South Korea joined the United States of America’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP) in November 2008. Not long after, the U.S. launched its Electronic System of Travel Authorization (ESTA) which meant that South Korean citizens could simply go online to apply for a 90 day stay in the U.S. without holding a visa. Suddenly, traveling to the U.S. became a breeze compared to how it was in the past.
The ESTA grants up to a 90 days stay in the U.S. and can be used multiple times as long as it is valid. However, it is only valid for two years at a time. Also, the ESTA can only be used for the purpose of business, tourism (including medical purposes), and to participate in non-credit study programs.
Being part of the Visa Waiver Program, and staying in it, is important for South Korea. Moreover, all South Koreans benefit from it when traveling to the U.S. Read more about ESTA here: ESTA Application.
- The total amount of visitors from South Korea: 2 510 988
- Approved ESTA applications: 2 223 813
- Students and exchange visitors: 125 827
- Temporary workers and family-related applications: 48 254
- Diplomats and other official representatives: 7 618
- Other types of visitor categories: 4 238
South Korean citizens wishing to travel to the United States MUST hold a valid South Korean passport -- information on how to obtain a South Korean passport can be found here via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Flights from Incheon International Airport go to all major U.S cities. Depending on where you’re visiting, flights can range from just under $800 (USD) to almost $5000 (USD). Flights to Los Angeles hover around $800, while Seattle is your next cheapest option at $937. Most other city destination stay anywhere from $1000-$2000 (USD) with Augusta, Georgia, costing a whopping $4,850 (USD).
For more information on getting to Incheon, and flight information, please visit the airport website.
Flights from Gimpo International Airport also fly to most major U.S cities, however the cost of flights are slightly more expensive on average, with the most expensive being a flight to Aberdeen, Washington costing a stunning $5,212 (USD), and the least expensive being a flight to Arcata, California for $1,297 (USD).
The essential items for visiting the U.S. would be your passport, your flight tickets, and your ESTA or visa. So, make sure you apply for your ESTA as early as possible. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security made it mandatory to apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before flying off to the United States. This puts further emphasize on applying as early as possible. Denied ESTA applicants have to apply for a tourist visa, which means a visit to the nearest U.S. Embassy will be necessary. This could be time-consuming and stressful to deal with if you apply in the very last minute.
South Koreans can apply for ESTA online
The ESTA is valid for 2 years for visitors from South Korea
South Koreans can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days with an approved ESTA
South Korea’s overstay rate is only: 0.22%