Foreign Students: “Are We Allowed to Work Part-time in Korea?

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The question that most foreign exchange students or D-4 holder foreigners in Korea would always ask is; are we allowed to work part-time in Korea? Part-timing or relatively known as “Alba” in Korean can be observed among students activities in every country to help them ease the burden of paying for school fees or other fees there is. On the other hand, working part-time in another country as a foreign student is another issue. The population of foreign students studying in different universities in Korea is now increasing. May it be through scholarship or just because of the Korean Language Program, individuals whose age may range from 18-30 years old and above can use the best option available to them for studying in Korea. But since, not all of them can ignore everyday expenses and things needed for school, they would surely be highly keen on the idea of working part-time jobs. Though part-timing is common for students, immigration policies in Korea have always been strict due to increasing number of individuals who illegally overstay and work full time in the country.

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Working part-time for students in Korea is actually allowed. As mentioned by the country’s official website, www.studyinkorea.com:

“Foreign students enrolled in a regular course of study can engage in part-time work of less than 20 hours a week during semester time, and unlimited work during vacation time under the foreign student par-time provisions of the Ministry of Justice. It is only required that foreign students who have received the recommendation of their supervising professor.”

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And as follows, D-2 and D-4 visa holder students can surely engage in any part-time job as long as it is allowed by the institution that he is enrolled at. Also as indicated by Immigration Laws, each visa have a specific scope of activity that they are allowed to do. Namely, D-2 visa holders can apply for one time entrance to the university with 20 hours or less than three weeks in to two different work sites. While D-4 visa holders can apply for one after 6 months of stay in Korea and a recommendation from the handling professor of the university. Also for legal purposes, a student, (as advised) must get a license from any immigration office to be legally considered as a part-timer.

Requirements to be granted approval on working part-time.

  • Passport and foreign registration card
  • Application form for permission for engage in activities beyond the current status of stay
  • Integrated form for part time job (It should be signed by employer guidance professor the staff in charge of foreign students at a university)
  • Certificate of studentship
  • Fee : KRW 10,000 (Overseas Koreans(presenter of supporting document) is exempt from the fees


Different universities, in line with the Immigration policies have enumerated jobs that students can actually ventu32-3-1323840028re into while studying. This is to avoid mitigating circumstances that may arise while in a part-time job. Restrictions are made on jobs that go against social norms and customs (karaoke bar, adult entertainment bar, adult bathhouse, speculation), private tutoring, and other. More or less, students who have worked would always try working in small and big restaurants, shops or academies that allow them to work in accordance with their purpose. Some schools even offer job positions in their own institution, like allowing programs for language exchange were foreign students are paid an allowance.

Realities of Part-Time Working in Korea

Last summer vacation, I actually had the opportunity to try working as a part-timer in a café while in Seoul after my Korean Language Program. I was still on my D-4 visa and my professors have allowed me to work so I didn’t hesitate and tried. Well, they have strongly recommended having the employer’s contact information to be sure, so never forget to leave any information to your head teachers. And with this experience, I was inspired to collate foreign student’s views with their own experience on this matter. I was able to ask a few and this was how they viewed part-timing in Korea through their own experience.

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During the survey mostly Europeans and Southeast Asian students were my respondents and most of them are into a D-4 visa status with 27% of them in D-2.  Most are Seoul city based students while the others are from near cities with greater possibilities of working such as Daejeon, Incheon and Suwon. Only a few exchange students worked in sub-urban cities in Korea were part-time jobs are rare. Relatively their part-time jobs are the same location as their university, so that there is convenience and that they don’t have to pay for transportation.
As listed, common part-time jobs that they work at are into Tourism (hostel, tour guide), Restaurant staff, and through academies where they work as part-time ESL teachers and most likely some students were also able to work for companies as translators. Living fees is the main reason for most of them working, but none of them are first timers at working part-time. However some were first timers, who were at first estranged but lately adapted well at being a part-timer.

Working Relationships with Koreans

While doing my survey, I also went into asking them about how they mingled and worked with their Korean heads and peers. Relatively, other than working in another country, working with people from a country different than yours and with a different culture can also be the reason why some would hesitate to try it. However most of them were happy or not feeling anything at all when working, being most of them having a good relationship with their boss and their workmates.

Korea Jobs

Nature of Work

Though immigration laws have already stipulated the strict accordance of the 20 hour work and 2 work sites for students. Most students still work more hours than what is allowed. But then as stated, vacation period allows students to work more than what was restricted. Though almost all of them work to only one kind of job while doing part-time.

Pay on the other hand is another issue. The basic salary for part-timers in Korea is around 4,500+ won an  hour and depends on what type of job or performance the worker have. Though most of the time some work areas offer a good amount, some receive no pay at all as some students only work for a volunteer basis. Also when being paid, a well-laid agreement with you and your boss should be made prior to working to avoid issues on salary. Most students were actually easily laid off or not paid though promised due to lack of strong rules that should help part-timers in Korea. So tread carefully. Always track down your payrolls and don’t be easily swayed with your boss’ friendly vibe. Work is still work.

 Problems they encounter at work
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Working part-time in a country far from where you are from and as a student is a true fulfilling experience. It helps us to work on the possibilities we can do on a young age and help us be thrifty with the money we earn. We also learn and mature in the process as we go along. Also we learn to follow rules and order and adapt to a culture we ought to know as students in Korea.

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Also, if you are a part-time student in Korea, please answer this form to track down and give a better insight for the growing number of working students in Korea.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1eMUKu9XGjkTnkC1Qp705FF-gh02s7tfAOWLmI0uOgJs/viewform

To view the analytics of the survey:  https://docs.google.com/a/lazada.com.ph/forms/d/1eMUKu9XGjkTnkC1Qp705FF-gh02s7tfAOWLmI0uOgJs/viewanalytics

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