While there’s no streamlined process to apply for a South Korea multiple-entry visa, more Filipino tourists are granted the privilege in recent years. Below we share the set of requirements that were submitted by successful applicants, relevant updates from the Embassy, and the details of the credit card promotions from BDO and RCBC.
- When you submit a tourist visa application, you will automatically be considered for a single-entry or multiple-entry Korean visa.
- This means that, aside from the standard application process, there are no special steps to take nor requirements to submit if you want a visa that you can use multiple times within 3, 5, or 10 years.
- However, it may help if you have a qualified credit card from BDO or RCBC, which are running separate promotions together with the Embassy.
- Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong Man also shared that more qualified Filipino professionals will be eligible to get a multiple-entry Korean visa.
- If you want to make the most out of your trip to Seoul, Jeju Island, or Busan, book your tours and travel essentials from WAUG — the #1 travel activity booking platform in South Korea! Check out the app here.
UPDATE: June 13, 2020
Who can I apply for a Korean visa? To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines currently only accepts applications for long-term visas. Tourist visa processing (C-3) is still on hold pending the easing of travel restrictions in the Philippines.
What are the enhanced visa criteria? Those who are eligible to apply for a Korean visa must comply to these requirements and mandatory quarantine. Moreover, successful applicants will no longer be issued a visa sticker in their passport beginning July 1. Upon arrival in South Korea, they must present a printed copy of their visa grant notice instead.
What if I have a valid Korean visa? Single-entry Korean visas that were issued on or before April 5, 2020 are no longer valid. You will need to apply for a new one. However, if you have a valid short-term multiple-entry Korean visa (5 years), you do not have to reapply. Conditions permitting, it can still be used in the future. For reference, you can read the Embassy’s detailed explanation here.
Multiple-Entry Korean Visa
If you plan to travel to South Korea for as many times as possible (I can’t blame you!), having a multiple-entry visa (or M.E. for short) surely helps. Not only will you save a lot of time, effort, and money, but you also won’t have to go through the stress that comes from awaiting the result of your application each time you want to fly in.
How can you apply for one, you ask? Hate to break it to you, but, technically speaking, you can’t. There’s no set procedure (like the one provided by the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines), no option in the application form, nor any special requirement that you must submit. But does that mean it’s impossible to get a multiple-entry Korean visa? Of course not. All tourist visa applications are reviewed thoroughly, which means that the visa officer will automatically assess if you are eligible for a multi-entry endorsement. If your documents and background show that you are qualified and they decide to issue you one, then you shall have it even without asking for it — exactly why visas are considered a privilege.
Having said that (and here’s where it gets lighter!), there are still some ways to better your chances to get a multiple-entry Korean visa. Here are two that I think are most helpful:
1. Join the Multiple-Entry Korean Visa Promo from BDO or RCBC
If you have not heard about this exciting news yet, the Embassy of Korea announced two separate promotions with BDO and RCBC. The promo mechanics provided are very similar to each other, i.e. qualified cardholders will not have to submit their financial documents and will be considered for a multiple-entry visa that’s valid for up to 5 years. Here are the cards that are eligible:
BDO Gold Credit Cards
- Gold Visa Credit Card
- Gold Mastercard Credit Card
- American Express® Gold Credit Card
- Gold UnionPay Credit Card
- Gold JCB Credit Card
BDO Elite Credit Cards
- Platinum Visa
- Titanium, Platinum and World Elite Mastercard
- American Express® Platinum Credit Card
- Cathay Pacific American Express® Credit Card (Standard and Elite)
- American Express® International Dollar Charge Cards
- Diamond UnionPay
- Diners Club Premiere
- JCB Platinum
The BDO Multiple-Entry Korean Visa promo is valid until December 31, 2022.
- World Mastercard (including co-brands Balesin and The City Club)
- Black Platinum Mastercard
- Diamond Platinum Mastercard
- Visa Infinite
- Visa Platinum
- JCB Platinum
- UnionPay Diamond
The RCBC Multiple-Entry Korean Visa promo runs until December 31, 2020.
If you are an active and current Principal of any of these cards, go ahead and check out our detailed guides to learn more:
- These RCBC Credit Cards May Get You a Multiple-Entry Korean Visa!
- Get a Multiple-Entry Korean Visa with These BDO Credit Cards
As a friendly reminder, while many eligible cardholders were able to get a multiple-entry Korean visa by joining any of the past and current promotions (including BPI’s), possession of a qualified credit card does not automatically guarantee visa approval or issuance of a multiple-entry document. As mentioned earlier, your application will undergo a thorough assessment, so be open to alternative results.
If you don’t have any of these high-tier cards, don’t feel hopeless! I know a lot of travelers who did not join the promo but were still able to get the multiple-entry type of visa to Korea (myself included). I think it’s got a lot to do with the next tip:
2. Improve your travel history
While this is an unofficial guideline, it’s by no means irrelevant or ineffective as many Filipino tourists may tell you: show that you’ve been traveling or, as WAUG puts it, explore more! This could mean traveling to South Korea as a tourist for a couple of times (using single-entry visas) and/or traveling to other countries for leisure, especially those that you’d also have to apply a visa for, like Japan, Australia, Canada, USA, and the UK.
Travel frequently to South Korea
How many trips to Korea will you have to take before being granted a multiple-entry visa? It actually varies. Some may say 2 or 4 trips within the past 2 years (under single-entry visas), but I’ve also encountered a few lucky Filipinos who had received an M.E. on the first time they applied (like I said, lucky!).
Based on my experience, though, it was after my third trip under a single-entry Korean visa that I was granted the multiple-entry type. Here’s how it panned out: I first applied in 2017, and I submitted all the requirements for employees (I was just 3 months into my job then!), except for the ITR because I had valid visas to Canada and the USA. The result: I was given my first single-entry, and boy, I was so happy.
For my next two applications in 2018 and January of 2019, nothing much changed about my background except that I also traveled to Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Indonesia and maybe increased my average daily balance (or ADB found in the bank certificate) significantly compared to previous years. I honestly thought I was going to get my M.E. visa on my third application or after visiting South Korea twice, but I was probably too hopeful. (Was still very grateful for the approval, though!)
It was when I applied for the fourth time in July 2019 when I finally got a multiple-entry Korean visa. Same job, same company, no high-tier credit card, but have already traveled to South Korea for three times within the last 2 years. (Also, like with all my previous applications, I did not submit my ITR because I was exempted.) To be honest, my friends and I saw it coming, and we’re glad when it did. I got a 5-year multiple-entry Korean visa, which I intend to use for these awesome activities and the like (here goes my plug!):
- Seoul World Cup Stadium
- DMZ Walking Tour
- Camellia Hill Ticket
- Everland Shuttle Bus Ticket (Round-trip)
- WAUG Exclusive: Ganghwa Seaside Resort Luge + Gondola
Travel to other countries
Moving onto the next one: build your travel history by visiting other countries. Now unlike traveling frequently to Korea, this commonly-shared tip is more difficult to expound on as it leads to many questions, such as Which countries should you visit?, How many countries must you visit?, or How many tourist visas from other countries must you have? No one can tell for sure, but without going into specifics, I suggest to visit countries that require a visa for tourists and those that do not. This will likely demonstrate two things: that you are an active traveler that contributes to countries’ growth and that you have already been granted a visa by other nations. Of course, doing this will not guarantee that you’ll get a multiple-entry visa right away (remember when I first applied for a visa?), but this may very well strengthen your cause.
If you want to build your travel history by visiting the likes of Japan, USA, Indonesia, or Vietnam (or simply want to take that much needed vacay to Boracay and Cebu), consider these offers from WAUG:
- Universal Studios Japan™ Universal Express™ Pass 4
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Ticket
- Bali Instagram Spots Photography Tour
- Da Nang Ba Na Hills Ticket
- WAUG Pink Carabao Hopping Tour in Boracay
Update from Ambassador Han Dong Man
But what if you can’t join any of the credit card promos or are unable to travel frequently? Are you still eligible to get a multiple-entry Korean visa? I’d say yes. Here are some exciting news about the matter:
On June 2019, during the 70th Anniversary of the Philippines-South Korea Diplomatic Tied, Philstar.com reported this relevant quote from Korean Ambassador Han Dong Man:
“For qualified people such [as the] business people, media people, of course, and government officers, we give them a multiple visa at least five years or 10 years with one single document saying that I’m working in this company.”Ambassador Han Dong Man, PhilStar
What the statement tells us is that the Embassy of ROK in the Philippines is keen on easing out visa requirements for Filipinos and expanding eligibility scope for multiple-entry Korean visa holders.
It also reinstates the November 2018 article from The Korea Times, which said that Filipinos are among Southeast Asians who will be considered to be given a multiple-entry document. The same article also defined qualified professionals to be ‘doctors, lawyers, professors, graduates of local universities with a degree for any four-year-plus program and those with an overseas academic degree equivalent to or higher than a master’s.”
While these updates are very exciting, note that as of writing time, they have not been formalized as an official guideline that’s published on the Embassy’s website.
Filipinos’ Tips to Get a Multiple-Entry Korean Visa
Now let’s look into actual stories of Filipino tourists who were able to get a multiple-entry Korean visa.
I got the following from this useful Facebook group, whose members from the Philippines are kind and willing to share their input and experiences (The group is set to ‘private’, so in lieu of linked Facebook posts, I’m sharing screenshots instead. Details were blurred out for privacy.):
Third time’s the charm!
Below we see that it took Miguel 3 applications to get his multiple-entry Korean visa. He encourages applicants to keep trying and not give up.
The post reads: “Applying for a Korean visa is a tough process for me than for Japan Visa. I’ve been denied twice because of my status but when I applied for the third time i was given an ME to my surprise. Just my luck. So para sa iba na nahihirapan din dont give up. Try lang ng try.”
Got it on the first try!
A commenter from Guia’s post below shared that she got a 5-year multiple-entry Korean visa on the first time she applied. Here’s her background:
- Travel history at the time of application: Hong Kong and Taiwan
- BDO American Express® Gold Credit Cardholder
- Applied with family
The comment reads: “Got 5yrs ME last year, first time applicant. Travelled to HK & Taiwan lng. 50K bank account for me, hubby & daughter, BDO AMEX Gold holder, kinuha ko supplementary si hubby. I dont know if as family application helped me in having ME visa. Ako sponsored for the trip ng family.”
Travel history matters
For this commenter who also responded to Guia’s post, travel history is definitely a criteria to get a multiple-entry Korea visa. Here’s his:
- 2009: Hong Kong
- 2017: Japan, under single-entry visa
- 2018: Korea, under single-entry visa.
- 2019: Japan and Korea, both under a multiple-entry visa
Moreover, he didn’t join the BDO promotion.
Another comment also reads: “I think bigger factor yung OECD and PRC/IBP over bdo bpi gold.”
Multiple-Entry Visa to South Korea for 5 years!
Yana shares below that she got her “5-year ME visa” when she first applied.
We checked out the link she provided, and here’s most of what she shared: “My bank account had been active for almost 4 months at the time of application. Ideally it should be at least 6 months. Moreover, that bank account doesn’t have a lot of activity; I deposit money every month, but I’ve only withdrawn a couple of times. I’ve read that there should be a lot of deposits and withdrawals, so submitting bank statements of your payroll account might be better. And even if you’re a frequent traveller, have OECD visas, or submit BDO CC requirements, approval is, of course, still at the discretion of the consul…”
Yana also shared that she’s spent more than a year in her present company, has a single-entry Japan visa, has a Schengen visa, has a visa to the UK, a cover letter, and a BDO Gold card, to which she added: “no certificate of active account since delivery would have taken too long.”
Finally, we have Julie who shared that she was not given a multiple-entry Korean visa despite having an eligible card from one of the promos.
Her post reads: “Hindi rin pala guaranteed na multiple entry visa ang ma-ggrant kapag may BPI Gold na isusubmit.
When I submitted my docs to Reli Megamall 3 weeks ago, di na nila kinuha ang bank statement ko. Other documents I included were my ITR, COE and company ID (top local company, been working here for more than 5 years), credit card statement amd photocopy. Filled up the form with my 5 latest travels (Japan included, pero total of 6 country stamps ung nasa passport)
Pero ayun, single entry for 59 days pa din ang ginrant. Pero okay na din, at least approved. Minsan talaga subjective sa consul na mag-approve eh no? Baka may topak that day yung natapat sakin hehe [face with cold sweat emoji]”
All the best!
We hope this guide for getting a multiple-entry Korean visa in the Philippines helped! While the information listed here do not guarantee issuance or otherwise, I hope you get to plan well, stay positive, and trust the process. If you have any questions, do share them below so other travelers like you can help. Of course, we’d be more than happy to hear about your experience as well, so feel free to sound off in the comments section below!