Our South Korea trip was an absolute dream come true. Everything was just perfect and all the people we have met were so kind and helpful. I wouldn’t have dreamed that my visa would be approved because during my application, I was unemployed for about three months. And I wanted to share with you my experience in the hopes that you can also tick off South Korea from your travel bucket list even if you are currently unemployed.
Know all the documents you need to prepare, and collate them 3 months before your trip.
I have reached out to three agencies before I processed everything and they all sent me this image as a guide to what I need to prepare. From this, you can assess what your current status is and use it as a checklist for all the documents you need to collate. For me, even though I am unemployed, I prepared everything under “employee”.
- Go to the Korean Embassy website , download and fill out File 2 or the PDF version of the Korean Visa Application Form. Be honest with all the details you indicate in the application form. Print it out in A4 size document.
- Have 1 Passport Sized Colored Photo with white background. The full name text overlay is not required.
- You have to submit your original passport along with all the documents, regardless of the status of your application, only your passport will be returned to you.
- A photocopy of your passport’s first page also known as your passport’s bio page.
- Skipping on OECD member country visas and stamps since South Korea is the first country I had applied a visa for. But having an OECD member country visa will expedite your application process to just 3-4 days. If you have visited an OECD member country, prepare both original & photocopy of valid visas and arrival stamps of OECD member countries for the past five (5) years (and Korea visa if applicable).
- Employment Certificate. Now here is the tricky part — as an alternative to this requirement, please go to the next section of this post and I will explain further.
- Ask for an original personal bank certificate from your local bank that must include your account type, current balance, account opening date and ADB. This is really easy, you only need to go personally to your bank and present two government issued IDs and pay the required fees then Whooola, you got your bank certificate in 30 minutes.
- Copy of ITR or BIR Form 2316 — this should be easy because even if you are working from home or unemployed we all have a responsibility to pay our dues to our country. I got my copy from my previous employer and photocopied that for my application.
- Original or Certified True Copy of your Bank Statement for the last 3 months —you can ask this when you ask with your bank certificate
Prepare your Letter of Unemployment
In replacement to your Certificate of Employment, you need to have a letter prepared answering these questions:
- Why are you unemployed?
- Do you have other sources of income?
- Do you have pending work applications?
- How will you able to fund your South Korea trip?
I have answered those as truthfully as I can based on my situation and assured them that I have money stored more than enough during my stay in South Korea. I have also added my previous travels, my length of stay in each country and emphasizing that I had already gone on a solo trip and was able to fund that as well with my personal finances. I also added the dates of my future trips and why it was my goal and dream to visit South Korea. The key here really is honesty. Be honest with your application, and why are you unemployed. If in the case you are not able to fund your trip then add a first degree relative that can sponsor your trip. By adding a sponsor, you will need to have an AFFIDAVIT OF SUPPORT.
In case you would need a guide on how to write this, I have attached a SAMPLE LETTER OF EXPLANATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT below which I have used during my application with personal details removed.
If you are choosing to elect a family member to support your trip, I found this really helpful blog on how to do that. But I suggest at this step, that you now talk to your chosen travel agency to know the specific requirements for the Affidavit of Support.
Talk to a travel agency that is accredited by the Korean embassy and explain your situation
Most travellers put this off until they have collated every requirement needed such as the application form, bank statement etc. which is great. But it would be also beneficial to talk to your travel agency before you do anything so you immediately know if you need to prepare other documents.
Finalise your documents, submit to your travel agency and pray for the best
Go over all your requirements with the travel agency representative and ask all the questions that you have before submitting and paying for the processing fee. Ask for specific timelines like after submitting your application, when can the Korean embassy be able to receive your application, process it, and release it to your travel agency. Knowing details like these will help you estimate your time and manage your expectations.
Make sure you choose a really good travel agency and prepare at least 3 months before your trip to avoid what happened to us:
Sharing with you also this note I got together with the Korean Visa Requirement list from the travel agency I worked with:
“If the visa application is denied, there is NO APPEAL and the applicant may only re-apply for the same purpose after six (6) months. The Korea Embassy may still require supplementary documents. “
I hope I was able to help you with your application and I’d love to hear how was your experience getting your South Korea Visa. Feel free to comment below to share your experience 😉