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I'm an American citizen planning to go to Seoul as a tourist for a month or two, and, if I like it, enroll in a three-month Korean language course through one of the universities there (making a total stay of five months, more than the 90 days I can get visa-free).

Once I'm in Seoul as a tourist, what are my options for extending my stay in order to take a language course? Do I need to apply for a visa? Can I do this in the country?

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Many countries have different categories of visa. The simplest is the transit visa, which gives you a very short stay while you are waiting to travel somewhere else. Next is the tourist visa, which allows you a longer stay for the purpose of tourism (just visiting). Then there are the more 'serious' visas like business visas, study visas and longer-term family visit visas.

Obviously, the checks done for a tourist visa (they basically just want to be sure that you will leave by the end of your permission to stay) are much less than those done for a business visa - the intention of the tourist visa is that you will visit, then leave.

However, if you intend to study you should apply for a study visa. Check this page out for details.

Doing anything outside of what is permitted by your visa is usually a very serious offence, so it is important to get the right visa for your stay - penalties can include a fine, deportation and imprisonment while the case is being dealt with.

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  • Sorry if I wasn't clear, but this doesn't quite provide the information I was looking for. I will be going to Seoul as a tourist for two months; after that, I want to stay as a language student for three additional months, and am asking about what steps are required for extending my stay. I won't need a visa for the tourism nor the first month of the language course, but am only entitled to 90 days of visa-free entry as an American.
    – Urbana
    Jun 30 '16 at 16:05

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