Everyone is faced with financial burdens at some point in their life and that is why it is important to be well familiar with the working rights and limitations of the country where you are currently staying. In the context of Korea, people who come here to work or start a family are more or less financially independent, while foreign students often rely on the support of their respective schools or other funding institutions. Part-time job opportunities are relatively easy to find but the process of issuing a legal permit for such activities is tedious and off-putting, so many students are quick to give up on the idea. Moreover, there is plenty of misinformation regarding the eligibility of international students to work in Korea which is demotivating for both job-seekers and potential employers alike. If you don’t know where to begin when trying to obtain a part-time job permit in Korea, we have organized all the important steps to guide you through the process in this article.
Obtaining a part-time job permit is the only way for foreign students to legally work in Korea. It is true that there are a lot of rules surrounding that document but we strongly recommend you comply with the country’s regulations regarding work status. Although many places out there might hire you without proper paperwork, you should be aware that that leaves you vulnerable to exploitation and mistreatment. By resorting to such working opportunities, you are no longer protected by the law, which makes it very difficult to find an institution to turn to in case your rights are being violated at the workplace. Also, always keep in mind that a reliable employer is not likely to leave the question regarding your visa status unaddressed. Therefore, if a business you are interested in is trying to avoid doing so or convince you that signing a working contract is enough to legalize the process of hiring you, you should be alarmed. The only cases when foreign students are allowed to work without a permit or any additional paperwork are:
Activities related to their majors, such as research projects or internships
Assisting with maintenance or office work for a short period of time, for example, English-speaking staff at conferences, etc.
Entertainment programs such as movies, shows, or model gigs, which are not conducted on a regular basis
That’s right! You are responsible for finding a place that would hire you before you acquire the permit, not after. In other words, applying for a part-time job permit is impossible without having an employer to provide you with the following three documents:
Part-time Work of Foreign Students Confirmation Form
Business Registration Certificate
Standard Labor Contract
The aforementioned documents contain detailed information about the employer, working hours, the period of employment, payment, etc. That being said, it is important to understand that a part-time job permit for foreign students is not a document that allows you to work anywhere once you receive it. On the contrary, it is a confirmation that the student is allowed to work under a certain employer for a set period of time. Even if you obtain a work permit, any other work activities taken up with businesses outside of those listed in the permit are considered unregulated.
Beware that many employers are not familiar with the issuance of this type of paperwork and the burden of having to do extra research on the matter might affect your employment status in a negative way. Therefore, consider it your responsibility to lead them through the permit application process and make yourself informed about all the necessary details surrounding it. For example, a common misconception is that scholarship students are not eligible to work at all, while in reality they are allowed to do so after successfully completing the first semester of their study program. Academic success and Korean language competence also significantly affect your eligibility and working hours. More information on that and other things to know before coming to Korea as a foreign student are available on our website. Lastly, there are certain limitations to the business areas you are allowed to work at:
Construction and manufacturing
“Inappropriate” activities, mostly related to places which serve alcohol or provide any other kind of adult entertainment, such as karaoke bars, casinos, and pubs
Once you have received your package of employment documents, don’t rush to the immigration office just yet! A very important step before submitting your actual application is receiving approval from the administration of your school. The process of doing so involves the aforementioned Part-time Work of Foreign Students Confirmation Form. After receiving the form with the signature and information of your employer, you need to fill in your personal details and take it to whoever is in charge of international students at your university. For them to consider your request, you need to present copies of the other two documents you have received from the employer, as well as a copy of your TOPIK certificate and academic transcript. In addition, each school has its own format for filing such requests you also need to fill in and submit with the rest of the documents.
It needs to be noted that most schools don’t have a fixed time frame for processing this kind of application, so you might need to wait a while. Consider this when inputting the starting day of your working period in all documents. For example, it is risky to input a starting day which is less than two weeks from the moment you start preparing your application. Not calculating properly the time it takes for the school and the immigration office to process your permit before you start working will slow down the issuance of it because your application will be returned if any dates mismatch. Another thing you need to pay attention to is that the Part-time Work of Foreign Students Confirmation Form needs to be signed by the person who is officially in charge of foreign students at your school and no one else. Most universities have different staff members responsible for financial affairs and international student affairs, so even if it is the financial department who approves your request, make sure that you receive the signature from the right office worker! In addition, if the representative of foreign students is absent from the office, you will still have to wait for them or receive the alternative version of their sign, aka stamp. Do not ask anyone else from the administration to sign the form instead of them -- even if they are kind enough to cooperate, your application will be returned from the immigration office.
Congratulations on making it to the last and final step of this challenge! Regarding applying for a part-time job permit at the immigration office, many foreign students are faced with another common misconception. In reality, unlike when applying for other documents such as ARC or sojourn extension, you don’t need to go to the office in person for this application. Among the two options of applying online and on the spot, the article will focus more on the online system because it is usually preferred by applicants. However, when considering your method of application, remember that by visiting the office, it is possible to receive the permit on the same day, which is not the case with the online submission. Upon visiting, the staff might ask you for additional documents or changes in your current ones. If that happens, do not immediately think that you need to go back to school and start the process all over again. The office is equipped with computers, so we strongly recommend you keep electronic versions of your documents online. That way, you can access and edit them on the spot if needed. In case you need to make some changes to the documents that have already been signed, usually, white correction tape is acceptable, or you can call your employer/ school and request them to send new copies urgently.
In contrast, the online application will save you some time in terms of commuting but it is likely to take more time to process. First of all, applications on the website of the Immigration Contact Center can be made only between 07:00 - 22:00. In addition, the only browser you can use is the desktop version of Internet Explorer. In other words, applications cannot be submitted via phones, tablets, or any non-Microsoft software. What is misleading is that you are able to fill in your information and upload all the documents in any browser. Do not do that: you will waste your time because an error message will pop up as soon as you click on the submit button. Another thing that might be confusing is that the Korean version and the English version of the website require different documents to be submitted. As seen in the photos, the first document listed in the Korean version is the Part-time Work of Foreign Students Confirmation Form, while the one requested in the English version is a recommendation letter from a professor. In case you do not have such a letter, we suggest you apply through the Korean portal with the confirmation form.
In addition, you will need to submit the other two documents from the employment packaged we mentioned earlier. What is not visible anywhere on the website, however, is that you also need to register your TOPIK Certificate, so don’t forget to attach that in the ETC field. If your application is successfully processed, there are two possible outcomes: returned or granted. If by any chance your file has been rejected, that means that you are not eligible to work at your business of choice at all, and is difficult to be pleaded otherwise. Returned status means that you are eligible to work at the respective business but you need to change certain things in your application. Unfortunately, it is not possible to check what are the required changes online, so you will have to call 1345 during working hours. Granted status means that you have obtained the document but do not forget to actually retrieve it from the website and send it to your employer.
Photo: Hi Korea
Photo: Hi Korea