F-4 Visa Application Process

Let me start off by saying this: Most people will apply to EPIK with the intent of acquiring an E-2 visa. However, those of Korean descent may qualify for an F-4 visa, which is valid for 5 years and allows for a maximum cumulative stay in Korea of 2 years. But, it is recommended to get the E-2 visa because it is easier to obtain. I opted for the F-4 and will describe the process. Getting an E-2 is rather simple and can be easily explained in a file that EPIK sends once you receive placement. The F-4 is another story.

First of all, only those born with a parent/grandparent who was a Korean citizen at the time of their birth are eligible, which includes second generation citizens (like me) or adoptees. This does not include those born in Korea. For the application, you must first make sure that you are not considered a dual citizen of Korea. You are considered a dual citizen if you were born after 1987 and, like stated earlier, you had a parent/grandparent of Korean citizenship at the time of your birth, but they must now be citizens of the U.S. For me, this was my dad. He was a Korean citizen when I was born but he is now legally a U.S. citizen.

Now, I was born and raised in the U.S. but am still “technically” a Korean citizen by default. You must have either claimed or denied the citizenship by age 18 or you will automatically gain dual citizenship, but I was completely unaware of this. EPIK requires that Korean-Americans make their citizenship status clear before applying. This means either giving up the dual citizenship of Korea and going on an E-2/F-4 visa, or claiming the dual citizenship and going to Korea on a Korean passport, no visa required. I chose the former because going on a Korean passport meant that I may not get the same treatment in Korea had I went with a Korean passport, such as benefits from employment, etc.

So, I decided to give up dual citizenship through a long, arduous process. You have to go to your local Korean embassy, preferably with someone who speaks Korean & English very well. You must then obtain 2 documents: 기본증면서 (Gi-Bon-Jeung-Myun-Seo) which is your individual record &가족증면 서 (Ga-Jok-Jeung-Myun-Seo) which is your family record. You can order these at the embassy for a small fee. With those documents and the application form to give up dual citizenship, you’re all set. This can take anywhere from 1-3 months to process, so take action early! Warning: this process was easier for me because I was already registered on my Korean family registry because I had lived in Korea when I was 4 and my parents did it. This may not be the case for everyone, especially adoptees. Unfortunately, I am not well-informed of what to do in this situation and it is best to ask the embassy workers (also be prepared to be faced with incompetent workers. Not all of them, but some of them don’t seem to know what they’re doing).

Once that’s done, you can apply for the F-4. You can complete the application at the embassy because they provide hard copies. You will need:

  • the same 2 documents from before (기본증면서 (Gi-Bon-Jeung-Myun-Seo) &가족증면 서 (Ga-Jok-Jeung-Myun-Seo))
  • $45 in cash
  • passport photo
  • passport
  • copy of your passport
  • copy of your birth certificate
  • copy of your parent/grandparent’s proof of naturalization (for me, this was my dad’s citizenship certificate)
  • proof of employment with EPIK (which can be as simple as the email indicating placement or a copy of the official document you get a bit later).

Submit these either by mail or by walk-in to your local Korean embassy and you should get your F-4 in about a week.

I feel like what I described is very confusing, and I admit, this process itself is very confusing. If you have any further questions, please feel free to comment below. 🙂


6 thoughts on “F-4 Visa Application Process

  1. chaxmi says:

    I’m confused about the Korean passport thing. You said you might get different treatment if you went with a Korean passport, which I’m kind of just like …?

    I’ll probably just try to get a Korean passport since I can’t guarantee that I’ll have enough time to renounce it, so if there are differences we might find out!


    • LiteREIture says:

      I do recommend going on a US passport. I was kind of shocked when I met my principal and she was like, “Where is the foreigner?” They expect someone who looks “Caucasian” so you know…just a little warning 🙂
      I’ll write a post about Korean Americans in Korea soon because there are a lot of things I have to say about it haha

      Liked by 1 person

      • chaxmi says:

        Hahaha well I was debating about it too, but I was already debating about going with a dual citizenship for Korea anyways so I don’t know if it would be worth it? For my parents, they said it would cost $300 per person.


  2. Johan says:

    I have a question: You held dual citizenship (U.S. and South Korea) even though you were born in the U.S. because: (1) one of your parents was a Korean citizen at the time of your birth; and (2) you did not renounce your Korean citizenship before you turned 18. But you nevertheless renounced your Korean citizenship. My understanding was that men with dual citizenship under the same circumstances as you are not able to renounce the Korean citizenship until he turns 37. Is this not true? Your recount seems to confirm that this is not true, but I wanted to confirm.


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