SUBJECT: Eligibility of Dependents for Employment in Korea
1. PURPOSE: To outline pertinent restrictions and regulations affecting employment
opportunities for the dependents of members of the U.S. armed forces and dependents of
members of the civilian component in the Republic of Korea (ROK).
2. A-3 VISA STATUS:
a. Dependents of members of the United States armed forces and dependents of members of
the civilian component are admitted to the Republic of Korea under an A-3 visa. The A-3 visa
provides status in Korea under the U.S.-R.O.K. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). This status
entitles A-3 visa holders to a variety of important benefits under the SOFA.
b. However, persons in Korea under an A-3 visa are not entitled to work for pay on the
Korean economy without an additional authorization from the Korean government, see below.
Before 2001, A-3 visa holders were not entitled to work on the Korean economy at all, but
changes to the SOFA made under a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and
R.O.K. governments has opened some options for dependents to obtain a work permit without
surrendering their A-3 visa status.
3. EMPLOYMENT OPTIONS: Dependents in Korea under A-3 visa status have the
following options for employment in the Republic of Korea:
a. Volunteer Work: In order to gain experience, build a résumé, and to provide vital services
to the community, dependents under A-3 visa status may get involved in volunteer work. This
work may include teaching English, community service, and a variety of other interesting and
exciting opportunities. For more information on volunteer opportunities, contact the Army
Volunteer Corps (AVC) or ACS.
b. On-Post Employment: Certain paid employment positions on-post are reserved for Korean
National (KN) employees. Not all positions are reserved, however. Thus, employment
opportunities remain in U.S. federal civil service, non-appropriated fund instrumentality (i.e.,
AAFES) and other on-post organizations.
c. Paid Employment on the Korean Economy: Subject to the Memorandum of Understanding
referenced above and to Korean law, dependents with A-3 visas may now obtain a work permit
in any of eight employment categories. These categories each have a number of qualifications
which applicants must meet in order to be eligible to obtain that category of work permit
d. Please note that although it may seem that the Korean government tolerates work for cash
payments in employment such as teaching English to individuals or small groups, this
employment, without proper permission, violates Korean law. Penalties for violation of Korean
immigration law may include deportation, prosecution in the R.O.K., fines, and levying of back-taxes
4. EMPLOYMENT STATUS CATEGORIES: The above referenced employment categories,
along with some of the important qualification required to obtain each, follow:
a. E-1 Teaching (Professor): This is for professors of higher education. Requirements
include education and experience as a professor of higher education.
b. E-2 Foreign Language Instructor: This category includes English teachers. Requirements
include a bachelor’s degree and/or relevant college level educational and/or work experience.
Individuals applying for this permit must also be natives of a country where the language they
wish to teach is the mother tongue. Proof must be provided of relevant qualifications. The ROK
government recently imposed additional requirements including criminal record check by FBI or
home state police, health certificate issued by a Korean public health office, and fingerprints.
c. E-3 Research: This category includes those performing research in the natural sciences or
in the development of industry and technology. Requirements include an invitation from a
Korean public or private institution to perform work of this nature.
d. E-4 Technology Instruction: A person possessing professional level knowledge in the
natural sciences, or special technical skills. Requirements include an invitation from a Korean
public or private institution to instruction of this nature.
e. E-5 Professional Occupation: This category includes foreign attorneys, accountants, and
doctors who are certified in a foreign country and are authorized under Korean law to practice in
their field in Korea.
f. E-6 Arts and Performance: This category includes those engaged in music, the arts,
literature, modeling, or other performance activities for profit.
g. E-7 Special Occupations: Include such employment as designated by the Minister of
Justice, including work in translation, interpretation, cultural research, etc.
h. E-8 Employed Trainee: Temporary employment for industrial training purposes.
5. OBTAINING A WORK PERMIT:
a. A dependent with an A-3 visa may negotiate terms for employment with a Korean
company. The employer can then initiate the paperwork with the Korea Immigration Service (an
agency of the R.O.K. Ministry of Justice) to obtain an employment permit for the dependent.
The dependent may then visit a local immigration office and obtain an employment permit stamp
on their passports. Address and contact information for the Korea Immigration Service and local
immigration offices throughout Korea can be found at the following website:
b. Once the dependent obtains the proper work permit, he or she may be lawfully employed
on the Korean economy. The dependent will not be required to leave Korea and make a separate
entry to enjoy the benefits of a new work permit.
c. Note that dependents employed on the Korean economy are subject to the withholding of
Korean income taxes from their wages in Korea.
6. REFERENCES AND ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
a. Agreement under Article IV of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States of
America and the Republic of Korea Regarding Facilities and Areas and the Status of United
States Armed Forces in the Republic of Korea (hereinafter referred to the “SOFA”).
b. 2001 Memorandum of Understanding for Preferential Hiring of Korean Employees and
Employment of Family Members.
c. United States Forces Korea Regulation 690-1: Regulations and Procedures – Korean
d. Korean Law: Immigration Control Act, Chapter III, Section 1, Article 10; Enforcement
Decree of the Immigration Control Act, Chapter II, Section 1, Article 12 (attachment).