Thrilling Visa Processing for South Korea

Annyeong haseyo! 🤗

That famous greeting most of us have heard nowadays even from not Koreans. K Dramas and K Pop are getting popular here in the country. As they have said.. Kinain na ng K Drama. From teenagers to young adults and even to the oldies, they know about Lee Min Ho and Gong Yoo. Thanks to ABS-CBN and GMA for showing Korean Dramas.

I was able to watch few Korean Dramas like Endless Love, Full House, Boys over Flowers, etc. But my sister is really the fanatic. She watched a lot of K Dramas, listen to Korean songs and even self studied Korean language.😋

And so when Cebu Pacific Air has a promo fare to Incheon, Korea, we then grabbed the chance. Our fare was just Php 5000 plus and that is already roundtrip and direct to/fro Cebu. Great deal, right? 😉

Months before the trip, we were already getting the requirements for the Korean Visa. Read blog posts about Korea and the processing of the visa. We also started making itineraries for the trip. That is how excited we were.☺️

We agreed to process our visa after we get our 13th month pay so that we can add it up for our show money. I did not know getting a visa is nerve-breaking. hahaha

Below are the requirements that we found online. This is for those going to South Korea as a tourist like us and are employed.

  1. A completed handwritten visa application form. Just put N/A for those fields that do not apply. Do not leave anything blank except for those portions where you chose NO. You may download the form here.
  2. One (1) piece 35 mm x 45 mm colored passport photo against a plain white background. Paste it on application form.
  3. Philippine passport. Must have at least 6 months remaining validity.
  4. Photocopy of passport bio page (page 2).
  5. If available, original and photocopy of valid visa(s) and arrival stamps to OECD member countries within the last 5 years. Valid visas to OECD member countries will greatly increase your chances of getting approved so be sure to submit these if you have them. CLICK HERE for a list of OECD member countries.
  6. Original certificate of employment to be printed on your company’s official letterhead. It must contain your position at the company, date hired, salary, office address, HR landline number (cellphone number is not allowed), and HR e-mail address.
  7. Original personal bank certificate. It must include account type, current balance, account opening date, and 6 months average balance (ADB).
  8. Original or certified true copy of bank statements / passbook for the last three (3) months.
  9. Photocopy of income tax return (ITR Form 2316). Frequent travelers who have traveled as tourists to OECD member countries within the last 5 years are exempt from submitting an ITR.
  10. Copy of PRC or IBP card (if applicable).

You can check the blogs online for the requirements for other type of traveler like businessman.

We were able to provide 9 out of 10 (except #10 because we do not have a PRC or IBP card).

Since we are from Cebu City, we processed our visa at the South Korean Consulate General in 12th Floor Chinabank Corporate Center Lot 2, Samar Loop Cor. Road 5 Cebu Bussines Park, Mabolo, Cebu City. Just near Lexmark and Keppel Bldgs. The processing of visa is from 8:30AM to 10:30AM while the releasing is at 2PM to 4PM. They are very strict with the schedule so better be early.

The visa for tourist going to South Korea for less than 59 days is free.

Our travel date is on June 9-14, 2017. We were able to complete the requirements May 26, 2017 because my Certificate of Employment was delivered on that day. So, the three of us agreed that I will process the visa on Monday, May 28, 2017. This is just so right because the releasing will be 5 days as per on the blogs. Yes, anyone of you can process the visa for all even if you are just friends. No authorization needed.

So, when I went there on May 28, there were few people processing the visa. When it was my turn, the in-charge (Korean lady) scanned all our requirements. Then she returned all the requirements with an attachment to our ITR. She said that we lacked ITR or FORM 2316 BIR Authentication (any of the following):

  1. “BIR Received” or “BIR Certified True Copy” Stamp (RMC No. 24-2015)
  2. Copy of Alphalist with BIR Stamp
  3. Copy of Notarized Sworn Declaration, Transmittal Form with BIR Stamp submitted by company to BIR in compliance with RR No. 2-2015

In addition, the processing of visa starting April 2017 will take 7 business days. So we really need to process it on or before May 29, 2017. But we still have to secure the additional requirements.

As I informed my sister (Ate Jane) and her friend (Ate Tzhe), we were all confused on how to get it. And so I told them that they ask their HR and I will go to BIR Office to ask how to secure this.

As I was in the BIR Office, the in-charge told me that processing of the BIR Stamp takes 7 business days because they need to route an approval. Plus, me and Ate Tzhe need to secure it from Manila since our ITR is coming from our Manila office.

Later that day, Ate Tzhe was able to secure the Copy of Notarized Sworn Declaration, Transmittal Form with BIR stamp. Then Ate Jane was able to get a copy of the Alphalist with BIR stamp. I told them that they just process their requirements first because our HR is absent, unfortunately. So Ate Tzhe said that she will process the next day.

That next day (May 29), she was waiting for my requirement to be available so that she can process. However, the HR still did not send it. So, she just processed her requirements. Me and Ate Jane should be processed together because we declared that we are traveling as a family. So Ate Tzhe did process her requirements and was given a claim form with date of June 8. Then she requested if she can follow our requirements and the in-charge give her 30-minute extension.

Unfortunately, our HR was able to send the requirements at almost 11AM and Ate Tzhe still needs to print it and ran to the consulate office. When she was able to print and ran to the consulate office, the door has been closed because it was already 11:10AM.

And so, the three of us that Ate Jane will process our requirements the next day (May 30). It was so thrilling and nerve-breaking. We were really played by the universe. hahaha..

The next day, Ate Jane was able to process the requirements and was given a claim slip with date of June 9. It would be totally difficult if the passport will be released on that day because the releasing is at 2-4PM while our flight is at 3PM. We really need to do some ninja moves if this will be released on the same day. Fortunately, the in-charge let my sister signed a request for early release and instructed us to call in the morning of June 8.

Wow! I do not know if what is more nerve-breaking. Processing the visa, waiting for the release of the passport or both.😖

We cannot do anything but pray that God will grant us an approved visa.🙏🏼

June 6, Tuesday, I called the consulate office to check the status or if there are requirements that we need to submit. But as per the one who answered, no status as of the moment.

June 8, Thursday, is the moment of truth! I called at 8:30AM asking about our passport if it can be released but the lady told me to call at 11:30AM. However, I have a meeting from 11AM to 12NN which I cannot skip. So, I told Ate Jane but they cannot outside call. Ate Tzhe does not have an own phone in the office. And so I asked a favor from my colleague, Clavel.😱

At 11:30AM, she called and the staff told her that we can claim it at 2PM. Wow! It feels good but still I was totally nervous. The release of the passport does not guarantee if we can travel.

2PM here we come! I went to the consulate office and me & Ate Tzhe will meet there. When I arrived, the office is closed yet and Ate Tzhe is still far. So when the office opened, I claimed ahead of her. My priority number is 2 so when the first person was done, I immediately approached the counter when the in-charge called my number. I handed her the claim slip and she checked it and gave me a paper and have it signed. Then she handed mine and Ate Jane’s passports. Then I asked her if it was approved and she said yes. Wow! Thanks God! Super thank you! I cannot even believe it did happen! But God really has his own way. He let us experienced all those thrilling moments because we need to work for the things we want.😃😍😂

That’s it! Our journey in processing the visa. 😁

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • How much show money needed?
    • Before we processed the visa, we have been searching on how much money we need for the show money. Well, the answer is that there is no definite or fix amount. You just have to save enough money on your bank account that can be used for the trip. And do not deposit in bulk as they will wonder. Also, do not deposit a large amount that they might get confused on how you get it. For example, if you are a regular employee like me. They will wonder if I have 1Million Pesos on my account. So just make sure that it is sufficient enough to support your trip and that you can really earn it.
  • Is there another way to enter South Korea if the visa is rejected?
    • We were thinking of Plan B if in any case our visa get rejected. We were thinking that maybe we can go to Jeju Island instead since they did not require visa. Upon checking, tourists entering Jeju Island through Incheon Airport still needs to secure the visa. Otherwise, we need to get a plane ticket directly going to Jeju Island. Unfortunately, most of the trips are going through Incheon Airport. So this idea is not valid as of the moment. But there was a news that tourists going to Jeju Island can stay and visit Seoul without visa. That if they will get a tour package by an authorized tour agency. However, this is still not being implemented yet.
  • What additional requirements to be provided aside from the above mentioned?
    • We prepared a copy of our plane tickets, hotel reservation and itinerary if ever they will require it. But they don’t so do not submit it. Too much documents might be a caused for rejection too. In any case there is an additional requirement needed, the consulate will call you.
  • What is the best time to process the visa?
    • The visa is valid for 3 months. Just make sure that your travel date is within that range. But, just to avoid the same panic attacks that we got, better to process it at least a month before the travel date.
  • Are there tour agency that will process the visa for you?
    • Yes, there are a lot. Of course, for a fee. But for me, if you are just in Cebu, better do it yourself. Because the experience that you will get is unforgettable. Unless you are really have a hectic schedule. But the processing and especially the releasing will not take you an hour or even 30 minutes. You just have to be there earlier so that you will be entertained first.

 

HERE’S MY TIP

Never get so confident that things will be okay. Never take it for granted. Take it seriously. Because we do not know what will happen during the processing period.

The important tip is to go to the consulate office and ask for the requirements. Because what was posted online might not be updated. From time to time, they can add any requirements they need. So better double check. If getting there is difficult, then you may call the office.

 

So, what you are waiting for? Check for promo fare, prepare for the requirements and process the visa! And maybe you will wake up one day in South Korea surrounded by the friendly Koreans.😋😍😊

 

Next post is Day 0: Journey to South Korea! 🙂

 

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