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Getting a South Korean F4 Visa and Alien Registration Card

You can visit Korea for up to 90 days at a time without a Visa. I, however, came to Korea on a Visa. I came on the F4 visa which allows me to stay in Korea for up to 2 years at a time, and can be renewed. And you get multiple entries. So if you decide to travel to other countries, your visa is still valid.

What is an F4 visa? With an F4 visa you have the same rights and privileges as Korean citizens. So that means you can get employment within any business or organization.

In order to be eligible for an F4 visa, you have to be of Korean decent. You must have been born and have citizenship in the U.S. Your parent(s) have had to have been Korean citizens at one time, and now must be U.S. citizens (I think it works for canadian, australian or whatever english speaking country).

A lot of people have been asking me how I got my F4 visa. So I’m going to explain it. Because for me, it has taken me multiple trips to the Korean Embassy, and to Immigration, and the Family Registrar office to get everything. So hopefully this post will help for those who want to get an F4 Visa and Alien Registration Card (ARC) with only 4 trips total 🙂 (Family Registry, Korean Embassy, Immigration x2)

I’m going to list what you need for your Visa. And then let you know what you need for your ARC. And then to make it easier what you need altogether because you have to make multiple copies.

So here are the documents that you need to get your Visa and ARC. I got my Visa in the U.S. so it might be different if you get it done in Korea. It may just be for 1 parent, or it might be for both. I’m not positive, but I brought papers for my parents.

What you need for your Visa.

-Visa application form- you can get it here

-U.S. Passport- you need to bring your passport and 2 copies of your passport picture page.

-Birth certificate- you need the original and 2 copies.

-Parent’s U.S. Naturalization papers- you need the original and 2 copies. Once you turn it in with your Visa, you will get a type of reciept that you will need to save for you ARC.

-Family Registry- there are 2 different types that you need. You need to get 2 of each. They cannot be copies but the original with the official Korean Stamp on it. They cost 1,000 won each. (equivalent to 1 USD). I think one of the registries is called a ho jeuk dong bon.

-2 Passport Photos.

-$$ I dont remember how much it exactly cost. But you need to pay Cash or Money order. No checks or credit cards. I think was around $60. Bring $100 just to make sure.

-2 self addressed stamped envelopes.

Once everything is there, they will hold onto your passport. And then they will tell you when you can pick your passport up. They told me it would only take 2 days. But the lady was being nice to me since she knew I wasn’t living near the embassy so she told me to come back in 3 hours.

What you need for the ARC

-ARC application (you get it at immigration)

-Family Registry- the 2 different types. Original. Cannot be a copy.

-a copy of your parent’s naturalization papers receipt given to you when you were applying for your Visa.

-Copy of your birth certificate.

-U.S. passport- bring your passport and a copy.

-2 ID photos (get it done in Korea, because the dimensions are different).

-A 10,000 won stamp. (equivalent to 10 dollars) (you can get this at the immigration office)

They will hold onto your passport and then you go back in 10 days to pick up your passport and your ARC.

What you need altogether.

-Visa Application Form (Visa)

-ARC Application (ARC)

-U.S. Passport- original and 3 copies. (Visa- original +2 copies. ARC-original +1 copy)

-Birth Certificate- Original and 3 copies. (Visa-original + 2 copies. ARC-1 copy)

-Parent’s U.S. Naturalization documents- Original and 2 copies. (Visa)

-U.S. Naturalization paper – 1 copy (ARC- 1 copy)

-Family Registry- the 2 different types and 3 originals of each. (Visa- 2 copies. ARC- 1 copy)

-Photos – 4 total (Visa- 2. ARC-2)

-10,000 won stamp


And that’s it. Oh yeah, and a reminder. When you go to get your Family Registries, you need to bring your Family Stamp so that they know you are part of that family (especially since you will not be on the family registry if you were born in the U.S.).

Hopefully, this post will help those of you guys who want to get an F4 visa. Because I know for me I was searching all around the internet for the papers that I needed, and even on the embassy website it’s not very specific. You don’t really know what you need until you get there trying to get your Visa and they tell you you’re missing a whole bunch of stuff.

Hope this helps!


Chrissy Kim

  • Carlie Derentis - loved this blog!

  • Michael - Hi Chrissy,

    I hoping you can help me answer this question. I just received my F-4 visa here in Chicago and planning to go to Korea to study, find work opportunities, etc.

    My question – When I go in to apply for my ARC, am I required to show proof of employment there? Can I just tell the immigration officer that I am looking for opportunities there? Thanks in advance! Michael

  • admin - Hi Michael,
    No you do not have to show proof of employment for the F-4 Visa. That’s the great thing about that Visa, you don’t have to have employment for it since it is a heritage visa. You do however, have to have an address in Korea to get your ARC


  • Laura - Hi Chrissy!

    I lived in Korea from 2007-2009 and was on an F4 visa while working for a Korean company. I’d also applied for an ARC back then.

    This year, I will be heading back to Korea on a new F4 visa and will once again have to apply for an ARC since I’ve lost my old ARC (which probably expired anyway). Does it make a difference that I once had an ARC? That is, will I still be in the system of the Korean Immigration office under my old ARC number? And if so, do I just need to report my ARC as lost even though it was issued to me over 4 years ago? For the record, both my passport and F4 visa are brand new – I got my passport renewed this year – so I don’t know if this makes a difference.

    Sorry if my questions are confusing! And I’d appreciate any helpful answers!

    Thank you,

  • admin - Hi Laura,
    I’m not sure, because I have never been in that situation before. I know that the F4 visa is only valid for 2 years, as well as the ARC so I would assume you will most likely have to go through the whole process again because your ARC is connected with your F4.

  • Christina - Hey Chrissy, i have a question. I believe i am eligible but when my mom called the Korean consulate in Chicago the lady told her that I’m not eligible because I’m 22 years old and i need to be 23? I’m really confused though, because i haven’t hear this anywhere else

  • admin - Hi Christina,
    I haven’t heard of an age limitation on the F4 visa.. You might want to check that out again.

  • Christina - Thanks Chrissy, one more question, do you know if its better to have an F4 visa and then start looking for jobs or should i find a job first and then apply for the visa??

  • Mike M. - Thanks for the blog! Could you please clarify where to obtain the family registry? My mother was a Korean national (30 years ago) and since then she has been a US citizen (not holding dual nationalities).

    She currently lives in the US and I live in England. I know that I need the family registry to get my F4 visa, however, we are lost in obtaining it. The only document my mother has is her naturalization papers.

    Who can she call specifically? Where can we go to get her family registry? Do we have to go to Korea and walk into a “ho jeuk dong bon”?

    I hope to hear from you soon! I want to apply for jobs ASAP!


  • admin - Hey Mike,
    You have to go to korea and get a copy of the family registry. I had my cousin who was living in Korea at the time get me my family registry. And when you get the family registry, you need to have your family stamp as well (to show you are actually part of that family). So it’s best if you can get someone in your family who lives in Korean to do it (if you have any). This was one step of the process that I was unable to do while here in the states.

  • Kimberly - Hi Chrissy,

    My F4 visa expires this month and I’m studying outside of Korea, but I will be going back in 2 months to work. Do you know if I could renew my visa even though it expired or will I have to go through the whole application process again? Also, can I obtain the visa in Korea having entered as a tourist? The whole process in the U.K. (where I’m studying) costs over $200. However when I changed my E2 visa to an F4 a few years ago it barely cost anything. Hope this makes sense 🙂

  • admin - Hey Kimberly,

    I never got mine renewed. But knowing the process of just trying to get an F4 visa, I think you might be better off renewing it before it expires. I have a feeling if it expires, you will have to go through the whole process again.
    Yes you can get the visa in Korea as a tourist. — As I didn’t have all my paperwork until I was actually in korea, I had to finish mine there and came in as a tourist.
    I hope this information helps you out a bit.

  • John - Thanks for your post. How long was the processing time for the visa?

  • admin - Hey John! When I went to the Embassy in Los Angeles, and had everything they needed they told me to come back in 2 days. But then lady looked at my drivers license and noticed I didn’t live in Los Angeles, so told me to come back in a few hours.

  • Pete - Christy, I have a friend who is in Korea with his wife who is on an F-4 visa. He and I have both been made professors and Korean Civil Service officials. My wife is a Korean citizen so I was able to gain permanent residency on an F-5 visa. My friend says that he can only get a teaching visa. I was almost certain that family members of an F-4 visa holder were eligible for some sort of a family visa to accompany them. Do you know anything about this? I’ve been searching several websites and none have addressed this issue, not even the immigration website.

  • admin - Hey Pete,
    Unfortunately, I’m not sure about family members of F4 Visa holders. So, I don’t want to give you wrong information. But F4 visa’s are specifically heritage visa’s. So I don’t think it would work for an F4 visa holder’s spouse.

  • Andy - Chrissy, thanks for the informative website. I have a question to ask. I was born in US (i’m 30) and my mom became a US citizen in 1983. Do I need to get my mom’s family registry in korea? Also what if my birth is not recorded in my korean family registry and my name is missing from that? thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  • admin - Hey Andy!
    You will still need to get your mom’s family registry documentation. (I had a relative in Korea get it for me)
    You yourself do not have to be on the family registry (as you were born in the states). But you do need to also have your original birth certificate when applying.
    I hope this answered your questions.

  • Andy - Thank you for the response! So is the family registry a public record? I have a relative in Korea that I can ask. So, my mother doesn’t have actually go there herself correct? i.e., my uncle in korea and he can go to local admin office and ask for my mother’s family registry (hojukdeungbo)? He is my mother’s brother.

  • admin - Hey Andy,
    Someone from your family with a family stamp has to go. So if it is your mom’s brother it should be ok.

  • Dblan - Hi Chrissy!

    My mother is korean and my father is French. I was born in Korea and I have a French passeport.

    I’d like to know if I’m eligible for F-4 visa and if I’ll be able to do the paperwork in France as well.

    thank you ^^

  • admin - Hi. You are not eligible for an F4 visa because you were born in Korea.

  • admin - Hi, only 1 of them.

  • jessica - What about me? Am I eligible? I am born in south korea. i am a us citizen. My dad is filipino in ethnicity but he is american citizen. my mom is pure korean and never gave up her citizenship.
    But from my understanding, as long as you are born in south korea, you are still eligible. No matter whether your parent/s gave up their citizenship. There is:

    1. born in south korea or
    2. one of your parents must at least be a us citizen that used to be a korean citizen

    Am I right???????? Because I wanted to be an english teacher. But then I can’t obtain an E-2 visa for other reasons (like having my education in a country that is not listed for eligibility-visa purposes). So I’m thinking, If I can be eligible for an F-4 visa, I can still apply as an english teacher.

  • admin - Hi, you are not eligible for an f4 visa. Your mom had to have given up her citizenship and you are not allowed to be born in korea. You might have to look into other visas.

  • michelle - Hi! I’m sorry to ask this is probably annoying, but
    I’m very interested in this opportunity.
    Both of my parents were Korean citizens and now they are US citizens. However, they lost their naturalization papers and I am leaving for Korea this May. Would their passports be sufficient or do I need those documents? Also would it be enough time to get all of this done before I leave? Or should I get it done while in Korea… Thank you!

  • admin - Hi, you would need their paperwork.
    if getting it done in Korea, definitely have a relative go with you. Because you will need the family stamp to get their paperwork.

  • Judy - What are the specific two documents i need from my family register? Also, could my uncle in korea just scan and email it over? or does he need to mail me the original? if so, how long would that take?

  • admin - Hi, you need the originals

  • June - Hello! I was wondering if I am eligible… My parents are both Korean and I was born in the US. I do have my birth certificate, the naturalization papers for my mother and her US passport, but my father only had his green card and I don’t believe he ever renounced his SK citizenship. Is this okay?

  • Edward - Hi,

    Is there any way to get both F4 and ARC while here in the states?

    Also if you get an ARC with a F4 Visa, would you have to surrender it if you return to the states to work, and plan on returning to Korea only to visit within a year?

    I am wanting to get an ARC for purpose of getting bank account and investing in Korea for now. Is this possible?

  • admin - You can get the F4 visa in the states at the Korean consulate. You have to get the ARC in korea.

  • admin - You only need the documents for one parent.

  • Henry - My wife was a Korean citizen, came to the United States when we married in 1971. She has since become a U.S. citizen and lost her Korean citizenship. If she is eligible to get an F4 visa, do you know if I can get a visa to accompany her to Korea? Any ideas? Thanks.

  • admin - Hey Henry, F4 visa’s are heritage visas. So if she was already a korean citizen, it would not work. It would have to be a parent that denounced their citizenship.

  • Nate - My Mother was a war orphan who left Korea in 1956 via US adoption by a military family stationed in SK.

    When I decided to take a trip to South Korea, I went to the consulate in Chicago to obtain a tourist visa and was subsequently given a five year visa stamp without any prior paper work/documents or effort.

    The stamp was for five years. There was no plan or seeking for extended stay.

    No Family Registry or Parent Naturalization papers were asked to be provided (though I wasn’t actively seeking this visa nor knew of it’s existence) and I had to wait a few hours, if I remember correctly.

    So, my comment is part curiosity as to how I missed all of those obstacles.

  • admin - Hey Nate,
    I’m not really sure. But I do know you don’t need a tourist visa to go to South Korea. You can stay for up to 3 months without a Visa.

  • Nate - Thank you for the speedy reply.

    Interesting. My trip to South Korea was with my former Japanese girlfriend who had visited SK prior as a tourist and held a passport from Japan. She paid for the trip as a gift. I was simply in tow.

    My initial thought after reading your post was toward her needing the Visa and the subsequent trip to the Chicago Consulate. However, the “Visit Korea” site states that Japanese just as US citizens have entry free visa, as you stated for 3 months.

    However, my trip was in 2000. We drove from another state to get the visa stamps. Perhaps the rules were different then?

    I remember my girlfriend’s surprise when she saw the duration of my visa stamp. Perhaps inadvertently, I obtained an F-4? because I came to the consulate.

    Anyhow, I have been pondering another trip to South Korea and thought about my prior Visa.

    Thanks again for the reply.

  • Jean Scheaffer - Hello! I have a question. Thank you for any assistance. My mother has her US naturalization papers but no family stamp. I am in Korea right now but do not know how to ask for her family registry? How do I go about obtaining a Family Registry? My mom has no relatives left in Korea. Thank you for any assistance.

  • admin - Hi Jean,
    Unfortunately, I am not sure. You can try to go to the family registry office?

  • Ga eun - Im a korean citizen i want to go in Las Vegas do i need visa?

  • admin - Hi Ga Eun,
    If you are already in the United States you do not need a Visa. You can travel freely throughout the states once you’re here.

  • atul - If a person have a student visa can be able for a aliens registration card

  • admin - Hello,
    I am unsure. Sorry I can’t be of any help on this one for you.

  • Jane - For the passport photos, did you just get the taken at a Walgreens and cut them to fit the size of the Korea passport photo? Cause I know the US size and KR size are different.

  • admin - Hi Jane,
    Do you have a US Passport? Or Korean Passport? The only photo I needed to take when in korea was for my Alien Registration Card, and there was a photo booth at the building where I could take my photo.

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