Thanks to K-pop, K-dramas, and “Koreanovelas,” South Korea is among the most popular destinations in the worlds today — for tourists, investors, and foreign workers alike. If you have ever dreamed about living and working in this beautiful country… keep on reading!
Due to a shortage of workers in the agricultural, manufacturing, and construction sectors, South Korea is currently open to foreign workers to fill the demand. In this article, we will talk about how Filipinos can get jobs in South Korea, including the different types of visas that they can apply for to work in this country.
The qualifications for working in South Korea would depend mainly on the type of job you are applying for, and the type of visa you’ll need. Obviously, you will need to have a job offer from a South Korean employer. You should also meet the required age, physical fitness, educational attainment, skills, and job experience.
Basically, there are two major “pathways” to working in South Korea. First, there’s the Employment Permit System (EPS), a program that hires foreign workers mainly for the country’s agricultural, manufacturing, and construction industries. To qualify for this program, you need to be between 18 to 38 years old.
Secondly, you could also apply through a manpower agency that’s accredited by the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). We will discuss both pathways in greater detail below. But first, let us get to know the different types of working visas available.
Types of Korean Work Visas
Below is a list of the different types of visas you could get when applying for work in South Korea. These have been grouped into three major categories: non-professional, professional, and other work or business-related visas.
1. Non-Professional Work Visas
- Manufacturing E-9-1 Visa. A visa issued to workers in the manufacturing industry.
- Construction E-9-2 Visa. This visa is assigned to workers in the construction sector.
- Agriculture E-9-3 Visa. A visa issued to workers in agricultural or livestock industries.
- Fishery E-9-4 Visa. This visa is assigned to workers in fisheries, sea-farming, and sea-salt farming sectors.
- Service E-9-5. A visa issued to workers in construction waste processing, collection, cold storage, and press publishing.
2. Professional Work Visas
- Professor E-1 Visa. This visa is assigned to professionals who will be engaged in education or research at educational institutions that are higher than college level. It is valid for one year, and it can be renewed annually.
- Foreign Language Instructor (General) E-2-1 Visa. A visa issued to those who will teach conversational language at a foreign language institute or an educational institute that’s higher than primary school. It is valid for two years, and it may be renewed.
- Researcher E-3 Visa. This visa is assigned for those who are involved in research and development of the natural sciences or industrial technology fields. It is valid for one year, and it may be renewed annually.
- Professional E-5 Visa. A visa issued to certified professionals like accountants, engineers, and lawyers. It is valid for one year, and it may be renewed.
- Artist E-6-1 Visa. This visa is assigned to professional artists in the fields of acting, fine arts, literature, music, etc. It is valid for one year, and it can be renewed.
- Long-Term News Coverage D-5 Visa. A visa issued to reporters from foreign media. It is valid for three months, and it may be renewed in yearly intervals.
3. Other Work or Business-Related Visas
- Short-Term C-3 Visa. This includes the C-3-1 (General) and C-3-4 (Business) Visas. It is assigned to people who are engaged in daily business activities like business communication, market research, contract negotiation, and consulting. It cannot be used for profit-making activities. This visa is valid for up to 90 days.
- Short-Term Employment C-4 Visa. A visa issued to those who intend to make profit through short-term employment such as commercials, fashion modeling, lectures, research, and provision of services. It is valid for up to 90 days.
- Intra-Company Transferee D-7 Visa. This visa is assigned to a person who has worked at the head office or branch office of a foreign company or organization for at least one year, and is set to be transferred to the company’s South Korea office. It is valid for up to two years.
- Corporate/Foreign Investor D-8 Visa. A visa issued to foreign investors who are involved in technical businesses, or businesses that require specialized skills. It includes four sub-categories: D-8-1 (Incorporated Enterprise Investment), D-8-2 (Business Venture Investment), D-8-3 (Unincorporated Private Enterprise Investment), and D-8-4 (Technology and Business Startup) Visas. This visa is valid for 2-5 years, depending on the sub-category.
NOTE: For more details about each type of visa, head to the official website of the Korea Visa Portal.
Each type of Korean work visa has its own set of requirements. Nevertheless, here are some of the most common or general requirements for most visa types:
- Filled-up application form;
- Valid passport (original and photocopies);
- Passport-sized photo (colored);
- Copy of job offer or employment contract;
- Educational records;
- Professional certificates; and
- Criminal record check.
NOTE: Additional documents may be required, depending on the type of job and visa you are applying for.
Most Popular Jobs in South Korea for Overseas Filipino Workers
As mentioned earlier, the following industries are currently popular in South Korea right now: agriculture, manufacturing, construction. In addition, there is also a demand for hotel and restaurant workers, and professional entertainers (e.g. musicians, artists), as well.
Here are some of the most in-demand jobs in the country, grouped by industry:
- Agriculture – farm workers, livestock farmers, farm technicians, etc.
- Manufacturing – factory supervisors, managers, production workers, etc.
- Construction – engineers, carpenters, electricians, laborers, etc.
- Hospitality and Tourism – receptionists, waiters, waitresses, housekeepers, etc.
- Entertainment – musicians, singers, artists, etc.
How to Become an OFW in South Korea
Previously, we mentioned that there are two major “pathways” to working in Korea: the Employment Permit System (EPS), and agencies that are licensed by the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). At this point, let us talk about these topics further.
1. Employment Permit System
In 2004, the Employment Permit System (EPS) was introduced to address labor shortages in the fields of agriculture, construction, and manufacturing. Hence, South Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labor started coordinating with the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Migrant Workers or DMW (formerly the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration or POEA) to hire Filipino workers through this program.
To qualify for the EPS, applicants need to pass tests on language, skills, and competencies. One of these is the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK), a standardized Korean language exam.
As for the requirements for the EPS, you’ll need to prepare these documents:
- Filled-up registration form;
- Valid passport (original and photocopy);
- School diploma (original and photocopy);
- NBI clearance (original and photocopy);
- Pre-employment medical exam (done by a medical clinic accredited by the Department of Health); and
- Valid Korean Language Culture (KLC) training certificate.
After taking and passing the exam, wait for the official announcement from the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). Then, follow any additional procedures as part of your deployment to South Korea. Notably, you are likely to be issued a non-professional work visa such as the Manufacturing E-9-1 Visa, Construction E-9-2 Visa, or Agriculture E-9-3 Visa.
For more information about this program, please visit the EPS official website.
2. DMW-Accredited Agencies
The Philippine Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is the government authority that accredits manpower agencies, including those that facilitate the hiring of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to South Korea. Coordinating with a DMW-licensed agency is a must; otherwise, you could become a victim of labor exploitation or human trafficking.
To search for a DMW-accredited job, you’ll need to visit the DMW website, click “Job Site,” and enter “South Korea.” The results will display the latest available job openings, including the names of the manpower agencies that you need to contact.
Once you are able to get a formal job offer, it’s time to apply for a work visa. At this point, you should be working closely with the manpower agency and your prospective employer in South Korea. Once again, the required documents would depend on the type of job and the specific visa you are applying for.
You can apply for a visa online — through the Korea Visa Portal, or by going to the South Korean Embassy based in Manila Philippines. The processing time varies according to visa type and other factors, though you can expect to wait for a few weeks or a few months.
Licensed Recruitment Agencies to South Korea
Keep in mind that working with a licensed recruitment agency is essential. Here are some of the manpower agencies that are accredited by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to facilitate the deployment of OFWs to South Korea:
- 1010 Ephesians Human Resources Inc.;
- 1015 Brilliant Minds Inc.;
- 1128 International Placement Agency;
- 2018 Crowne Human Resources Inc.;
- 2tg Manpower International;
- 2Queens Maritime Services;
- 525 Primera Human Resources Inc.;
- 99 (Ninety Nine) Manpower Services Corporation;
- ABC Manpower Agency Inc.;
- Intercon Manpower Services;
- International Manpower Corp.;
- Miles Placement Agency; and
- Placement Corporation.
NOTE: Please see the DMW official website for the complete list of manpower agencies that are accredited to recruit land-based and sea-based OFWs around the world.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Meanwhile, below are some commonly asked questions and answers about becoming an OFW in South Korea:
1. Who are qualified to work in South Korea?
The criteria or qualifications for working in this country would depend on the type of job you are applying for. For your specific job application, you need to meet the minimum age, physical fitness, educational attainments, skills, and job experience required.
2. What are the requirements?
Each type of Korean work visa has its own requirements. However, the most common documentary requirements include the following: accomplished application form, valid passport, passport-sized photo, job offer or employment contract, school records, training certificates, and criminal record check. For the Employment Permit System (EPS), you’ll need to take (and pass) the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) language test.
3. What are the most in-demand jobs for OFWs?
At present, the most popular industries in South Korea are agriculture, manufacturing, construction, engineering, hospitality and tourism, and entertainment. And so, the most in-demand jobs include farm workers, farm technicians, factory supervisors, factory workers, engineers, construction laborers, hotel receptionists, waiters/waitresses, musicians, and artists.
4. How can I become an OFW in South Korea?
There are two major pathways to becoming an OFW in South Korea: through the Employment Permit System (EPS), or through a manpower agency that’s licensed by the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers. Depending on the type of job, you’ll need to prepare certain requirements and apply for your work visa online or through the Korean Embassy.
5. How can I learn more about working in South Korea?
To learn more about working in South Korea, you can visit the official websites of the Employment Permit System as well as the Korea Visa Portal. In addition, you can get in touch with the South Korean Embassy in Manila, whose contact details are given below.
Contact Information: South Korean Embassy in Manila
Here are the contact details and location map of the South Korean Embassy in Metro Manila, Philippines:
Address: McKinley Town Center, 122 Upper McKinley Rd, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, 1634 Metro Manila, Philippines
Telephone: +63 2 8856 9210
Video: Requirements for Seasonal Workers in South Korea
Are you interested in becoming a seasonal worker in South Korea? Check out the following video featured by “Christoff tv channel,” which is managed by an OFW based in South Korea. In this video, he talks about the requirements to become a seasonal or temporary worker in the country:
If you already have a work visa, congratulations! But wait… Please take note of the following reminders as you prepare to go to South Korea:
- Pack clothes for extreme weather. The weather in South Korea ranges from hot summers (30+ degrees Celsius) to cold winters (negative temperatures). So be sure to pack clothes for both warm and cold weather!
- Learn the language. Although English is part of their school curriculum, most Koreans still prefer to use their native language. Hence, learning how to read, write, and speak Korean is definitely a good idea; it could be a competitive advantage for you, career-wise!
- Immerse in the culture and cuisine. South Korean culture is unique; they have much respect for the elderly, and family relations is very important. As for the food, it is actually very healthy, with tasty dishes such as kimchi, kimbap, bibimbap, and beulgogi!
- Download and use local apps. The most popular messaging app in South Korea is not Facebook Messenger, but Kakaotalk! Apps such as Naver Maps and Subway Korea will also come in handy!
- Connect with fellow Pinoys. You’d be happy to know that there are many Filipinos who are living in South Korea. Don’t hesitate to reach out to these groups; they can help you adjust to your new living situation more easily!
Indeed, South Korea is among the most popular destinations for OFWs these days. We hope that you have found this guide helpful, especially if you are planning to work or visit this country!
On the other hand, another top choice among OFWs is Australia. Check out this guide for more information about how you can live, work, and study in the land “down under!”