CITIZENSHIP OF SOUTH KOREA

South Korea is one of the most developed and successful countries in Asia. The country has a high standard of living, a stable economy and a flexible social security system. South Korean universities provide quality knowledge and train highly qualified specialists whose skills are needed by the local labor market.

The government creates optimal conditions for foreigners to open businesses in South Korea and for foreign investment in general. Work in Seoul and other major cities is in unprecedented demand. After all, today average salaries in South Korea have reached the level of the most developed countries of the planet.

Citizenship of South Korea

Economic opportunities, democratic institutions, comfortable climate, exquisite cuisine, ancient history and culture contribute to the fact that many foreigners seek to obtain citizenship of South Korea and stay in this country forever. South Korean passport enjoys great prestige in the world.

For example, it provides visa-free entry to more than 170 countries, including Latin America, Europe, the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Let's learn more about how to get South Korean citizenship in 2024.

How to obtain South Korean citizenship

Rapid industrial development over the past decade has made finding a job in South Korea a dream for tens of thousands of migrant workers, and as obtaining a work visa becomes more and more difficult every year, many foreigners have begun to consider citizenship.

The legal rules governing the obtaining of a South Korean passport are detailed in the local law "On Citizenship". According to this document, there are two main ways to become a citizen of South Korea:

  • Birth

  • Naturalization

South Korean citizenship by birth

You can automatically obtain South Korean citizenship by birth in the following cases:

  • The child's mother or father was South Korean at the time of birth.

  • The sole parent is deceased but was a South Korean citizen at the time of death.

  • The candidate was born in South Korean territory and the parents are stateless or the origin is unknown.

  • Abandoned children found in South Korean territory.

South Korean citizenship by naturalization

South Korean citizenship by naturalization

Naturalization in South Korea is of three types – general, simplified and special. Let's consider the conditions of each of the options.

General naturalization in South Korea

Obtaining South Korean citizenship through general naturalization is suitable for foreigners who have never before held a South Korean passport and do not have any family ties with Koreans.

Requirements:

  • Permanent residence in South Korea for at least 5 consecutive years. In some cases, temporary residence outside the country for a period not exceeding one month is allowed. A candidate for citizenship must be legally present in South Korea, i.e., have an alien registration card, permanent address, and employment eligibility.

  • Legal majority under the civil law of South Korea. The foreigner must be at least 20 years old.

  • No criminal record and no serious violations of South Korean laws.

  • Sufficient financial security to live in the country on his/her own or family members' income.

  • Basic command of the Korean language, knowledge of local culture and traditions on an equal footing with local residents.

Simplified naturalization in South Korea

To obtain a South Korean passport under the simplified procedure can be persons who meet all the requirements of general naturalization except for the period of permanent residence, which is reduced to 3 years.

Conditions:

  • One of the foreigner's parents held a South Korean passport until the time of death.

  • The candidate had previously renounced South Korean citizenship in favor of another country.

  • The parents and the candidate himself/herself were born in South Korea.

  • Adopted minor children (under 20 years of age) of South Korean citizens are eligible to obtain a South Korean passport.

Important. Spouses of South Korean citizens can obtain citizenship of this state after 3 years of marriage and at least one year of residence in the country. If the marriage lasts only two years, then to obtain a passport, it is necessary to live legally in South Korea all this time.

Special naturalization in South Korea

The special naturalization procedure in South Korea usually applies to the biological children of foreigners naturalized in the country or persons with Korean/Chinese roots. There are different circumstances and each case has specific requirements for the applicant, with the period of residence, age and financial security of the applicant being of no particular importance.

Dual citizenship in South Korea

Dual citizenship in South Korea

With few exceptions, dual citizenship is prohibited in South Korea. Since 2011 it is necessary to renounce a foreign passport no later than 360 days from the date of naturalization otherwise the South Korean citizenship is revoked. Foreigners with dual citizenship, which was obtained before the age of 20, must determine and apply for renunciation of citizenship of South Korea or another country before the age of 22.

Under certain conditions, they can retain their previous citizenship and obtain a South Korean passport:

  • Certain categories of "talented" foreigners who make significant contributions to South Korea.

  • Koreans born abroad, for example, when parents studied or worked in another country, as well as children from multi-ethnic families in South Korea who have taken a special oath before the age of 22, which obliges them not to use the rights of a foreigner while on South Korean territory.

  • Koreans over the age of 65 who returned to South Korea for permanent residence if they took a similar oath.

In conclusion, it should be noted that out of 20 thousand annual candidates for South Korean citizenship, no more than 60% receive passports. The fact is that in addition to the list of documents and other conditions mentioned above, each foreigner must pass a written test of 20 questions on the knowledge of South Korean history, politics, culture and customs. Moreover, immigration officers conduct a very difficult interview in Korean. Some applicants are even asked to sing part of the national anthem of South Korea.

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