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Can You Live in South Korea Forever?

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Last updated:

Yes, it is possible to live in South Korea permanently by obtaining general naturalization. After living in Korea for five years consecutively, you are eligible for general naturalization. You are also required to pass a Korean language, culture, and history test.

There are other ways to permanently or temporarily in South Korea as you wait to obtain permanent residence.

Non-residents often rely on employers for residency in South Korea, with many of those employers being schools. With citizenship through an employer, it is only good while under the company’s employment. If fired, there may be no opportunity to renew your visa before you are required to return home.

There are several requirements for the types of visas available in South Korea. Some general requirements that non-citizens must meet including proof of sufficient funds, a valid passport, and proof of accommodation. When applying for a visa, consider the employment opportunity that you are seeking.

Can Foreigners Stay in Korea Forever?

After living in Korea for five years consecutively, you can apply for permanent citizenship. When eligible for citizenship, you can stay in South Korea as long as you abide by the laws and continue contributing to society.

The cost to become a full citizen of Korea can be high. Becoming a Korean citizen can cost over $100,000! This investment is too large for the average person, but if you have the funds, it is a worthwhile investment. The number of opportunities in South Korea is endless.

Even if you do not want to invest money in full citizenship for yourself, it is also possible to gain citizenship simply by contributing and becoming an integral part of South Korean society.

Maintaining your Korean visa is undoubtedly the most important part of obtaining residence. While waiting for your first few years to expire, keep in mind that all documents must be valid at all times. To reach the permanent residency goal, you must remain employed, have proof of residence, and more.

South Korea is strict on community contributions from foreign visa-holders. Giving back to the community is a key way for the South Korean government to measure a person’s worth to society. Community contributions include charity or volunteer time and value to the economy.

The more value you bring to the South Korean community and economy, the more likely they will continually renew or extend your visa. Bringing value to the economy means that you are a valuable asset.

Can A Non-South Korean Citizen Get Permanent Residence?

Non-Korean citizens can achieve permanent residence in multiple ways. If you are a non-Korean citizen trying to achieve residency, it can be helpful to contact the immigration office for advisory.

What Jobs Can Foreigners Get in South Korea?

There are many employment opportunities available for foreigners in South Korea, from business to the food industry. Visas are often chosen based on the employment opportunity you are taking.

For instance, the E-2 visa is a language teaching visa. With an E-2 visa, there is a restriction on teaching, and you will be required to have proof of employment at all times. Any breach of this contract can result in deportation.

How to Find Work in South Korea

There are many ways to find work in South Korea when you move to South Korea. Depending on the industry you are looking to work in, it can be helpful to look at different websites for employment opportunities abroad.

The following include ways to find work in South Korea: 

The best place to search for jobs is PeoplenJob. This website is great for finding job opportunities for non-citizens. 

The Benefits of Working in South Korea

There are multiple benefits to working in South Korea, such as the simple treat of exposing yourself to a unique culture. Working in South Korea presents the opportunity to see a new world and experience a different life.

South Korea has numerous occupation opportunities, too. International programs from your favorite companies like Apple, Blizzard, and more will send you across the world and let you work in their Korean office.

How Can You Live in Korea without Teaching?

There are several alternatives to living in Korea without teaching English, but the application process for each may take time. For example, instead of using the language teacher visa, the E-2, use an F-2 or F-4 visa and seek an occupation in a broader range of industries.

Alternative Visa

There are many kinds of visas that you can apply for in South Korea. If you fit the credentials of these visas, the immigration office will approve you.

There are many different types of visas: 

  • Student
  • Business
  • Tourist
  • Family (for more than 90 days)
  • Holiday
  • Work

A common visa that many people use is the Student Visa. Students who visit South Korea in college or school programs use the Student Visa to pursue studies at a South Korean educational institution. If you are uncertain which visa to purchase, contact the immigration office. Foreign immigration is happy to help advise which documents and permits are required.

Non-citizens may apply for a long-term business visa to work in South Korea. Business Visas are great for people working for a public or private organization, but there are a few exceptions for the type of businesses you may seek employment. Move to South Korea for an employment opportunity and coordinate with your company’s human resources department for the citizenship requirements.

Apply for Citizenship

It becomes possible to become a naturalized citizen of South Korea once you have lived in Korea consecutively for at least five years. While waiting to apply as a Korean citizen, you must maintain valid international documentation (visas, passport, identification, etc.). You must continue contributing to society (volunteer, work, pay taxes, etc.).

Requirements to apply for citizenship:

  • Must spend 183 days each year in South Korea
  • Must have lived five consecutive years in South Korea
  • Must pass a comprehensive exam on South Korean culture.
  • Financial security
  • At least 20 years of age

Meeting all requirements above plus the basic citizenship requirements means that you could become a South Korean citizen.

Marry a South Korean National

It is possible to become a citizen of South Korea through marriage. Under the marriage guidelines, a person may change their citizen status by marrying someone and remaining married for two years. When waiting these two years, filing for residency can broaden employment opportunities.


To be considered a permanent resident of South Korea, you must have lived in the country for five years consecutively or be married to a South Korean National for at least two years. Maintaining a valid visa from the time of your arrival until your consultation for a residence permit is required.

Many countries, including the United States, Canada, and many EU countries, do not require a visa for temporary, short-term visits. That means foreigners can stay in South Korea for the duration their visa allows before they are required to apply for renewal or return to their native country.

Obtain a visa that accommodates your desired stay in South Korea. Simply getting permanent residency in South Korea is not a simple task and can take a significant amount of money and effort. Even people who marry permanent South Korean residents must obtain extended visas to remain eligible for citizenship.

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    About The Author

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    Jason Park

    Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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