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ESTA for South Korean Citizens

Nationals of South Korea need a US ESTA before entering the country. This page explains the prerequisites Korean citizens need to abide by, and the documents they should possess when applying for a visa waiver to the United States of America.

What Is The ESTA for South Korea?

The ESTA is an electronic travel authorization that the USA created in 2009 in order to improve security with regards to international visitors arriving in the country.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is part of the US Visa Waiver Program, which allows certain eligible countries — such as South Korea — to apply for the ESTA by filling in personal information in an online application form.

Korean citizens who have biometric passports can be instantly connected to the ESTA once they have obtained it.

Thanks to this system, travelers from South Korea planning to visit the USA for tourism, business, or medical treatment can get this travel authorization and avoid queues and having to make appointments at a US embassy or consulate.

The US visa waiver for South Korean nationals is a simple, fast, and secure online form that requires only a valid passport to register, with at least 6 months of validity before the day of arriving in the USA.

Note: Korean applicants should be aware that the ESTA is different from the tourist visa to the USA.

US Visa Waiver for Koreans: ESTA Benefits

Before 2009, the admissions for visiting the United States of America were long and slow, and the process required different kinds of documents.

Now, South Korean passport holders can apply from their homes or any other location where they are connected to the internet, using an electronic device.

The US visa waiver is usually processed within 2 business days and is delivered to the Korean applicant’s email address.

The same procedure applies to Korean citizens traveling for tourism, business, and even transit passengers flying to another country.

Important: If South Korean nationals are going to arrive in the USA because of work, paid or voluntary, then the ESTA is not valid and they will have to apply for the respective visa.

Also, if travelers are arriving by road, a visa might be necessary, as the ESTA is valid for those South Korean citizens arriving by plane or ship to the USA.

For those South Korean families or groups traveling together, it is possible to obtain a group ESTA, which avoids them having to carry separate documents for each individual.

ESTA Requirements for South Korea Nationals

South Korea is one of the eligible countries for getting an ESTA, which is one of the requirements for the USA ESTA application. Travelers from non-eligible countries must go to the USA embassies to get their visas.

In order to receive an approved US visa waiver, South Korean citizens must not have:

  • Traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria after March 1, 2011
  • Previously overstayed an ESTA in the USA
  • A history of serious criminal activity
  • Contagious diseases

The US ESTA permits applicants from Korea to visit all 50 US states and stay for 90 consecutive days. It is a multiple-entry document that is valid for 2 years.

The visa waiver will become invalid sooner than this if the South Korean passport connected with the ESTA expires.

How Can I Apply for the ESTA as Korean?

As South Korean citizens are eligible nationals for registering in the ESTA online application form, it will be very easy for them to follow all the steps during the process.

The ESTA electronic application starts with Korean applicants entering their email address account to register. All the provided personal data in the US ESTA form will be protected.

The application form concludes with the ESTA fee payment, by using a valid credit or debit card. Once the payment is completed by Korean nationals, the ESTA requirement is sent to the DHS (Department of Homeland Security), who will send an email to the Korean applicant with the attached ESTA document.

If the US visa waiver requirement is rejected, Korean travelers will also receive an email.

The process is the same for the transit ESTA. South Korean nationals are advised they are not able to request a visa waiver while inside the USA; therefore, it is mandatory to have it in advance.

ESTA processing times for travelers of Korea

ESTA applications are generally processed within 2 working days and an approved visa waiver may even be received within 24 hours.

In rare cases, it may take a little longer. Because of this, it is highly recommended that South Korean passengers request the ESTA to the USA at least one week in advance. There is no possibility of entering the USA without a valid ESTA.

South Koreans Traveling to the US: What to Prepare Before the Trip

Traveling from South Korea to the United States takes over 13 hours by plane. However, before embarking, Korean travelers must be aware of certain considerations when crossing the USA borders.

For instance, when landing in any US city, Korean nationals will pass through border customs and ESTA controls, which involve officers asking travelers about the reasons for their trips (leisure, work, business), accommodation details, and how long are they planning to stay in the US.

Other aspects to consider by South Koreans is where to change money for US dollars, although this is such an international currency that there are no problems regarding its exchange.

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