You will need to visit an immigration office (출입국관리사무소, 出入國管理事務所, churipguk gwalli samuso) to register for an Alien Registration Card, file an extension for your visa, change your visa type, get Immigration-related paperwork, or register your new address within two weeks of moving. Their operation hours of 9 AM to 6 PM are standardized at all locations. Locations, operation hours, and the answers to tons of other questions are available by calling 1345 within Korea or 82 1345 outside of Korea. Usually in the lobby of Immigration offices is a volunteer to direct people where to go and help with filling out paperwork. If you have any questions, please don’t be shy in asking for help.
People would typically go in person, preferably right when they open or a little prior, grab a ticket and wait. Arriving at 10 or 11 AM would ensure a wait for at least one hour if not several. During peak seasons, which coincided with the start of school semesters as a large number of teachers and professors freshly arrived in Korea, they would turn off the ticket machine when they would max out on customers that they could assist for that day. As of February 1, 2016, a number of immigration offices require applicants to make a reservation online before coming to the office so they can cut down on people waiting unnecessarily. Reservations can be made online at http://www.hikorea.go.kr.
The number of The number of Chinese visitors to Korea has become so large that many immigration offices have a dedicated floor or a separate building. If you have a Chinese passport, make sure you are in the correct area. It will not only save you time by going to the correct area, but the Chinese language ability of staff will be better in the Chinese area.
Sometimes people fail to have enough paperwork and need to collect more before returning. Immigration officers frequently tell the English names of needed documents. While this is a nice thing for you to understand what they need, it can create a problem as the English names are frequently not standardized. In a worst case scenario, this can result in trying to track down the necessary document in a city government office, asking for it by its English name, aka the name given to you by Immigration, and the staff may not understand which document you really need as they might put the English into a translator and get an incorrect translation. To avoid confusion, if you need more documents make sure you get the names of these documents in Korean. It doesn’t matter if you cannot read Korean, as long as you have the list in Korean you’ll be fine as your admin Center staff can help you.
Immigration offices are spread throughout the country. Make sure you go to the office with jurisdiction in your area, as they won’t serve you if you go to a different branch. Location is determined by where you live, not where you work. As the detailed list is quite long, please check the list of offices in the Appendix of the PDF below to find the correct location to visit.
Immigration is slowly expanding which locations require a reservation. As this can change after these contents were created, please check online at http://www.hikorea.go.kr or with your Center admin staff for updated information to see if you can simply walk in or need to make an appointment.
The content on this page has been taken from the 2019 edition of Living in Korea. The book was created in support of our international researchers and has been completely rewritten. The book is available as a 6 MB download here and in paperback form in IBS Centers.