By Moustafa Daly
South Korea extended its real estate investment visa for three years and doubled its threshold to 1 billion won (around $781,000), according to a statement by the country’s Justice Ministry.
The RBI program is part of the Tourism/Recreational Facility Investment Immigration System, which enables applicants to obtain an F-2 resident visa in the country for a period of five years. If applicants maintain the investment until the end of this period, they can upgrade to the permanent F-5 visa.
Launched in 2010, the program initially opened in the southern resort island of Jeju only in a bid to boost investment and tourism in the island – it has attracted 1,909 applications since then, bringing about 1 trillion won in investments (equivalent to $780 million).
The program has since then expanded to include the regions of Incheon's Songdo, Yeongjong and Cheongna districts, Pyeongchang's Alpensia, and Yeosu's Gyeongdo.
Most of these regions are either new developments or touristic and resort destinations. However, the capital Seoul and other major cities aren’t part of the RBI program – successful RBI applicants are able to live there with no restrictions once they become residents of the country. Their investments, however, need to be in one of the other regions.
What are other available RBI options in South Korea?
Aside from real estate, investors can pursue the F-2 visa by placing 500 million won ($390,000) in a public government fund, which they get back with no interest in five years.
Applicants 55 and older could pursue the same option at the reduced threshold of 300 million won ($235,000)
A third alternative is investing 500 million won in development projects in the country’s less developed regions, which are designated by the government. It is a risk-based investment, as applicants can make a profit but also incur losses.
After five years of consecutive, sustained investment, applicants can access permanent residency in South Korea.
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