September 9, 2021

South Korea Implements New Electronic Travel Authorization Program for Visa-free Entrants and Certain Business Visitors

As of September 1, 2021, South Korea implemented changes to its travel authorization program, requiring all visa-free entrants to apply online for an Electronic Travel Authorization (“K-ETA”) at least 24 hours prior to travel. Failure to obtain the K-ETA prior to travel will result in the applicant being refused entry into South Korea.

The online application will request personal information of the applicant including criminal history and purpose of visit. Once submitted, the applicant will receive a K-ETA application number which can be used to check the status of the application. The K-ETA is valid for 2 years and should be granted within 24 hours of the application. It will be received as an Electronic Travel Document via email and the applicant will need to carry a printout to be presented to the immigration officers at the airport.

The K-ETA can only be used if the applicant is entering for visa-free purposes. Foreigners who will be entering to perform revenue generating activities should obtain the required permits to enable them to enter legitimately. Those entering with the K-ETA may be required to adjust their status and obtain the relevant permit if their activities change, and in certain cases this may be permitted in-country.

The K-ETA for Priority Entry (Business) Persons will apply to foreign nationals of the 63 countries who were previously able to enter South Korea without a visa but whose visa-free status has been suspended due to Covid-19. They must be entering the country for a purpose which would typically be covered by the C-3 short term business visa and not for revenue generating purposes. The K-ETA for Priority Entry (Business) Persons is obtained via a priority entry review at a government ministry that oversees the business of sponsoring a company in South Korea and not via the online K-ETA application process.

As this process is new, it may take some time to be fully implemented and become efficient.

For further information on South Korean entry and business travel requirements, please contact the Sterling Lexicon immigration team.

Leanne Cottrell

Leanne Cottrell

As Head of Immigration with Sterling Lexicon, Leanne leads a team of specialists who are responsible for ensuring the entire immigration process is smooth and stress-free for clients, assignees and their accompanying family members. She brings over ten years of experience in strategic immigration management, planning and consultation to her role, and has cultivated invaluable knowledge and experience in processing countless global migration applications. As a trusted partner, she consults with clients on everything from policy considerations and cost or efficiency improvements, to the impact of opening offices in new locations. Leanne is a frequent presenter and author on global immigration topics and trends.

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