How to Apply for a South Korea Visa With Incomplete Requirements
Prepare a cover letter.
If you're applying for a South Korea Tourist Visa and have no ITR to present, write a letter of explanation.
While having a cover letter can help explain your circumstance, note that it does not automatically guarantee success of your application.
You're not required to submit an ITR if you're a holder of any high-tier BPI or BDO credit cards (policy effective until December 2019) or if you have visited an OECD-member country as a tourist in the last 5 years.
Beginning July 1, 2018, the company alphalist will no longer be a requirement for Korean visa applications. However, there may be cases when the Embassy may still request for it to verify an applicant's employment status. The cover letter below may be used if you are unable to comply then.
If you'd like to see the list of Korean visa requirements and learn useful tips for your application, also read: Applying for a Korean Visa Through An Accredited Travel Agency
Cover Letter for Korea Visa Application
In my opinion, submitting a cover letter to explain why you do not have the ITR requirement is only acceptable if you fall under these circumstances: you are newly employed, you are a freelancer/digital nomad, or you just graduated from school. The first two were the cases for me when I first applied for a tourist visa to South Korea, so I wrote a letter to explain my background. Here is the template I used:
Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Republic of the Philippines
122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City 1634
I am writing this letter to explain why I failed to present an Income Tax Return for my visa application.
I just started work as a freelancer two months ago, and I have yet to process my ITR. However, my target date to secure this document is on April 2018.
For your reference, I have attached my previous and standing work contracts in the next page.
With my remote work and freelance set-up, I have made it a lifestyle to travel. I have been to Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in the last 3 years, where I spent time doing leisurely activities. This year, I hope to explore Seoul for 5 days, if given the chance.
Thank you for reviewing my application.
If we were to break down this letter, we will see the following:
INTRODUCTION. Right away, inform the visa officer about why you're writing this letter, i.e. which requirement you failed to submit.
REASON & INTENT. State why you don't have such requirement at the moment, and assure the officer of your intent to obtain this in the future, if applicable.
SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS. Let the officer know that you have other documents to support your employment background.
PURPOSE of TRAVEL. Indicate your purpose of travel to South Korea. If you have traveled to other countries before, it wouldn't hurt to note it as well.
Beginning July 1, 2018, Korean visa applicants are no longer required to submit the company alpha list requirement. However, there may be cases when the Embassy may still request for one to validate the applicant's employment status. If by chance you are asked to present your company alphalist and are unable to present one, you may also use this template for your letter of explanation.
To know more about the change in requirements, read: UPDATE: Company Alpha List No Longer Required Beginning July 1, 2018
Update on South Korea Visa Application
Effective July 1, 2018, all walk-in applicants for the South Korea visa (tourist) will no longer be accommodated in the Embassy. Applications must be coursed through a designated travel agency.
To learn more, read our new Korea visa application guide below (includes travel agency's contact details, address, and fees):
Minimum wage owners are exempted from submitting the ITR. If you are one, include this information in your letter. For more details about this BIR exemption, read Rappler's article here.
Make sure your letter is concise. Visa officers don't have the time to read flowery autobiographies.
I have already submitted this cover letter twice when I didn't have my ITR's yet. Both of my applications were successful.
As a word of caution, having a cover letter does not automatically guarantee that you'll get your visa. The outcome all depends on your situation.
If your Philippine passport is set to expire in six months' time upon your entry to South Korea, e.g. your passport's expiration is July 15, 2018 and your arrival to South Korea will be January 15, 2018 onwards, it will be considered invalid. You'll most likely be unable to pass through the Bureau of Immigration counter in the airport.
To know more about renewing or applying for a Philippine passport with DFA, read: GUIDE: Philippine Passport Requirements and Application Procedure
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For all visa applications, the goal is to demonstrate that you have ties in your home country, have plans on returning, and are financially stable. If you feel like you're not able to prove all of these at the moment, you have two options: postpone your application to a later date (until you have all the documents or change in circumstances), or write an honest letter about yourself, career, and intent. Just remember to make it short and sweet.
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