South Korea Investment Immigration


Permanent Residence Permit by Business Investment

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Investment immigration is where a foreign individual can apply under the desired countries investment immigration program for a permanent residency visa. This type of visa is only granted where the applicant invests a set amount of money into the country he/she or she wishes to gain a permanent residency visa in. The residency visa is granted on approval of the individual’s investment plan and will enable the applicant to live and carry on business in that country along with his dependants (provided he/she has paid any additional fee incurred for them). Generally, most jurisdictions provide the opportunity for the investor to sponsor his family to reside with him. It is important to acknowledge that each jurisdiction provides for different requirements to be met in order to qualify for a residency visa through investment. The requirements and legal immigration framework of South Korea will now be detailed.

Why immigrate to South Korea?

South Korea is a highly sought after location for many foreign investors seeking permanent residency. It has a strong political and financial infrastructure with a solid and prominent legal framework. South Korea is strategically geographically situated for International business relations and boasts a strong economy with many international business relationships welcomed. South Korea is not the easiest of country’s to obtain a permanent residency visa in and as such the applicant must be aware of the lengthy process associated with South Korean Permanent residency permits.

South Korean law stipulates that foreign individuals are not eligible to apply for a permanent visa unless they are married to a South Korean National or they are a very high net worth individual capable of investing a sum of 100 million KRW into the South Korean local economy. South Korea immigration law stipulates that where an individual has a business visa and has invested a minimum of 50 million KRW into a South Korean business then he/she is eligible to apply for a permanent residency visa. An applicant can also apply for a permanent residency visa where he/she has invested a non-financial contribution which has been recognized by the South Korean Justice Minister.

Investment Conditions

Investment standards have changed in recent years, previously an investment of 50 million KRW would enable the individual to gain immediate permanent residency. The investment business visa is also known as a D-8 residence visa and is awarded to foreign investors provided they meet the investment criteria.

The conditions to satisfy to gain a D-8 residence permit are as follows:

  • The applicant must establish a company is South Korea to enter into a partnership with a Korean firm
  • The applicant must invest a minimum of 100 million KRW, into the business enterprise

As of 2010 South Korea decided to increase the minimum investment criteria for foreign individuals from 50 million KRW to 100 million KRW in a bid to regulate the number and types of foreign investors to South Korea. The country had been experiencing a large number of foreign investors who invest with no intention of creating a business in South Korea. By increasing the minimum amount of investment it ensures that the investors who do apply for a D-8 residency visa are serious about investing in South Korea and living there. Foreign investors into South Korea still require a Korean guarantor despite investing a large sum of money into the economy.

South Korea offers an F-5 visa which is the visa granted for permanent residency. This type of visa is open to foreign investors, sophisticated professionals and directors of multinational corporations.

In order for the applicant to achieve a permanent residence status he/she must:

  • Invest minimum amount of funds as stipulated by the South Korean Ministry of Justice
  • Hire a minimum of 5 employees who are Korean nationals
  • An applicant who has obtained a business visa and who has invested the amount as required into a business enterprise can also seek an F-5 visa. The applicant must be a Korean resident for a minimum of 5 years and have created at least 3 employment opportunities.

Under South Korean law, there are many different types of avenues investors can go down with regards to what they can invest their funds into.

Foreign investment opportunities can be:

  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
  • Portfolio Establishment
  • Branch Establishment
  • Legal Entity Establishment
  • Factory Establishment
  • Real Estate Acquisition
  • Investment in Infrastructure

Applicants seeking permanent residency in South Korea through investment have unlimited freedom with respect to choosing the type of business the applicant wishes to invest in. The only conditions which must be adhered to are that the company has to acquire a registration certificate of foreign investment; this certificate has to be authenticated by a Korean bank or Korean trade investment promotion agency.

The application process for foreign investment to obtain a residency permit is as follows:

  • The applicant must submit the registration certificate of the business enterprise to the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice.
  • The Immigration Bureau on receipt of the relevant certified documents will then send the visa issuance notice certificate to the applicant
  • Once the applicant sends the visa notice certificate to the Local Korean Embassy in his domicile country, a D-8 visa is issued,
  • The applicant process for investment immigration to South Korea is free of charge.

Benefits of obtaining an F-5 permanent visa:

  • Free economic activities in South Korea
  • Exemption from requirement to renew your visa through extension procedures
  • Exemption from the need to apply for a re-entry permit, a re-entry permit is only required where the applicant stays in a foreign country outside of South Korea for a minimum of 1 year
  • Exemption from arbitrary deportation