For several weeks, Filipinos lined up for hours — even overnight — just to reach the cutoff for walk-in applicants for a South Korean visa. This led to the Korean Embassy in Manila limiting the number of applications allowed per day, and eventually establishing an online appointment system both for individuals and travel agencies.
Despite this new system, booking an appointment remains difficult, with some applicants even describing it as “hunger games.” I get that; I personally tried booking and it was really competitive with slots going fast.
So for those planning to apply for a South Korean visa, we have some tips that can get you started on securing that elusive appointment slot:
Choose between two ways to apply
If you’re applying for a South Korean visa, there are two ways you can apply: (1) via individual appointment or (2) via accredited travel agency.
There are 36 travel agencies accredited by the Embassy, and you can contact any of them to check if they can accommodate your visa application. Each agency charges a processing service fee that ranges between PHP 700 to 1,200.
However, if you don’t want to pay an additional fee, you can opt to try booking an individual appointment and battle it out when the Embassy opens new slots. When I was making arrangements for my own visa application, I initially submitted my documents to a travel agency. However, due to the agency’s backlog and the Embassy’s limitations, my application wasn’t lodged immediately. My target date of departure was fast approaching, so I figured I should try securing an individual appointment. These are the tips that worked for me then.
Read the fine print
Way before the day when the Embassy will open new appointment slots, you should already familiarize yourself with the guidelines. Know the do’s and don’ts. The Embassy has already released notices containing guidelines and frequently asked questions on its website and Facebook page. So make sure to read and understand everything.
Familiarize yourself with the website
You should do a run-through of all the steps from start to finish. And again, you should do this before the day of the opening of slots. This way, you can familiarize yourself with the website’s interface and you’ll know your way around on the day of. I personally did a run-through, which ensured there was no fumbling around while I was securing my appointment.
Keep an eye on the Embassy’s announcements
When the appointment system was first introduced, the Embassy only opened slots for the next two weeks. This later changed to three weeks’ worth of slots, then the current four weeks. Additionally, the first batch of slots was opened at 2 PM, while the more recent batch of slots is scheduled at 9 AM. Such changes may continue to occur, so it’s best to keep abreast of any new updates from the Embassy. You can follow them on their Facebook page or visit their website’s notice board.
Prepare a list of dates
A day before the opening of slots, check which dates are being opened. List down your preferred date, and make sure to have backup dates just in case you aren’t able to secure your preferred schedule. You should also prepare all the details required by the website, such as your full name and passport number.
Access the site early
Even before the hour when the slots will be opened, you can already input your details for non-membership login and request a one-time PIN.
But don’t be too early! Some people who entered the site and logged in hours earlier often got logged out of the site, so they had to log in again and request another OTP again, which takes much longer now that the server is receiving many requests.
A tip that comes up frequently among those who succeeded is that you should keep interacting with the site so you won’t get kicked out. Once the scheduled time comes, that’s when you select the diplomatic mission (i.e. “Embassy of the Republic of Korea to the Republic of the Philippines”) and follow the rest of the steps as outlined by the Embassy.
Ready your documents
If you successfully booked your appointment, congratulations! Now all you need to do is prepare your documents, submit them on your scheduled appointment, and hope for the best.
With how difficult booking an appointment has been recently, we suggest waiting until you’ve secured a slot before you gather all dated documents, such as your bank certificate and statements. If you end up not securing an appointment, you’ll need to wait until the next time slots open, which may be weeks away and if your bank certificate may be considered “old.” Some visa applicants reported that in such cases, the Embassy asked them to submit a new and up-to-date bank certificate and statement, which might mean a new expense altogether.
Unable to secure a slot?
In the worst-case scenario that you failed to book an appointment, you may need to start reworking your plans and reschedule your trip. You can wait to try booking again when slots are opened or until the influx of applicants dies down.
An alternative would be to regularly check if an accredited travel agency has suddenly opened a slot for submission. Such cases may happen if one of their applicants was able to secure a personal appointment and chose to pull out their documents. The Embassy also regularly provides updates on the current status of their accredited travel agencies, complete with an estimated number of pending applications and the next available date for submission at the Embassy.
Don’t lose hope. Fighting!