South Korea – Revised Rules for Frequent Travelers

What has changed

Effective March 1, 2017, the Korean government is shuttering the Frequent Traveler visa waiver path for foreigners who would otherwise need a visa to enter Korea (“non-visa waiver nationals”).

Who is affected?

  • Non-visa-waiver nationals who had traveled to South Korea at least four (4) times in the immediately preceding two (2) years, or for a minimum of ten (10) times in a lifetime with at least one (1) entry in the immediately preceding two (2) years.

What to expect

Prior to this policy change, Korean immigration permitted visa-free entry to certain foreigners who otherwise need a visa to enter Korea (“non-visa-waiver nationals”), if non-visa-waiver nationals had traveled to South Korea at least four times in the immediately preceding two years, or for a minimum of 10 times overall with at least one entry within the immediately preceding two years (the “Frequent Traveler Requirement”).  However, effective March 1, 2017, non-visa-waiver nationals who have satisfied the Frequent Traveler Requirement can no longer enter Korea on visa-free basis. They will instead need to obtain a consular visa.

 

For such non-visa-waiver nationals satisfying the Frequent Traveler Requirement, the relevant consular visa is the C-3-1 visa. Issued on relatively favorable terms, the C-3-1 visa is valid for five (5) years and allows multiple entries of up to thirty (30) days per stay for tourists and visitors. The C-3-1 visa cannot be obtained by any foreigner who has  either illegally resided in South Korea, been subject to a departure or deportation order, or been fined 5 million Won or more for violating a law in Korea at any time within the past three (3) years prior to the  application date for their C-3-1 visa. Nationals of China, Cuba, Macedonia, Kosovo and Syria are not permitted to obtain the C-3-1 visa on terms granted to Frequent Travelers.

 

This change only affects non-visa-waiver nationals. Visa waiver nationals (such as nationals of the United States or the United Kingdom) and persons holding long-term Korean visas remain unaffected.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.