F2 Visa Long-Term Residency Visa (Part I): The Point System
While researching for this visa I found that there is ample information about the visa and the documents that are required. In fact, there is a post on this blog about the F-2 visa. However, I also noticed that a lot of the information available on the web mentions ‘the point system’ in passing. One of the most unique requirement for this visa is the accumulation of points using the point system. But how does it work? Are you eligible for this visa? Do you have enough points to apply? Unfortunately I found the information available to be vague and unclear. It seems difficult to find details of this system. So in this post I will try to provide clear information about the ‘point system’.
Since there is already a post about the F-2 visa on this blog, I will only briefly cover the eligibility and requirements. However, in this post I will talk in detail about ‘the point system’, how it works and how the points are calculated.
First off, what many people are not aware of is the fact that the F2 visa is subdivided into different categories. Some of the F-2 visa sub-types:
- F-2-1: spouse of a Korean.
- F-2-2: issued to an underage foreign child of Korean national.
- F-2-3: issued to the spouse of a resident visa holder (F-5).
- F-2-7: Awarded on a points-based system
- F-2-99: 5 years of continuous residence
The F-2 visa is a new notion. In the past, foreigners had to be married to a Korean or pursue naturalization or permanent residency in order to stay in Korea for an extended period. Korean immigration made changes to the F2 visa to make it easier for professionals who have lived and worked in Korea for 1 year or more to get a permanent residency status.
Under the point system the applicant is eligible if they have lawfully resided in Korea for a year and acquire 80 points out of a total of 120 points. The criteria for calculating the points include age, academic career, Korean language ability, knowledge of Korean culture and income etc.
For most ESL teachers the F-2-99 and F-2-7 is the most feasible, unless you are married to a Korean or a F-5 visa holder. If you speak Korean well and are interested in learning the language and culture, try the F-2-7. If that’s not your cup of tea and you have been in Korea for at least 5 years then go for the F-2-99. But remember ‘Continuous’ in immigration’s eyes means the same visa. If you left Korea and came back with a new visa your clock starts over at zero. You must also have a Korean sponsor.
Why go for the F2 visa?
It is an excellent choice for professionals who are planning to stay in Korea for an extended period but are not married to a Korean. It also gives you more options. You don’t have to stick with your dead end job or put up with atrocities you don’t want to. It allows you more freedom to live and work in Korea.
To get the F-2 visa, you must:
- have an eligible visa status
- lived in Korea for more at least 1 year or more
- reach at least 80 points out of a possible 120.
What is an eligible visa status?
People who currently have the following visa types and meet the other requirements are eligible.
- E- series: E-1 to E-7 (excluding E-6-2 visa holders who work for hotel and entertainment establishments)
- D-Series: D-2, D-5, D-6, D-7, D-8, D-9, D-10 (D-2 and D-10 holders must be in master’s or doctorate degree program and have job prospects lined up)
The ‘Point System’
The F-2 visa status application process is based on a point system. You must obtain 80 out of 120 points to apply for an F-2 visa. The process may sound easy but accumulating enough points to pass can be a struggle.
- Age: This is one case in Korea where age doesn’t get you anything. Older does not equate to more points.
- Income: In this case, the more you make, the more points you get.
- Education: Again, the higher your degree, the more points you can receive. If you have studied in Korea, you will also earn points for that.
- Language Proficiency: You can guess this one! If you’re fluent in Korean you get more point. The goal is to reach level 4 on the TOPIK test. A level 4 score will earn you 20 points.
- Volunteer work:helping out in the community will go a long way for your F2 application.
- The Social Integration Program: It is a course run by the Korean Immigration.
The ‘Point System’ chart
To give you a more clear idea of how the points are calculated, here is a detailed chart explaining the points for different categories:
A 37 year old (23pts) who earned his/her master’s degree (30pts) in Korea (4pts) making 40 million KRW per year (5pts) has volunteered for 2 years (3pts) and who can speak at an intermediate level 4 (16pts) is eligible for an F-2 visa. Total= 81/120 points
Now from what I can gather, many people who have taken the course and have a F2 visa recommend that you take a TOPIK test after you finish KIIP level 5.If you complete level 5, you get 10 extra points on the F-2 application. Level 4 of the program gives you16 points but you can get 10 extra points if you take the level 5 class and finish the whole program. The problem however lies in the fact that KIIP Level 5 doesn’t get you any language points. It’s like a 10 point bonus for finishing the course. You can get a combined 26 points (10 for finishing and 16 for level 4). But the TOPIK goes up to level 6, which is worth 20 points on the visa application. TOPIK level 5 and 6 are 18 and 20 points, respectively. So if you get TOPIK level 5 or 6 and finish the KIIP program ( bonus 10 points) you end up accumulating more points.
- Alien registration card
- Completed visa application form
- 1 color passport photo attached
- Proof of accumulated points
- Visa fee
Once you are ready to apply, gather the documents and prove you have over 80 points. You can use bank statements, income statements, birth certificate, employment certificate(s), university degree(s), TOPIK test score, volunteer certificate(s) to prove that you have the required points. You can take all the documents, your passport, ARC, visa application and the fee to your local immigration office and submit your application. The immigration officer will look over your application and verify your points. Remember that your local Immigration office makes a final decision after reviewing everything. If you meet the required criteria, your visa will be approved. Once approved it takes about 3-4 weeks to get your new ARC. However, the amount of time it takes depends on the regional immigration office and may vary from city to city.
The Korean Immigration Integration Program or KIIP is an easy way to demonstrate language proficiency and cultural knowledge. In the next post, I will talk about this program, the placement test and the requirements. So stay tuned!