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Citizenship in Korea

Citizenship in Korea

There are several ways through which a foreigner can obtain citizenship in Korea. However, naturalization, also known as general naturalization, is the most common pathway. Having a Korean passport also comes with numerous advantages, among which visa-free access to various countries. If you have decided to move here, you can rely on our specialists for support in getting your application started.

You can also read below about how to obtain Korean citizenship and how we can help you.

The main 3 pathways to citizenship in South Korea

If you have relocated to Korea and aim to obtain citizenship, here are your options:

  • naturalization;
  • paternity or ancestry, however, due to the fact that it can only be acquired through the father, it is often referred to as the first term;
  • marriage.

For those who have lost citizenship there is also the process of re-acquisition. However, you should know that Korean dual citizenship is not accepted, should you plan to retain two or more nationalities.

If you fall under any of these categories, waste no more time and get in touch with our immigration lawyers in Korea for guidance. We can also help you open a company in Korea and start your business activities there.

Korean citizenship by naturalization and its requirements

Naturalization is the safest way to citizenship in Korea, as it implies meeting the following requirements:

  • you have held permanent residency in South Korea for a minimum period of 5 years;
  • you are an adult according to the Civil Code in South Korea;
  • you have a clean criminal record during your stay here;
  • you are financially stable;
  • you have appropriate knowledge of Korea’s culture, language, and traditions.

Out of these, Korean residency is one of the most important aspects to consider before applying for citizenship. Should you want to apply for a permanent residence permit first, you can rely on our law firm in Korea.

We remind you that if you want to retain your current passport, the authorities here do not acknowledge South Korean dual citizenship.

How to obtain citizenship by paternity in South Korea

Those with family ties to Korea are eligible for citizenship by paternity or descent. For this purpose, the applicant must consider that at least one of the parents is a South Korean citizen. The paternity part refers to children born in unmarried couples, where the father must be a citizen of this country.

Also, it is essential to know that South Korean citizenship by descent is available for minor children, a case in which the parents must file for citizenship. We can assist in this sense.

Feel free to address our lawyers in Korea if you need assistance in immigration, including obtaining residency.

Citizenship by marriage in Korea

When it comes to securing Korean citizenship by marriage the same rules as for naturalization apply. The only difference resides in the fact that the marriage must have lasted at least 2 years before filing the application.

In terms of document requirements, these depend on the pathway you qualify for citizenship. Applications must be filed with the Ministry of Interior.

How strong is the Korean passport?

When moving to another country, residency is the first thing that comes to one’s mind, followed by citizenship when considering you have adhered to the values and culture of that country and have sufficient links to it.

When it comes to citizenship in South Korea, if you meet the legal requirements and also have strong connections to the country, you should know that:

  • the South Korean passport allows you to travel visa-free in 141 countries at the level of 2023;
  • you can also obtain a visa on arrival in 39 countries based on this passport;
  • South Korea has also adhered to the Electronic Visa Authorization systems of 10 countries;
  • online visas must be secured for 16 countries.

How many foreign citizens live in Korea?

South Korea’s foreign population increased by about 10% in 2023, according to figures released by the statistical office. According to Statistics Korea, there were 1.43 million foreign nationals aged 15 or older who had lived here for at least 91 days in 2023—a 9.9% increase from the previous year.

The number of Chinese nationals resident here climbed 3.6% to 135,000 last year, while the figure for Vietnamese nationals jumped by 19.1% to 201,000.

In 2023, there were 51,000 naturalized citizens who were at least 15 years old. This was a 2.5% decrease from the previous year. The same year, there were 923,000 foreign residents working, a new high, up 9.5 percent from the previous year. The number of naturalized individuals increased by 0.6% to 34,000.

If you meet the criteria to apply for citizenship in Korea, contact us! We can help you obtain it.