Two years ago, you, fellow F-4 Visa holder, embarked on a unique and life-changing journey. Sure, you made for yourself a new life, incredible friendships, and unforgettable memories (for better or worse) in Korea. But, probably just as daunting yet rewarding was successfully undertaking the cumbersome process of acquiring your F-4 Visa!
As your 2-year period of sojourn comes to end, it’s time to summon your courage to begin the F-4 Visa renewal process. Unlike the initial application process, however, the renewal procedure is thankfully simpler and more straightforward. The worst of the documents hunting and collection goose chase is over, and you are one step closer to embarking on your F-4 renewal adventure.
As an active F-4 Overseas Korean Visa holder, your multiple-entry visa has a validity of 5 years and a stay period for 2 years. On the back of your ARC, you will find your sojourn start (“authorized”) date (허가일자) and expiration date (만료일자).
Bearing in mind the date of expiry, you can renew your visa up to 4 months in advance. For example, if your sojourn period ends on December 10, you can schedule an appointment with your Immigration Office as early as June 12.
And, fret not if you’ve forgotten about renewing. The Immigration Office will mail you a reminder letter informing you of your upcoming expiry date as well as general information on how to begin the renewal process. You can expect to receive this letter about 2-3 months before the expiration date.
Schedule an appointment on the official website of your designated Immigration Office. Once your appointment date and time are confirmed, you will be assigned a ticket number as well as the appointment details on the confirmation page. Print this page and bring it with you on the date of your visit.
If you are attempting to make an appointment sooner than the 4-month mark, the Immigration website may prevent you from selecting a date. Be sure to select your date within this timeframe.
If you are unsure which Immigration Office services your area, check the official Immigration Office site at hikorea.go.kr.
1. Application form (1)
Complete the (Appendix Paper No.34), which is available at the Immigration Office and on their forms website. Please note that this is the first application form located at the top of the website.
Your current passport must be good for at least 2 years. Bring your original and a copy.
This, of course, is absolutely essential, as your ID card will be re-striped magnetically and re-printed with your new expiry date.
4. Proof of Residence
Bring your renewal reminder letter from the Immigration Office as well as your current housing lease as proof of your current residence. The Immigration office may likely accept one form of documentation, but it is highly recommended to bring both for good measure.
5. Payment in CASH: 60,000 KRW
You must pay the 60,000 KRW fee in cash PRIOR to your appointment. Inside the Korean Immigration Office will be a designated area and employee(s) from whom to purchase revenue stamps. You will need to purchase 2 x 30,000 KRW denomination stamps to pay for your Visa renewal. Upon purchasing, be sure to glue the stamps at the designated “Revenue Stamp Here” space on the bottom of your Integrated Application Form.
6. Appointment confirmation page
The Immigration Office asks that you bring a print of your appointment confirmation page as a receipt for your visit. While many applicants, including myself, have discovered this to be an optional document, it is helpful to have a hard copy of your appointment details and ticket number.
Note: Unlike your initial F-4 application process, you will NOT need to supply the following materials for renewal:
Family Registry (기본증명서; literally, "basic certificate")
Certificate of Korean proficiency. This requirement does not apply to active F-4 Visa holders living in Korea who are simply renewing their visa.
Criminal Background Check. The CBC is not required for first-time F-4 renewals. However, if you leave Korea for a duration of 6 months or more before your second renewal, you will need to furnish the criminal check at that time. As I was advised by my Immigration Officer, F-4 holders may leave Korea up to periods not exceeding 6 months without having to provide the CBC. This means you’re free to take that 5-month adventure excursion to the Australian Outback or climb the Andes Mountains in South America. Just take some sunblock with you.
Confidently armed with your documents and 60,000 KRW revenue stamp, you are now ready for your 10-minute slotted appointment with the Immigration officer. Try to show up to the waiting room at least 15 minutes prior to your appointment time. While the process is run in a highly efficient and timely manner, I have seen a number of applicants being called within 1 to 3 minutes before and past their appointed times.
Once you are called, be brief and respectful to the Immigration Officer. This hard-working government employee processes these types of requests all day, so you can facilitate their work by:
Explaining the purpose of your visit: “I would like to renew my F-4 Visa, please.”
Supplying all the required documents in a clean and orderly stack: “I will give you all of the required documents. My 60,000 KRW revenue stamp is already on my application form.”
The officer will appreciate your professionalism and organization, and if you can help streamline the process, your face-to-face appointment will be completed well within your 10-minute slot. As a reference, this step took me exactly 5 minutes. My appointment time was scheduled for 1:30 pm. I was called in at 1:33 pm and exited the officer’s window at 1:38 pm.
The officer will return your passport and give you a new ticket number as your ARC is being prepared with your new expiration date. The clerks advise that applicants should be prepared to wait between 45 to 60 minutes to receive their card. This time will vary, of course, based on the office’s current work volume, etc., but I collected my ARC with the newly stamped extension date in about 25 minutes. Overall, my experience was relatively stress-free, easy, and I was out the door by 2 pm.
Congratulations! You’ve due diligence and perseverance have served you well again, and your F-4 Visa has been successfully renewed.
As referenced in the previous How to Apply for the F-4 Overseas Korean Visa article, if you are an Overseas Korean who has nationality of another country but have parents or grandparents who had Korean nationality in the past, your renewed period of sojourn is good for 2 years. If you have had Korean nationality in the past, but have acquired the nationality of another country, your period of sojourn has been extended for 3 years.
Here’s to another 2 to 3 brilliant years of making and achieving new goals, relationships, and memories (again, for better or worse)!