Need your visa ASAP? Check below if you qualify for the South Korea Express Visa. Also consider booking this AREX ticket to get to Seoul in a jiffy.
- The Korean Embassy offers the Express Visa option, which shortens the regular application time to 5 working days.
- A person who is eligible to apply for the South Korea Express Visa has an invitation from a Korean entity, an urgent requirement for medical treatment, or a family member living in Korea, among others.
- In the past, all Filipino tourists were also able to avail the service. However, given the increasing number of applicants, the option was limited to certain individuals.
- If you meet the criteria, you can fill out a separate application form and pay the South Korea Express Visa fee of ₱1,000.
- In any case, if you are planning to travel to Korea already, you can get a sign-up discount from WAUG if you are not a member yet! You can use this when you book your tours and activities in Seoul, Tokyo, Bali, Cebu, and more. Check out the No. 1 travel activity booking platform from South Korea here.
UPDATE: June 13, 2020
Who can I apply for a Korean visa? To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines currently only accepts applications for long-term visas. Tourist visa processing (C-3) is still on hold pending the easing of travel restrictions in the Philippines.
What are the enhanced visa criteria? Those who are eligible to apply for a Korean visa must comply to these requirements and mandatory quarantine. Moreover, successful applicants will no longer be issued a visa sticker in their passport beginning July 1. Upon arrival in South Korea, they must present a printed copy of their visa grant notice instead.
What if I have a valid Korean visa? Single-entry Korean visas that were issued on or before April 5, 2020 are no longer valid. You will need to apply for a new one. However, if you have a valid short-term multiple-entry Korean visa (5 years), you do not have to reapply. Conditions permitting, it can still be used in the future. For reference, you can read the Embassy’s detailed explanation here.
South Korea Express Visa
In November 2018, the Embassy of Korea in the Philippines introduced the South Korea Express Visa, which aims to reduce the processing time of applications from a maximum of 5 working days to 2 days. Anyone who wishes to apply need only submit an Express Visa form and pay the appropriate fee.
However, given the reported increase in Korean visa applications thereafter, the Embassy made some adjustments to this service and only offered it to certain individuals starting September 2019. As of writing time, here’s a list of those who can apply for the South Korea Express Visa (not limited to those whose purpose of travel is tourism or leisure):
1. Those invited by the Korean government and public agency
If the Korean visa applicant was invited by a government office in South Korea, they are eligible to apply for expedited processing.
2. Those invited by a Korean company, school, and organization
If the applicant has a written invitation from an organization in South Korea, whether a business entity or a university, they can have their visa application expedited. Usually, these are Filipinos who intend to participate in short-term events, like a business meeting, conference, media or fam tour, contests, and the like.
3. Family members of Koreans
Those with family ties with a Korean national qualify to apply for the South Korea Express Visa. This includes, but are not limited to, parents, spouse, and children of a Korean.
4. Direct family members of a foreigner who stays in Korea
If the Korean visa applicant has a family member who resides in South Korea (most probably as a foreign student or employee), they can apply for the Korean visa express processing as long as the foreigner has an Alien Registration Card or ARC.
5. Those who need urgent medical treatment
If the applicant requires urgent medical attention arising from accidents or humanitarian occurrences, they may submit an Express Visa application form along with the standard set of requirements.
6. Those who hold an official request from the Philippine government
A person who was requested by the Philippine government to apply for the South Korea Express Visa is eligible to do so.
7. Other applicants who have urgent reasons that foster diplomacy
If the applicant has another recognized or urgent reason that does not affect the diplomatic relationship between the Philippines and Korea, they may also proceed by submitting the Express Visa form and paying the fee.
As you can see, it is still possible for Filipino tourists to still apply for the South Korea Express Visa as long as they have an invitation or qualified family members (#1-4).
Express Visa Fee & Processing Time
Filipinos who are eligible may apply to have their applications fast-tracked to 5 working days for a fee of ₱1,000. Here’s the official notice from the Embassy that has this information:
From Sep. 12, 2019, visa processing period of temporary visitor’s visa (C-3) will increase from 10 days (for both first time and frequent travelers) to expected additional date gradually due to increase in number of Korean visa applicants. We will announce the releasing date on the Embassy homepage every Monday. Also ask the agency about the exact releasing date on the claim stub after applying.
But the following applicants can apply for the express visa with visa fee P1,000 and [it] will take 5 working days to get the result.
- The applicant who is invited by Korean government and public agency
- The applicant who is invited by Korean company, school and organization
- The family members of Korean (parents, spouse, children, family of spouse, etc.)
- The direct family members of [a foreigner who stays] in Korea with registered alien card
- The applicant who needs urgent medical treatment, with accidents and with humanitarian reason
- The applicant who has official request from Philippine government office
- The applicant who [does not] belong to #1-6 but recognized [urgent] matter for the better diplomacy relationship
For those who wish to apply for Korean visa, please consider the changed processing period and submit your visa applications early.
In the second week of January 2020, the lead time for Korean visa processing is 21-26 working days or about 1 month (subject to regular changes). If you apply for the Korea Express Visa and are willing to pay the cost, you can get the result of your application after a week’s time.
When the Embassy launched the service, they uploaded a one-page South Korea Express Visa application form (separate from the primary or standard Application form) on their website. However, as of writing, I could no longer find the download link or the uploaded form, which means that you may have to request it from your travel agency or the Embassy by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you manage to get a copy of the South Korea Express Visa application form, here’s how to fill it out (This is a screenshot from when I applied for expedited processing in July 2019; details changed for privacy.):
The form only requires basic information, such as the following:
- Family name
- Given name/s
- Birthdate in this format YYYY/MM/DD, i.e. 1993/02/14
After I filled out my South Korea Express Visa form and completed the rest of the requirements, I sent my application to my travel agent in Makati. I waited a total of 5 working days, which included the time it took for the agency to receive my requirements (I used Grab Express), forward to the Embassy, and deliver my passport.
Last but not least
We just want to wish you well with your Korean visa application! If you have any questions about the South Korea Express Visa process, do comment below so other travelers can help you out! If you don’t have the WAUG app on your phone yet, make sure to download it here so you can start booking the best tours for your trip.