Getting My F-4 Visa

My Heritage

I’ve wanted to experience living in South Korea since I was 11-years old. Some of my fondest childhood memories are watching my grandmother’s Korean variety shows while eating rolls on rolls of her fresh 김밥(Kimbap, Seaweed rice). 


An overseas Korean and his mother
A picture of me and my mother who is half Korean and half Puerto Rican.

In the summer of 2022 I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and this past spring 2024 I received an offer to teach in South Korea. In order to legally teach English in South Korea, a work visa is required. I was under the impression that I would be using a regular, 1-year, E-2 Teaching Visa (E-2 Visa Info); however, I was shocked to learn that I qualify for a 교포 (Gyopo, National), F-4 Visa (F-4 Visa Info). For context: a 교포 (Gyopo) is someone who is ethnically Korean, but has spent most of their life living outside of South Korea. 


Overseas Korean

To preface, I’m 25% Korean, 25% Puerto Rican, and 50% White. Aside from a few family friends,  I grew up in an extremely small town with little to no Asian culture. In 2012, I was exposed to the idea of teaching English overseas. Once I learned about this opportunity, it felt like I received a golden ticket to learning more about my Korean culture. 


Family picture of an overseas Korean family.
My Korean grandmother and Puerto Rican grandfather with my mother and her sisters.
An overseas Korean family.
My Korean Grandmother at the center of it all!

I qualified for the F-4 Visa due to my grandmother previously holding Korean citizenship. She moved to the United States in 1973 after marrying my Puerto Rican grandfather; therefore she was eventually naturalized as an American citizen. Here are some pictures of my grandparents!


F-4 Visa: Overseas Korean (Gyopo)

The F-4 Visa is reserved for someone who’s parents OR grandparents have previously held Korean nationality and withdrew their Korean citizenship; hence the word 교포 (Gyopo, National). This visa has more benefits than a traditional E-2 Teaching Visa such as:

  • not needing a job contract to move to South Korea.
  • being able to legally tutor students as a part-time job. (Must be registered with your local Ministry of Education Office.)
  • holding the visa for 2 years with easy renewal. (After first renewal, it is valid for 3 years.)
  • the ability to apply for the F-4 Visa for while in South Korea on a tourist visa.

While the F-4 Visa has some great benefits, much more documentation is needed to receive it from a Korean consulate. Each consulate office requires different documentation, so applicants must call their local consulate office to double check their requirements (List of all Korean Consulates in the USA). With that being said, here are the documents that I was asked to prepare for the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington DC:

  • FBI Background check specifically apostilled by the Department of State (Instructions on how to apostille documents)
  • Completed visa application from the Korean Embassy website
  • 2 x 2 printed color photo of the applicant
  • 2 x 2 printed color photo of the previous Korean national
  • A Korean family registry
  • The applicant’s passport and birth certificate
  • The previous Korean national’s passport, naturalization papers, etc.
  • The applicant’s mother’s proof of nationality (birth certificate, passport, naturalization papers, etc.)
  • The applicant’s father’s proof of nationality (birth certificate, passport, naturalization papers, etc.)
  • The applicant’s grandfather’s proof of nationality (birth certificate, passport, naturalization papers, etc.)
  • $55 cash

            When in doubt, bring everything you can to prove your family member previously held Korean citizenship and is no longer a Korean citizen. This can include: marriage licenses, death certificates, photographs, retirement documents, etc. The more legal documentation you can provide, the better chance you have of receiving the F-4 Visa as quickly as possible.


A record of an ethnic Korean's family tree
This is an example of an official Korean family registry.

To Be Continued..

Preparing all of the documentation listed above was a grueling process to say the least. With my turn-around time being only 2-3 months, I made sure to get started on finding these documents as soon as I finished my call with the Korean Embassy.

My meeting with the consulate is going to be in June. Stay tuned for an update on how my F-4 Visa meeting goes and the amount of time it takes to receive it!


Gabriel (Gabe) White is a soon to be English teacher in South Korea. He is a Korean, Puerto Rican-American  from the Richmond, Virginia area and received a bachelor’s degree in English from Virginia Commonwealth University. Being involved in student organizations like Filipino Americans Coming Together at VCU (FACT@VCU) and VCU Globe during his college years, Gabe learned just how much he enjoys experiencing new cultures. In his free time, Gabe loves teaching local dance classes, spending quality time with his loved ones, exploring new cities, and watching nostalgic movies.