Asia-PacificIntel & Data

South Korea Doubles Investment Requirement for Investor Visa

Originally set to sunset last month, the South Korean investor visa’s real estate investment option will remain available for at least another three years, but at a higher price point.

Following input from the self-governing island’s government, which had proposed to continue the program but with higher investment requirements and a name change, South Korea’s Ministry of Justice approved the extension of the program – which will now formally be known as the “Tourism/Recreational Facility Investment Immigration System” – until April 30th, 2026. Henceforth, however, the minimum investment will be one billion Korean won (about US$788,000), up from half a billion KRW previously.

First introduced in 2010 in Jeju, the real estate option of the South Korean investor visa initially served its intended purpose of revitalizing the local hospitality sector, enabling the completion of a number of resort projects that had stalled, explains Hyong-Jin Kwon, founder of CitiNavi, an investment migration firm.

Later, however, he explains in an article, "controversy arose as side effects such as overheated real estate prices, land encroachment by Chinese, oversupply of accommodation facilities, and indiscriminate environmental destruction ensued."

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In 2015, the government responded by limiting qualifying real estate to tourism and recreation facilities, which saw demand plummet.

In 2020, however, approval volume for the investor visa - which, in addition to real estate, offers investments in government funds and at-risk assets starting at minimums of KRW 300m, about US$235,000 - more than doubled, exceeding 1,300 approvals for the first time since 2005. Demand for South Korea's investor visas have remained at that elevated level since.

While Japanese investors remain the largest applicant group historically, they are closely followed by the Chinese, who constituted the biggest applicant nationality last year.

Since the year 2000, the earliest year for which records are available, South Korea has approved 23,579 main applicants for its investor visa. Each of those has invested between KRW 300 million and KRW 1.5 billion. Presuming average investments of KRW 500m, the program will have raised close to US$10 billion since then, which makes it one of the world's all-time highest-grossing golden visa programs:

If you like data-driven articles like this one, you'll love the IMI Data Center, the world's largest collection of investment migration statistics, with more than 350 graphs and charts on dozens of IM programs and markets.

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