How to Become a Korean Citizen: The General Naturalization Method (일반귀화)

This article is the second in a 4-part series on the Korean naturalization system and how to become a Korean citizen. Skip to the end for links to the other articles.

General Naturalization Requirements  

So you’re crazy about Korea and you’ve finally decided that you’d love to become a Korean citizen. There are a few ways of going about that, but here is the one the Immigration Office considers the most routine or “General” (일반) way of going about it.

For this method you must meet the following requirements:

  1. You must be 19 years of age or older
  2. You must have been a legal resident of Korea for 5 consecutive years  
  3. You must have displayed that you will be a responsible citizen while in Korea, by having never been convicted of a criminal offence or other bad behavior on the public record.
  4. You must have proven your financial stability and your ability to be a contributing member of society. This means having an annual combined income above that of Korea’s GNI per capita (roughly 30 million won as of 2017).
  5. You must  prove your knowledge of Korean language, customs, and culture. You can prove this by taking a written test and being interviewed by Korea’s immigration office. Alternatively, you can avoid having to take the written test and interview by passing the Korean Immigration & Integration Program (KIIP).

If you meet all of these requirements, you can then begin the application process. It will likely take anywhere from one and a half to two years to complete.

Before beginning the process, note the general naturalization method is only applicable for those who intend to rescind their original citizenship. If you are not willing to give up your original citizenship, then you will not be able to receive Korean citizenship through this method.

If would like our assistance with the General Naturalization process, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

36 thoughts on “How to Become a Korean Citizen: The General Naturalization Method (일반귀화)

  1. WAHIDA D. KALID says:

    Hi im wahida kalid and im from the Philippines but now I’m here in kuwait im working as an ofw and im willing to live in korea. Is it possible to live without any business included ? I’m really interested to live in korea, what should i do? What is the easy way to live in korea? I want your advise. I will wait for your response, pleas3 notice me. Im waiting .. by the way im learning a korean words ang phrases right now that’s all thank you.

  2. Alfredo Gani lll says:

    Hi I’m Alfredo Gani lll also from the Philippines but now I’m here in Hawaii And Im a student and I’m willing to live in South korea. what personal documents should I bring? what should I do? What requirements do I need to meet in migrating to South Korea? That’s all Kamsahamnida.

    • Simon D. Lee, Esq. says:

      If you do not have a KIIP completion certificate, you will have to take a KIIP exam in the course of the application process. There are some categories of people that can be exempted from this requirement.

        • Simon D. Lee, Esq. says:

          Dear Jona, here is a list of the people that do not have to take the exam:
          – Minors;
          – Those who are over 60 y.o.;
          – Those who have made special contribution to the Republic of Korea;
          – Those who have already took the exam in the past 3 years;
          – Other people that have special grounds preventing them from taking the exam.

          Thank you!

  3. Smith says:

    Does the consecutive 5 years means on same visa status for 5 years ? Or it doesn’t matter on different visa status but resident in Korea for more than consecutive 5 years?

      • Jaja says:

        I am a e9 visa 4yrs and 10mos. And continuing as a spouse visa i applicable for korean citizenship even as soon as possible?or do i need to wait for 2 years for me to apply for that korean citizenship?

      • Harry says:

        Hi sir i am married in korea i have one daughter but i don’t know Korean language which is the best way for me to get Korean citizenship please let me know

        • Simon D. Lee, Esq. says:

          Dear Harry, thank you for your inquiry.
          You can get Korean citizenship through simplified naturalization if you are married to a Korean national and have resided in Korea for 2 years. Thank you.

  4. Desiree Dasig says:

    I want to become a korean citizen, my husband told me to do the procedure, i went to immigration and applt..all the papers requirements that was written i was completed some aren’t. but my husband until not doesnt want to get those i need my son’s help this time,actually his turning 17 years old korean age this coming december..Hoping for your reply soon….Thank you

    • Simon D. Lee, Esq. says:

      Dear Desiree Dasig, please submit your question via the form on our Contact Us page. Please also specify, whether you husband is a Korean national. Thank you.

      • Sheadley Brice says:

        Excuse me, I have one question… well, me and my sister we are planning to go to South Korea to study in an university and live there. After we complete the steps you mentioned before, how long should we wait to be residents of Korea? After 5 years? Please explain it good to me.

  5. hasti says:

    Excuse me the while someone is living in Korea for 5 years he can work without any visa or he need to some special kind of visa in this 5 years to working there? And the citizenship process will be start after this 5 years? And while citizenship process also need to having visa or no

  6. Pep says:


    I have a question regarding the financial requirement segment of the application for general naturalization and I was wondering if you would kindly clarify this for me. It is mentioned that ” Certificate of ownership of real estate registration worth upward of 60 million KRW at officially assessed land price, real transaction land price, or market price announced by a commercial bank” could be used to satisfy the requirement. Does the real estate has to be within Korea or I can use the real estate I have outside of Korea as well?
    Appreciated kindly,

  7. trajenta price says:

    If you flop both of the tests during the meeting, another meeting will be booked within 60 to 90 days of the primary meeting and you can step through the examinations once more. If you flop either test a subsequent time, your solicitation for naturalization will be denied.

  8. KORIM MD REZAUL says:

    I already lived in south korea for five year as a student and i have good knowledge About south korea language, culture and communication. So am I eligible to do application process?

  9. Jimmie L Sanford says:

    My sister-in-law is 86 years old with failing health (Alzheimer) she has been an American citizens for 30 years, she wants to move back to Korea for her final years. What is the process and can she reclaim her Korean Citizenship.

  10. Nouman shah says:

    Hi I am 18 now and want to settle in South Korea but I live in india so what should I do like I am so desperated to go Korea like I’ll do anything but I wanna go there so pls pls help me what should I do??

  11. Livalily Dohling says:

    hi i am liva i am very interested to work in south korean never been outside india i have never finish my studies but still i am very interested ro come and work there will you help me but i have work in hotel industry i have try to check online for vacancy in south korean but it really very difficult to find one will you suggest me how will i can get job there in south korean

  12. Sane Kimi says:

    I have a question that i’ve been looking for an answer for a long time, and I still don’t find an answer. What if I’ve been working in South Korea as an OFW for 5 years then, can I apply for Korean Citizen without marrying Korean?

    • Sane Kimi says:

      I have a question that i’ve been looking for an answer for a long time, and I still don’t find an answer. What if I’ve been working in South Korea as an Overseas Filipino Worker for 5 years then, can I apply for Korean Citizen without marrying Korean? And also if I already applied, can I apply a bachelor’s job as an new Korean Citizen?

    • Nina says:

      As far as I have heard personally from my friend who became a Korean citizen in 2019, naturalized Koreans do indeed have a duty to serve in the Korean military. However, they are classified as “Class 5”, which means they will be conscripted for work in a national emergency but will not be conscripted for service in Korea’s standing army. This means you won’t be an active duty soldier but will still have to serve your duty somewhere else (could be as an embassy guard, street officer, police officer etc.) I don’t know if anything changed since 2019 though.

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