10/04/2007

Korean Investment Visa for Foreigners

Foreign investor's visa

Question: I am a foreigner and I am thinking of starting a small business in South Korea. Is it possible to get a visa or do I need to be sponsored by a Korean company or partner?

Foreign investors are eligible to obtain a D-8 residence visa provided they meet certain criteria. To qualify, an employee of a foreign company or an individual must establish a company in Korea or enter into a joint partnership with a Korean firm and invest over 50 million won in the project.

The types of foreign investment generally allowed are foreign direct investment (FDI), portfolio establishment, branch establishment, legal entity establishment, factory establishment, real estate acquisition and investment in infrastructure.

However, the kind of business does not matter as long as the company acquires a registration certificate of foreign investment from either a Korean bank or the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA). The registration application process is as follows: the investor prepares documents which include the registration certificate of their business and submits them to the Immigration Bureau of the ministry of Justice. The Immigration Bureau will then inspect the documents. If the application is approved, they will send out a visa issuance notice certificate (generally called a blue form) to the person coming to Korea. When the person submits the blue form to the local Korean embassy in his or her home country, a D-8 visa will be issued. The application process is free of charge.

The length of stay can vary, with most being valid for one year. Extensions are possible.

A law office should assist, since before obtaining the visa is advisable to properly register or establish a business in Korea.

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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com