If you’ve been following me for a while and maybe seen my YouTube videos or Instagram posts, you might also know that I’m in South Korea to learn Korean.
I’m here on what’s called the D4 visa for language students and plan to stay for a year. Below I explain what the requirements are for this visa and how to learn Korean in Korean 🙂
Important Disclaimer: The following tips, procedures and regulations can change quickly in the current situation and also depend on your personal circumstances & home country. So please always check again the current travel & immigration regulations for your specific case.
Basic Information about the D4-Visa
The D4 visa is for Korean language trainees who want to study Korean at a Korean public university.
This is not a full-time Bachelor’s or Master’s degree programme, but rather a long-term language course.
The visa does not apply to students from private organisations or academies and is only valid for as long as you are enrolled at a Korean university.
Korean Language Programmes
Most Korean universities offer Korean language programmes.
These are roughly similar in structure:
There are usually 6-7 different Korean levels and you can choose how many levels you want to complete.
You can start as an absolute beginner in Level 1 or – if you already have some korean knowledge – find out via a placement test & interviews whether you might be able to start at a higher level.
1 level usually takes 3 months. During these three months, which make up one semester, you have daily lessons from 9am to 1pm. Saturday and Sunday are free.
During the semester you write exams to find out if you can reach the next level at the end.
For example, it takes 12 months to complete 4 levels. Assuming you pass all the exams. 😉
For this visa type you need to be shortly before or already having your high school diploma. You also need to save quite a lot of money – I will go into detail about that later – and you need the confirmation of one university of your choice for the Korean language program.
Step by Step
1 Choose your University!
The first thing you have to decide on is: Which university you want to go to! So there are many factors you have to consider when doing your research about the possibilities. The things I checked when I chose my university are the following:
I personally decided to go to Sogang University because they focus a lot on speaking the language and also the location was nice and the reviews were really, really good. But of course it’s up to you what you want to do and what university you want to attend.
2 Prepare the Documents!
Once you decided on a university you can start to prepare the documents for the application. Every university has their own requirements also depending on your home country, so make sure to check their websites what kind of documents you need to prepare.
For my application at Sogang University I needed to prepare the following documents:
- Application form (telling them who I am, why I want to study korean and if I know some Korean already)
- High School Diploma (officially translated and apostilled copy – first digitally via Mail, then original copy via Post)
- Other Documents (depending on Home Country, for example Letter of Korean Guarantee)
- COVID-related documents (for example Address of my quarantine-place)
- Bank statement with over 10 000 USD Savings (also depending on Home Country & Visa-Type)
3 Save money!
Talking about money: With those 10,000 USD they want to make sure that you have enough money to spend half a year or even one year here in South Korea. I personally think that you will definitely need this money at least. Tuition for the language course is usually between 1100 and 1500 US-Dollar per semester, depending on which university you want to study at. And in addition to that there are:
- Activities & Fun
I know that’s the most annoying part of it and it’s incredibly hard for some people to save that amount of money, but I think it’s really important to save enough before coming here. Because once you’re here you don’t want to think “Oh I shouldn’t try this food” or “I shouldn’t visit this museum or sight, because I don’t have the money for it”. Rather come here one year later and have enough money to really enjoy Korea and its culture the fullest.
One additional information for the D4-Visa is that you’re not allowed to work within the first six months and even afterwards you have to ask your teacher if he or she allows it. And there are some requirements about the amount of time you’re allowed to work.
4 Apply for University & Visa!
When you prepared all the documents you can finally apply at the website of the university. Most of the bigger universities require a login so you can create an account on their website and upload the documents there. And once you applied, you also have to send them the high school diploma as an original copy to the university via post. Some universities will invite you to a test or an interview at that point.
After a few days or weeks I got the confirmation, that I am accepted and – of course – the payment guide. Then you pay the tuition and once they receive the money, they will send you all the necessary documents you need for the visa application, for example the letter of enrollment.
The Visa application works quite differently in every country so unfortunately I cannot really go into detail here. Check the website of the korean embassy in your home country and also the website of the korean visa application center and make sure you know the whole process, the deadlines and also the required documents. Usually the documents are quite similar to the ones you need to prepare for the university application.
Let´s go to South Korea!
And once your Visa got confirmed you have 90 days to enter the country. In terms of Accommodation I recommend you to book an Airbnb before coming here and then taking your time to visit realtor offices in your preferred area.
If you want to know the next steps.. So what is happening at the airport and especially during COVID the whole quarantine process and stuff like that, check out the video or Blog Post I uploaded before about this.
And if you want to know all the details about other visa types, for example, the working holiday visa (H1) just let me know in the comments and I will consider doing a video/Post about that too.