Less than a decade ago, Korea was one of the more under-developed countries of Asia. Many foreign travellers, particularly those from Western country, did not see the appeal in visiting Korea. However, with the eruption of interest in Korean culture globally, people not only want to visit, but obtain Korean citizenship.
The demand for Korean citizenship is greater now than ever before. Of course, these aren’t all just K Pop fans. Industrial giants like Samsung, KIA and Hyundai have attracted foreign workers of all demographics. What’s more, the Korean Tourism Organization has vastly improved the experience for international visitors and citizens. English language service is widespread across transport, finance and healthcare industries, making it easy for expats to stay long term.
If you’re wondering how you can get Korean citizenship, keep reading. I will break down all the possible ways in which you can become a Korean citizen.
Citizenship by Naturalization
The first method I will explain is how to get Korean citizenship by naturalization. As the title suggests, this method is for expats who have lived in Korea for a long period of time i.e. 5 years or more. Additional requirements include the legal right to work in Korea, absence of a criminal record and you must be over 20 years of age.
However, what many people don’t expect is that there is a requirement to have sound knowledge of Korean culture and language. Therefore, even if you’ve lived in Korea for 5 years, your chances of securing a citizenship are low if you don’t know Korean.
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Citizenship by Investment
This next method is relevant only to a select group of people, as it involves complex processes. You can gain Korean citizenship by investing a minimum of $282,000 into a domestic business, over a period of a year. Furthermore, at the point where you renew your visa, you must prove that you are generating profit for the business you manage or work at.
This method is commonplace in several countries, such as the US and Canada. The upside of taking this route in Korea is that you can invest in the industry of your choosing. Other economical hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong require you to invest in certain industries, such as biotechnology, in order for you to obtain citizenship.
However, you will be subject to strict regulations and checks during the visa application process, as many cases of fraud have taken place in the past.
Citizenship by Spouse
One of the more common ways of acquiring Korean citizenship is by spouse. In other words, if you are married to a native Korean, you can apply for Korean citizenship. However, in order to prevent misuse of this route, you must be married to your spouse for 2-3 years before you can apply for citizenship.
Citizenship by Parent
You can also apply via this method if you have a Korean-born parent. You must prepare all documents that prove the familial relationship, and this also applies to adopted children, so long as they were adopted before the age of 18.
Obtaining Dual Citizenship in Korea
This is an important thing to note for those who want to obtain citizenship in Korea. Many foreigners want to keep their original citizenship alongside their Korean one, a state known as “dual citizenship.” Additionally, this is the case for Koreans who want to obtain citizenship in another country. However, the chances of getting dual citizenship is very low.
The Korean government is very strict in whom they allow to hold dual citizenship, however, it is possible. Those with the highest possibility of obtaining dual citizenship are those with parents that are from Korea, but have settled in a foreign country.
Documents You Need To Get Korean Citizenship
- Korean Citizenship Application Form
- Alien Registration Card
- Proof of Financial Stability
- Written Application Statement
- Proof of Identity Document AND coloured photocopy
- Declaration of dependents e.g. spouse, children, parents
These are the basic documents you will need to apply for Korean citizenship, regardless of which route you take. It is recommended to consult with trusted authorities, i.e. visa specialists, in order to understand what is necessary for your specific case, as well as what can strengthen your chances of approval.