I'm currently living in Korea on an E2 visa. Since April, I've also been working on an online business on the side, KoreaJobFinder.com. Come March when my contract ends, I'm planning on quitting teaching to work on the website full-time. I have a registered LLC in America and process payments through my American Paypal/bank accounts, but since this is an online business, I can operate it from anywhere in the world. The reason I want to remain in Korea is because my girlfriend attends medical school in Korea, and will do so for the next 3.5 years.
My question is, what are my visa options outside of making a visa run to Japan every 3 months to renew my tourist visa? Surely there has been someone else who ran an online business but chose to reside in Korea. Is making visa runs the only way, or does the government provide some exception for those who can prove they're earning their income abroad?
I can't register as a Korean corporation, because I don't have the $50,000 - $100,000 required to do so.
Another thought I had was consulting Korean businesses who target foreign clients in my area of expertise, Internet marketing. But unless I could find a Korean company willing to sponsor an E7, I'm not sure this idea helps anything.
And before someone suggests I get married, that's in the pipeline for the future, but right now it's a bit too soon ;)
I'm going to visit the Seoul Global Business Center on Friday to see what they have to say, but I figured I'd ask around here to see if anyone had any advice. Your thoughts would be much appreciated!
If you aren't ethnically Korean (or married to an ethnic Korean) and don't meet the qualifications for an investment visa, your options are limited. I've heard that some schools will provide a visa for minimal working hours, but it would still mean another job for you. You're probably stuck doing visa runs.
James - Yes, if you're not working or studying or have capital for your own business, then the visa runs are your answer unfortunately. It's possible, though unlikely, you could get a Korean company to sponsor you. But if you're not actually working for them full time, sponsorship comes with all kinds of added legal and tax obligations and risks for them.
I'd be interested to hear what you learn at the Seoul Global Business Center too.
Thanks for the feedback. The Global Business Center confirmed what I already knew -- outside of meeting the investment visa capital requirement, getting married, or trying to qualify for the points system, doing visa runs is my only option. I've already looked into the points system and it doesn't help me, because based on feedback from others it would probably take me a year to a year and a half to finish the culture course.
What I think I'm going to do is switch to a D10 "looking for work" visa at the end of my contract, which will at least give me six more months before I have to do my first visa run. It's not ideal, but it seems like my best option, unless I can find someone willing to sponsor an E7 for part-time web / online marketing consulting.
On a side note, I just read an interesting article in the Economist about the Chilean government offering a year's visa and $40,000 funding to attract foreign entrepreneurs: The Lure of Chilecon Valley. Now if only Korea had that mindset ;)
Thanks for getting back to us with an update on your results at the GBC.
I had understood that a D10 visa is only available for people currently on a student visa. Am I wrong about that?
Yes, I saw that article in the Economist too... A pretty cool idea...
From what I understand, it's also possible to get a D10 visa if you're between jobs (for instance, one contract is ending and you don't have another job lined up yet). You just need to be able to prove that you have enough money to live for six months without employment, and show them a plan for finding employment. (I'm not sure there's an official document for that, or if it's just a typed letter.)
Of course, as with everything else visa related in Korea, there doesn't seem to be a clear answer -- most of my information comes from reading about other people's experience on online message boards.
That's really interesting, James; I didn't know that. I would love to hear the results of your efforts to get the D10. Could you post an update later? (Good luck, too!)
Sure, but my contract doesn't end until March. I'll post an update then with my experiences.
Oh! You're planning ahead.... Sure, I look forward to hearing from you on your progress...