South Korea Naturalization and Citizenship

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Naturalization is the process by which a foreign national married to a Korean national acquires Korean citizenship. Once married and on a F£²-1 (Joining Family) visa, the foreign national is granted a period of sojourn between three to six months. This must be continually extended, and it is hard to live a stable life because the foreign national must continually leave the country and return. Also, since F-1 visas are not official working visas, employment is a problem. Since Korea has no system of permanent residence, it is worth a person considering becoming naturalized if the intent is to stay in Korea.

Applying for Korean citizenship, according to the Nationality Law as amended in June 1998, allows foreign nationals that have lived in Korea married to Korean nationals for two years or more to apply, then acquire Korean citizenship if they pass the citizenship test. The new Korean national must forfeit his previous foreign citizenship within six months of acquiring Korean citizenship. Korea does not permit dual citizenship.

Citizenship of Children

In accordance with the revised Nationality Law, children may acquire Korean citizenship even if only one parent is a Korean citizen. However, even if it is difficult to choose citizenships at an early age, the child must choose one before the age of 18. Even if the father does not have Korean citizenship, the child faces no problems in receiving educational and health insurance benefits.

Reporting Marriage and Birth

Reports must be filed with the relevant Immigration Office if the Korean national in an international marriage acquires foreign citizenship based on the citizenship of the foreign national spouse, or if a child is born to foreign national parents, or in case of death of any foreign national.

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