F2 Visa: Upgrading Your Life in Korea (Pt. II)

[UPDATE: A new Points list has been released by immigration. Links are provided below. Valid from July 20, 2015]

Over two years ago, I posted about the F-2 (F-2-7) points visa offered by the Korean government. Often referred to as “the points visa” I was interested in completing the steps to obtain it since I knew I would be in Korea long term.

Now, over two years later, I have successfully obtained the visa and would like to share my experience.

What is the F-2 Points Visa?

The points visa is based on one gaining 80 points from a list provided by the Immigration department. Click here for the English Breakdown: 07.20 KIIP Update English (07.20.2015 Update) However, I also recommend checking out the Korean version, since the Immigration officers will reference this when processing your application and there are a few things that aren’t translated properly into the English form (more on that later). Here’s the Korean version [updated July 20th version] 07.20 KIIP Update Korean.

Other blogs break down the points, so I won’t get into that here, except for how it unraveled in my personal situation.

The Korean Immigration Integration Program (KIIP)

Now, most participants will need to take part in KIIP (Korean Immigration Integration Program, 한국사회통합프로그램). This is a state-funded Korean language / culture study course offered for free to participants. If nothing else, it is an excellent way to get some free Korean classes. When working towards the points visa, it will give you 25/26 points towards the 80 you are building towards. (More on the 25/26 discrepancy below)

KIIP consists of 5 Levels. Levels 1-4 are grammar lessons. Level 5 is called Understanding Korean Society and Culture. It is not a grammar-learning course.

To participate in KIIP, I first registered for my placement test via the Socinet website. There’s an English option for most of the forms, but anyone who has used Korean-style sites before should be relatively accustomed to the procedure. After making an account, I signed up for the test. It was held on June 8, 2013 at Yeungnam University in Daegu.

Taking the KIIP Placement Test at Yeungnam University, Daegu.

Taking the KIIP Placement Test at Yeungnam University, Daegu.

The test involved a grammar and listening test, similar to TOPIK or other standardized tests. Being a placement test, one could feel the questions increasing in difficulty. After the written test, we were shuttled to another room to do the reading/speaking test. For this part, I sat with 4 other test takers directly in front of the exam proctor. Since I was sitting on the end, I had to start. I read the short passage taped to the table (only about 4-5 sentences about a girl who enjoyed spending her time watching movies on the weekend), then answered some comprehension questions about it. (ie. “What does the girl like to do?” “How does watching movies make her feel?” etc.). Then the proctor asked me a random question: “Describe for me a national holiday (명절) in Korea.” So, I started talking about Chuseok (추석) and described all I knew about it. She then went down the line of other students who had to read / answer the *exact* same questions. Then the test was over.

Via the Socinet website, I was able to see I had been placed in Level 4. This was the highest grammar class of the KIIP system. So, I was pleased to have been placed so high, allowing me to skip the lower levels, saving me gobs of time.

Level 4 KIIP class at Yeungnam University, Daegu.

Level 4 KIIP class at Yeungnam University, Daegu.

I registered for the Level 4 class via Socinet again. This was in March 2014. (I had a busy summer 2013, so had to push it off). I did my time, took my notes, and passed the final test with relative ease.

I then registered for Level 5 and took that in October 2014. Again, I put in my required time, took my notes, and did my test. This time, during the final test, there was another similar speaking component. Seeing as how the test was administered at the Daegu Office of Immigration, we had to answer some questions in front of one of the Immigration employees. One question was to describe what we knew about Jeju Island. Another question was to recite / sing what we knew of the Korean national anthem and describe the national anthem from our own country.

Attending KIIP Level 5 at Keimyung University, Daegu.

Attending KIIP Level 5 at Keimyung University, Daegu.

One thing I should mention is that I *loved* the text for KIIP Level 5. It’s like the Cliffs Notes of Korean history and culture, written for non-Koreans, so uses easy language and is very visual. I wish this book was available in the marketplace. It’s contents are very valuable I think.

KIIP Level 5

KIIP Level 5 “Understanding Korean Society” textbook.


KIIP Level 5

KIIP Level 5 “Understanding Korean Society” textbook.

After passing Level 5, I was ready to head to Immigration and get my points totaled! And *this* is where the headache began.

Applying for the F2 Visa

First Attempt:

As soon as I found out I had passed Level 5, I headed over to the Daegu Office of Immigration to get my points calculated. In my calculation, I was over the necessary 80 points. One of the things I handed in was proof of having worked 6 years in a professional field back in the States prior to coming to Korea. I had worked in the professional security world and served as a Security and Fire Life Safety Manager for one of Denver’s high rise office towers.

The immigration officer accepted this documentation and said I was over the 80 points needed, however, I would need to gather tax documentation for at least 3 consecutive years from back home. But, not to worry, he said. I could request those documents and immigration would accept a PDF showing it.

So, I went home, emailed my old manager, and woke up the next morning with the requested tax documents, in PDF format, in my inbox. Again, I went to immigration, pulled my number, and waited. When my number was called, I found myself sitting across from a different immigration officer. I explained how I had been in the office on the previous day and was ready to submit my new documents. This officer, however, refused all work experience from back home citing that the experience had to be in a related field. Here, he produced the original Korean form of the points breakdown and showed me, in Korean, that it states it needs to be in a related field (which it wasn’t in my case). I told him that the other officer said it was fine. The two talked. Then the officer I had originally spoken with apologized and said he was mistaken.

Not only this, but the new officer insisted that passing Level 4 of KIIP was equivalent to 15 Korean language points, not 16 as specified in the documentation I had (which is linked above). He said TOPIK Level 4 is 16, but KIIP Level 4 is only 15. I asked him for documentation, and he swiveled his computer around to show me that indeed it was only 15 points. I asked for the date of that document. It was dated April 22, 2013. Mine was dated April 17, 2013. That means there was an updated version made 5 days after the original was published and released to the public. I asked the officer for a printed copy of his updated points breakdown, but he refused, claiming it was an “internal document”. I was pretty upset at the inconsistency here. He said I had 79 points and suggested I “just pass TOPIK 5” and all would be ok.


I took my documents and went home.

Second Attempt

In February 2015, I had to renew my normal Korean visa, so when I went in I decided to take all my documents again and see where my points stood. This time I spoke with another immigration officer who tallied the points and said I had 79. She suggested I do the 50 hours of community service and come back. I asked if there was anything else I needed. She said no. Just the document showing my 50 hours. So, I renewed my other existing visa, and left.

Third Attempt

A few months later, this time May 2015, after having successfully fulfilled 50 hours of community service over 6 different sessions (via festival event planning with the YMCA in Daegu), I returned to the Daegu Office of Immigration with my documents and spoke to the same officer I had spoken to in February. She didn’t remember me, no big deal, but when she calculated my points, she said I had 80 now, but also needed *an additional* 5 more documents. I was not too shocked anymore to see the goal posts changed on me once again. I started complaining to her that everyone in the office kept shifting the target around on me and telling me different things. I reminded her that in February she had told me the community service document was *all* I needed.

She apologized and said the other 5 documents would be easy to obtain (recent phone bill to establish residence, 2014 income earnings [I still had the 2013 earnings statement with me then], bank account official document, employer’s certificate of registration and tax info, etc.)

Feeling a bit guilty perhaps, she said I could leave my documents with her, pay the 100,000 application fee, 30,000 won card fee, and a 5,000 delivery fee, fax in those 5 documents, and then they would process my F2 and mail it out to me. In a huff, I did as she asked. (Side note, I had brought a few profile pictures of myself for the application, knowing they would need it, however the background at the studio was gray and they only accept pure white backgrounds, so they made me take new pics in the basement for a 7,000 won fee.)

…and now things get really complicated…

I gathered those 5 documents and faxed them in. Then the immigration officer called me and said that for 2014, I had paid 980,000 won in federal income tax in Korea. The point bracket shows 1 point for paying over 1 million (which I had done for the previous 3 years, including the document from 2013 she had originally approved). So, she said sorry, but they wouldn’t process my visa because I was down to 79 points again. That’s right.  I lost a point because in 2014 I happened to pay 20,000 won (about $20) under the threshold requirement.


She said that unfortunately they could not refund the 100,000 won application fee they had taken from me just 3 days prior.

Oh….was I ever livid.

Thankfully, it was a Friday, so I could cool my temper down over the weekend before aggressively campaigning for that extra darn point the following week.

Over my 4.5 years living in Korea I had successfully completed 4 YMCA language academy Korean classes. There’s a part of the points where 1 point is given for “Korean Language Training”. The Korean version says:


Nowhere in the Korean does it mention it must be from a university. The YMCA courses are all recognized by the 국립국어원 (National Korean Language Institute). It’s not some fly-by-night language school. All teachers are certified. I then presented the 4 수료증 (specifically stated in clear letters on the top of each certificate and underlined in red in the requirement above).

YMCA Certificate of Completions

YMCA Certificate of Completions

Daegu Immigration shot back by saying that it’s only for university programs. I mentioned they don’t specify anything about universities. They were adamant. Only university programs qualified for this point.


The only other thing I could think of was to re-approach my previous work experience back in the States. I worked in the security field but also published articles about the industry in national trade journals during my tenure there. Also, I had spent the past 3 years working as assistant editor for the Daegu Compass magazine and had just been offered a promotion to Editor-in-Chief. Perhaps they would accept it now?

Well, after a few days of volleying back and forth over it, they finally accepted it. I think they just wanted to get rid of me and realized I wasn’t going to give up over 1 measly point. So, they accepted the work experience, which put me to the 80 points (perhaps over? I don’t know), and sent me my new F2 visa! I received it about a week and a half later.

One side note: I was under the impression that the visa was an automatic 3-year visa. Two of my classmates from the KIIP Level 4 course were given 3 year visas. Mine was only made for 1 year. Perhaps because I was stingy about it. I called the 1345 Immigration hotline and spoke to a representative in English about it. She said that immigration officrs have discretion over the length of sojourn, so it really is up to what they think of you / how well their day is going.  ㅠㅠㅠ

Likewise, the officer that ended up giving me my visa didn’t make a stink about the 15/16 point issue with Level 4 of KIIP. She calculated 16 points for me, not the 15 that the first officer had claimed 6 months earlier. Again, there’s no consistency in this office. Walking in is just a roll of the dice it seems.

Anyway, hopefully renewing it isn’t a mess. Be prepared for Part III of this F2 adventure if it is.


In a Nutshell…

The F2-7 points visa is possible. My experience dealing with KIIP was wonderful, yet dealing with immigration was a nightmare. I felt they kept changing the goal posts on me, telling me one thing one day, and changing their minds the next. Keep in mind, the immigration officer has discretion over what they will or won’t count as points. The inconsistency is a pain, but you can do it!

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments and if anyone has any experience in renewing this visa, I’d love to read it also in the comments below! Good luck to you all!

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148 Responses to F2 Visa: Upgrading Your Life in Korea (Pt. II)

  1. Kevin Yancey says:

    Roll of the dice, yes. But, it also seems like they really didn’t want to issue you this visa, as if they’re just making up reasons to reject your application. I wonder if your experience would have been similar at other immigration offices.

    • brianvanhise says:

      I was starting to think that too and realized that if they wouldn’t issue the visa and wouldn’t issue a refund, then I would have certainly tried my luck in Seoul. I wasn’t sure if it was a Daegu thing or not. Thanks for your comment ~

  2. Oliver says:

    What an adventure you had! They really took you on a rollercoaster. Glad you got it. I just finished KIIP and was told by my teacher that it’s worth 28 points, not 26. I’ll be facing the lights very soon and your page has only added to my anxiety about this process. Fighting~

  3. Marilyn says:

    I’m nearly sure that this is a stupid question, but where did you find the updated version of the point system?! I can’t seem to Google my way to it.

  4. Ren says:

    ohhh wow, that sounds like a headache, but I can’t wait to get started in the KIIP program once I get back to Korea next year. I haven’t looked at the updated points yet, but I will be looking into it. I will definitely volunteer as well. Looks like it all depends on my ability to pass the KIIP classes.

    Thanks for a great post,

  5. sarahslagle says:

    I got it this year too. Congrats! ^^

  6. Ruslanchik says:

    I got this visa in June 2014 for 3 years. My points were 87 out of 120. The only problem was I stayed in Korea with my recent E-7 visa for around 1 month (as a student more than 2 years and around a year with D10 visa). When I asked the Immigration officer on the phone whether it is possible to apply for F2 visa even if I stayed for a month with E7 but more than 2 years with D2 because I have studied in Korea for 2 years. She said no, I have to stay more than a year with my recent visa if I have totally changed the visa type. Anyway, because of my past experience I went to the Immigration office and applied for it. They said the duration is ok, but the financial status is not ok because I have not worked for a year. However, she said I can still apply because my points are over 80. I asked what I would lose if I applied. She said the only loss is 130,000 Korean won. I said no problem and applied on that day. One month later I received the good news and I am doing well now.

    • brianvanhise says:

      Thanks for the detailed comment! Always nice to read and hear others’ stories about this!

    • hello Ruslancik. I think I have a similar situation with you.
      after staying 2 years with d2 visa and 7 months with d10, last week, I applied for f2-7 visa.
      my points are 84.
      but they asked many strange documents about the company I just made job contract. now i need the prepare them.
      did they ask you such documents too?

  7. Danni Garren says:

    First off, Congrats on finally getting your F-2 visa! Second, I have a question for your volunteer points~ How were you able to document your hours, because I heard that you have to apply on a website or something like that. Could you give me more information about how you did it? Thank you!!

    • brianvanhise says:

      Hello Danni and thanks for your comment. Regarding the volunteer points, you can register at your local 자원봉사센터 (Community Service Center) and document your hours online that way. In my case, the organization I founded and run (www.stompyruffers.com) was hired by the City of Daegu to make an event for a larger festival. Because I participated in the 4 day event plus about 3 additional days of planning / meetings, the local Daegu YMCA (which spearheaded our portion of the larger festival) gave me the necessary volunteer credit when I asked for it. My case is a bit unique in this regard, yet it was no trouble having it accepted by the immigration officers. I hope this helps! Let me know if there’s any other questions you have! — Brian

      • Flyingdutch says:

        Hi Brian,
        When did you complete your volunteer work?
        I understood that they only count the volunteer work of the preceding year. It would be a great help if they also accept work done in the current year..

      • brianvanhise says:

        Hi and thanks for commenting!
        I did my volunteer work in April and May of the same year. Got my visa in June. There is no rule about it being the previous year. The only issue is you need to have (5?) different volunteering sessions amounting to the required hours. In my case, I got the certificate granted and turned around right away to redeem it. No need to wait a year. If you need more volunteering hours, then perhaps it has to be over a few years because there’s a cap to how many hours you can use each year. I hope this helps!

      • Flyingdutch says:

        Thank you!

      • stingrae says:

        Your blog post is very helpful! I would like to ask if the rule still applies for the Volunteer points:
        “..you need to have (5?) different volunteering sessions amounting to the required hour? “.
        Thank you!

      • brianvanhise says:

        Hi! Thanks for the comment and glad to know you found this blog. 🙂 As far as I know, the rule about 5 volunteer sessions is still active. For me, simply planning and doing a 4-day event for the local YMCA was enough (they were nice enough to credit me for the planning days as well). So, perhaps you can work around the strictness. All immigration cares about is that the organization is registered as a volunteer organization and that your certificate specifies the dates and hours given. 🙂 Best of luck and keep me updated!


      • Ben says:

        I had no luck with getting the points for vulunteer work. At the immigration office they say that you must have a record of having done volunteer work for at least a year. Meaning that if your first volunteer work was on June 1st 2016, you must also have a record of volunteer work after June 1st 2017. I have over 70 hours and over 10 different activities. But they are very strict about the minimum 1 year thing.

      • brianvanhise says:

        Hi Ben,
        Did you take the Korean version of the points list and point out the part about volunteering? I always had to bring my own copy of the Korean version and highlight areas to explain to them. In reviewing the clause now it simply says that you must complete at least 6 sessions for 50 hours over the past 3 years. Are you looking to build more than one point with volunteer work? Here’s the clause: 국내 사회봉사활동 : 해당 공공기관, 사회단체 등에서 발급한 사회봉사활동증명서(최근 3년간의 활동내역을 합산하고 연간 최소 6회 총 50시간 이상 활동 시 인정). I needed just one point, so 6 times for 50 hours was all they needed to see. Perhaps if you’re doing the multi-year volunteer thing, it’s a bit different. Either way, certainly don’t feel at odds with arguing with them about it. Keep me updated! 🙂

      • Ben says:

        I am going for 1 point. They argue that it says 1~2년 미만, so you would need at least 1 year of volunteering…

      • brianvanhise says:

        Interesting….did you show them the part I quoted above? I would be curious if you could print that out, take it in, and see how they justify requiring one year and yet also requiring just 6 sessions for 50 hours. If you need only 1 point for it, it might be worth taking it in and arguing your case for it. (or at least get their reasoning for the discrepancy). Keep me updated please. ^^

  8. Sean says:

    Just got my F2 visa today from the Incheon office. I haven’t had such a hassle like you but had to go back and forth a few times too. Last year my friend got her F2 made for 5 years. Mine was just a year. I called 1345 and they said that from now on they only issue one-year-long F2 visas with possible extensions. Seems weird coz now they are of the same period as E visas.

  9. Art says:

    Has anyone renewed one of these visas? what does it involve?

  10. Chris says:

    Just an update. I got my F-2 a few days ago. Mine was veeeeeery smooth. I got exactly 80 points (they counted photocopies for me, so that was great). My visa was issued for 5 years, so that might be something new that they’ve updated.

  11. martin says:

    Hi. Thanks for this helpful post! I have a question concerning points for voluntary work.
    It says”Please combine all volunteer activities in the last three years.”

    I have lived in Korea for 11 years. For the first three years I was a full time:) volunteer. I mean I came to Korea to do voluntary work. I did it for 3 years from 2005 to 2008.

    Do you think I will be able to get some points for that? From the above explanation it seems that only voluntary work in the last three years can be considered as valid.

    Thank you

    • brianvanhise says:

      Hello Martin and thanks for your comment! Yes, it seems that Immigration will only allow volunteer credit for the previous 3 years. I double checked the Korean version of the points break down and they do specify “최근 3년간의” (Last 3 years) for that credit. Good news, is you just need to accumulate 50 hours over 6 sessions…which could feasibly be knocked out in a month or two. Keep me updated on your progress!

  12. Jacky says:

    Hi Brian, I am currently undergoing this process in Seoul and your post has been very informative thus far. Thank you 🙂

    Would you happen to have information regarding the points awarded for education, specifically if you have multiple degrees? For example, if I have a Master degree in one field and a bachelor in another field would I only be awarded points for one degree, or both?

    Thanks again,

    • brianvanhise says:

      Hi Jack,
      Nice to hear you’re going through the process! Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer, however, I feel like you would get just a single point designation for education (going to your Masters and not Bachelors), but that’s just my guess. If you ask Immigration, please comment here and let me know! –Brian

      • Jacky says:

        I will most certainly do so!

        I have a follow-up question to the “Korean Language Training” (1pt) – you mentioned that the service person noted that it must be run out of a Korean university but did they specify any other criteria (i.e.: hours requirement, paid tuition, level achieved, etc.) or is it awarded provided that you submit proof of attendance/achievement?

        For example, I noticed that Soomkyung offers several different kinds of Korean programs (http://lingua.sookmyung.ac.kr/mbs/KoreanEn/subview.jsp?id=KoreanEn_020204000000) and Korea University also offers one (http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=629070)

        The programs range from 4-10 weeks.

        I think I need this extra point and I plan to drop by immigrate to ask next week but I was hoping you had some extra details that may give me a heads up or to better direct my inquiries.


      • Jacky says:

        Just an update here:
        Education points are capped at a maximum of 35 so the math wouldn’t work (adding a bachelor and a master would exceed 35). Thus, only the higher degree would be accepted.

        Also FYI, for the language program certificate I checked with 3 different officers and as long as the program is a language course from a university (even 2 weeks is OK) that issues a certificate upon completion, it will be recognized for the 1 visa point. I specifically checked with the Sookmyung 2-3 week programs and their 3 month programs. My advice is to bring a sample certificate and verify again before you enroll.
        A KIIP level certificate will also net you the 1 point.

        Hope this info helps some of you and more importantly, that the info given to me won’t change when you make your visits -__-“.

  13. Martin says:

    Hi! I have a question concerning the KIIP placement test. What day of the week do they offer this exam? Thank you


  14. MusicalSeoul says:

    I noticed that the times for the placement tests are usually when people would be working. Is there another test time they offer that is not listed?

    • brianvanhise says:

      Hi there and thanks for finding my site. I don’t know about the placement test times this time around. I did mine a few years ago on a weekend though. Hopefully they do a round that suits your schedule! 🙂

      • MusicalSeoul says:

        Okay, well hopefully I can see more once I register later this year. It wouldn’t make sense to only have it during the week when many work. Then again….it is Korea. Strange things happen

  15. Tim says:

    I’m trying to get my F2 right now and am on my third attempt. I went to the 목동 office and I’ve really had to cool myself down when they spout ridiculous bullshit and make up rules. I got residency in Holland after being there 2 weeks! I only had to setup a business (which ANYONE can do) to get my visa there and it took 3 days and just a few hundred dollars. But in Korea…. I’ve been here 6 years, have a level 5 Topik exam, had the E7 Visa 4 times… bastards I tell you…they’re all bastards! Why they make it so difficult to stay here I will never understand.

    This whole process is making me question how long I want to live in this country that I used to really love.

    • brianvanhise says:

      Hi Tim,
      Wow, that sounds like a real pain. How many points does Immi say you have now? I know the feeling about “making up rules”. Any specifics you can share for the benefit of others who pop in here?


    • Chris says:

      Tell them to call their superiors. The woman that was helping me didn’t understand that the KIIP counts for 10 points for completion plus 18 for the language ability. I told her that it does and insisted that she contact someone. She disappeared for like 3-4 minutes and returned and apologized for her mistake. I did this at 목동, btw.

  16. Keneth says:

    I’m so glad I found your post. It is very helpful. Thank you 🙂 !
    I have a question regarding the KIIP points. I’m schedule this month for level 1 class.
    In case I finish it and pass TOPIK level 1 plus KIIP level 1. Is it going to be separate points? 10 points for TOPIK plus another 10 points for participating? Thank you~

    • brianvanhise says:

      Hi Keneth!
      Congrats on starting the KIIP process! Immigration will award only one set of Korean Language Proficiency points. So, they will take ONLY 10 points for Level One OR 10 points for TOPIK 1. You will get an *additional* 10 points for completing all 5 levels of KIIP. I think it’s standard for participants to place into a level (Level 1 in your case) then work through Level 4. Level 4 awards 16 language points. Then completing Level 5 completes the entire KIIP program, so you can add an additional 10 points. That’s 26 points for going through KIIP! If you’re a few points shy still, getting TOPIK Level 5 or 6 is where that comes in handy. ^^ Hope this helps and keep me updated on the progress!


  17. ohmyjescia says:

    I’m planning to apply for an F2 visa. I came to Korea with a D2 and currently have a D10. I’m also finishing the KIIP this July.
    Are the chances of getting an F2 high if I’m coming from a D10 visa? Provided that I have all 80 points.

    Hoping for a positive response! Thank you!

    • brianvanhise says:

      Hi Jesica!

      I don’t know much about going from D10 to F2. I would suggest calling 1345 (Immigration hotline) and ask them. It seems to me that the F2 Points Visa is somewhat related to a “special field of work” (as they told me when I renewed mine two weeks ago), so going from a D10 (work-seeking, correct?) might complicate things. Either way, I would call the hotline or just stop by your local office and find out. Please feel free to share your findings here! Enjoy your weekend!


  18. dianero says:

    Hi Brian,

    Just a question: how many points does one get for passing Level 4 of the KIIP program? In the official documents (http://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/NtcCotnDetailR_en.pt) and in the document you posted above, it says 16, but why did they tell you it’s only worth 15 points? Is it legal for them to have double standards like that? I’m asking because I’ve got Level 4 and will go to apply for my F2 visa tomorrow. Fingers crossed!


    • brianvanhise says:

      Hi Diane!
      Thanks for your comment. When I applied for my F2 it was about two months before the new points sheet was published. At the time, the Korean version of the points breakdown showed KIIP Level 4 = 15 points and TOPIK Level 4 = 16 points. The English version, however, did not make this distinction. As it stands now, you are correct in that both are worth 16 points now, so I’m sure you won’t have a problem with that part tomorrow. Best of luck with your F2 application and please update me on the details!


      • hindhamraoui says:

        I just applied tester and mine went ok I got 97.
        Also I got level 4 KIIP and she gave me 16 point plus 10 for program 🙂 maybe I was lucky to meet a nice officer
        The officer said that I need to wait a month.
        My question is that is there any chance to be rejected after applying ? Or is that mean am approved once they take docs and register my application?
        Also was wondering if with this visa I can be a freelancer? My company is closing soon and they want me to sign freelancing contact with them.

        Thank you

      • brianvanhise says:

        Wow congrats on getting everything approved! I think with 97 points there should be no problem. Usually, when the officer accepts the application and payment it’s a done deal. The officer probably means it can take up to one month to get your new visa. As far as freelancing goes, Immigration was fine with me explaining I’m a freelancer when I renewed the visa 3 weeks ago. I would hope your case is the same. If curious, feel free to ask them. 🙂

        Thanks for commenting. ^^


      • hindhamraoui says:

        Oh congratulations!!
        They give u how many years this time?
        Mine said I will get 3 years I think everyone is different.
        How renewal process is? What documents they asked to provide?
        Also was wondering if you know how many months you need to be in korea a year while having F-2?

      • Jacky says:

        Hind – was your F-2 application completed at one of the Seoul immigration offices? What documents did you bring altogether for the KIIP that allowed you to get 26 points?

        I just visited immigration today to extend my D10 visa (it expires mid-way through this term’s KIIP level 4 course) and the officers told me the exact opposite of what they instructed me just last week.

        They said that they could not extend my D10 visa for longer than 6 or 12 months (total) unless I was a graduate of a Korean university and further added that no one has ever had an extension of 12 months. Ok..

        When I explained that I needed the extension in order to complete the KIIP and change my visa to F2, the head officer just said “Start the class and come in a week before your visa expires. We’ll take a look then and your F2 points because we try to help those in the KIIP program.”

        Doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence because if they had the intention to help, they would have extended it right there. I have no clue whether to expect an extension or not and if I don’t get it, would I just drop out of the program mid-way?

        If Brian or anyone else have some insightful comments regarding today’s…adventure, that’d be great.
        I was so excited to start the program this Friday too. Now I don’t know what to make of it.

      • Jacky says:

        My apologies for bumping this message but I’m planning another visit to the immigration office in the next couple days and I have a couple questions but I can’t seem to contact Hind outside of this post.

        Brian – Could I trouble you to pass onto Hind that I have a couple questions, along with my email address (just so we can avoid publishing our respective emails in the public forum)?

        Would really appreciate it and apologies again for the trouble.


      • Hind says:

        Hi jacky
        I applied at mogkdong Seoul immigration office and actually for kiip they just check in the system and they can find out what level you are
        Plus it’s really up to the officer to calculate way he want 😦
        Am still waiting it’s my 4th week after applying I hope they get back to me soon.
        I let u know

      • Jacky says:

        Hi Hind – thanks for the reply. I really appreciate it 🙂

        I hope you receive your visa soon! And yes, that would be great if you could let me know. I’m going through the process too and I *should* be able to complete my application in late August according to the department manager at Mokdong.

        My email is jackycheung_66@hotmail.com
        Would you mind sending me an email? That way I can email you directly next time I have a question, which I’m probably will in the coming months.

        Congrats and thanks again, Hind!

  19. dianero says:

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for your prompt reply! They accepted all my papers at the immigration and I’ll just have to wait for their approval. I’m also curious about what is required to renew the F2 visa and if there is a limit on how many times it can be renewed.


    • brianvanhise says:

      Hi Diane,
      I just renewed my F2 about 2 weeks ago. I will be updating my blog with the full story (pretty simple actually). All that was needed was proof of residency (phone bill or housing contract / lease) and work contract (which is where my story is a little complicated since I work now as a freelancer). That was it. Oh, and a 60,000 won processing fee. Super simple. They gave me 5 years on my renewal!


  20. dianero says:

    Wow! Congratulations Brian! I look forward to reading the full story on your blog. I hope to get there someday, too! Your blog post about getting the F2 visa was really encouraging for me because I also faced some of the issues that you did on my 2 earlier attempts to apply for the F2 visa. Although I studied my Korean course at a university language school, it had to be a minimum of 300 hours and so mine wasn’t enough. Again, there was nothing written about that. Furthermore, the first time I went, they told me I needed to get more documents to prove my related work overseas and after going through all the trouble to get them, I was told the next time round that my previous work wasn’t related to my current visa status so I couldn’t count any of it at all. Now although they’re processing it, I just can’t believe I will get it till I see it.

  21. dianero says:

    Just got my F2 visa one week after applying! And they gave me 5 years!

    • HIND says:

      Wow congratulations .. where did u apply? Mokdong? was so fast
      i applied a month ago but no news yet 😦 hope it’s just line …

  22. Pingback: Renewing your F-2-7 (points) Visa in Korea |

  23. Hadar says:

    Hi Brian, Thanks for your helpful blog !
    Just wanted to know why people apply for F-2 VISA? beside starting a business in Korea without an investment… Are there other good reasons?

    Also, did anyone started a business with F-2 Visa? Is it simple (as it seems) to register your business without any investment after you earn the visa?


    • brianvanhise says:

      Hello Hadar!
      Yes, one may register a business without any major investment contribution (though this may depend on which kind of business). With an F2-7, you can just visit your local tax office and quickly register. For those not setting up their own businesses, many find the F2 to simply be a “non-sponsored” visa which opens up many more opportunities. Glad you found the blog helpful!


      • Hadar says:

        Hi Brian, Thanks!
        One more question please, how did you provide a proof of working in a professional field back in your country? Letter from your CEO is enough? did you need to show any previous salaries?
        Did you use a specific format for the letter?
        I was trying to get an answer in the immigration office but every-time I receive different replay.. I believe your experience can help!

  24. brianvanhise says:

    Hello again Hadar,
    I needed the signed letter from my CEO as well as 3 years of consequtive income tax statements (W2 forms in the US). These needn’t be official. My immigration officer said that faxed or emailed versions from my home office would be fine. No specific format for the CEO’s letter, just used company stationery (letterhead, etc.) Good luck!

    • Shitov Ilya says:


      As for my situation, I’ve applied my documents for the F2-7 on August 16 at Jongak, Seoul. Immigration Officer advised me to wait for about 3 weeks for the Immigration investigation on my documents will be made and the decision will be announced.

      My qualifying points for F2-7 were as follows:
      1. Age – 25 points (33) – no documents needed;
      2. Level of education & Study experience in Korea – 30 + 4 points (I’ve got my Master’s degree in liberal arts [Logistics] in Korea – as an evidence I’ve applied 졸업증명서 and 성적표 in Korean;
      3. Korean language ability – 14 points for my TOPIK level 3 – TOPIK certificate as an evidence;
      4. Annual income % Annual income taxes – I was sure that I will get 3 + 2 points (my annual Income is between 30-40mw, and I usually pay close to 3mw as taxes), but the Officer reduced both categories by 1 point, so I’ve got only 2 + 1 points – 근로소득원천징수영수증 was applied as an evidence for both categories. I’ve occasionally prepared 근로소득원천징수영수증, first for the period of one year prior to application (2015.07~2016.07) and second for the 2015 financial year (2015.03~2015.12, because I’ve spent January and February on my abroad vacations before got my new job in March). Officer explained me that she can accept only the second one, because nowadays Immigration Office accepts financial statements only for the last financial year (2015 for my case), so I’ve lost 2 points for this part;
      5. Overseas professional work experience – the most interesting part and 5 points for my case. I’m on E-7 visa right now and my specialty for E-7 in Korea is 해외영업, so I’ve prepared 2 documents to get my extra points – 1) Record from National Tax Office of Russia, that I’ve been the Individual Entrepreneur [equal to 자유사업자] in Russia for the period since 2005 to 2013 (this document stated the period I’ve been IE, categories of business [wholesale and retail trade for my case] and additional information, such as IE registration number; 2) Confirmation of Work Experience Letter [with my own sign and stamp], which I legally issued to myself as a former boss of my IE. I’ve stated in this Letter that I confirm the fact that I’ve been working as an International Trade Specialist for my own IE for a period of 3.5 years. Both documents were translated to Korean and both translations were notarially confirmed by local lawyer [good looking Korean Notarial Certificates with goldish stamp], it was not Apostilled [even though the last time I’ve called 1345, consultants advised me to bring Apostille].
      5. Additional documents – ARC, photo, application form, housing contract, my company’s 사업자등록증사본, 재직증명서 from the company, additional documents regarding to my previous company bankruptcy [I’ve changed the company in March 2016, because my previous employer went bankrupt].

      Last morning I’ve got an SMS in Korean with the confirmation (민원허가) of my F2-7 visa from HiKorea, few hours later I’ve another SMS from 1345 with similar confirmation in Korean and English. I’m really impressed – my visa was confirmed just in 6 days (4 working days) since the application. I’ve got informed that I will be able to receive my new ARC at the beginning of September.

      Additional info potentially helpful for a positive visa decision in my case – 1) I’ve spent more than 10 years in Korea since 2000 to 2016 (excluding visa runs); 2) I’m, on my 5-th E-7 and spent almost 5 years on E-7 for 3 Korean companies, but had 2 visa runs on my E-7; 3) This august I’ve applied for KIIP program and passed the orientation tests for KIIP level 4, but didn’t attend the classes yet.

      • brianvanhise says:

        Hello and thanks so much for sharing your very detailed account of the F2-7 visa process! And congrats on being awarded the new visa! I hope your story helps answer some questions others may have as well. 🙂 –Brian

  25. hindhamraoui says:

    just to Update, i received my visa exactly 5 weeks after applying and got 5 years on my F-2 🙂

  26. Sandy Yu says:

    Hello! I placed in KIIP 3 but haven’t been able to do any classes so far because they conflict with my schedule (EPIK teacher and most classes are during my workhours; once a week classes falls on the weekends so I am never in Daegu). Do you think it’d be possible or wise if I can somehow drop to level KIIP 2 so I can just at least review/earn some points? I haven’t been able to practice Korean lately anyway so I worry that if I can somehow join KIIP 3 the next round, it might be too hard for me because I’m too rusty.

    Also, I just wanted to clarify: YMCA classes does NOT count towards the point?

    It’s really helpful that I found your blog as you’re also living in Daegu, haha. Hope to hear from you soon! 🙂

    • brianvanhise says:

      Hi Sandy!
      Thanks for finding my blog. Yes, YMCA points will NOT work as “Korean learning points”. Only classes offered at the university level will be accepted.
      Will doing KIIP Level 2 be feasible to you? I guess it depends on how many points you need to get to 80. KIIP Level 4 will give you 16. Level 5 is another 10. That’s 26 points towards 80, which many seem to need. You mention you are not in Daegu on the weekends? It might be a necessary evil then to just buckle down and sit through KIIP 3 on a weekend. You’ll have to sacrifice some personal time for sure, but there may be no other choices. 😦

      Either way, keep me updated for sure! Best of luck!


  27. martin says:

    Hi. Thank you for your blog!
    I have a question. I am trying to register for the placement test. I kind of did. I can see the date of the test but location is still unknown (or am I supposed to choose the location?). Then I see here some options below: “vicarious class application”, “deputizing attendance application”, and “apply class.” What are these? I noticed there are some universities and centers listed but do I select one of these as my entry test location or it’s about classes I will be taking after I have received entry exam score?

    Thank you for your help


  28. Sarah says:

    Did you show them your original diploma or just a copy of it? Also, did they keep it?

    • brianvanhise says:

      I have a few copies of my degree notarized from my university. Immigration accepted the notarized copy after I explained that my original had been submitted to Immi when I first got my E2 Korean visa several years ago. I think if you explain it like this, it shouldn’t be a problem. It may even be possible to skip the copies and just let them know the original is already on file somewhere in their records. Good luck!

  29. Pauline MacLeod says:

    Hello Brian,

    Many thanks for your informative blog. I live in America. I have been in Korea on two separate occasions before, for language study (two months) and for academic research (less than a year). In the second time, I already experienced the nightmare of the immigration service (they refused to accept documents from a school that certified my academic research). But I will be likely coming to Korea this December to begin a teaching job with a one-year-contract (December 2016-December 2017) that I will most definitely renew. I have some questions about the F2-7 visa, and I cannot answer them myself since I am not yet in Korea (for the third time):

    [1] Annual Income: This is gross income (before any and all deductions), right?

    [2] Annual Tax Payments: [2.1] I was hoping to apply for an F2-7 in December 2017 (presumably right after I finish my first income-generating year in Korea). But the guidelines say that the only acceptable record of annual income tax payment is a certificate from the National Tax Service. I assume the NTS only issues this record once a year, right? What month is that? If it is, say, every March, there is no point for me to apply in December 2017 because the only document I would have is a March 2017 document giving only my income from December 2016 to February 2017 (a measly three months), right? I should just renew my teaching contract in December 2017 and then just apply after March 2018, right? (Let us just assume that I want to maximize the strength of my application by using the full force of a full year of income and thus the highest number of possible points.) [2.2] Do I have the power to ask the employer to just give me the flat 17.5% Korean tax rate on my earnings, even though the 17.5% tax rate would result in my paying more taxes? (I am mainly doing this for the sake of getting to a higher point bracket for the tax payments—but I figure if I want to stay in Korea for a while, I should invest more in my pension anyway.)

    [3] Overseas work: [3.1] I have a USA W-2 document of two consecutive years from one company with work related to my teaching calling. I have another W-2 document of two consecutive years from ANOTHER company with relevant work. Will immigration see this as 2 + 2 = 4 (5 points), or will they simply choose one job and credit me only for two years (3 points)? [3.2] In addition, in one of those companies, I worked additional (but consecutive) years on USA 1099 (independent contractor) tax forms. Does Korea accept 1099 tax forms just as much as W-2 forms? (It would make my life a lot easier—I have many years of consecutive work at a company, but only the first two were W-2, and after that it was 1099.)

    [4] Volunteer activities: [4.1] The guidelines say that immigration will look at volunteer activities combined over the past three years. And yet, 3 years OR MORE of volunteer work = 5 points. Does this mean that (theoretically) I could do four one-year-long commitments on different days of the week (say, activity A = every Monday for a year, activity B = every Tuesday for a year, activity C = every Wednesday for a year, activity D = every Thursday for a year) and have that counted as more than three years = 5 points? [4.2] And does volunteer work at a huge church or a tiny private school in a rural area count?

    Thank you so much for your help, Brian—and I tried to phrase my questions in such a way that others might be helped too. No one else has posted similar questions in this thread, so many others would be interested in this too, I imagine. I already have 68 points based on my age, education, and Korean ability, and I really want to avoid the KIIP class if possible. I am a dreadfully slow lesson planner and I cannot possibly juggle KIIP (much less pass it, as my Korean has been terrible despite years and years of learning) and full-time work. So I am doing just the S-TOPIK route.

    • brianvanhise says:

      Hi Pauline,
      Thanks for commenting and I’ll try to answer what questions I can. I think a lot of these will be “not sure” and depend on who takes your application at immigration. That being said, let’s have a look:

      [1] – Not sure (haha)

      [2.1] – Right. Your statement would only show a few months and not be worth it, I think. It would likely be best to work a full year and then the following year show them the previous year’s tax statement. (They will want the most current year too, so any work you did in the past won’t matter to them for tax reasons).

      [2.2] – Not sure. I suppose it’s possible if you explain to your school your reasons. The admin office may think you’re crazy, but hey, worth a shot!

      [3.1] – If the work overlaps in time (ie you were working two jobs at the same time) I don’t think you can add them together. I found immigration to be very strict on this particular area of granting points. It’s best to gather all the W2s and your CEO letters (try to have them describe the work you did in simple(ish) English for the immigration officer to understand) and check with immigration.

      [3.2] – Not sure.

      [4.1] – Nope. As far as I know, immigration looks only at calendar years. A year is a year is a year. You could put in a thousand hours from 10 different organizations over a year and still earn only 1 year’s worth of points. Again…as far as I know. They will understand you’re trying to play the system for more points. F-2-7 is about longevity (being a resident visa) and they’ll be more pleased to see you having put in real time for these kinda things.

      [4.2] – It’s best to ask the church or private school if they are registered with the government and qualify as being a recognized volunteering group. So many college aged Koreans try to earn volunteering points too for their resumes, so the church and private school will know what you’re talking about.

      I hope this helps and I hope you can get your visa once you return! Please keep me updated on your progress and, if nothing else, I also hope these questions can help others as well!


      • Pauline MacLeod says:

        Dear Brian,

        Thanks a whole lot for your reply. You might hope to allow me to clarify a few issues:

        [2.1] Your reply confused me a little. Let us assume that the National Tax Service issues its certificate every March (I assume for income from 1 January to 31 December of the previous year). If I were to apply in, say, April 2018, the immigration office would only look at my income from 1 January to 31 December 2017 (through the NTS certificate), right? When you wrote, <> does that mean they want documentation for the (as-yet-incomplete) tax year of 2017 as well? (If so, then my plan for insisting on a 17.5% flat tax for a year would have to touch two calendar years, not just one—quite a big deal!)

        [3.1] You wrote, <> But my situation deals with W-2 forms for 2010 and 2011 for one company, and then 2012 and 2013 for another company (no overlap at all). Will the office see this as four years (2+2) or just two as the office may only choose the relevant overseas job with the longest continuous service?

        And another question: The few English websites that discuss the (updated as of 2015) F2-7 visa process always praise the KIIP program as not only a way to learn the language, but also a way to points. But no one really touches too much on the serious investment of time (not to mention a seeming affinity for picking up foreign languages) necessary to get the 26 (or 28—I kind of gloss over the details because I could never come close to passing this level) F2-7 visa points. My question deals with an issue not touched upon in these English sites. What is the earliest stage of the program at which one could stop progressing (read: drop out) and still receive points? For instance, if you drop out after Level 1, do you get points? What about Level 2? Or Level 3?

        Thank you again, Brian, and I hope you do not find it too burdensome to reply to these questions. A gentle suggestion (not that you would ever need to do this): Since your site seems to float to the top of Google searches relevant to the F2-7, you might want to consider actually calling 1345 just for kicks/curiosity to some of these questions (not just my questions, but the questions of others too). Since you already have this visa, you might have a better idea on how to phrase these questions so as to get semi-authoritative (or not!) answers.

    • Jacky says:

      Hi Pauline, I can help you out with some of those questions since I previously asked the immigration office myself.

      There’s a standard tax filing form that your employer has. I don’t have the name handy but if you ask your employer for the “tax form” they will know because there’s only the one document.
      In terms of tax year, they look at either 1) the last calendar year e.g.: Jan.1, 2016 – Dec. 31 2016 OR 2) the last 12 months from the date that you apply for the visa e.g.: Sept. 3, 2015 – Sept. 3, 2016. They will take the one that shows higher tax dollars for you.

      Overseas Work
      Working at multiple companies is fine, so long as your employment years do not overlap. Work experience is counted by calendar years and not but years with each respective company. Your should be fine since you said yours don’t overlap.

      They’re strict with documentation but they themselves don’t really know what documentation is best. The BEST documentation is a letter from the CEO clearly stating your role and duration of employment (Feb. 23, 2003 – July 27, 2006). Bottom line is, they need to be able to confirm your old company exists and that you worked there as you say.
      At first they didn’t accept my letter and they asked me to get my old company’s corporate tax file and a copy of their business registration. They didn’t seem to understand that outside of Korea, corporations don’t just dole out confidential documents to whoever requests them. I explained this and then they said the letter was fine.

      There are 5 levels of the program. At the end of each level, there is an exam that you must pass in order to complete the course. Unfortunately, you can’t just drop out. You earn the level and associated points only for the exam that you passed, not just for spending time and logging attendance.
      So, if you start at level 1, attend the course and pass the exam – you get awarded the points for completing level 1. If you begin level 2 and do everything but pass the exam – you still only have the credit for level 1.
      You can take a break in-between the levels but the bottom-line is, you only get credit after passing the respective level exams whenever it is that you decide to resume the course.

      Good luck with your process and I hope I was able to help. I’ve asked the immigration office so many times for clarifications that’s probably the reason they’re making my application so difficult :/

      • Pauline MacLeod says:

        Dear Jacky and Brian and everyone else lending a helping hand,

        Jacky, thank you so very much for your reply. I am sure that it must seem frustrating that you feel that your E-2 year in Korea was apparently turned into waste by your D-10 that followed. I suspected that immigration always has internal information that never seems to make it to the public eye. I know fully well that when you so graciously answer questions like mine, it does not really help your situation—and I bet so many people on this forum wish that they can help you. But maybe the reality of the F2-7 visa process (that people have suffered before you and will struggle after you) will at least make you feel a little less lonely. But Jacky, how did your call to 1345 go earlier this week? Did you get any hope?

        I remember that Brian, the author of this blog, wrote about his discovery that the F2-7 visa only counted work considered relevant to his vocation. This little but crucial bit of information only made it to the public sphere after Brian heard about it. Fortunately for Brian, he was essentially able to massage his overseas experience into a couple of visa points. Because immigration can be a black hole of openness and transparency, I feel that the simpler your application is, the possibly better chance you have of getting the visa. (And now, I do not need to talk about my F2-7 process in a hypothetical way—I recently got an actual job offer that starts later this year, so my questions are now real ones, not hypotheticals.)

        I have a few more questions, so maybe Jacky can answer them:

        [1] I wonder if I can make 5 points for overseas work. My first job with W-2 forms for 2010 and 2011 only lasted nine calendar months (September 2010-June 2011). My second job, which I still have, has W-2 forms for January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2013 (2 years). The W-2 forms only cover a calendar period of 2 years and 9 months. That is only 3 visa points.


        For the same second job, I had 1099 (independent contractor) forms for January 1, 2014 to the present. On paper, I have been with this same second company for more than 4 years. But (and maybe Jacky can answer this best) will immigration take a combination of W-2 and 1099 forms from my time with my second job and count it as 5 points? Or am I stuck at 3 points?

        If I do not get any more daylight on this issue, I might begin an SS-8 tax process that allows the IRS to retroactively designate all my 1099 years as W-2 years. It will cost me dearly and I am sure my excellent relationship with my second company could turn sour REALLY quickly (or not?). But if I am reassured that immigration will accept CONSECUTIVE W-2 (2012, 2013) forms and 1099 (2014, 2015) forms from the same workplace and count THAT as four years, then maybe I can sleep peacefully.

        [2] As we speak, my recruiter is now negotiating a contract with my employer. I looked at a sample contract online and I noticed that there is a line for taxes. My whole F-2 visa depends on a lot of things working out. I have 33 doctoral points, 25 age points, and 1 point for language training (actually, I studied language in Korea at two different universities, one in 2013 and one in 2015, so there is no way I can lose this point). That is 59 points. I will take the Topik I and the Topik II later this year. I am studying to get a Topik 3, but my listening skills in Korean are so awful that I think I can only expect a Topik 1 (10 points). I will not take the KIIP course because this is my first time working in Korea and I want to keep my non-work commitments to a minimum to focus on my job.

        That brings me to 69 points. If I opt for the 18.5% flat tax in my contract, I can get 7 points from income and taxes alone. Then 3 points (at least???!!!!) from my overseas work and 1 volunteer point. 69 + 7 + 3 + 1 = 80 and I am high and dry. Obviously, I would prefer a Topik 2 score (12 points) so I can get wiggle room (71 + 7 + 3 + 1 = 82). And if by some wild miracle I get a Topik 3, then I will not even need my career and volunteering (73 + 7 [. . .] = 80), although of course I will submit anything and everything.

        In the months before I take my job, is it possible for me to negotiate my tax rate, even if it supposedly hurts me? And is this change something I can easily undo after I (hopefully) get the F2-7 visa? If I cannot negotiate this, then my F2-7 visa application will be totally dead on arrival unless I get a Topik 2 score and then pray that my overseas work gets 5 points and nothing less.

        [3] Jacky said that immigration looks at the last calendar year of taxes (1/1/2016-12/31/2016) or the last twelve months from the date of visa application, e.g.: (9/3/2015-9/3/2016). This seems to imply that I need to go to immigration office with TWO separate tax documents, right? And the date of visa application must EXACTLY match the date of the tax application, right? For example, if I apply for a visa on February 1, 2018, then I must have tax forms for 1/1/2017-12/31/2017 AND 2/1/2017-2/1/2018, right? (Will immigration turn me back if I come on January 31, 2018, but I only have tax documents for calendar year 2017 and then a form for 1/15/2017-2/15/2017?) I mean, how easy is it for me to actually get these tax forms? Can I ask my employer and just get it on the same day? (Boy, I wish I could just go to immigration with just the one tax form for the calendar year.)

        [4] Would it help me to negotiate for, say, a 14-month-long contract (i.e. December 2016 to February 2018) so I can have a full tax year of E-2 under my belt (namely 2017) and then I can rush in an F-2 visa application in January 2018 before my E-2 visa expires? I really do not want to switch visas while I am in Korea, even for a single minute. Jacky’s tale is a sadly cautionary one in this respect. (*deep frowning face*)

  30. Jacky says:

    HI Brian (and others here who have gone/are going through the F2-7 visa process)

    Long note but most likely new information to share:

    I visited immigration today thinking that I can finally finish the process (90pts) but to my surprise, they dropped another condition on me (that isn’t written anywhere on the official guidelines).

    I was told the following:
    1) A D-10 visa holder CANNOT change to an F2-7 visa UNLESS they were a D-2 -> D-10 visa holder and Korean university Master program graduate with a promise to hire already secured with an employer.

    This came as a surprise to me because I started my F2-7 process a year ago and every time I was told my visa was fine and ultimately it’s the point requirement that matters. Their excuse today was “Oh, you received bad information,” even though it was those very individuals who gave me that info.

    When I mentioned that not all foreigners are Korean university master graduates on D-2/D-10, specifically someone like me, who has previously worked on an E-2 for over the 1 year (required for the F2-7 eligibility btw). I finished my contract, changed to a D-10 so I could legally stay in the country to find work/do the KIIP program. That’s when they said, no, a non-Korean uni D-10 cannot qualify and

    2) My prior E-2 experience or duration of stay in Korea doesn’t count because I changed the visa.

    When I asked for printed info the teller talked to the person in the next window and they ganged up on me to angrily said “We already told you no. Your 10 minutes are up, leave now.”
    All I asked for was clear explanation and written material for what they were saying because it was contrary to the printed information that I had. I wasn’t rude, didn’t raise my voice or anything. I get that they probably have tough days but getting abused like that is not cool.

    Anyways, I’m looking at the Korean F-2 Release as of July 2015 and it does say now that D-10 holder should also be D-2 and Korean uni graduates but it still doesn’t account for people who were previously on another legal working E visa and merely temporarily switched to a D-10 to maintain legal status.

    Furthermore, it says the 1 year criteria is “체류자격으로 1년 이상 합법체류 중인” which is merely having legally lived in Korea for > 1 year with a legal visa status. It does not stipulate anything about changes in visa resulting in resetting the sojourn period.

    So did everyone here or those that you know, all apply while on a non D-10 visa and/or applied while not having previously made a visa change?

    Do they want me to go on an E-2 and then immediately change to the F2-7? I’m waiting for Monday to call 1345 to explain my situation. Had I received the appropriate information to begin with in-person and in print, I would have just kept working at the same company and not risked changing a visa. Now I feel like I just wasted my whole time in Korea. A literal waste.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this and offer any constructive responses. I feel very frustrated and disappointed in people right now. Perhaps I should also take on the habit of yelling at and making my clients feel like garbage!

  31. Nicol says:

    My dear only Hope,
    I tried applying for the F2 visa, since my company does not have enough koreans to employ me on an E7 (coming from a D2). I had 79points (the lady refused my two korean language course certificates). Now, my only option is to go on a D10 I guess and work here illegally or ..do an internship and work for free some more. Also, she said while applying for the F2 I need to carry an application for the E7 with me as well (for whatever reasons).
    Okay, I give up, I will take part in the KIIP (I have topik 5 so no big deal) BUT the website…just…does not work. I tried from my PC, all the browsers, I tried from mz two korean friends PCs, wrong protocol, the website says. I will not be able to sign up just because of the website. You never had any troubles with that?

    • rickinasia says:

      The KIIP website has certification issues. I found it only works on IE and the first time I try to login it never works. I have to hit the back button and login a second time before it works.
      Also the points you’d get for the KIIP class overlap with the TOPIK points. Aka you only get points for one or the other….unless you pass level 5 KIIP then you get bonus points for completing the program. There is good into on the Waygook site (http://www.waygook.org/index.php?topic=79900.480) concerning the program as well.

  32. Swapan Barai says:

    Hi Brian,
    It’s really helpful to read through above comments.
    Could you please let me know that If I reach up to 80 points with Korean language level 3 and no voluntary work experience, will they give me F2 visa?

    • brianvanhise says:

      Hello Swapan! Sure…all they care about is you getting the 80 points. Reach that goal and volunteer activities are not necessary. Keep me updated! 🙂

    • SHITOV ILYA says:

      If you reach 80 points – you’ll be qualified to apply for your visa anyway.
      As for my case – I’ve got my f2 visa when reached 81 points with Topic level 3 and without any volumteer work.
      P.S.: I’ve got my visa for 35 months – since August 2016 to July 2019,)

  33. John says:

    Hi Thanks for the valuable information.
    I also made my courageous attempt this summer:
    I studied in Korea for 2 years so I was on D-2, to D-10, now changing to F-2-7. With my calculation and officer’s calculation I have 82 points for sure.
    On first attempt I was told to bring in my overseas income tax report (because a legitimate working certificate issued by companies are not deemed legitimate according to them) additional company documents (business registration, insurance policy, 고요사유사… etc) and go back again.
    So I went back on August 26th, submitted everything with success (I’m guessing the fact that she took it implies nothing was wrong) and also faxed in our company information PPT, the projects which I would be assuming responsibilities of right away on the same day (because the officer didn’t understand what a Accelerator/consulting company does).
    I called the office today (it has been almost 1 month, albeit there was 추석 long-break this year. So it would hit 3 week mark by the end of this week (24th)) to check on my application status, didn’t get to talk to the officer but with the operator. She told me that they are STILL LOOKING AT my documents.

    I would like to ask those who have experienced this agony, how long is the usual processing time? And since it has been almost a month and I hear nothing from the officer would that imply there is no problem with my application?

    I don’t understand why we have to be so scared of Korean officers… probably due to all these precedences of inconsistency, incoherence, subjectivity… sigh

    • John says:

      Update on my situation:

      I got my card today and guess what? I got a E7 visa. I was like WTF and it wasn’t even a 1 year visa (9/9 to 2017/8/26)

      I was completely infuriated and called the office to ask for a proper explanation. How could I, prepare all the requirement documents specifically for F2, deemed qualified, waited for a month, and got a E7 visa that’s not not even 1 year long.

      The operator sounded in shock too and tried to contact the corresponding offier but failed to do so. I asked her that this cannot be a normal procedural error, can it. She responded that its complicated and better for me to talk to the officer directly.

      So I’m going in next monday, preparing to wage a war if no legitimate apology is given.

  34. Pauline MacLeod says:

    Oh wow, John: I can empathize with your anxieties, but I suspect that you might be fine—if the window accepted your documents, the only thing that remains is processing time. That should be just a formality for you, I hope.

    My four inquiries (posted on Sept. 8) still remain unanswered, but I will briefly summarize two of them again: [1] Is a combination of W-2 and 1099 forms a legitimate tax form submission? [2] Must I come to the immigration office with TWO (2) separate income tax documents? For example, if I come to the office on February 1, 2018, will I have to have tax documents for [first time period] 1/1/2017~12/31/2017 and [second time period] 2/1/2017~2/1/2018? Will immigration reject me if I bring a tax form for the calendar year 2017 but then an income tax form for the period of, say, 1/15/2017~1/15/2018—given that 1/15/2018 was not my date of actually coming to the immigration office (hypothetically 2/1/2018)? And how easy is it for me to get tax forms for any date-frame I want?

    I partially resolved my two other questions. In my earlier Sept. 20 post, I had asked about whether or not I could ask for the 18.5% flat tax to boost my F2-7 application points. My company supports my wish but they think it better for me to come to Korea first and then talk to a company administrator (hopefully an accountant???!!!) there. My company seems very happy to write up a renewal of my E-2 visa so I can teach longer there, so I do not seem to have to worry about moving to a D-10 visa and then switching back to a E-2. (Anecdotal evidence from Jacky suggests that a change from E-2 to D-10 means that the immigration office will NOT care about your E-2 period and your residency clock effectively restarts at zero (you need at least a full year of staying in Korea prior to applying for the F2-7).

    A small word of advice to all other F2-7 hopefuls: The more authentications you have, the better. This is particularly true given the wild stories about the immigration office. I will be apostilling as many documents as possible before I go to Korea—particularly my employment verification letters signed by CEO-presidents. Should I just stop at the state-level for apostilling, or should I go for US Department of State apostilling too? I think the national apostilling is overkill, but you never know with the immigration office of Korea!

  35. Pauline MacLeod says:

    Hello John, I am sorry for a late reply but I deliberately waited for the weekend to pass so that you could come in with some news on Monday. How did the visit go? Your story is really scary. I read all the older posts on this page and I just thought that passing the immigration window stage was the end of the struggle. (Unfortunately, as Brian said, even paying the 100,000 KRW or 130,000 KRW fee did not guarantee the visa and he had to pay the fee twice.) But you got an E7 visa. My two cents is that throwing the lawyer’s book at the immigration office is not a great idea (after all, you don’t want to put a big target on yourself for future immigration office mishandling), but I’m sure that you have sympathizers everywhere.

    My questions again (I will try to restate them as briefly as possible): In an F2-7 application, would years of W-2 and 1099 tax receipts from the same company be okay for counting the employment years? And do I have to come to immigration office with two year’s worth of income tax forms (in my case, potentially calendar year Jan-Dec 2017 and the year up to and including the date of my actual coming to the office)?

    Just out of curiosity, I went to turner.faculty.swau DOT EDU SLASH mathematics/math241de/materials/treecalculator/dataentry DOT PHP, a site that has data entry for probability trees. I know I have 59 points based on age, degree, and Korean language learning in a Korean university. So my magic number is 21 points (59 + 21 = 80), which leaves my language ability point total, overseas career work, volunteering, tax points, and income points up for grabs. I put in two possible outcomes for my Topik Score (1 or 2, or 10 or 12 visa points), four possible outcomes for my overseas work (0, 1, 3, or 5), volunteering (0 or 1 point since I’m applying ASAP after one year of work in Korea), tax points (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5), and income points (2 or 3—I have 2 points without the end-of-year bonus but 3 points with the bonus so I’m just not sure). The results were very depressing. Based on the fundamental counting principle, I have 160 different outcomes to my F2-7 visa application, but in only 52 of them (32.5%) do I get the visa. A Topik score of 2 increases by odds to 45% but a Topik score of 1 lowers my odds to just 20%. If I get the 3.3% tax rate (I doubt I will since I am a regular employee in Korea and not an independent contractor, but I have NO IDEA!), my odds drop all the way down to 1.875% (only 3 successful point combinations out of 160!).

    Just for kicks, I put in a Topik Score of 3 into the calculations….and if that happens, my odds increase by a whopper—to 73.75%! (59 successful point combinations of 80 possible). I feel that maybe I should bite the bullet and take the KIIP. My plan is to somehow (and miraculously) get a 2 on the TOPIK on November 19. Then, I believe a TOPIK score of 2 puts me in KIIP Level 3.

    Can someone please confirm for me: how many times are you allowed to fail KIIP Level 3 before they grant you the certificate for passing KIIP Level 3? (Only in this way can I get the 14 F2-7 visa points for language—no way I can pass a KIIP Level 3 course because my listening skills are so, so, so, so, so bad.)

    • John says:

      Hi Pauline

      To answer your question –
      I now personally believe they know sh*t about this whole things, even with overseas tax report, because they speak only Korean. The whole thing about recognizing overseas work experience is so ummm… inconsistent and subjective (where did I hear that again?). When I last asked about this overseas experience, the officer told me you just needed certificate of experiences issued by the CEO of the company (or head, or wahtever, because they are so inconsistent and incoherent, again) and personal tax report that indicated you had to pay tax based on the income received by the stated company (as a way to prove the existence of the company, according to the officer).

      Now, for your chance at F2. I think you should definitely give it some time and take KIIP while preparing for TOPIK 2. Afterall, those two are really the only areas where you can get massive points (in my case, I have TOPIK 6).


      Finally, my own f*cking joke story.

      Raged I was, went into the office on Monday morning. The officer simply just looked at me contemptuously and questioned if I have any evidence indicating that I was applying for F-2-7 instead of E-7. I told her that I specifically left “Applying for F-2-7” for my appointment reservation and that if I was applying for E-7, I wouldn’t have attached my overseas tax form + work experience certificate and TOPIK exam scores. She argued that the only difference is the overseas tax form + work experience certificate. I was completely steamed. She kept on going to say how my E-7 was hard to issue because they had difficulty understanding what a consulting/Accelerator does. And that since I was on D10, PRESUMABLY I was applying for E-7 for sure. I just asked her what I can do now? She was threatening me that if I cancel my current E-7 and re-apply, I might not even get anything. I started arguing in English, to which she only shouted back in Korean “what are you talking about?!” “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!”
      Eventually their division director also came to the window to talk to me. She told me that if I didn’t proceed that point calculation thing with the officer at the window, it was never considered a formal application for F-2-7. To my despair and sadness, I gave up. I just asked them what I should do, because I clearly have enough points for F-2-7. They told me to wait for a bit and go back to re-apply to change to F-2-7 (of course, giving them the money again).

      There is a reason why this country will never be this “globalized” country they prententiously want to be. I will go back in November to apply for change of status and to get my F-2-7 but meanwhile, I have filed civil petition and it was received by an unknown division in the ministry of justice (who knows what will happen, afterall, this may be the most corrupted division in the government in this country)This is really not the way to treat a foreigner.

      My only silverlining out of this, was that the english speaking “consultant” (or the operator) called me back, while trying to tell me that she would get back to me when she gets in contact with that b*tch officer. (and LOL, she still hadn’t gotten to her at the time). I told her everything, that I was forced to take it. She was at first speechless, and just kept apologizing for her government. I thanked her and said her phone call really meant a lot to me.

      This fucking immigration office can be the most racist office ever.

    • rickinasia says:

      Hi Pauline,

      > My plan is to somehow (and miraculously) get a 2 on the TOPIK on November 19. Then, I believe a TOPIK score of 2 puts me in KIIP Level 3.
      -I thought people had to take the level test to find out which KIIP level they should be placed in or maybe just started at Level 1. I have talked to several people “auditing” KIIP classes who are just doing it for the linguistic help without earning any credit.

      >no way I can pass a KIIP Level 3 course because my listening skills are so, so, so, so, so bad.
      -The textbooks have audio CDs which you listen to in class. I don’t know of a speed difference between Levels 2 and 3 but there is a real (and odd) speed difference from 3 to 4. Also the textbooks have transcripts of each sample conversation at the back of the textbook. I’d recommend practicing those ahead of time and getting a Memrise course for vocab and/or grammar prep.

      >Can someone please confirm for me: how many times are you allowed to fail KIIP Level 3 before they grant you the certificate for passing KIIP Level 3?
      -These are copy/pasted replies I’ve seen in the Waygook site (http://www.waygook.org/index.php?topic=79900.480)

      >But you still have to take tests for levels 1 through 4?
      -Yes you have to take test for every level. All other policies are unchanged. Like auto-passing after failing a test and re-taking level classes for level 1-4 and auto-passing level 5 after failing test twice and then taking level 5 classes.

      I’m not 100%, but I think it depends on the level? Lower levels you automatically pass on the second time. Level 5 is three times and you don’t have to take the final. Once again, don’t quote me on this.

  36. Pauline MacLeod says:

    What a sad and awful story, John—please keep us updated.

    Now I have a problem. I have nine months of W-2 tax returns with Company A (a university) and a combination of two years of W-2 forms and two years of 1099 forms with Company B. If Korean immigration is strict, I am stuck at 2.67 years (only 3 points—and I want and need all 5 points!). If Korean immigration accepts the W-2 and 1099 combined from Company B, I get 4.67 years. But I wish someone could clarify this for me.

    My Company C boss, with whom I served six years, wrote me a letter and attached IRS.gov website explanations on why she no longer has tax returns from those years (way past the liability deadlines of 3 to 6 years) and why I no longer have them either (too long ago—I had no problems with the filings in those six years). For good measure (since she supports my application), she threw in the certificate of business registration and even her tax number to quote-unquote make up for the lack of tax documents.

    So Korean immigration, take your pick. Do I have [choice 1] 2.7 years (W-2 only) or [choice 2] 4.7 years (W-2 and 1099) or [choice 3] 10.7 years (W-2, 1099, and letters combined)? None of the three jobs overlapped. What a mess—

    Thank you for the advice, John. I was already leaning on KIIP as a way to force me to wake up earlier on some weekdays. (As opposed to me waking up one hour before weekday afternoon working hours at my job.)

    John, I do not understand the ins and outs of the D-10 visa, but the story of Jacky (several posts above) is a cautionary tale. He was on an E2. At the end of his contract, he changed to a D-10. The immigration office refused to accept his otherwise perfect F2-7 application credentials. Worse, immigration told him that his previous E2 year would not count in any future Korean residency calculations. In short, his D-10 made his E2 year a total waste. When we last heard from him, he said he was trying to fix his situation (still no news from him yet).

    And wait, John. When you first applied for the F2-7 at the window, did you actually calculate your points in front of the immigration lady/guy? From your own account, it seems that you did not (you wrote, [. . .] [did not] proceed [with] that point calculation thing with the officer at the window).

    • Pauline MacLeod says:

      A small update on my situation, which remains hypothetical since I have not yet begun my working tour in Korea (I have a *shadow* F2-7 visa, just as the minority Labour Party of the UK has a *shadow* cabinet, get it? *laughing*):

      My future boss tells me that the company will *artificially increase* my salary by counting my compensated expenses (airfare and rent) as salary in my official tax statements. The flat tax of 18.5% would likely cripple my ability to live because it seems to deduct straight from your gross salary, so that brainstorm went out the window.

      Of course, with my compensated expenses now considered taxable income according to the progressive taxing system of Korea, I will pay more taxes—but not too much more at all.

      All this maneuvering increases my tax visa points by one and my income visa point total by one, so I advise anyone in need of an extra F2-7 visa point to really consider asking your boss to count your compensation package as salary. If the immigration office can take a combination of W-2 and 1099 forms from my overseas employer of relevant experience (a big if that still needs clarification), then that means I have 5 income and tax points, 5 overseas work points, and 1 volunteer point from a place already cleared by the government. Add that to my 59 points from age, degree, and Korean university language training, and I am at 70 points. A TOPIK 1 level puts me at 80.

      • Renderella says:

        When exactly are you planning to get this visa? I mean with everything that you are trying to change you should really consider just doing the Kiip program for the other points.

        Also I don’t think that a company would want to count the compensation package because it could probably get them in trouble.

        Again, the only way to know anything for sure is when you try to apply for the F2 visa and even then they could decide differently or mess up your visa after submitting all your docs.

        Just wait until you get a chance to ask the immigration office in whatever area you will be in so you can gave a rough idea.

  37. India Shelton says:

    Useful piece . I loved the specifics ! Does anyone know where my company might be able to obtain a template KP Visa application form version to work with ?

    • Pauline MacLeod says:

      Dear Renderella and India,

      Thanks for your feedback. You are right in that situations can change over time. I won’t be applying until February 2018 or so, but having heard all the horror stories about F2-7 visa applications that exploded, it’s best to prepare for all scenarios.

      My Korean language learning ability is very, very weak. Two years of terrible instruction have given me something like a Topik 3 speaking ability but my listening skills are horrible, perhaps a zero—although my very slowly speaking Korean friends assure me that it’s not (but they don’t know that they dumb down their Korean like crazy for me). If and when I enter KIIP, I hope they will just pass me after I fail the class multiple times.

  38. Hello there!

    First of all thank you so much for making this Blog, helped me so much on my quest to the F2-7 VISA!

    I have a questions , what kind of document do you need from the KIIP (I completed up to level 5) and where can I get it ?


    • brianvanhise says:

      Hi Marie!
      Thanks for finding my blog and for commenting. I’m glad the information here has been helpful to you.
      KIIP should send you a formal certificate in the mail a week or two or so after completion. In my case, since KIIP is part of the Office of Immigration, they were able to verify on-site without the official document from me. Try asking them directly and see what they say. Good luck and keep me updated!


      • Ok so here it how it went so far:

        -Because of the company we got some issues and it was delayed TT but now everything is good and yes the certificate printed only was enough!
        -The lady actually didn’t seem to know much about counting my point and I think she gave me extra as she didn’t really know how much level 5 of KIIP was for language points. (I think she gave me the points of topik 5… even though I had enough with just 15-16)

        Now I am waiting on a text from them to know if it was accepted / when do I pick it up!

        Hope that is soon!

        Thank you again for all the help this website has given me !


    • Renderella says:

      You only need your certification. You get it once you complete level 5 and pass the exam. I know because my friend had me pick hers up so she could apply for her F27. It took her a week to get it and she got 5 years. Good luck to you~

  39. Lieueez says:

    I’m calculating my points for the F-2-7 visa and I’m not sure if I’ll have enough points to apply before my 35th birthday.

    If I finish KIIP Level 5 next semester and apply before July 2017 I’ll have exactly 80 points.
    Age: (if they calculate internationally) 25 points… if not, 23.
    Degree: 26 points
    Income: 2 points
    Volunteer 1 year: 1 point
    KIIP: 26 points
    Annual Income Tax Payment: ?
    Time in Korea: 1.5 years
    Current visa: E2

    So this puts me right at 80 points. I’m a US citizen and I’ve filed for some sort of 2 year tax exemption… so I’m paying taxes, but not as much as other teachers on E2 visas are. So, I’m confused about the points for the annual income tax payments.

    Is there any way I could accumulate more points before July of 2017? I’m sure if I go in right at 80 points they will find some reason to subtract something…

    Should I just aim for TOPIK 5/6 (18/20 points), keep volunteering (2 yrs+ = 3 points) and apply in 2018? If I did that then I’d be over 80 points easily.

    I’m really stressed about this right now… I’ve been working towards the goal of applying for the visa next summer, but it looks like I won’t have enough points. So disappointed :/ So I’m trying to decide if I should continue to stress myself out about meeting this deadline I set for myself or if I should just plan on applying for the visa in 2018. Any thought???

    • Richard Moore says:


      You can check with the Korean tax office to see how much tax you’ve paid for the past year (local branch I’d assume or see if a co-worker can help call on your behalf). But what is this 2 year tax exemption?

      How did you calculate 26 points for KIIP? If you pass KIIP level 4 you get 16 points, pass level 5 (final KIIP class) you get 18 points and that completion gives you a bonus of 10 points = 28. And you get points for KIIP -OR- TOPIK, not both. I don’t see how you got 26 in your math.

      For additional points, did you work overseas before coming to Korea?

  40. I also have another question that I hope someone can help me with !

    Once you have the F2, can you do any type of work ? are there any restrictions ?

    Thank you !

  41. Nice to know ur information sir..

  42. Damith Nayal says:

    Can e-9 visa holders get f2 visa?

    • Richard Moore says:

      It looks like no. The English version of the document (linked near the top of this page) says “The revised criteria will apply to persons with a professional occupation…” and lists E-1 to E-7 and then D-2,5, 6,7, 8,9, 10.

      Wikipedia says E-9 is “non-professional employment” which explains why it is not in that list.

  43. Pauline MacLeod says:

    A small update to my situation (you can look up all entries with my name on this page, especially since they contain many points that might apply to you):

    My tax documentation seems to be going through now, and I am well on pace to pay a little less than 2,000,000 KRW in taxes for the first year of my job. (This I will have to confirm.) There is no way on Earth that the immigration office can rip that tax point away from me.

    I noticed in a web forum that F2-7 visa applicants must bring housing contracts to the immigration office for the residency visa application process. If so, this means that the lady/dude could potentially rip a point off from anyone who has monthly rent expenses included in income.

    I am still in the dark about whether or not 1099 tax forms can be included as documentation solid enough for proving overseas work experience on top of the CEO letter. But to be safe, I will just give myself 3 of 5 points (with 5 as the ideal possibility).

    So my potential application has 25 age points, 33 doctoral points, 1 Korean language training point, 1 volunteer point (I rejoined a church that, on the authority of the pastor, has the certificate for F2-7 visa points), 3 overseas work points, 1 tax point, and 3 income points (if we assume that my 4 points of income will not withstand scrutiny from immigration dudes who will rip off a point based on my monthly rent).

    That is a total of 67 points. Again, I still have a case for 70 points. But I will assume that the immigration office will poke holes all over my sad application.

    But fortunately, I somehow managed to score 44% on the KIIP last Saturday, enough for level 3 (I SERIOUSLY thought that I would only get into level 1). I looked carefully at the Korean KIIP update from 20 July 2015 and it seems to say that “3급/3단계” is equal to 14 points.

    Assuming I fail this first KIIP 3 course, I will obviously retake it for an automatic pass. So 67 + 14 = 81, right? (Hopefully, my numbers are right.)

    • Richard Moore says:

      Go get the document from the tax office ASAP so you know. I had a co-worker check the company intranet and he said “you paid X amount in taxes” which means I got Y points. I, months later, went to the tax office to get the paperwork but the tax office numbers (on the official document) said I paid almost 2 mil less than my co-worker told me I did, which was a reduction of 2 points from the tax bracket I thought I had.

      Yes, passing level 3 of KIIP = 14 points. You need to get at least 70 classroom hours (the website gets updated to show how many hours you’ve officially attended) to take the final exam. If you fail the test you retake the class, get your hours in as you did before, and you’ll get pushed to the next level without needing to take the test again. This applies for all but the last level of their program. Source: http://www.waygook.org/index.php/topic,79900.500.html (multiple people said this)

      I don’t understand how you got “1 Korean language training point” in paragraph 5, but Korean language ability is only counted for classes or the TOPIK and you counted 1 point in P5 but then 14 in KIIP for level 3 which would be incorrect. So your math is almost correct; 67 -> 66. So 66 points + 14 = 80.

      • Richard Moore says:

        Oh, did you mean 1 point for Korean language under the “extra points criteria / study experience in Korea”? Sorry, just noticed that now. I am not sure if you are allowed to count that AND count KIIP points. I’d recommend calling Immigration at 1345 and asking ….but not always reliable information and the employee you hand your paperwork to can give a different answer.

      • Chris says:

        “Korean language training” refers to studying at a different place. For example I was at 79, but I did a semester abroad at Yonsei when I was in college where I took a Korean class. I gave them my transcript and that counted as one point for language training, which put me at 80 and I got the visa.

      • Richard Moore says:

        Fantastic to know. Did you do that and TOPIK or KIIP and they counted them all?
        I am doing KIIP and did my MA here so I am doubting they would allow me to count both doing an MA here (4 pts) and korean language training as they are in the same category. I also did a study abroad at yonsei and did a summer class at a diff univ as an MA requirement. If they do count both KIIP and “Korean language training” I could be golden but am scared to be too optimistic.

      • Chris says:

        Yeah they counted KIIP and my Yonsei class, so you’ll be more than fine with KIIP and a Korean MA.

      • Pauline MacLeod says:

        Hello Richard: December was actually only my first month here for income purposes, but I still think I should swallow the 3,000 KRW or so expense for the bank statement (what is the exact Korean term for this again) just for December 2016—I think it only reasonable to make sure that the numbers on my [[company intranet]] (to use your term) exactly match my official tax documents. I do not mind doing this for twelve consecutive months to make sure that I fall within the 1 point income tax range.

        I already know about the passing guarantee even after a failure of the final exam. But one thing NOT covered by any forum is this simple question: these KIIP classes have midterm exams too. What if you fail the midterm? A 2010 internet forum says that in such a case, you will be kicked out of the KIIP class with no guarantees for anything. I hope this issue can be clarified: Can you fail the midterm and fail the final (all the while mainintaing a superb attendance record and a good attitude) and still be allowed to retake the KIIP class with the promised passing grade for the second retake? This is an absolutely critical question that will determine whether my KIIP class will be torture with a prize or not worth it.

        And yes, I did take Korean language coursework as defined by the extra points category—on two separate occasions, actually, in two different Korean universities. Either one will suffice for the one point maximum, but it is nice to have a [[spare]] in case the immigration office unreasonably kills one of those language courses. And yes, Richard, you can actually have a maximum of 29 points based on KIIP (18 points for completion of Level 5), TOPIK (6 score for 10 points), and 1 point for extra language training—18 + 10 + 1 = 29. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)

  44. Pauline MacLeod says:

    Actually, I am so sorry—please scratch the clearly wrong last sentence of my latest comment. Since I’m clearly not in the running for KIIP Level 4 (for the moment) and since I do not see myself as good enough for surviving any TOPIK exam, I really haven’t paid much attention to the rules for F2-7 visa points in this area.

    • rickinasia says:

      (Regarding KIIP midterm and final exams)

      The textbooks changed around 2015 so maybe the test format changed as well. And if the only time ppl in the forum mentioned a midterm was in 2010, it sounds like they have removed that requirement.

      I have been in KIIP for the last two “semesters” where I took level 3 and level 4 (aka recent and intermediate levels). Both classes’ textbooks have a midterm review as chapter 10, and a final review as chapter 20, but neither of the classes had a midterm exam, only a final exam. We also had a different text proctor during the final exam as they wanted to remove the teacher-student relationship factor from the testing equation. I do still think it is worth it to cultivate a good relationship with your teacher, just know that does not transition into the testing itself….that you know of. Behind the scenes I fully believe teachers still can influence each other or bump scores, but we aren’t privy to that information.

      If the KIIP class feels like torture it sounds like you are over stressing yourself or have a horrible teacher. I do believe there are too many vocab words and grammar forms and a slower pace would be better for retaining information. I also feel stress toward passing the final exam, but the only time I felt the class would be a super hard struggle was when our teacher clearly should not have been the teacher (he was closed minded, annoying, insulting, and couldn’t answer simple questions about the textbook contents). After that first session I changed teachers by changing locations and all was good with the world.

      • Pauline MacLeod says:

        Responding to Richard: Ah, of course, you are right. Some internet forums refer to the final examination of the KIIP level (for levels through the fourth level) as a “midterm,” which perhaps exacerbates the confusion for new people like me. But assuming that the format of the class has not changed since you took it, then I will assume the existence of a midterm REVIEW and a final REVIEW—with only one exam (the final exam) at the end. That is a relief.

        I mentioned the good-attitude-as-necessary-in-class point only because when I first registered for the placement test on Socinet, I was instructed to sign an oath saying that I would do my diligent best (or something like that, depending on what the Korean actually meant). Of course, the attitude doesn’t technically matter—either you get an 80% attendance rate and a 60% final examination score to pass the class or go for the retake (with the promised completion certificate as long as you show up for 80% of the meetings of the retake), or you don’t. Still, it’s not a good idea to unnecessarily annoy people. After all, we are guests here, and I still feel that my potential F2-7 application can be imploded by anyone at the immigration office—no matter what the mathematics says. I’ve been to Korea for nearly a year over my last two visits, and my last visit to the immigration office was a nightmare because the office kept telling me that I needed certain documents, after which the university would give me a document and then send me again to the office, after which the spectacle would repeat…and repeat it did…for three times! >.<

      • rickinasia says:

        “…and my last visit to the immigration office was a nightmare…”
        Too many people have horror stories about Immigration in a number of countries. Immigration seems to be comprised of people who believe to be demi gods protecting their nation >_< It also seems to be the more busy their location, the more stressed and frustrated their employees are and they take that out on the people looking to update their paperwork. Don't take it personal and don't give up! Glad you kept going back until you got the visa! ^^

    • rickinasia says:

      “Since I’m clearly not in the running for KIIP Level 4 (for the moment) and since I do not see myself as good enough for surviving any TOPIK exam, I really haven’t paid much attention to the rules for F2-7 visa points in this area.”

      A good number of the students in level 4 were, in my opinion, there because they went through level 3 twice and simply got pushed to level 4. Several also told me this was their second time in level 4 and had the marked up textbook they previously used to prove it. A few students were amazing and used what they learned at home with their Korean spouse and living in Korean in-laws. So not everyone is amazing and you shouldn’t doubt your abilities or beat yourself up for any perceived lack of linguistic knowledge.

      TOPIK is now two levels; simple and intermediate/advanced. TOPIK 1 levels 1 and 2 are pretty easy to pass and they are the equivalent of KIIP 1 and 2.
      TOPIK 2 (levels 1~4) are waaay harder as it is the advanced test but just longer and are the equivalent of KIIP 3, 4, 5 (there is no KIIP 6).
      You level tested into KIIP 3, which is the same number of F-2-7 points as TOPIK 2 level 1. Honestly I wouldn’t waste my time with the TOPIK exam and would just focus on passing KIIP 3 either by passing the exam or doing the class twice. Previous TOPIK tests are in the public domain and topikguide.com has a bunch of them (free? paid?). If you are curious you can get an old test from there or another site and see how easy/difficult it is.

      You can download KIIP textbooks in PDF format for free online or buy printed copies for like 7,000 won. I’d recommend getting it early and try to do each lesson before the actual class as the speed is rather intimidating if you don’t know 70% of the new words. And if you previously wrote the English next to each vocab term then you’ll learn a lot more in class. And avoid translating every word yourself. Instead use the website/app Memrise for vocab as people have made some amazing vocab lists you can use as flashcards and can also use to write the English word next to most all vocab terms in the textbooks as a way to prepare for each KIIP class.

  45. Pauline MacLeod says:

    …and I agree that KIIP is to be preferred over the TOPIK, especially if you are hunting for more F2-7 visa points. (On the other hand, if your Korean is really strong and you want a more painless way to garner F2-7 visa points, then the TOPIK might be more suitable for you.)

    I took Korean classes in the West and did very well on the beginning levels (for which we used the Klear textbooks series). But I suspect that my struggles with intermediate Korean (I took the lower intermediate Korean level in a Korean University and got a “B,” but only because I slavishly depended on the help of a native-speaking friend—who promptly got upset over spending so much time on helping me. Without that friend, that “B” would surely have been an “F”) have more to do with the enormous gap that exists between lower Korean levels and intermediate ones. It’s no wonder that Korean is considered one of the hardest languages to learn in the world.

    I’ll try not to beat myself up too hard over this. After all, it’s always good to remember the big picture—to simply rack up enough points to get as many points over 80 as possible (to accommodate for the immigration office arbitrarily docking off points). But a question directly related to the F2-7 visa process, as this webpage is technically for that: does one’s local volunteering center have a definitive list of government-approved volunteering locations for getting the volunteering F2-7 points? (It would really stink to volunteer at one place for a while, only to discover that it lacked the certification.) My volunteering location, according to one authority, has the certificate, but there is the trust-but-verify attitude in me, and I’m not a big fan of going to the bosses of this place (I am a tiny cog in a big volunteering machine) for what might seem a trifling issue to them—hence the need for verification at a separate place.

    • rickinasia says:

      I recommend registering at http://www.vms.or.kr where it documents the hours and number of times you’ve volunteered. It seems to be the official umbrella NGO that immigration respects. You can search by region and type of volunteer work you want to do. I live in an area that really doesn’t have anything posted, so I’ve asked a co-worker to help me make a program where I can get points; basically calling the local 주민 centers and see if they want free English lessons for the community. If so, have the center register on that website, I apply for their posting, and get the credit. We’ve started some of the initial calling but got bogged down at work recently and the hours the 주민센터s wanted didn’t match with my schedule this far. That or I’ll drive to the nearest big city again for large chunks of time.

      • Pauline MacLeod says:

        Brian’s own words from his initial blog entry also gave me some pause:

        “The immigration officer accepted this documentation and said I was over the 80 points needed, however, I would need to gather tax documentation for at least 3 consecutive years from back home.”

        So, what happens if, hypothetically, you worked at a job [related to your academics/field as demanded by immigration] for one calendar year (2000), then worked at another job [related in the same way] for 2005, and then another job in 2006? Would immigration accept those 3 non-consecutive years across three different jobs and give you five points for overseas work experience? The points criteria as issued by the July 2015 update seems to imply so, but one never knows. Maybe, for this hypothetical situation (a situation somewhat like mine, essentially), immigration will only give one point? (That would be a minor disaster.)

  46. Pauline MacLeod says:

    Oh, and in the hypothetical example I just posted, I meant one job in 2000, a different one in 2005, and a different one in 2010. Three non-consecutive years, unlike the one I gave—

    • Lieueez says:

      Hi Pauline, I’ve been following your comments on here and just wanted to add some clarification about the KIIP program. This is all the 2016 info, things might have changed slightly for 2017.

      Levels 1~3 –> After attending more than 70 hours of 100, take the ‘Level Test’
      **These tests are administered by KIIP employees.
      **If you fail, retake the class (you cannot just retake the test)

      Level 4 –> After attending more than 70 hours of 100, take the ‘Midterm Exam’
      **This test is administered by immigration. There are no KIIP employees involved on exam day from what I could tell.
      **If you fail, you may retake the test multiple times within one year, OR retake the course

      Level 5 –> 50 (35 hr minimum) hour course, KIPRAT Permanent Residence Test. (retake test multiple times/course x2) ie. take the course –> take the test –> fail –> retake the course –> retake the test –> fail –> retake the course –> course completion
      **This is all you have to do for the F-series visas. You don’t need the extra 20 hour course. Also administered by immigration.
      Level 5 –> 70 hour course (50 hour course + 20 hour 심화 course) Naturalization Test (KINAT)

      On a side note, because I’ve seen speculation about this on several blogs…
      It is true that ‘in theory’ your KIIP instructor could influence your test score in levels 1~3, but it is illegal and they could lose their jobs. It would also have to happen during the test, as your instructor is not involved in the scoring of your exam. At the larger schools that host classes, like 숭실대학교, there is no way this would ever happen. You might see it more at the smaller community centers, but the KIIP program is taking measures to make sure this doesn’t happen by testing students together on one day, at one location.

      The immigration employees are very strict during the level 4 test. It was really stressful for me, but on the plus side, the people doing the oral interview/test were quite nice.

      ***The following is my own speculation based on working for a similar organization in the USA. I think that KIIP is a government funded program. That means in order to continue receiving funding students need to pass the test. They want you to pass, especially your instructors, because the instructors are also getting evaluated based on the number of passing students in their classes. That is why they ask you to sign that thing promising you will do your best. KIIP is accepting students on good faith that you’ll try hard, but every student that drops out of the program before reaching 70 hours or doesn’t take/pass the level/midterm tests has a big influence on their numbers at the end of the year. Losing funding means losing the KIIP program all-together, which would really suck for future F-series visa seekers.

      *Class registration for the new semester just started in Seoul and in my experience the better instructors are at the university schools. They won’t let you cheat on the exam, but they are usually better teachers. Even if you clash with your instructor, just remember they really do want the best for you, because your test score has an effect on their evaluation score. *On the plus side the community center I went to was always buying the students drinks and ice cream for some reason. We got lots of goodies in that class.

      Hope this is helpful 🙂 They will also give you paperwork that explains all of this to you when you start classes.

  47. Pauline MacLeod says:

    Dear Lieueez,

    Thank you for these clarifications; of course, I too suspected that your KIIP instructor would have no influence on diminishing the difficulty of a final examination. But with so many long hours of classes ahead of all the KIIP students (and the attendant loss of free time entailed in all those classes), it just makes common sense (just on a purely human level) to act patiently and work diligently with the teacher. If you have a lemon of so many hours that you have to sink into a KIIP course, you might as well make lemonade. In theory (although this is purely theoretical and no one would do this), a student can be so disruptive in a KIIP class that the teacher can throw the student out even if the student has an 80 percent attendance rate and is well on the way to passing the class.

    I thank you especially for clarifying the difference between [1] the KIIP final exam of any level from, say, Level 1 to Level 4 and [2] the so-called midterm. It may be possible to fail both of these examinations, but in the case of failing both of these exams, will one retake of the entire course can resolve this issue? (In other words, the course retake kills two birds with one stone—the KIIP and the immigration requirements.)

    On the course retake option: can the retake can happen in any schedule after the course you have just failed? (I hope there isn’t some strange requirement that says if the original failure course was a Monday-Wednesday-Friday from, say, February to April, you will have to wait for a similar schedule next year to retake the class.)

    Thank you for your very helpful post. Sadly, even I can’t answer my own question about whether overseas work from three non-consecutive years is counted for five points by immigration. My phone service is broken at the moment and a repair won’t come anytime soon because of the issues involved, so it’s not like I can just call 1345 (and even if I do, won’t they give me like five different answers? LOL)

  48. Pauline MacLeod says:

    Oh, and that reminds me—since my phone is not working, I have to ask—how will I obtain the textbook for this class? I imagine that we will be expected to have the text on day one of the class…

    If they want to telephone me about textbook information, I will not be able to obviously pick up….(frowns)

    • Lieueez says:

      You can pick up the level 3 textbook at Kyobo bookstore in Seoul: http://www.kyobobook.co.kr/product/detailViewKor.laf?ejkGb=KOR&mallGb=KOR&barcode=9788996329046&orderClick=LEA&Kc=

      Click on 영업점 재고 ~ 위치 to see the number of copies at each location.

      I’m not sure how often they telephone people about things. I usually receive text messages from KIIP.

      • Pauline MacLeod says:

        “Levels 1~3 –> After attending more than 70 hours of 100, take the ‘Level Test’ **These tests are administered by KIIP employees. **If you fail, retake the class (you cannot just retake the test)”

        Wait…so suppose one were to take, say, a KIIP 3 class. After sitting in the class for 70 hours, this student takes the exam and fails it. Does that mean the student attends the class for ten more hours to get 80% attendance and therefore the class counts as an attempt for the two attempts necessary for an automatic “course complete” notation (which is effectively the same thing as a passing grade)? Or worse…does a failure in the “70th hour test” mean that the whole attempt doesn’t count? Many apologies for my confusion…

      • Lieueez says:

        “Wait…so suppose one were to take, say, a KIIP 3 class. After sitting in the class for 70 hours, this student takes the exam and fails it. Does that mean the student attends the class for ten more hours to get 80% attendance and therefore the class counts as an attempt for the two attempts necessary for an automatic “course complete” notation (which is effectively the same thing as a passing grade)? Or worse…does a failure in the “70th hour test” mean that the whole attempt doesn’t count? Many apologies for my confusion…”

        The whole 80% attendance is old information. KIIP and immigration update their requirements every year. Seeing as how the 2017 semester hasn’t started yet, we really don’t know if they’ve made any changes to the information OR the point system for the F-series visas. But as of 2016, it is 70% attendance / attending 70 or the 100 class hours. When you retake the course it is the same, you must attend 70 out of the 100 hours. Literally you retake the entire course. The people in my level 3 class who were retaking the class still retook the test at the end (but it didn’t matter if they passed it or not, they would still advance to level 4).

        Also you can’t just take the test after 70 hours – you take the test when the course finishes (after all 100 hours have been taught). The 70 hours is just the attendance requirement. If you look on the KIIP website you can find documents that will answer a lot of your questions in the ‘help’ section.

        The level 4 test is like a cumulative exam, that is why it’s called the ‘Midterm Exam’. There is material from all the levels on it, especially lots of stuff from levels 3&4.

        Don’t worry about it Pauline! Just take the classes and do your best. You’ll be fine!

    • rickinasia says:

      You can also get PDFs of the textbooks from the Ministry of Justice website. Trying to find the links on the wesbite itself is difficult, so comeone copypasted them in the description of this youtube video:

      If you look at the download path you can see it is getting the file from the Ministry’s website, so these aren’t pirated, they are legit files shared with the public.

      • rickinasia says:

        Yuck, the link gives the video and not the link itself. So if you start playing the video, then click “youtube” on the bottom right corner it will open the video in YouTube and you can see the links int he description below the video.

  49. Myriam says:

    I want your advice please:
    I’m here in Korea accompanying my husband ( both are not Korean) and finally in the last year i had the chance to learn Korean in free Catholic women center and i’m the only student here, Now i’m in book No.4 but indeed my real level is 2 ( may be less) … I can read … write …. understand very simple sentences …. speak very little …. I don’t have Korean friends so i don’t practice
    Now, what do you advice me? I tried to register on KIIP site but it didn’t succeeded i don’t know why.
    Do i continue with the catholic center and trying to study with myself in book3?
    Do i try to participate in KIIP? go to immigration office and see what is the problem? but will KIIP be useful for me to upgrade my level?
    Do i go yo YWCA?

    I’m housewife and love languages … I don’t want to loose more time without have a good acknowledge and speaking Korean language
    Thanks in advance

    • rickinasia says:

      Do you mean you tried to make an ID on the KIIP site, but it didn’t work? I’d talk to a Korean (friend, co-worker, teacher at the Catholic center) and have them help you make an ID for the website.
      Then you need to take a level test to see which level you should study in the KIIP program.
      Are you using the KIIP series at the Catholic center? If your textbook is too difficult, then talk to you teacher and use a better level textbook.
      If you just want to study the language, then find a good teacher; the Catholic center or KIIP. If you want to get points for the F-2-7 visa, then study at KIIP.

  50. Myriam says:

    Ok i will let someone helping me to make ID on the site ,
    At that center they don’t use KIIP series they use other series suitable for foreign housewives who married to Korean,
    Thanks for the advises

  51. Pauline MacLeod says:

    Dear Lieueez and all other concerned people,

    I am much obliged for all this feedback. Thank you for those links to online textbooks, but I actually downloaded the PDF files of all the KIIP books way back in September from those very same youtube sites you offered (print books are just clutter, and I can take digital handwritten notes on my tablet in class—much more organized than handwritten notes, I think, but that’s just me—to each his/her own). The textbook for KIIP 3 is “한국어와 한국문화 (중급 1)”—with lessons 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on pages 13, 23, 33, 43, and 53 respectively, right? (The PDF file itself has 229 pages.) I only give those specific details so that my information matches the information held by everyone else.

    Later this month, I intend to travel to my immigration office (I haven’t been there at all for the purposes of my present stay—thank goodness for some professional administrators of my workplace) just to ask questions about how many points my tax documents and CEO letters can bring me for a potential F2-7 application in January 2018. (January is only my second income-earning month in my third and present stay in Korea thus far.) I would love to go on the 27th since I am off from my job on that day, but someone told me that there is some Korean holiday on that day that mandated my day off—I have no idea. Is the immigration office closed on Friday the 27th as well? If so, I will try to go when I have a slow weekday at work. I don’t have a working phone at the moment and I am nervous about asking my workplace to use their phone (as well as bothering my friends for their precious cell plan minutes). It’s better for me to just go there and find out myself. If and when I do, I will be happy to also ask any specific questions that any other forum observers might have too. I hope that my visit will help other people besides myself—there has been so much information traveling around.

    Anyway, I used a fine resource (turner.faculty.swau.edu/mathematics/math241de/materials/treecalculator/) in order to map out my F2-7 probabilities. Assuming that I pass KIIP [on one fry] or complete it [after two attempts] (a completion being the same as a pass), I will be locked on 73 points (25 age, 33 doctorate, 1 Korean language training from the extra points section, 14 KIIP). So my magic number is 7 points, since 73 + 7 = 80. In the probability tree calculator, I put in: [A] outcomes of 0, 1, 3, or 5 for career points; [B] outcomes of 0 or 1 for tax points (my boss told me that I will be easily at 1 tax point, but who knows???); [C] outcomes of 0 or 1 for volunteering (who knows, again???); and [D] outcomes of 2, 3, or 4 for income (my supposed yearly income will put me in 4 points, but who knows—maybe immigration will dock off income from my gross totals for my monthly rental bills, my airline fare, and so on???). The fundamental counting principle (4 * 2 * 2 * 3) gives me 48 distinct F2-7 points outcomes. In 21 (43.75%) of those outcomes, I get the visa. But if I get 0 career points, it’s all over. I recommend this resource for any KIIP people who want to know the EXACT possibility for getting this visa. 43.75% is not a great possibility. But it’s still a heck of a lot better than the numbers I was crunching with only 10 or 12 KIIP points….

  52. Richard Moore says:

    “The textbook for KIIP 3 is “한국어와 한국문화 (중급 1)”—with lessons 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on pages 13, 23, 33, 43, and 53 respectively, right?”

    “I am much obliged for all this feedback. ”
    -Me as well. I learned new stuff too and loved seeing all the replies and postings in such a short amount of time ^^

    “…Korean holiday…”
    -The easiest way to see what days are holidays is get a calendar with red numbers for national holidays. Example Jan. 27 ~ 30 (Lunar New Year), March 1 (March 1st Movement related with independence), May 3 (Buddha’s Birthday), 5 (Children’s Day). Those days companies and things like Immigration will be closed.

    When you talk to Immigration, mention the NGO (“volunteer activities in Korea”) and the “overseas professional work experience” and see what they say. As long as your church time counts then keep doing it at least until you earn the visa; 1 year+ = 1 point, 2 years+ = 3 point, 3 years+ = 5 points. Sounds like worst case scenario is keep doing that and the KIIP and after a year or two, as long as they don’t change the point system before you apply, then you should be good.

    My personal view is calling will be easier than visiting the Immigration office in person, the location/city and time of year will determine if your wait is short or horribly long. Ask your boss if you can use the phone for visa reasons (which is true and using a phone for a local 10 minute call is worth it to keep an employee legal), a lot of people do texting or rather Kakao Talk chat on their phone over phone calls (aka people use “data” more than “call minutes” these days in Korea) so I be you can find a couple of friends keep willing to loan you their phone for 10~20 minutes in exchange for a coffee, or find a pay phone and get a bunch of coins. I personally believe those options would be easier than going to Immigration and spending X amount of time there. Also remember again that the Immigration officer you meet in person or on the phone will probably not be the same person as you meet when you drop off your F-2-7 paperwork application (see story above written by the author of this blog) and the points/evaluation criteria for this visa were last updated July 2015 (overdue for a change?) and they haven’t a clue as to then the value will change again as their parent ministry will simply dictate changes when they feel it is appropriate (source: I called Immigration and asked). Don’t feel down, just prepare as best as you can and prepare as much as you can for 80 points or beyond and then let us know how it goes 🙂

  53. Pauline MacLeod says:

    “I had a co-worker check the company intranet and he said ‘you paid X amount in taxes’ which means I got Y points. I, months later, went to the tax office to get the paperwork but the tax office numbers (on the official document) said I paid almost 2 mil less than my co-worker told me I did, which was a reduction of 2 points from the tax bracket I thought I had.”

    With this Jacob Marley (A Christmas Carol, anyone?) story in mind, I decided to adopt the trust-but-verify mindset regarding my taxes. Although my own intranet documents say that I pay enough taxes for a specific bracket of tax points, I decided to ask my boss for the Earned Income Tax Withholding document for just my first month of work here (December 2016). When the boss asked me, “Why?,” I quivered for a moment but then I blurted out, “Immigration 때문에요” and suddenly, like a ravenous koala eating tree branches, the boss simply went away. It’s amazing how far you can get with management by simply saying “Immigration 때문에요.” If I ever spill coffee on my boss by accident, I’ll just say, “Immigration 때문에요” and we will see how far that goes. On the serious end, I am told that my Earned Income Tax Withholding document’s numbers will exactly match the intranet documents. If so, I will be well on my way to some precious tax points. We shall soon see.

    I know that even a phone call to immigration to determine the nature of my overseas income points will be nothing but just a snapshot in time—a snapshot that will be subject to all the changes and whims of different immigration officers, most notably the guy/gal who will be looking over my stuff in early 2018. Still, a phone call would help me to alleviate my curiosity a little bit.

    One last comment: if the points criteria change, my gut tells me that the changes might make things harder for would-be F2-7 people. For instance, the older point system (used in the early period of the F2-7 visa from about 2010 to sometime later) offered three (3) points for a Korean language certificate (see: https://koreanegg.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/f2-visa-in-korea-39/), but now, the points system only offers one point for that. Then again, the newer point system offers language point outcomes of 10, 12, 14, 16, or other point totals. The older point system seems to have only had subdivisions of 10, 15, or 20 points—great, I suppose, for the fluent speakers, but not so great for people who saw themselves as better than 10 points in language but still worse than 15 points.

  54. Pauline MacLeod says:

    A small update and a question. Perhaps I misunderstood the high Korean level of my manager, but it seems that I cannot get an “Earned Income Tax Withholding document” that shows all twelve months of one year in income and taxes paid (i.e. a sheet that shows January earnings and taxes paid, the same for February, the same for March, and so forth). Right now, I’m getting this form once a month to reflect only the recently finished month. Is this normal?

    In addition, I recently received a tax refund for taxes paid in the calendar year 2016. For the sake of argument, let’s just say that I paid $12 in taxes for the calendar year 2016. Then, for my most recent payday a few weeks ago, I received $5 in tax refunds. Will the immigration office say that I paid $12 in taxes for 2016? Or will they just say I paid $7 since they wish to incorporate the tax refund? (Heck, when I apply for this F2-7 visa, I will try not to talk up the tax refunds too much unless that information accompanies my mandatory documentation for submission.)

  55. Pete Fish says:

    Holy moly!

  56. Hi Dear Brian,
    This is Ramesh, I am planing to apply for F2-7 visa, I am not sure about exact point system, at my knowledge, I know that I can get 72 points (age+education+topik)

    PhD (35 points) + age 33 or 34(25 points)+ topik level 2 (12 points)
    I did my PhD here from 2011 to 2016 august, and got a job last year sep 2016 and changed my visa to E3

    is there anyway that I can fill my -8 points, from getting my Phd degree in korea and annula income (present 42 mil) last year (30 mil), and tax payment? or any other ?

    pls suggest me someway, waiting for your reply


  57. Ed Venables says:

    I have a question, sorry if someone has already asked.

    The F2 is available for people living in Korea for 1 year, right?

    Does that need to be a continuous visa? Like could I have 6 months on an E2 visa, and then 6 months on a student visa?


    • brianvanhise says:

      Hi Ed,
      As far as I know, it shouldn’t really matter, but I’d suggest asking your local Immi office for clarification first. 🙂 Keep us updated so others can know too! Thanks!

  58. Pauline MacLeod says:

    You can try, Ed, but I think you will only be credited for the time for which you remained on the same visa (i.e., six months). But I myself went to immigration last month. Although I did not have an internet reservation, a courier kindly went to the officers myself and clarified the following:

    Although the F2-7 applicant needs to be in Korea continuously for at least one year, that requirement actually means one year continuously on the same visa. For this reason, I managed to go to my native Canada and return—all whilst on the same E2 visa. I recently went to my F2-7 appointment and I will soon post material about what happened.

  59. Pauline MacLeod says:

    Approved for F2-7 visa in early December at the window. Then, told through a text message today that my application was denied by someone higher than the window person. Tragic. Utterly disgusted.

  60. Pauline MacLeod says:

    Points recognized by the window lady, her two superiors (unseen by me), and the one superior (unseen) above all these other people (78): Passport Age 25, Doctoral Degree 33, KIIP Material Completion (double-failure) certificate 14, Monthly Income Withholding Sheets over twelve months 4, Korean language study in a Korean University for one semester (no other classes allowed—must be dedicated Korean language study) 1, Work overseas 1.

    The window lady accepted my explanation that I was a part-time doctoral student, so I had plenty of time to work. And my records demonstrate that I was barely in school since most of my work was independent research. I told her that in the West, it is routine for doctoral students to do regular jobs while learning as students. She accepted my application, but I think I did not understand something that she muttered in Korean. I think she was trying to say that someone above her can still overrule her.

    And someone did overrule her—the person struck down all my work records that coincided with my doctoral years. I was left with one measly point for the one year or so from my doctoral graduation to my Korean job hiring (see above).

    I should have taken that message to heart. But I did not. As it turns out, the phenomenon of approval at the window and then a later denial is more common than you think.

    The problem is that if your points-proving documents are from Korea, you will have smooth sailing. But the more your documents come from outside Korea, the higher the chance of your flopping. I should have kept that in mind.

    So, how to get the remaining 2 points when I go to immigration in a few days to try to appeal this (all the more urgent because, just as in Brian’s story, they will not refund my fee)?

    [1] Annual tax statement for 2017. Here is where I totally bombed. I paid 1.97 million KRW in taxes. As early as November 2017, I knew that I was not going to hit 2 million KRW in taxes unless I asked for an advance in December to push me over the limit. This I should have done, and my work would have happily reduced my salary for a future month and put that amount in my December pay. But the success of my interview early this month put false confidence in me, and I was too scared to ask for something as seemingly unusual as a salary advance.

    Had I found the courage to ask, I would have surely been given the advance—and my salary in December 2017 would have been enough to put me over the 2 million KRW tax level. That’s 2 points right there, and 78 (the calculation above + 2 = 80). But now, I only have 1 tax point.

    [2] I could give a volunteer certificate from my church, which seems to hand out certificates relatively frequently to high school students who need proof of service. But I doubt immigration will take this seriously, since this is not from the VMS site. I tried to apply for VMS last year…but I was overwhelmed and the interviewer at my local VMS office told me that only fluent Korean speakers are invited to VMS-quality volunteering.

    [3] I will have to dig into my work documents from the years before my doctorate started. My boss in America will be sending contracts of my work from those years to further support my status. I think—and I hope I am right—that immigration just assumed that my doctorate started right after the end of my undergraduate degree. If my assumption is right, that would explain why immigration ruled out all my work documents from my pre-doctorate years. But there was a gap of four years from my BA to my doctorate. Hopefully, with the transcripts in hand, I can prove that I was only working (and not even doing the most in-name-only/no-effort classes).

    But I dunno. It all looks like a crapshoot now. I am grateful to everyone in these F2-7 forums and all the information that I found helped me to assemble the most organized and thoroughly authenticated submission that I could give. But the one problem that I mentioned above simply wasn’t mentioned online, so it’s no wonder that I missed it.

  61. kazi md foysal says:

    Hi Brian , nice to see your post.
    I want to start volunteer work. How can i start it officially ?

  62. Ginjang says:

    Hi, I am thinking of applying for the visa sometime next year. Assuming the requirements don’t change, would I have enough points to qualify? I am especially confused over the “bonus points” section. I am getting my Master’s degree in Korea, so that would be 30 points for having a Master’s plus an additional 4 for it being from a Korean school?

    1. Age – 23 points
    2. Master’s Degree (lib arts) – 30 points
    3. Korean Ability – Level 5 – 18 points
    4. Annual Income (less than 20mil – I am a student) – 1
    5. Completion of KIIP – 10 points
    6. Completion of Master’s Degree in Korea – 4
    7. Overseas work experience (1-2 years) – 1

    =87 points

    Is this all right or am I misunderstanding something? Especially about the bonus points! Any help would be much appreciated.


    • brianvanhise says:

      Looks great to me… but better run it all by immigration first. They’ll be able to hammer out all the details. Having that +7 points is a nice cushion though! Thanks for commenting!

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