Do South Korean Citizens Need a Visa to Enter USA?

Traveling can be very daunting, especially when it comes to ensuring you have all the necessary traveling documents. Unless a country has a Visa policy with yours, you will probably need one to enter. 

Previously, South Korean citizens required a Visa to enter the US, but this changed in 2008 when they joined the Visa Waiver Program. This meant they could apply for an ESTA instead, which is beneficial for those visiting the United States for health, leisure, business, or transit purposes.

However, that is not always the case. So, when does South Korea need a visa for the USA? We’ll explain everything below.

What is ESTA?

ESTA or Electronic System for Travel Authorization is an automated traveling system that enables eligible citizens under the Visa Waiver Program to travel to the United States. Eligibility is determined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which checks if the traveler is a security risk. 

ESTA is valid for two years. However, you will need to renew it if your passport expires. ESTA can be used for several trips and is only valid for 90 days. If you are traveling with a child, they will need their own ESTA. 

Requirements For Passports

If you are under the VWP, you must have a machine-readable passport with an integrated chip. The passport should have all the issuing information, including digital photos. The photos must be printed on the data page. 

Travelers must check if their passports are valid for at least six months before ending their trip since this is one of the main conditions for entering the country.

The Advantages of Applying For an ESTA For South Korean Citizens

Everyone likes a simple application process, and an ESTA application process is much faster than applying for a US visa, taking around 24 hours. A US visa, on the other hand, can even take months before it is processed. Therefore, if you are a South Korean citizen, it is wiser to use ESTA when traveling to the US. 

Another major advantage is that the ESTA process takes around 20 minutes and is completely online. This eliminates the need for physical interviews at the US embassy, as is required when applying for a US visa.  Moreover, the application fee is significantly lower than a US Visa.

Once you’re done with the ESTA application process, you will receive an email informing you if your application was approved.

How can South Korean Citizens Apply For ESTA?

All citizens can apply as long as they have a biometric passport. They must complete several questions sections, including their name, address, date of birth, and information about their parents. 

There are also required to answer some security-related questions, such as criminal convictions and visits to countries with high-risk ties to terrorism.

Before applying, you must fill out the form and pay the application fee. The application must be submitted at least 72 hours before travel. Once you submit it, the Department of Homeland Security will check your application for approval. 

If approved, the ESTA electronically connects to the passport. Diligence is required when filling out the form to avoid delaying the process or being declined completely. Remember, having an approved ESTA does not guarantee entry into the US and your ESTA can be revoked at any time.

What do I do if ESTA is Declined?

Your ESTA may be declined if:

  • You have a criminal record.
  • You have ever been arrested.
  • If you have a dangerous infectious disease.
  • You were previously denied entry permission to the US.
  • If you overstayed your VWP. 
  • You were previously deported. 

If your ESTA is denied, you can resubmit another application. Again, ensure all the details you give are correct, and you are not under the categories above. 

If you are still denied, you will need to apply for a US Visa by filling out a DS 160 form and attending an interview session at the US embassy. 

How Long is an ESTA Valid?

The ESTA lasts two years, and you can stay for a maximum of 90 days. It also allows you to enter the United States as much as you want. If certain details on your ESTA change, you will be required to get a new ESTA. These details include:

  • Name
  • Passport
  • Gender
  • Country of Citizenship
  • Change in ‘Yes/No” questions

When is a Visa Required For Travel to The USA?

Other than an ESTA authorization rejection, you will also need a VISA to travel if you are still in the US after the 90-day limit, you lack an electronic passport, or are traveling for anything other than the reasons mentioned above. 

Is an ESTA Required if You Already Have a Visa?

No, you do not need ESTA if you have a Visa. If you are a VWP citizen with a Visa, you don’t need to get an ESTA. However, non-VWP citizens require Visas to get to the US. 

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I am a travel + food blogger on a mission to discover the best destinations & dishes in the world. Thanks for joining the adventure!

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