Applying for a Korean F-5 (Permanent Resident) Visa While on an F-6 (Spouse Visa)

I had previously looked into getting an F-5 visa through the points system, but though I had enough points, I was on a student visa at the time, and there is no way to transition from that to an F-5. However, I've been on an F-6 (Spouse Visa) for a few years now and recently applied for an F-5.

I found the information available online and at Immigration to be adequate, but minimal and a little confusing. I hope my explanation of the requirements is somewhat more complete and helpful (at least for American citizens going to the F-5 from an F-6).

To be eligible for the F-5, I had to be in Korea for two years on the F-6 first (it didn't matter that I've been in and out of Korea for much longer than that before) and any time I spent out of the country (such as back in the States selling our house in 2012) did not count toward the two years.

Here's what I was responsible to have in-hand when applying at Immigration.

1. Police report from my home country (해외범죄경력 증명)

In my case, this took the form of a Criminal History Summary Check through the FBI (unfortunately the US Embassy in Korea provides no help at all in this matter). I found various information online about applying for this through a "channeler" or through a local office in my state, and even the online information about going through the FBI was confusing and made me concerned that the FBI wouldn't fulfill my request or that the document issued by them would not be usable for the visa application. But I took a gamble and went ahead and applied based on the information at the following link: 

To do so, I downloaded the standard fingerprint form (FD-258) at and took it down to my local police station. A detective on duty was happy to take my fingerprints.

I then mailed that with my application and credit card payment details (see link above for instructions) to the address shown and waited about a month to get it back.

Unfortunately, Immigration wouldn't accept this; it needed to be certified with an apostille (another service that the US Embassy doesn't provide). To get this, I had to send the certificate to the US Department of State in Washington, DC to request authentication. For details on that, I followed the instructions at this link:

The instructions include a requirement to provide a self-addressed prepaid envelope, but being in Korea, I didn't have access to US postage for the return. So, I prepared everything without the postage and sent it to my father in the US, asked him to get the postage (for both the outside envelope and return envelope) and forward on the documents to the US Department of State. Another month later, I received my authenticated criminal background check back, ready to submit.

The problem with this process is not just that there are so many points along the way where something can go wrong, but Korean Immigration will only recognize documents under three months old. That means, once you get your criminal background check in the mail, don't wait to send it in for authentication. And after getting the authentication, don't wait to take it down to Immigration and apply. I slid in just a week under the three-month deadline since I had not moved as quickly I should have to apply for the apostille.

I was told the first time I asked that I didn't need to get the criminal background check translated. However, when I showed up with the final application, a different person was at the desk. She told me it had to be translated into Korean. She also said I could do it myself and that I didn't need to hire someone else (which was nice!). She was even prepared to accept a hand-written translation, though I took it to the office and typed it up nicely there. Finally, upon submitting the translation, she gave me a certificate to sign saying that I'd translated it accurately.

2. Original AND photocopies of US passport and US driver's license

I might have only needed one of these documents, but I took both just to be safe.

3. W200,000 in revenue stamps

Apparently the cost used to be W70,000 but went up just this year. The revenue stamps (수입인지) can be purchased directly at the Immigration Office.

4. A filled out Permanent Resident Eligibility Application Review Report (영주자격신청심사보고서)

It looks like the following and can be picked up at the Immigration Office.


5. A filled out application form (통합신청서)

This is the main application filled out for all types of visa applications and is available at the Immigration Office, too.

6. One color photograph

This must have been taken within the previous three months (though who's really checking?). The instructions say it's supposed to be 반명함 (half business-card) size, but Immigration rejected the photo I took, saying it was too small. When I took it back to the photographer, he insisted he'd given me the right one the first time. I still got my photo printed again, though, this time bigger (3.5cm x 4.5cm), and it turned out that this is what Immigration wanted.

7. Official copies of whatever family documents my local government office (동사무소) could provide for my wife, my kids and me, including 주민등록표, 기본증명서, 가족관계증명서, 혼인관계증명서.

I don't think I needed all that; but why risk leaving something out?

8. Proof of assets

They wanted to see proof that my wife and I have at least W30 million in assets in Korea. For this, I went down to city hall and got registered copies of the titles to our apartment and my office (등기 부등본). I also threw in my business registration (사업자등록증) for good measure, but that got returned to me, so I guess they didn't need it.

9. Wife and her ID

They would not accept the application without my wife being there too and presenting her ID.


Having submitted all of this at one time, I was issued a document evidencing that my application had been received (체류허가 신청확인서) and the officer told me that they'd contact me within ten months. She said that I would not be contacted before then, so I guess I just wait, though she did say it might be a little less than ten months. When I was in the office asking about things a month ago, the officer at the desk at that time told me it was an eight-month wait, so there's apparently some flexibility on this.

I can't say that the above documents and processes will be the same everywhere (things vary mysteriously) or that the requirements won't change between now and tomorrow. Also, the process for getting the criminal background check will be different for each country, and I got the impression there was a way I could have also gotten an acceptable document through the state rather than the FBI.  But at least, the above describes how I did it and it worked, so hopefully this explanation will be helpful to others facing the same challenge.


UPDATE: January 26, 2015

Immigration contacted me early last month to have me bring in current versions of documents proving that my wife and I are still married and that we still own our apartment. About a month after doing that, I got a call on January 6th, telling me I could pick up my new alien registration card on the 20th, which I did. It looks like this:


This means that after about three months of getting my documents in order and submitting them, it then took almost another year to be issued the F-5 visa.

87 Responses

  1. Karim says:

    Did you finally get your F5 visa or is it still under process ?

  2. No news yet from Immigration. They said I’d hear from them at the end of the year.

  3. Daniel says:


  4. rwbuie says:

    What is teh 30m in assets? I hadn’t hear of this before. Can I just put 30m in a bank and show them the deposit? And, it has to be in Korea?

  5. Mark says:

    Will you have to do any language test?

  6. Yes, they want to see assests in Korea. I don’t know all the requirements but owning our apartment in Korea was more than enough for me.

  7. says:

    I was just wondering if your F6 card number will be the same in your F5 card?
    Pls answer. Your answer will be greatly appreciated.

  8. I don’t know. Sorry.

  9. Jack Damen says:

    Steve, I am in the same process at the moment, except I try to transfer from a D8 to a F5 visa. As a Netherlands citizen, I had to provide a “Certificate of Good Behavior”, and indeed I had to go back to a court of justice in the Netherlands to get an apostllle attached to it.
    Now, there seem to be one major difference, which is that I have to prove that I have a regular income from the Netherlands of over 50 million KRW per year. I am contesting that, because I cannot find this amount in the official regulations about visa applications, at lead the ones in English. Unfortunately I do not speak or understand sufficiently Korean, so I cannot check the latter in Korean language regulations.
    Meanwhile I am waiting for a final decision and I plan to file a civil petition on the subject via Hi Korea site.

  10. Thanks for the information. I had not heard of the requirement for ongoing foreign income. Perhaps that can substitute for the W30 million in assets requirement.

  11. Karim says:

    No news from the immigration yet ?
    I applied for mine (from spouse F2 to F5) mid of may and the visa was approved begining of july.
    BUT, they didn’t do the new alien card yet so they didn’t inform me… If you had no news until now, i recommend you to call them (1345) and ask the status of your application.
    Maybe they approved the visa but they didn’t inform you since they didn’t make the new alien card yet (it seems to take a while).
    in my case i could go out of korea once the F5 was approve even if i didn’t receive the new alien card.
    I just had to go to 구청 and ask for 외국인등록사실증명 wher my new visa status was indeed written.
    And to answer the question above, i kept the same alien number.

  12. Karim says:

    I know that the process from going to D8 to F5 is pretty unclear and difficult, but i never heard of the foreign income need.
    You can try to to go from D8 to F2 and then after a few years from F2 to F5.

  13. Aleks Ten says:

    To Mr. Steven Bammel,
    I wonder if you have received your PR status? I also applied for PR in September and was told to wait for 10months…BTW I got Police Certificate, Certificates of Birth translated from Russian into English and they accepted them))).

  14. No news yet. They told me to wait until January. My visa expires before then, but they said it doesn’t matter and I don’t have to renew since I’ve submitted the application for the F-5.

  15. geliean says:

    Any news from your F5 visa

  16. Yes, they contacted me about a month ago to tell me to bring in current versions of our family and property records, which I did. Then I got a call a couple days ago saying I could pick up my F-5 on the 20th.

  17. Manet says:

    did you get interview before getting F5?

  18. I spoke with the officer on more than one occasion during the process, especially while going over the paperwork, but there was no specific interview scheduled where they asked me deliberately difficult questions or anything.

  19. Wrrkm says:

    Mine is still on progress. I’ve applied it since last June.
    But they contacted me 3weeks ago and asked for some paper more (등기등본 update one, 원천징수 영수증 etc.)
    And yesterday I got an interview call. They asked few quations about me living here and else.
    Still waiting for the result. Hoping I will recieve good news soon.

  20. Ankit says:

    Thanks a lot for all this information. I would like to know more about F-5 visa.
    1) What if in future I decide to go back to my country and stay there for a long time like 5 years. Will my F-5 visa expire if I do so ?? What is the requirement to keep the F-5 visa alive??
    2) Also once I leave Korea to go back to my country … do I have to pay taxes in Korea on the income I earn in my country ??
    3) Is there a condition like I have to stay in Korea for at least five years continuously before I can get F-5 visa ?? or I can marry a Korean and after two years of marriage and staying in Korea I can apply for F-5 ??
    4) Once I get a F-2-7 visa (points based) .. after how many years can I apply for F-5 ??
    Thanks a lot,

  21. To answer your questions based on my understanding (i.e. I could be wrong)
    1. You must set foot in Korea at least one time per year to keep your F-5 visa eligibility.
    2. You must pay taxes in Korea regardless of visa status only if you are classified as a “Korean tax resident”. You should talk to a Korean accountant to clarify those terms.
    3. There are various tracks to the F-5 visa. You’ll have to check the details with the Korean Immigration Service.
    4. I don’t know. Check with Korean Immigration.

  22. Ankit says:

    yes ok .. thanks a lot for all the help and guidance 🙂
    I am actually planning to go to Korea to study a masters program and I think there is a new points based system that can help people get F5 visa.
    If I have any more questions or doubts, I will ask you 🙂
    Thanks a lot,

  23. rina says:

    Hi Steven when i apply f5 visa are there writing text ? and what kind of question they ask when they interview thanks
    I’m rina

  24. I didn’t have to take a writing test, nor was there a formal interview. I don’t know how they handle it for other people, but perhaps my level 6 certificate for the TOPIK test, the fact that I was coming off a spouse visa and that I spoke with the officers in Korean at every point in the process made it easier for me than for others. Thus, I really can’t tell you anything about a writing test or interview. Sorry.

  25. Amol says:

    Ankit, it seems you are asking things way too early. Wondering if you have even set food in Korea yet

  26. Amol says:

    Foreigners who are graduated from Korean universities and working full time here can directly apply for F5 VISA (Permanent Resident). In this case, one don’t need to be on F2 visa (point system). For details

  27. Amol says:

    I shared my personal experience in that blog post. Hope its useful info for all

  28. Thank you for the information. The visa situation is always changing (and can even vary from office to office) so each applicant should investigate fully on their own before starting the process.

  29. mark says:

    Hi! I was wondering if the 3 month deadline is from the date on the criminal record paper or the appostilled paper? Thanks !

  30. It’s three months from the date of issuance of the police report.

  31. pawan says:

    Hey friends can anyone know how much time immigration take to issue to f5 visa…i mean processing time for f5

  32. Did you read the article and various comments here before posting your question?

  33. Nguyen says:

    hi Steven,
    I am curious about F-5 Visa status,
    I hear that F-5 visa can be treated like Korean citizenship at airport.
    Its mean you can queues at the line for Korean, it so much shorter and faster at Incheon aiport.
    Have you ever tried it when you travel alone at Incheon airport?

  34. I’m not sure. They told me I don’t have to fill out that entry card anymore, but I didn’t try using the line for Korean citizens. I bet I could, but I think I’d feel funny standing there knowing that everybody’s looking at me thinking I’m confused and in the wrong line.

  35. Subash says:

    Did they ask you in korean or english?

  36. Korean. They definitely have a preference for people who have learned Korean. I’m pretty sure it’s their policy to refuse to speak English during the process. So at least take a Korean-speaker with you when you go.

  37. Cambollero says:

    What is the benefit of having F5 beside period and conditions of existing in korea?
    Is there any change on the amount of Tax, health insurance, pension, or any other issue worth mentioning ?

  38. No advantages on taxes, health insurance, pension, etc. But with an F5 visa, one doesn’t have to renew each year, and can work wherever one wants without being sponsored. An F5 visa holder also one step before getting citizenship and (as I understand it, but haven’t tried) can vote in local elections. Depending on your situation, those could be big advantages.

  39. John says:

    Busan immigration told me I needed to do the Topik II test…

  40. You’re going from an F-6 to an F-5 and they are demanding the TOPIK?

  41. d says:

    The law was recently changed and they now require a TOPIK score. I believe you need at least a 2.

  42. Oh! That’s interesting and good to know. Thanks for the update.

  43. Jane says:

    Hi. Just sharing. I just got my F5 visa three months ago and yes I had an interview. They came in our house and checked every rooms to proof that we my husband and I were living together and Got few questions but since I don’t know how to speak korean well I called my husband on the phone and passed to the immigration assistant then after one month I got my PR finally. Hope it can help.

  44. That’s good to know. Thanks for sharing.

  45. Bob\s Yer Aunty says:

    hey Steven. not even E-2 visa holders need to fill in the entry card. The entry card is only for tourists. that’s it.

  46. Moby says:

    Guys,Believe or not In 2009,I got my F5 visa just in one month without any Topik,30m assest value or any interview. But time is changing now and they are very strict now to issue a PR. Almost 80% applicants are refused for F5 visa now a days. Best of luck to all future applicants.

  47. Times have changed!

  48. pawan says:

    Yes bro i admit in may and i admit my police report and topik 2 certificate also….really wait for call….didnt know about processing tym…just wait…thanks for upload comment its helpful

  49. pawan says:

    How much total time they take for ur f5 visa issue…

  50. hhiroshan says:

    hi steven bammel a forien i have e9 visa.but i want to change it for f5.i have a company boss.he is friendly with me.tell me steven sir………that company boss can do it?if can how do it?please help me…….

  51. nsba says:

    Wrrkm, can you share more about the interview? And some examples?

  52. Jerica says:

    I asked immigration January 29, 2016 and they said F4 and F5 can go through the Korean citizen line. 🙂

  53. says:

    Is the procedure same for changing from F-2-7 to F-5

  54. marshen diyanti says:

    hii hhiroshan may i know how you got yout e9 visa? i need some information about that.. thankyou before

  55. says:

    Does it have to be EXACTLY 2 years? I first got my F6 on 3/24 and I made an appointment to apply for this upcoming 3/16. Does it matter that it’s 2 years minus 10 days?

  56. pawan says:

    No u need exactly 2 years.for apply minus days..also need topik 2 test certificate. ..

  57. Erick says:

    I have lived in Korea for 7 years now and have had an F6 visa for 5 years. I live in Daejeon, and in this city, you have to pass a written test in Korean before you are issued a PR visa. 20 questions that deal with all sorts of matter and you have to get a 70% to pass, 14 out of 20.

  58. Thomas says:

    I was in Korea on F6 (through marriage) for 3 years. Then we went to Canada for 1.5 years, and my F6 expired. We have now returned to Korea, and I got my F6 again (had to reapply). We have only been here 2 months. We also have a 4 year old child (Korean citizen). Can I apply for F5 now (I would like to as I have my valid home country police report)? Or must I wait two years?
    Thank you for your blog.

  59. Enrico says:

    E-9 can apply E-7 after F-2 after F-5 step by step bro…

  60. Khulan says:

    Hello all, i have very important question about how been in Korea on E9 visa 11 years. So what kind of visa can i apply now? i love to resident seems not as simple as i though so please help me to find out what kind of visa can i apply? what is process for step by step visa? please help me, thank you so much

  61. says:

    I have a question, while you were waiting for your F5 permanent visa, they give you a temporary visa to stay in Korea? I would like to know.

  62. pawan says:

    no u hav same card that u get in beging the f6 card….I get f5 last month,,,it take almost a before u admit for f5 plz renew ur f6 visa first…

  63. John says:

    Hi Steven Bammel thank you for such an informative article.
    I have been in Korea from 2011~mid of 2015 during my MS-PhD degree.
    After that I returned to my country and came back in 2016 February.
    Now here i am working as Assistant Professor in Computer Science and Engineering Department(E-1 visa).
    What is your view, can I apply for F-5 mean can I manage to get the required score with above mentioned credentials?

  64. Armin Niehaus says:

    Anybody with experience changing from E7 to F5?

  65. Amol Muley says:

    You can give it try for F-2 point based Resident VISA, points for your MS-PhD degree from Korea will be an advantage. I think for F5, you need to be working here at for least 3 yrs to 5 yrs.

  66. Amol Muley says:

    There are two paths for changing E7 to F5,
    1) E7 visa holder working in Korea continuously for 5 yrs, another
    2) E7 VISA holder (min. 3 yrs continuously working in Korea) who also has degree from universities in Korea..
    which category you fall into?

  67. Gunner says:

    Does your F5 Visa be issued? How long does the process take?

  68. Thanks. Unfortunately into the first category. I went there last year and was told that I would need 3 years under the point system. After the 3 years period had elapsed I returned to the immigration office with the same package of documents but was told I’ll need 5 years.

  69. PMB says:

    Anybody here having experience of changing his/her Korean visa from E-3 (Research) directly to F-5 (Permanent Residence) without first changing to F-2 (Residence) acquired through the point-based system (and holding the same for minimum 3 years)?
    I am PhD from IIT Delhi (India) and I have been working continuously with a biotechnology-based diagnostics company in Korea since October 2012.
    I have completed 4 years and currently in the fifth year of my contract.
    I could understand (from information available on that if a PhD holder has been employed by a Korean company (in a permanent/regular employment contract), he/she can apply for F-5 visa after working for minimum one year with the same company (satisfying other eligibility conditions of income, continuous stay and documentation).
    As my employment contract is rolling/yearly-renewable, can I still be eligible to apply for F-5 before or after completing 5 years on E-3 (Research visa)?
    The company may renew my employment contract for the sixth year also but a person can work on E-3 visa for a maximum of 5 years.
    Hence, I want to know the options (other than F-2 visa) for next year.
    Thank you in advance for your information.

  70. Muhammad Zai Khalid Baloch says:

    well, I have been here in South Korea since May 13,2009.till now the first time i had applied for Political Asylum and after five years later i got recognized from Supreme court June 2014.Now i want to change my status. Could you assist me in this matter ..?
    Since May 13,2009 I am still legal here and I have gotten F-2-4 visa since June17,2014 This visa means Recognized Refugee or Resident Visa.
    Looking forward for positive response by you .
    Best Regards

  71. Rao says:

    I fall under second category, I did master in computer engineering from Korea and now working as a software engineer for more than 3 years. Total 5 and half years in korea. Can i apply for F-5?

  72. Paul says:

    Entry card has always been for tourists, not for registered foreigners. I’ve been living in this country for 6 years and never filled up any entry card.

  73. Dipak Kumar says:

    I have changed my visa directly from E-7 (Specially designated) to F-5 last year. I am an Electronics engineer, working in a Korean company for 4 years. I am not sure about you, because you mentioned that your job is contractual. In my case, along woth other documents, I submitted employement certificate and the immigration office particularly checked whether I am on contractual or permnanent position. Except this, I think everything is fine with you.

  74. KUNAL N. MORE says:

    Hi pawan ….I have F-2 visa …can I change it to F-5 ,……what is the procedure and documents needed.

  75. RB says:

    Hello. I have a question please.
    About 2 1/2 years ago, my family and I moved to Korea. My wife is a Korean-American and so I was told to apply for a F4 visa for them, which I did and I applied for an E1 (professor visa). I graduated from a US University.
    Now, I need to renew and was told by some colleagues that I should apply to change from an E1 to F5 visa and that I can still work.
    Is this true?
    Also, is the procedure the same?
    Can my wife and kids also apply for an F5 visa or do they have to wait five years?
    Finally, do I need to get a dependent visa instead or first?

  76. Marilyn says:

    Is it okay to travel to other country while waiting for my citizenship result? That I apply June 2017?

  77. BMB says:

    If anyone hold a PhD degree from Korea, plus 1 year job in Korea (e.g., E3 status) with income more than 32 million. If he or she is currently doing a job, can directly apply for F5 visa.
    In other case, if the degree is from outside of Korea, the last year income should be double than average GNI of Korea (i.e, 64 million).
    No requirement for language, or 5 years job.
    That’s what I was informed from the immigration office.

  78. BMB says:

    If your last year income was more than 32 million, and currently in a contract., you can directly apply for F5 visa.

  79. Hung Lee says:

    With your profile, you should be able apply dirrectly from E3 to F5 visa.

  80. travis w williamson says:

    Once you have your F5 you can do pretty much anything a Korean citizen can do, including vote in national elections. Though you still have to stand in the foreigner line at immigration…. ;(

  81. me says:

    well, if you don’t want to wait in the foreign line at immigration, you can use the automatic immigration gates that Korean people use. You are entitled as the hlder of the permanent residency. But remember to apply for this service beforehand at the incheon airport.

  82. adam says:

    im holder of F2 visa and im leaving in korea during 3 years how can i change to f5 visa and whats the proces

  83. Masoud says:

    Hello there
    I am really happy that I read your blog and the details You offered. I was wondering if I need to give them a recent valid TOPIK 2 or it is not needed for married to Korean ones?! I m married to a Korean lady and have a daughter with more than 4 years of holding F6 visa. Please let me know if it is all they asked you ?!

  84. reiny says:

    marriage migrant (f-6) visa can do register any business or not??

  85. Rathnasingh says:

    I have received my F5 visa recently. The visa has a validity of 10 years. what does that mean? Do we have to apply again if we have to stay longer than that period or is it just a renewal of the visa once it expires?