Beginning a journey to South Korea as a nurse promises an exciting blend of professional growth and cultural immersion. This guide illuminates the pathway to immigrate to South Korea as a nurse in the vibrant heart of Asia, opening doors to a unique career and life experience.

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Immigrate to South Korea as a Nurse

How Can I Work in South Korea as a Foreign Nurse?

You must follow a few simple steps to work in South Korea as a nurse. Below, you can read about them:

  1. Obtain Nursing Qualifications
  2. Secure a Nursing License
  3. Acquire a Work Visa
  4. Seek Employment Opportunities
  5. Cultural and Professional Adaptation

Step 1. Obtain Nursing Qualifications

Suppose you’ve decided to work as a nurse in South Korea. In that case, the first step is to ensure you have the necessary nursing qualifications recognized by the Korean Nursing and Healthcare industry. Typically, this includes receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or an equivalent degree. International nurses must ensure their education and qualifications are comparable to South Korean standards. This often involves undergoing an evaluation process by a recognized Korean nursing body or institution. In some cases, additional training or coursework may be required to bridge any gaps in educational standards or familiarize oneself with specific healthcare practices in South Korea.

Step 2. Secure a Nursing License

After verifying your qualifications, obtaining a nursing license to practice in South Korea is the next critical step when immigrating to South Korea as a nurse. This usually entails passing the Korean Nursing Licensing Examination (KNLE), which assesses your nursing knowledge and competencies per South Korean healthcare standards. Preparation for this examination might involve studying Korean medical terminology, healthcare laws, and practices specific to the country. Foreign nurses must also possess a high proficiency in the Korean language because the examination and subsequent nursing practice demand effective communication with patients and colleagues, which can only be achieved with strong language skills.

Step 3. Acquire a Work Visa

With your nursing license in hand, you’ll need to secure a South Korean work visa. The most common visa for foreign nurses is the E-7 visa, issued for specific professional jobs, including nursing. You generally need a job offer from a South Korean hospital or healthcare institution to apply for this visa. The visa application process involves submitting documents, including your employment contract, proof of qualifications, and a valid nursing license. Understanding the visa regulations and ensuring all paperwork is accurately completed to avoid delays or complications in the visa approval process is crucial.

Step 4. Seek Employment Opportunities

Finding a nursing job in South Korea can be demanding, but it is feasible with the right approach. You can begin by seeking job openings in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Leveraging online job portals, networking with professionals in the field, or working with recruitment agencies specializing in healthcare positions can be beneficial. Tailoring your CV and cover letter to meet the requirements of the South Korean job market is crucial, as it showcases your qualifications, language proficiency, and any relevant experience within the Korean healthcare system.

Step 5. Cultural and Professional Adaptation

Once in South Korea, adapting to the work culture and healthcare environment is crucial for success. This involves understanding and respecting Korean workplace etiquette, communication styles, and patient care practices. Integrating into the local community and building relationships with colleagues will also enhance your professional experience. Continuous learning and professional development are essential, as is staying updated with changes in healthcare policies and practices in South Korea. This adaptation phase is vital for personal and professional growth and providing the best care as a nurse in a foreign country.

How to immigrate and work in South Korea as a nurse

Can a Foreigner Work as a Nurse in South Korea?

Yes, a foreigner can work as a nurse in South Korea, but it involves a rigorous process. This includes obtaining relevant nursing qualifications recognized in South Korea, passing the Korean Nursing Licensing Examination, acquiring a valid work visa (typically the E-7 visa), and securing a job offer from a South Korean healthcare institution.

What Are Visa Options for a Foreign Nurse in South Korea?

E-7 Visa (Specific Activities Visa):

  • Intended for foreign professionals in specialized jobs like nursing.
  • Requires a formal job offer from a recognized South Korean healthcare institution.
  • Applicants must have relevant qualifications and, often, a need for licensure or certification.
  • Necessary for those who intend to work directly in nursing roles in South Korea.

D-2 Visa (Student Visa):

  • Ideal for foreign nationals pursuing academic studies in South Korea, including in nursing or related healthcare fields.
  • Allows for full-time study but does not permit professional employment in nursing without changing visa status.
  • After completing studies, individuals can transition to an E-7 visa to work as nurses.
  • Useful for those looking to enhance their qualifications or specialize in a particular aspect of nursing in South Korea.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Korea USD?

The salary of nurses in South Korea can vary based on factors like experience, qualifications, the type of healthcare institution, and location. As of my last update in April 2023, a registered nurse in South Korea typically earns between $24,000 to $37,000 USD per year. However, these figures can fluctuate, and it’s advisable to check current salary trends or specific job listings for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Additionally, nurses with specialized skills and higher qualifications, or those working in metropolitan areas like Seoul, may earn higher salaries than their rural counterparts.

Is It Difficult for Foreigners to Work as a Nurse in Korea?

Working as a nurse in South Korea as a foreigner presents challenges, primarily due to the language barrier, stringent licensing exams, and cultural differences in healthcare practices. Additionally, navigating visa procedures and recognizing foreign qualifications adds complexity, requiring considerable preparation and adaptability from international nursing professionals.

How Can I Study Nursing in South Korea?

If you are an international student and you have decided to study nursing in South Korea, you can read below the detailed steps:

  1. Research and Choose a Nursing Program
  2. Meet Language and Academic Requirements
  3. Application Process
  4. Secure Financial Support
  5. Obtain a Student Visa (D-2 Visa)
  6. Prepare for Relocation and Cultural Adaptation

Step 1. Research and Choose a Nursing Program

The first step for an international student is thoroughly researching nursing programs in South Korea. This includes identifying universities that offer nursing courses in English or Korean, depending on your language proficiency. Many top universities in major cities like Seoul have programs catering to international students. Considering the curriculum, accreditation, faculty expertise, and the harmony between theoretical and practical training is essential. Websites of educational institutions, education forums, and official Korean educational portals can provide valuable information. Additionally, understanding the prerequisites for the program, such as language proficiency and academic qualifications, is crucial.

Step 2. Meet Language and Academic Requirements

If the program is in Korean, achieving proficiency in the Korean language is essential, often requiring a TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) score. Proving English proficiency through tests like TOEFL or IELTS might be necessary for English-taught programs. Academic requirements typically include a high school diploma or equivalent, transcripts, and sometimes specific science courses. Preparing for these requirements might involve taking language courses or additional academic classes.

Step 3. Application Process

Once you have identified a suitable program and met the requirements, the next step is completing the application process. This usually involves submitting an application form, academic transcripts, language proficiency scores, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and possibly other documents like a resume or proof of financial support. Pay attention to application deadlines and specific university requirements to which you are applying. Some universities also require an interview as part of the application process.

Step 4. Secure Financial Support

Studying abroad can be expensive, so securing financial support is crucial. This can include personal savings, scholarships, grants, or student loans. Many South Korean universities offer scholarships for international students and government scholarships like the Global Korea Scholarship. Researching and applying for these financial aids well in advance is crucial.

Step 5. Obtain a Student Visa (D-2 Visa)

After gaining admission, you will need to obtain a South Korean student visa, known as the D-2 visa, to study in South Korea. The visa application process typically involves submitting your university admission letter, proof of financial stability, a valid passport, and other necessary documents to the nearest South Korean embassy or consulate. The process can take several weeks, so it’s advisable to apply as soon as you receive your admission letter.

Step 6. Prepare for Relocation and Cultural Adaptation

Once your visa is secured, the final step is preparing for your move to South Korea. This includes arranging for accommodation, understanding health insurance requirements, and familiarizing yourself with South Korean culture and customs. Many universities provide resources and orientation programs for international students to help them adjust to life in South Korea. Welcoming cultural diversity and remaining receptive to novel experiences will enhance your educational adventure and stay in South Korea.


Pursuing a career as a nurse in South Korea presents a unique combination of cultural exploration and professional development. From seeking educational opportunities to acquiring the necessary qualifications and adapting to a new healthcare environment, each step moves towards a fulfilling career in the vibrant setting of Asia.


Yes, proficiency in the Korean language is essential, both for studying nursing in South Korea and working in the healthcare sector if you obtain your degree abroad​​.

Yes, foreigners can work as nurses in South Korea. However, Korean officials must recognize their degree if they study nursing abroad​​.

The KMLE, or Korean Medical Licensing Examination, is mandatory for anyone wishing to work in any medical position in South Korea, including foreigners. The exam is conducted in Korean​​.

After passing the KMLE, you need to secure a job offer. The employer then applies for a Certificate of Confirmation of Visa Issuance, after which you can apply for a work visa.

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