Updated April 1, 2022: Effective April 1, 2022, South Korea will no longer require certain long-term visa holders to obtain a reentry permit prior to traveling overseas. Specifically, long-term visa holders who either hold residence cards or are waiting for residence cards to be issued and whose travel period outside South Korea does not exceed one year will no longer need to apply for a reentry permit prior to international travel. The government’s announcement is a significant relaxation of reentry requirements for foreign nationals, which were increased in mid-2020 in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Reviving the Reentry Permit Exemption
Traditionally, long-term visa holders who carry a residence card have been exempt from the requirement to obtain a reentry permit before traveling overseas. However, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government revoked that exemption on June 1, 2020.
Thus, under the current system, long-term visa holders must apply for a reentry permit at a local immigration office or via the HiKorea website prior to departing South Korea for international travel if they wish to maintain their visa status and authorized period of stay. This includes foreign nationals who hold D-7 intracompany transferee visas as well as those holding F-3 dependent family visas. Long-term visa holders who fail to obtain a reentry permit prior to departure may have their residence cards canceled, requiring the foreign national to obtain a new long-term visa before reentering South Korea.
According to the government’s announcement, long-term visa holders who have a residence card or are waiting on a residence card to be issued may travel internationally and return to South Korea without first obtaining a reentry permit, provided their trip is for a duration of less than one year. For certain foreign nationals, such as those holding F-5 permanent residency visas, the authorized duration of stay outside South Korea is extended to two years.
Under both policies, A-1, A-3 SOFA and F-4 visa holders are exempted from applying for a re-entry permit prior to departure.
In practice, the removal of the reentry permit requirement means that long-term visas, such as D-7 intracompany transfer visas, will be automatically converted into multiple reentry visas.
Traveling Before or After April 1
The new measures are effective as of April 1, 2022. As a result, most of the long-term visa holders who depart South Korea for international travel prior to April 1 must still obtain a reentry permit prior to departure and must return to South Korea prior to the expiry date stated on the reentry permit. In addition, long-term visa holders who have already obtained a reentry permit for international travel on or after April 1 will still be bound by the expiry date stated on the reentry permit.
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