HR Tips


l Statutory social insurance participation obligations by visa type

Statutory social insurance participation obligations of foreigners working in Korea may vary depending on the visa type, which can be summarized by most common visa types of foreigners in Korea as below:

Visa type

Medical insurance

National pension

Unemployment insurance

Industrial accident compensation insurance


Student 유학

statutorily required

NOT statutorily required

NOT statutorily required

statutorily required



statutorily required

may elect to participate in the insurance at their discretion.




Overseas Korean



Employment 구직

NOT statutorily required

Unless the foreign(non-Korean) employee concerned is eligible for waiver of statutory social insurances and submits waiver applications with proper supporting documents thereof required by the Korean social insurance agencies, the foreign employee shall be subject to participation in the statutory social insurance programs in Korea mandatorily.

l Waiver of statutory national health insurance participation in Korea allowed for “qualified” foreigners

Under the National Health Insurance Act of Korea, foreign employees hired by an employer based in Korea are required to enroll and participate in the statutory national health insurance plan.

As an exception, however, if a foreign employee has medical insurance coverage under a global medical insurance plan that is sponsored by his/her employer or the national health insurance plan(s) provided by his/her home country, he/she may be eligible for waiver of participation in the statutory national health insurance plan in Korea.

To be qualified for a waiver, the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) requires that the minimum criteria should be met including the following.

Criteria to be met for waiver of statutory national health insurance participation in Korea:

Insurance launched in Korea cannot be qualified for a waiver.

Name and date of birth information of the insured should be specified in the insurance plan.

Insurance subscription date shall be before the foreigner/alien registration date in Korea.

Medical coverage for common disease/injuries shall be provided

There shall be no restrictions in the number of times/frequency of medical coverage/guarantee.

Foreigners shall be able to receive healthcare in Korea.

Minimum insurance coverage amount shall be at least 1 billion Korean Won

l Minimum 6-month sojourn period required for regional-based national health insurance enrollment for foreigners in Korea

The statutory National Health Insurance Plans of Korea are categorized into (1) “business-based” plan and (2) “regional-based” plan. All foreigner(non-Korean) employees working at a workplace in Korea shall be enrolled as “business-based” plan subscribers mandatorily from the day they start employment in Korea (Day 1) unless they are exempt from such requirements.

On the other hand, if a foreigner (non-Korean) is self-employed or unemployed, he/she can be registered as “regional-based” plan subscribers only after such foreigner fulfills the minimum 6 months of sojourn period in Korea (extended from 3 months under the revised National Health Insurance Act in December 2018 as the government was concerned about foreigners coming into Korea specifically with the intent to work for a short period of time and take advantage of medical benefits unfairly).