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First, let me explain my background. I came to the USA on a tourist visa 18 years ago from South Korea and have never been out since. Thus my USA visa has long since expired, but I changed my status to F-1 (note the subtle difference between F-1 'status' holder and F-1 'visa' holder. I did not have an F-1 visa). However, I have recently received a green card.

I am now into my fifth year of Ph.D. and will apply for postdoctoral academic job positions.

Here are some questions:

1) If I travel outside the US, now re-entry to the US would not be a problem since I have obtained a green card? I won't travel to Korea, since I did not serve in Korea's mandatory military service; therefore, they probably won't let me leave again (especially since I have left the country with a tourist visa and never returned). However, I would like to know if I can travel to places like Europe.

2) I would like to have options to apply to some jobs in Europe. However, for the reason I explained above, I am unable to get a visa directly from South Korea. Is it possible for me to get a European visa (as a Korean and a US permanent resident) in any other means? Maybe I can enter a European country, and change my 'status' there to some valid legal status without obtaining a visa? (Just as I did in the US with F-1 status)

EDIT - I do have a valid South Korean passport, which expires in about 8 years or so.

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1) If I travel outside the US, now re-entry to the US would not be a problem since I have obtained a green card?

Correct, unless you become inadmissible or deportable (for example, by committing a crime) or remain outside the US for an extended period of time. See International Travel as a Permanent Resident for details.

I would like to know if I can travel to places like Europe.

Of course you can.

2) I would like to have options to apply to some jobs in Europe. However, for the reason I explained above, I am unable to get a visa directly from South Korea.

European visa applications must generally be submitted in the place where you live, not in your country of citizenship. A European consulate in Korea might well refuse to process your application.

Is it possible for me to get a European visa (as a Korean and a US permanent resident) in any other means?

Yes, apply for the visa at the consulate of the country you want to visit that has jurisdiction over the place where you live.

Maybe I can enter a European country, and change my 'status' there to some valid legal status without obtaining a visa? (Just as I did in the US with F-1 status)

Some countries allow this. Citizens of the Republic of Korea do not need visas for short-term visits to the Schengen area, and the ROK is on a short list of countries whose citizens can apply for a residence permit in Germany after entering as a short-term visa-free visitor. (The full list is "Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States.")

The Netherlands has similar arrangements for citizens of "Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Monaco, Vatican City, United States of America, or South Korea."

For any country that does not permit this, you can apply for a long-term visa at the appropriate consulate in the US, as noted above.

  • You said my permanent residency may be revoked if I have an extended stay outside the states. Thus, it seems not advisable for me to have a job in Europe for 2-3 years? Or is there a way to safely keep permanent residency while working in Europe? (for instance, maybe stay in the US at least 3 months each year?) – Quantization Dec 1 '18 at 8:38
  • @Quantization you can apply for a reentry permit before you leave, as noted in the link. If you're gone for more than two years, though, you'll have to apply for a returning resident visa. Absence of more than six months also delays the date on which you can naturalize. – phoog Dec 1 '18 at 14:40
  • Thank you sincerely for your answer, phoog. That was very helpful. Do you know if reentry permit is difficult to obtain in practice? This is possibly out of your expertise, and I apologize in advance if so. Thanks! – Quantization Dec 4 '18 at 0:25
  • @Quantization As far as I'm aware, I do not know anyone who has applied for a re-entry permit. I have a friend who is a former LPR and worked abroad for the UN for some time on a couple of occasions. I can ask her, but I probably won't see her for a few months as she no longer lives in the US. – phoog Dec 4 '18 at 15:42
  • thank you for checking back! I would love to hear back from you no matter how long it takes. Do let me know if you do get a chance to ask her. Thank you so much. :) – Quantization Dec 5 '18 at 7:18

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