Korean Tourist Visa Application (for Filipino Citizens)

korean tourist visa

Applying for a tourist visa for Korea is fairly easy for Filipinos. The Korean Embassy simplified their procedure for South East Asian countries to promote their country’s tourism. Because of this, Filipinos are issued multiple entry visas that are usually valid for a minimum of 1 year to a maximum of 3 years.

My experience was pretty good considering the number of people at the Embassy when I was applying and claiming my passport. I arrived before 830 in the morning and was out around an hour later. Same with when my passport was released, it didn’t take more than an hour.

REQUIREMENTS:

  1. A valid passport (must be valid for at least 6 months)
  2. Photocopy of passport’s first page (information page)
  3. A passport sized photo (colored but background wasn’t specified; I submitted one with a white background and they accepted it)
  4. Application form which you can get from the embassy or download at the embassy’s website http://embassy_philippines.mofat.go.kr/eng/as/embassy_philippines/visiting/visas/index.jsp
  5. Employment Certificate or Business Registration issued by SEC or DTI
  6. Personal Bank Certificate
  7. Individual ITR or Form 2316 Copy (from the previous year)
  8. *for applicants that are still students, you are required to submit your school certificate, birth certificate and the papers of your parents (#5,6,7)

If you have been to any OECD member countries listed in this link (http://www.oecd.org/document/58/0,3343,en_2649_201185_1889402_1_1_1_1,00.html) within the last 5 years, you are only required to submit the following:

  1. A valid passport (must be valid for at least 6 months)
  2. Photocopy of passport’s first page (information page)
  3. A passport sized photo (colored, background wasn’t specified; I submitted one with a white background and they accepted it)
  4. Application form which you can get from the embassy or download at the embassy’s website http://embassy_philippines.mofat.go.kr/eng/as/embassy_philippines/visiting/visas/index.jsp
  5. Employment Certificate or Business Registration issued by SEC or DTI
  6. Photocopies of the visas of these OECD countries
  7. Photocopies of the passport pages with the arrival stamps to these countries

FEES:

For 59 days or less in Korea – GRATIS/FREE 🙂
For 60 days to 90 days in Korea – Php 1500

APPLICATION PROCEDURE:

1. Submission of applications can only be done between 9 am to 11 am, Mondays to Fridays (first come first served basis)
2. Get a number when you get to the Embassy
3. Those who haven’t been to OECD listed countries will present their documents at Windows 1 or 2 (they will tell you what window to go to when you get your number)
4. Those who have been to any of these countries will present their documents at Window 3

PROCESSING TIME:
*Releasing time is from 2 pm to 4 pm only

3 working days – for those with other visas
5 working days – those without

UPDATE:

VISA DENIALS

Click on the following link for the common reasons for denials and click on the Visa Denials document. http://embassy_philippines.mofat.go.kr/eng/as/embassy_philippines/visiting/visas/index.jsp

ADDRESS AND CONTACT DETAILS:

Republic of Korea Embassy in the Philippines
122 Upper McKinley Road
McKinley Town Center
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City 1634
Telephone number: (02) 856-9210

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Russian Tourist Visa Application (for Filipino Citizens)

Russia is one of those countries that no matter where you come from, getting a visa would be fairly difficult. Almost everyone is required to have an invitation letter. This letter is usually issued by an accredited Russian Tour Agency (all based in Russia). The easiest way to acquire this letter is to join a tour. By joining a tour, the travel agency will be the one in contact with the Russian Agencies thus handling all the steps needed to formally lodge the visa application. Locally, another option is to go to a local travel agent and ask them to get an invitation letter on your behalf. Usually the local travel agency and the Russian agency will still make an itinerary for you as well as the letter to be submitted to the embassy. You need to pay the agency a fee for producing the documents. You can cancel the tour after you’ve submitted your application – so technically that will come out cheaper since the amount you pay for the documents won’t be as large versus if you paid for a complete tour. I’ve also seen websites such as http://www.expresstorussia.com that would apparently also provide you with an invitation letter if you book your tours with them.

For our trip last month we booked a whole tour via a local travel agency who coordinated with their Russian counterpart. It was expensive because we were only 4 in the group. Travel agencies can include you with big tours assuming that you have enough days and your itinerary matches their schedules. We didn’t have that much time so we had to have a private tour, which in my honest opinion was much better and enjoyable.

Russian Visa

REQUIREMENTS:

Besides the invitation letter, these are the other requirements for a Russian Visa:

  1. A valid passport (valid for 6 months from date of departure from Russia)
  2. 2 passport sized photos with white background – wear a collared shirt
  3. Russian visa application form which you can get from a travel agency (one of the most simplest visa application form I’ve ever encountered but no erasures are allowed). I saw this online but not sure if it’s still valid because ours looked a bit different http://www.visatorussia.com/files.nsf/Lookup/visa_application/$file/visa_application.pdf
  4. Itinerary which is usually included with your invitation letter
  5. Flight itinerary/tickets
  6. As mentioned earlier – invitation letter

These requirements are pretty minimal actually. But I’ve been told how strict the Russian Consulate is. It doesn’t really matter if you’ve been to a lot of other places, they can just deny you a visa without reason. More often than not, you don’t have to appear before the Consulate. But sometimes they will require you to go to the Embassy. My sister-in-law is a student so they asked her to go and after waiting and standing for 3 hours, it took only a couple of minutes and she was done. Apparently they just looked at her and sent her on her way. We also submitted our itinerary for our Europe leg, as well as all our other flight tickets in and out of Europe.

FEES:

As of March of this year, these are the visa fees:

  • 5,600 Php – 10 working days
  • 7,000 Php – 7 working days
  • 8,400 Php – 3 working days

Take note that the Embassy’s working days are different from the regular working days. They are only open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. So in reality 10 working days is equal to almost a month’s wait.

Chinese Tourist Visa Application

It’s relatively easy to personally apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa in Manila (for Philippine passport holders, you don’t need a visa to go to Hong Kong). The first time we went to China, the travel agency took care of our visa. This time around we decided to apply on our own. Supposedly if you have an old visa, less documents are needed to be submitted.

Documents that you will need for a tourist visa (there are different sets of documents needed for other types of visas):

  1. Valid passport
  2. Filled up application form which can be downloaded online (you can click on the Download Visa Application Form link at this page http://ph.china-embassy.org/eng/lsfw/hzqz/)
  3. Colored passport size photo with white background that should be glued on the application form
  4. Copy of your plane ticket
  5. Hotel reservation (some would also submit invitation letters)
  6. Old Chinese visa (in sticker form)
  7. Photocopies of your passport’s information/data page and your passport’s emergency contact information page
  8. For first time applicants they say that the following is also needed: original bank certificate/original passbook, NBI clearance, employment certificate/SSS contribution/ITR/company ID for those employed, student ID if still a student, for businessmen- company registration/TIN/ITR, and a personal appearance is needed if your are between the ages of 16-21

We still submitted business papers and bank certificates even though we’ve previously applied for a visa because we could not remember what the agency submitted for us the last time.

Once you’ve compiled the documents, you must go their Consular Office at the 2nd Floor of  The World Center, 330 Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City. The counters open at around 9:00 am and the office closes at 11:00 am. A friend suggested that we go before 8 am because a lot of people apply for visas. We went around 7:45 am and got number 11. We thought “hey great, we’ll be done in no time!”. But to our surprise they started with the number that they ended with the previous day before which was 932. Apparently people start coming in really early to get numbers. This office was pure chaos. It took around 2-2 1/2 hours to submit our papers and they hardly even checked the papers. Just 5 minutes at the counter and we were done. There were 2-3 counters for visa application, 1 cashier counter and 1 counter for passport/visa releasing. After we submitted our papers, they gave us a slip that indicated the date when our passports were to be released (which was 4 working days later).

A lot of people were mostly representatives of travel agencies. They also go through the same process and they even swap numbers (not as discreetly as they think). I heard them talking to one another -noisy bunch of people to the point that the guards would get mad and threaten to send them out.

It’s the same process all over again when you pick up your passport. You get a number and wait. You pay for your visa when you pick it up (1,400 pesos for a single entry tourist visa). So you get a number, pay for the visa first once your number is called then fall in line again to get your passport. It should take you around 1 hour (if you’re lucky) to 1 1/2 hours to get your passport and it only takes a person around a minute or 2 at both counters.

Overall, it was effortless because all we had to do was wait for our number to be called but the long wait was not fun. If you have time to wait then it’s pretty easy, just bring something to read (though you won’t find peace and quiet during any point of your wait) or bring an Ipod/PSP to kill time since cellular phones aren’t allowed.

Australian Tourist Visa Application

One thing I despise about living in a 3rd world country is having to apply for tourist visas for most countries outside Asia. Not only are they expensive but it can get pretty stressful having to compile all the documents that you need.  When my husband and I travel, we hardly go through travel agencies nor do we join tour groups. Oh if only I could skip the hassle and go everywhere I want to in a whim (I would totally fall in love with my Philippine passport).

Yesterday, in preparation for our family trip to Australia in May, we lodged our tourist visa applications. This was the second time we applied for a tourist visa and this trip will be my third time to visit this lovely country (my favorite Australian city – Gold Coast – how I miss you!). I had to lodge 5 visa applications – mine, my husband’s, my son’s, my 2 sisters-in-law’s apps. We had 2 options: 1. call the toll number and schedule for a courier pick-up. 2 way fee (pick-up & delivery): P320 per applicant. But the downside was the call would cost us 32 bucks per minute. And based on experience, the call takes a while. 2. Go directly to the VIA Center (Visa Information & Application Center) in Makati. Fee: P600 per applicant. The good thing about bringing your papers directly to them is that they make a checklist of everything that you submit. Also, your papers will be at the embassy the very next day. The downside: it took me 2 1/2 hours to finish everything–a waiting time of almost 2 hours and another 30+ minutes once you get to the counter. My husband brought his PSP, so he wasn’t bored. I, on the other hand was a bit unlucky; I forgot to bring my ebook reader (I blame it on the stress), I had my Ipod but wasn’t able to charge it and cellular phones had to be shut down.

So what do you need to apply for an Australian Tourist Visa? I would say the usual: filled up forms (48R for Filipinos), bank cheques (payment for the visa fee – P4,700 per applicant – even for my 20 month old son!), birth certificate, marriage certificate (I submit this because I don’t use my husband’s family name), passport pictures with plain backgrounds, bank certificates, proof of financial capability (credit card statements, etc), employment/student/business papers and any other kind of proof of your ties in your country. But I completely forgot about needing photocopies of the data/information page of our passports and photocopies of our bank certificates. Luckily my husband’s PSP ran out of batteries and he had them photocopied for me 🙂

Every time we lodge visa applications, I learn something new (I seriously learned how not to cram applications the HARD WAY). This time around I found out that some people just submit a photocopy of their passport (Aus visa application only). This will become helpful when you have other trips in line and you fear that your passport might not be returned to you in time. Of course there is an additional cost but I suppose it should be worth it rather having your passport pulled out (which a lot of embassies allow if really necessary).

My husband (the optimist in our relationship) always tells me not to worry about being approved, but I always do. I just don’t want to set myself up for disappointment. So here I am again, counting the days and crossing my fingers that all our visa applications will be approved. 🙂