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Obtaining Korean Citizenship
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tob55



Joined: 29 Apr 2007

PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

malaz wrote:
I just read this whole thread .. really useful info !

I have another question .. I heard that being rejected from naturalization may cause a change in your original visa ! kind of a downgrade to F-1 or something. is this true ?

currently I have E-3 (researcher visa) and I am eligible for F-5 as of March 2015.. I hate to loose my status if that is the case !
and do you think its better to wait until I get my F-5 before applying ?


Being refused for citizenship does not affect your current visa status, i.e. get you 'downgraded.' The only times I have heard of someone having their visa downgraded was in the case of divorce where the foreign person either was guilty or could not prove their case in court. The other instance was obviously necessary as it related to someone breaking the law, i.e. they were stripped of their visa and deported. They only escaped jail time, because there was not enough evidence to warrant them serving time.

In my case I was on the F-5 for several years before I applied for citizenship. I am not sure about coming from other directions to obtain citizenship, i.e. other visas which allow you to apply. I can say the denial of citizenship will not cause you to lose the current visa you are on unless something is discovered during the naturalization process.

When you are applying, expect your full background history to be gone through with a fine toothed comb. This is the one time the MOJ actually does its job. A full disclosure of all my past was needed in order for me to qualify. this included family records, a full CRC from the US DOJ, along with the FBI. So, if anything would have come back negative in terms of criminal history I would have been refused.

Usually, people are not rejected if they follow all the steps. By virtue of the fact someone is accepted for an interview, is an assurance that the government feels you are worthy of citizenship, or else the rejection notice would be given to them. If you are able to apply on your E-3 visa then no need to wait for the F-5, unless it is needed. The rules have changed somewhat since I received my citizenship. The wait period for receiving your ID, etc. is now longer and some of the other rules for new citizen processing is different, but pretty much everything else remains the same as it was for me.

If you qualify and can apply, no need to wait unless you don't have everything in place for applying. Good luck! Cool
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malaz



Joined: 06 Jan 2013

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks tob55

I was having many doubts but it appears to me that It may not be far from me ..
I lived in korea for 7 years. 6 and a half of them are as a student with D-2 visa (master and Ph.D) and i've been working in samsung electronics research center since my graduation 6 month ago under the E-3 visa. looks like I only need to finish the level 5 of KIIP, get my recommendation letters, and 30 mil in my bank account, and I am good to go without even an interview ! am I right?

do you think I might face problems since my korean language is actually quite terrible?

and do I have to give up my original citizenship for this? I read that dual citizenship is only allowed for some people, and in the list there was a mention of (talented people) is my Ph.D a talent in this case?

I appreciate the help !
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tob55



Joined: 29 Apr 2007

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

malaz wrote:
Thanks tob55

I was having many doubts but it appears to me that It may not be far from me ..
I lived in korea for 7 years. 6 and a half of them are as a student with D-2 visa (master and Ph.D) and i've been working in samsung electronics research center since my graduation 6 month ago under the E-3 visa. looks like I only need to finish the level 5 of KIIP, get my recommendation letters, and 30 mil in my bank account, and I am good to go without even an interview ! am I right?

do you think I might face problems since my korean language is actually quite terrible?

and do I have to give up my original citizenship for this? I read that dual citizenship is only allowed for some people, and in the list there was a mention of (talented people) is my Ph.D a talent in this case?

I appreciate the help !


My Korean isn't perfect by any means, but I was able to go through the interview without much problem. There are a number of blogs found through a quick naver.com search that will provide for you a full list of the types of questions that are asked during the citizenship interview. There are more than 50 pages in a guide they can choose from, but most of the interviewers are quite nice and as it was told to me, they are pulling for people to pass the interview. They will not give you answers, but if you get stuck on something they may re-word questions to make them a bit easier.

As for the monetary requirements, you do not need cold, hard cash in the bank to fulfill the requirements. A housing contract, and employment contract and other types of solvent types of contracts will work just as well. I actually used a housing title and deed to satisfy mine. Unless they changed this regulation it should be the same for you.

I did the interview, but it wasn't necessary. It really depends on the immigration office you go through. In rural areas they are more likely to have you go through the interview regardless of what training you go through. That isn't a bad thing.

The primary thing is to make sure you go through the application in as much detail as possible. IF you do not have a Korean spouse the wait time for interviewing and naturalization determinations can be as long as 12 - 18 months. The reasons for this may vary, but for the most part couples and families with children are pushed to the front of the line so to speak. Not necessarily fair, but just the way it is.

You do not have to give up your home citizenship just as long as the country you come from allows dual citizenship. From the USA and Canada it is no problem. Not sure about the other countries people come from. I know about the USA and Canada because I hail from the USA, and some of my friends who received their naturalization are from Canada.

Not sure how much the 'talent' thing comes into play for people who may not have a Korean spouse. As long as the job you are doing adds value to Korea in some way I suppose you could apply on that basis, but it is probably a non-issue.

If you have more questions be sure and ask them, but by all means start doing a search on naver.com for the resources I mentioned to you. They will be an invaluable part of your preparation. There are both happy stories of people who went through the process, but also hard luck stories about people who screwed up in some way and did not pass their interview. Basically, the more prepared you are going into the interview process the better. Good luck! Cool
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malaz



Joined: 06 Jan 2013

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the help. I don't know if we have the same definition for a non-perfect Korean but I would say I am level 2. and I heard about a friend who is eligible for F-5, applied for it and got F-2 instead just because the employee at the immigration office thought that his Korean is disappointing while receiving the application (or reduced the period of the F-2).

I will "naver" the questions as you mentioned and I got the guide for the naturalization test. I will study it although I really wish to avoid the interview. I am applying in Suwon immigration office. I will keep posting about my progress here Smile
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tob55



Joined: 29 Apr 2007

PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As for the naturalization test, I never had to do it. I am not sure they are making it a solid requirement for applicants, but if you are going through the KIIP program it is the best way to by-pass the test. That was my primary purpose in going through that program.

If you are applying as a single person the rules may be and probably will be different for you than they were for me. That is not altogether bad, but just the way it is. Don't worry about 'wowing' the interviewer with your speaking skills. Just be open, honest and communicate to your best ability. The interviewer I was with was a terrific guy, and my wife actually was impressed with my ability to communicate during the interview. Get the application and fill everything out. The person giving your the application for naturalization IS NOT the person who will be interviewing you, so don't worry about anything they say, they are merely pencil pushers at the front desk, unlike your friend who applied for his F5.
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malaz



Joined: 06 Jan 2013

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I visited Suwon immigration office to clear all issues, apparently I can apply while on F-5 or E-3 without any difference or benefit. And everything else is ready so I can submit my application as soon as I get my background check from back home.

As for the test and interview, they are both required for now. But if I finish level 5 of KIIP (which I started last Saturday) I will be exempt from both and processing time for naturalization will be shorter.

I was planning on finishing level 5 and then applying, but I just heard that level 5 test is actually quite difficult, doesn’t reflect the level textbook, and requires full knowledge of Korean language/grammar/vocab. Also you (tob55 ) told me than the citizenship test and interview are not that difficult… so I am considering which way to go.

Which way do you recommend? Shall I stick to my KIIP plan?
Is level 5 test really that tough and unpredictable? ( I assume you took it already)
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tob55



Joined: 29 Apr 2007

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

malaz wrote:
So I visited Suwon immigration office to clear all issues, apparently I can apply while on F-5 or E-3 without any difference or benefit. And everything else is ready so I can submit my application as soon as I get my background check from back home.

As for the test and interview, they are both required for now. But if I finish level 5 of KIIP (which I started last Saturday) I will be exempt from both and processing time for naturalization will be shorter.

I was planning on finishing level 5 and then applying, but I just heard that level 5 test is actually quite difficult, doesn’t reflect the level textbook, and requires full knowledge of Korean language/grammar/vocab. Also you (tob55 ) told me than the citizenship test and interview are not that difficult… so I am considering which way to go.

Which way do you recommend? Shall I stick to my KIIP plan?
Is level 5 test really that tough and unpredictable? ( I assume you took it already)


Stick with the KIIP plan as your choice and forego the naturalization test. The interview may still be required, but that is a fairly seamless situation. As I mentioned in another post to this thread, the interview questions are straight forward and the interviewer is commonly quite nice and accommodating. This doesn't mean they give you answers to say, but they are patient (at least mine was) and give you targeted comments to assist you while you answer (at least mine did).

The first half of KIIP is a twelve week intensive language study program all conducted in Korean, with no exceptions. You will probably be in a class with more women than men, that was my case, because many of the people taking KIIP may be doing it for reasons other than naturalization, i.e. trying to get a permanent visa or something else. The second half of the KIIP is a 10 week Korean culture and history course that provides lots of information about life in Korea. It actually covers everything a person would be expected to encounter as a Korean citizen. There is a written exam after this course. The language proficiency is pass - fail, while the written test requires 70% or higher to pass. Worth it to do it. the test from KIIP is in my opinion an easier route to go than the naturalization test since the training you receive is geared towards you becoming a citizen, and as such the examinations and preparation are more suited to the end goal.

You are on the right track. The KIIP leveled, and it has 5 different categories. There should have been a pre-test when you started. I was placed in level 4~5 with other people who were either the same as me or just a bit higher in their communication. We had a combined class because there were not actually enough people to fill both levels of the course in our area. If you were placed in a level 4 or 5 for the KIIP study, then you should have no problems with anything. Just go through the program and do your best. Let me know if there is anything else you have need of and I will certainly share what I can. Cheers! Cool
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laynamarya



Joined: 01 Jan 2010
Location: Gwangjin-gu

PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi everyone,

I just received my citizenship, and I wanted to let everyone know about the timeline, as it was MUCH faster than I was told at the immigration office.

November 30, 2013: Applied for citizenship at the special immigration office.

February 4, 2014: Citizenship interview.

February 5, 2014: Given passing results of interview via text message. Was told the processing time for documents would be 2-3 years.

October 22, 2014: Received notice (by mail) that my documents had all been processed and approved. Was given 1 year to bring remaining documents to the special immigration center to receive final approval.

December 8, 2014: Went to the special immigration center with husband and final documents, which I BELIEVE were my husband's place-of-birth document (where I will be registered as having been born, oddly enough), a document stating that I would not use my US citizenship privileges while in Korea, a picture, and 2,000 won. Received approval within ten minutes.

December 9, 2014: Went to the 주민 center with husband with fill out another form and be fingerprinted. Received temporary ID card with new ID number on the spot. The real one will arrive in three weeks, they said.

All I have to do now is change my name!

So, long process, lots of documents, but it all ended up being much faster than expected. Good luck to those of you waiting! Hope you hear good news soon.
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tob55



Joined: 29 Apr 2007

PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations! You will have a busy few weeks while you get everything changed over, but hopefully with your husband's help it will be smooth. My wife's help was tremendous during the first month after I received my citizenship. Things will still be a bit awkward for you as people slowly, and I mean slowly begin to adjust to working with you as a citizen rather than a foreigner. Congrats once again. Cool
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f12



Joined: 17 Aug 2011

PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

laynamarya wrote:


All I have to do now is change my name!



why do you need to change your name???
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tob55



Joined: 29 Apr 2007

PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is not a requirement to change your name, but many do. If you filled in the papers when you applied using your birth name, then you must go through a court procedure to change your name once you have your citizenship. I chose to keep my given name and simply change it over to the Korean version. The reason was simply one of choice. My daughter was born here, and she introduced my given family name to Korea for the first time. Because of this, I did not want her to be the only Korean citizen with that family name. So, I kept my given birth family name.

The process of changing your name to Korean is not difficult, and there is no time limit on when you want or need to do it. Cheers Cool
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laynamarya



Joined: 01 Jan 2010
Location: Gwangjin-gu

PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am a female with a maiden name that is unpronounceable and unspellable even in English. In Korean, it is twelve syllables and takes up two lines of my new id card. I have been waiting my whole life to change my name. ^^

Now that that's cleared up, does anyone have a handy-dandy list of folks I need to inform? My employers know, so who else? Health Insurance? Banks?
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tob55



Joined: 29 Apr 2007

PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

laynamarya wrote:
I am a female with a maiden name that is unpronounceable and unspellable even in English. In Korean, it is twelve syllables and takes up two lines of my new id card. I have been waiting my whole life to change my name. ^^

Now that that's cleared up, does anyone have a handy-dandy list of folks I need to inform? My employers know, so who else? Health Insurance? Banks?


You are right about the number of characters, Korea only allows for 7 character (sets) on the National ID, Ex. 임대손 (3) Made up the name for example sake. (SurprisedSmile

The list that I had to do:

1. Credit card companies (even if you are simply listed as a family member using your own card)
2. National Tax Service
3. Health Insurance
4. NHIC (goes without saying)
5. Any places you have point cards you use frequently, oddly enough they do keep record of your ID, i.e. Emart, LotteMart, etc.
6. ALL banks where you have accounts, whether you use them all the time or not.
7. Phone companies, Samsung, LG, KT, SK, etc.
8. Post Office
9. City Hall, for the address to make sure you receive your notices.

One bonus: You NEVER have to deal with Immigration again!!!

Employers and other will still try to place you in the "we have to contact immigration" category, but they will be laughed at by the people at immigration when they call. You are a citizen and have nothing to do with immigration.

BTW, you need to get copies of your Family Register 가족동분, all of the places, or 95% of them will want this when you change things over. I had plenty of headaches with this. One more thing, don't expect that everyone will be able to do things quickly. As good as the system is here in Korea, NONE of the agencies connect to each other, so you will have to provide the same thing to most of the places you deal with. Your husband should be helpful in getting things done for you, unless your Korean is good enough to explain without his help. I needed my wife to step in a few times and communicate for me, so expect that people will still be doubtful of your claim to be a Korean citizen. It happens, but they are generally ignorant about people who become Korean citizens.

Glad you are on this side of the equation.

PS: If you change your name over with the phone company expect that you will lose all of your records. When I switched from a foreigner to a citizen with SK they wiped my slate clean, i.e. I had no credit with them, even though I had been working with them for 8+ years while living in Korea. Go figure.
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malaz



Joined: 06 Jan 2013

PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 5:14 pm    Post subject: Recommendation letter Reply with quote

I will apply for citizenship soon ...

Is there a template to follow for the recommendation letters? any tips on what should be written ?

any information would be helpful.

Thanks
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tob55



Joined: 29 Apr 2007

PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 2:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Recommendation letter Reply with quote

malaz wrote:
I will apply for citizenship soon ...

Is there a template to follow for the recommendation letters? any tips on what should be written ?

any information would be helpful.

Thanks


There is a guideline list of things you need to do on the government website under the naturalization link. (http://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/InfoDetailR_en.pt)

As for the letters of recommendation, they need to be completed by Koreans who can vouch for your character and general sense of whether or not you would be someone who would follow the law and be respectful of Korean culture and customs.
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