Someone sent me a message last week asking if it’s possible for them to go out of the airport during their layover in Korea or if they still need to get a visa?
My nephew, who is a US green card holder but a Filipino citizen, has traveled to downtown Seoul during his longish layovers in April and May. During his layover in April, I just instructed him how to get to our apartment and he was able to make it. In May, he didn’t even tell me that he was spending a few hours in Seoul. He just sent me a message saying he was in Dongdaemun ~ shopping for socks!
A Philippine passport holder is allowed to stay in Korea, outside the airport, in the following conditions:
Transit tourists bound for another country
Applicable to all countries (save for Cuba, and Macedonia) that are not granted visa-free entry into Korea.
*Those with a visa or a re-entry permit for U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand (5 countries) and traveling to any one of those countries through Korea.
*Those traveling from any one of the five countries mentioned above, whose final destination is not Korea.
Must have a confirmed onward flight ticket for departure within 30 days after entering Korea, in addition to having no record of criminal offense in the five countries mentioned above.
A visa is not necessary. When my nephew had his layover, he traveled from Manila to Incheon. He went straight to the immigration and got his passport stamped for a stay up to 30 days. Then the immigration official wrote the words 필 -> 미 which means that he’s travelling from the Philippines to the United States.
Based on the information above, a Filipino can stay in South Korea for 30 days without a visa if he or she is traveling to or from US, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. HOWEVER, the immigration has dropped Japan from its list since March 2016. So if you’re coming from or going to Japan, you will not be allowed a visa-free entry.
REMEMBER! Only transit tourists going to or coming from the UNITED STATES, CANADA, AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND are allowed visa-free entry to South Korea for up to 30 days!
Keep in mind though that the visa-free entry depends on the immigration official. If the transit time is just two or three hours, the immigration official may not allow the passenger to stay on a short stopover in Korea.
Is a tourist visa necessary if a US green card holder and Filipino resident is visiting Korea coming from the United States?
I called 1345 in Korea to ask about this and the counselor said ~
~ If the US resident is coming from the United States and travelling back to the US, a tourist visa is not necessary.
~ If the US resident is coming from the Philippines and travelling back to the Philippines, a tourist visa is necessary.
I didn’t ask anymore about the difference but based on my sister’s experience, we just applied for her visa when she visited us last April. She is a US green card holder but a Filipino citizen. She applied for her visa and was granted a single entry visa.