get 90 out of 100 points on the pre-test. If not, then you’ll have to take Korean lessons. The good news is that they’re free, but because of this, attendance is taken very seriously. The bad news is that it’s difficult to register for, classes don’t fill or get filled too quickly, are too far away, or your schedule isn’t compatible to the class schedule. Some people have been told that classes are from 10-12pm or from 6:30-8:30pm a couple times a week or 6 hours on Saturday. Since there aren’t a lot of centres, the nearest one may be an hour or two away. In addition, for a class to fill at least 6 people need to register. Since those married to Korean can skip levels 3 and 4, those levels are harder to fill.
There are 6 levels ranging from level 0 to level 5. Level 0-4 is the Language part and level 5 is the Culture part. Level 1 is only 15 hours, while levels 2-4 are 100 hours each and last about a semestre each. Level 5 (which lasts only 50 hours) is about half a semetre). The means that the whole KIIP programme start to finish would take nearly 2.5 years. The majority of the people taking the course are foreign women married to Korean men. Rumours have it that if you’re married to a Korean, you don’t need as high a score to pass the mid-term and final exam.
You can get points for being an overseas specialist, but no one seems to know exactly what that is or how you can prove it. I called immigration and asked and they said any full-time work that you’ve done outside of Korea would count. Even working as a waiter? According to immigration, yes, it would. As to proving your overseas specialist experience, they want paper documentation. When pushed for an answer, they said anything with basic information, such as your name, job, and dates. Now I’m not sure how recent this documentation has to be since immigration likes documents to be issued in the last 6 months or if it’s really that easy. Some people have speculated that you’d need a contract or recent reference letter, pay stubs, or work visas. My suggestion is to bring anything and everything you have.
If you’re considering going this route, there have been some people who have successful gotten the F2-S visa. Usually they have a PhD, have studied in Korea, or know Korean very well. You can also lose up to 5 points for being in Korea illegally or breaking laws.Here’s what the F2-S visa is based on and the maximum points you can get for each category.
Age: 25 points
Studies: 35 points
Korean ability: 20 points
Income: 10 points
KIIP: 10 points
Studies done in Korea: 10 points
Volunteer work in Korea: 5 points You’ll need a 봉사활동인증서 /a 봉사활동확인서
Overseas Work as a Specialist: 5 point
Resources and useful links: A lot of this info is based on posts by Welshguy’s on Dave’s ESL Cafe. http://forums.eslcafe.com/korea/viewtopic.php?p=2611753
The F2-S takes less time and does not require knowing Korean, but is harder to get than the F2-99. It takes 5 years and you’ll need a Korean sponsor. It helps if you take a Korean with you in case they need to explain about the no Korean language required part. If you speak Korean, that would help as well. Immigrations cannot make a decision about this visa; it’ll be sent to the Ministry of Justice. It’s valid for 2-3 years, depending on how much time the Korean sponsors you for. Here’s what you need to get the F2-99.
1. 5 years on an E1, E2, E3, E4, E5, or E7 Visa. It’s ok if you transfer employers during this time, but you can’t get a new visa (i.e. do a visa run). Any time spent outside of Korea does not count towards the 5 year requirement, though some people have said that you’re allowed up to 3 months outside of Korea during the 5 years.
2. Have a Korean sponsor you by filling out 신원보증서. The higher up they are (ex. doctor, lawyer, government official, CEO, professor, administrator, etc) the better is it.
3. Write 4 pages (A4) about how you have contributed to Korea and what you will do in the future. You can write it in English and then have it translated into Korean.
4. Any diplomas, certificates, or degrees that you have you should bring. Master’s degrees, TEFL certificates, Korean language certificates, etc would work.
F2-S or F2-99 to F5
Changing from an F2-99 to an F5 should take between 1 and 4 months.
Wait 3 years.
You can apply for the F5 immediately after you get the F2-99 if you fulfill two requirements.
1. Prove that you have earned what an average Korean does (i.e., the Gross National Income (GNI). In 2010 it was about 24 million won)
2. Pass TOPIK level 2.
In the past you needed 3 times the GNI and TOPIK level 5. On the English version it has the old information. However, the Korean version has the new information. You can see the Korean version through Welshguy’s post, http://forums.eslcafe.com/korea/viewtopic.php?p=2617958&highlight=#2617958.
Changing from an E2 to an F5 can take up to 6 months.
Resources and Links: A lot of this is based on jinju necklace’s info on Dave’s ESL Café.
The F5-A is similar to the F2-99, except you don’t need a Korean sponsor, have to make enough money, and need to know Korean. However, some people have said it’s easier to go from an E2 to an F2-99 and then get the F5, rather than trying to go directly to the F5. Since you need twice as much money to go directly to the F5, it’s probably easiest for most people to get the F2-99 first. Remember, once you get the F2-99, you can apply for the F5 as long as you have TOPIK level 2 and make as much as the average Korean does. However, going directly to the F5-A would save you time.
1. 5 years on an E1, E2, E3, E4, E5, or E7 Visa. It’s ok if you transfer employers during the time, but you can’t get a new visa (i.e. do a visa run). Any time spent outside of Korea does not count towards the 5 year requirement, though some people have said that you’re allowed up to 3 months outside of Korea during the 5 years.
2. Earn twice as much as the average Korean does (i.e., the Gross National Income (GNI)). In 2010 it was about 24 million won.
In the past it has been 3 times the GNI. On the English version it has the old information. However, the Korean version has the new information. You can see the Korean version through Welshguy’s post, http://forums.eslcafe.com/korea/viewtopic.php?p=2617958&highlight=#2617958.
3. TOPIK level 2.
In the past it has been TOPIK level 5. On the English version it has the old information. However, the Korean version has the new information. You can see the Korean version through Welshguy’s post, http://forums.eslcafe.com/korea/viewtopic.php?p=2617958&highlight=#2617958.
4. No criminal record in Korea. The immigration officer will verify this for you.
From the guest poster:
My name’s Sharon and I’m naturegirl321 on the forums. I’ve been teaching in Korea at a university a little over a year, but have been TEFLing for 9 years. My blog, www.tefltips.blogspot.com has lots of info for those interested in TEFL: newbies and oldbies alike.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
This post was originally published on my blog, Chris in South Korea. If you are reading this on another website and there is no linkback or credit given, you are reading an UNAUTHORIZED FEED.