Skip to content

Foreign Workers Employment guide

Employment Permit System

The Employment Permit System allows employers who have failed to hire Korean nationals to legally hire foreign workers. Foreign workers employed through the Employment Permit System, based on human rights protection, shall be subject to the Labor Standards Act, the Minimum Wage Act, and the Industrial Safety and Health Act, etc., as are Korean nationals.

The Employment Permit System applies to foreign workers holding a Non-professional Work Visa (E-9).

Go to Service Details
Industries eligible for the Employment Permit System
  • Manufacturing: Less than 300 full-time workers or a capital of KRW 8 billion or less (even if such criteria are not met, businesses may be eligible if able to submit a “certificate of small and medium-sized business”)
  • Construction: All construction businesses (excluding construction companies involved in the construction of power plants, steel mills, petrochemical plants, etc. and whose construction permits are related to industrial environmental facilities)
  • Services: Construction waste handling businesses (3823), recycling materials collection and sales businesses (46791), refrigeration∙frozen warehousing businesses (inland) (52102), book, magazine, and other printed material publishing businesses (581), music and other audio publishing businesses (59201)
  • Fishery: Coastal and inshore fishery businesses (03112), sea farming businesses (0321), salt collection businesses (07220)
  • Agriculture and stockbreeding: Crop cultivation businesses (011), stockbreeding businesses (012), crop cultivation and stockbreeding-related service businesses (014)

* For more information on the industries that can recruit foreign workers in 2020, please refer to the Employment Permit System website(

Employment procedure for foreign workers under the Employment Permit System
    • EPS-TOPIK, function level, assessments, etc. and selection of foreign workers in descending order based on test scores, among those who have passed the EPS-TOPIK

      For more information on the EPS-TOPIK, please refer to homepage(

  • ② Job application
    • Candidates who have passed the EPS-TOPIK can submit their job applications via sending agencies in their respective countries.

      If the EPS-TOPIK period of validity (2 years) has expired, candidates are required to take the EPS-TOPIK again.

  • ③ Conclusion of employment contract
    • Employers can ask the help of an employment center in finding foreign workers (employer → employment center).
    • Employment centers recommend candidates who have passed the EPS-TOPIK; the number of candidates recommended must be three times the number of foreign workers requested by the employer (employment center → employer).
    • The employer then selects and consigns introduction of successful candidates from among the candidates recommended (employer → Human Resources Development Service of Korea).
    • A standard employment contract is transmitted to successful employees (Human Resources Development Service of Korea → sending agency).
    • Successful candidates agree to the contract (sending agency → successful candidate).
    • The standard employment contract is finalized (sending agency → Human Resources Development Service of Korea).
    • Sending agency: An overseas public institution that selects and manages foreign talents

      Refusal to conclude employment contract: A successful candidate can refuse to conclude the contract once. However, if a successful candidate refuses to conclude a contract more than once, he/she may not file a job application for 1 year.

  • ④ Complete preliminary training
    • After signing the employment contract, successful candidates must complete basic training for 1–2.5 weeks at a preliminary training center in their own country.
    • Training periods may differ based on EPS-TOPIK and specific probation periods.
  • ⑤ Preparing to enter Korea
    • Successful candidates must file an application for a Non-professional Work Visa (E-9) through the sending agency in their own country.
    • The Human Resources Development Service of Korea and the sending agency must consult with each another and determine the allowed date of entry for successful candidates.
  • ⑥ Entering Korea and completing employment training
    • Successful candidates must wear a uniform and a name tag issued by the sending agency when entering Korea.
    • Successful candidates must complete employment training for 3 days at the employment training institution after entering Korea.
  • ⑦ Business placement
    • Employers will pick up successful candidates from the employment training institution (or from another location if separately assigned), and successful candidates can begin work at their assigned place of business.
If the term of an employment contract has expired
  • Foreign workers employed through the Employment Permit System may engage in approved work activities for 3 years from their date of entry.
  • When foreign workers’ employment contract is renewed, they may file an application for an extension of stay to the competent immigration service (eligible to work for up to an additional 22 months).
  • After their employment contract expires, foreign workers may file an application to the employment center to change their place of employment (no later than 1 month after contract termination).
  • After the completion of their employment contract and resignation, foreign workers may conduct job-seeking activities through the employment center to find a new place of employment (if a worker fails to find new employment within 3 months, he/she must leave Korea).
Permit to change employment for foreign worker with a Non-professional Work Visa (E-9)

In principle, a foreign worker with a Non-professional Work Visa (E-9) must continue to work at his/her place of employment.
However, when continuation of normal employment relations are made difficult due to the temporary closing or cessation of a business, or due to wage arrears, etc., a foreign worker may change his/her place of employment up to 3 times.

  • Processing agency
    Competent immigration service or branch office
  • Application
    In-person applicationReserve
    • Visit the competent immigration service or branch office
    • ① Visit and reserve an appointment -> ② Visit the immigration office or its branch office at the reserved date -> ③ Apply -> ④ Receive -> ⑤ Process
    Online applicationApply
    • Hi KOREA e-Application (① File an e-Application→ ② Attach documents for submission→ ③ Submit application→ ④ Processing→ ⑤ Confirmation of processing results)
    • ※ e-Applications can be filed after an employment center approves the change of place of employment.

  • Required documents
    In-person application
    • Passport, certificate of alien registration
    • Integrated application (Attached Form No. 34)
    • Copy of employment permit and standard employment contract
    • Copy of Business license
    • Document evidencing place of stay
    Online application
    • Copy of the employment permit and standard employment contract must be submitted by retrieving the data transmitted by an employment center.
    • Scan and upload a document evidencing place of stay
    • ※ An e-Application cannot be filed in the following cases:
    • - Wherein a copy of the employment permit and standard employment contract has not been transmitted from the employment center
    • - Wherein an application is filed after the employment start date listed on the worker’s original contract
  • Fee
    KRW 99,000
  • Business hours
    • Reserving an appointment : Available 24 hours at the Hi Korea website
    • Online application : 07:00–22:00 on weekdays (excludes Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays)
  • Processing period
    Within 14 days of receipt
  • Inquiries
    Immigration Contact Center (1345, without area code)