I recently had the opportunity to visit South Korea again in an all-expenses-paid trip! It was so unexpected and it was such a blessing as it came at a time when a time-off was what I needed most (adulting stress huhu).
Now, on to the topic…
I was surprised how things have changed in a span of less than a year. It turned from “easy” to “oh wow it’s crazyyy!”. When I was applying for a student visa in 2017, it was so easy that I arrived at 10am and still got a number. But for the past few months, I heard that people line up as early as 2am!!! At first, I couldn’t believe it but when I experienced it myself, it’s real! The KOREAN WAVE in the Philippines is getting more and more HUGE. (RECENT UPDATE: Visa applications can now be done only through DESIGNATED AGENCIES. You may visit the Korean Embassy website for more info.)
Applying for a visa is at 8am to 11am. But due to the influx of visa applicants, the embassy has set a daily quota of only 200 applications to be processed everyday. I arrived at 5am and I was not included. I was so disappointed coz I won’t have enough time until my flight if I don’t get to process my visa on that exact day (LESSON: APPLY FOR A VISA AT LEAST 2-3 WEEKS PRIOR TO YOUR FLIGHT).
It was hopeless. We were all outside almost begging to be let in or increase the quota. Others have been there 5 times but fail to be included in the quota every time. They said, there was no way but to line up as early as 2am. To be sure, be there at 1am. We hoped that we will be given at least a priority number for the next day since we already lined up for 5 hours. But no, people walked away from the embassy with nothing. I was one of them.
But you see, God is always on our side. He intervened. As I was walking to catch a bus home, a friend messaged me to just go back immediately and try again. And I did. The people who were waiting outside that morning already went home. Surprisingly, the guards allowed me to enter the embassy, get a number at Window 3 (I was praying hard to be assigned at Window 3 which is for frequent travelers) and 3 days later, I got my approved visa! Whew!
Here are the list of requirements in applying for a tourist visa to South Korea:
1. Application Form
2. 1 piece of Passport size colored picture (Please attach on the application form)
3. Original Passport (should be valid for more than 6months)
4. Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (page 2)
5. Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years (If applicable only)
6. Original Certificate of Employment
7. Original Personal Bank Certificate
8. Bank Statement
9. ITR(Income Tax Return) or Form 2316 Copy and Company Alphalist (Form 1604 CF with BIR received stamp / please highlight your name)
10. Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (If applicable only)
Now, I had another concern: I did not have my ITR/Company Alphalist with me. For employees, it is very important to establish strong socio-economic ties in our home country. Thus, our Certificate of Employment, ITR and Company Alphalist are MUST-HAVES in our application documents. So what if you do not have these documents?
Here are the exemptions on applying for visa without ITR/Company Alphalist (I did #1):
- If you are a frequent traveler or have been to OECD member countries, present a copy of your valid visa and arrival stamps (including South Korea? yes if you’ve been to Korea before then you are eligible for this exemption).
- If you are a BPI Platinum Credit Card or BDO Gold and Elite Card holder, they currently have a promotion which automatically gives you a multiple-entry visa (promo extended until Dec. 31, 2019).
How about if you are a freelancer and do not have a Certificate of Employment (#6)? Then draft your own COE and ask your clients to sign the document for you. I read somewhere that this is what other freelancers do when applying for a visa.
God bless you in your visa application and enjoy Korea!!!