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F4 Visa & dual citizenship

Dual Citizenship History & Basic Information
The granting of dual citizenship could positively affect Korean adoptees holding citizenship in the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Historical Background

Since 1956, officially more than 160,000 Korean babies and children have been sent for foreign adoption to at least 14 different countries. Although about two-thirds were sent to the United States, significant populations of Koreans were adopted to Europe, Canada and Australia. Additionally, an unknown number of Korean children were adopted through privately arranged adoptions.

International adoption from Korea is still ongoing.

Over the past decade, many returning adoptees have chosen to live in Korea for extensive periods of time studying, working, searching for birth families, and some even getting married and settling in Korea.

In 1999 G.O.A.'L successfully lobbied with Korean adoptee individuals and other interested groups to have Korean adoptees included as benefitting persons of the Overseas Koreans Act, which essentially saw the creation of the F-4 visa. The F-4 has been an important step to providing a means for adoptees to return to Korea to study, live and work freely, almost like Korean nationals. However, it does have limits.

On April 24, 2010, the National Assembly unanimously passed the Nationality Law Revision which granted several groups including overseas adoptees’ the ability to recover their Korean citizenship without surrendering their current citizenship. The law went into effect on January 1, 2011. On April 18, 2011, 13 adoptees (Canada - 1, France - 1, Germany - 1, Netherlands - 2, Switzerland - 2, USA - 6) were approved to recovered their Korean citizenship. On April 19, 2011, the Minister of Justice held a special ceremony to acknowledge this milestone at the Government Complex in Gwacheon. Currently more than 20 adoptees have successfully recovered their Korean citizenship.

Multiple Citizenships

Countries that allow multiple citizenships: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Countries that restrict multiple citizenships: Denmark and Norway.

Military Service

The current conscription law applies only to male citizens whereas female citizens can do voluntary service. Depending on the branch of the ROK Armed Forces the service can last from 21 to 25 months. There is also an alternate civil service.

Military service; however, does not pertain to orphans in Korea, and 80% of those adopted overseas are considered to be orphans. Currently, male adoptees under 36 years old (international age) who wish to recover their Korean citizenship must apply for their military exemption once they receive their Korean ID number (주민등록증).

Orphan Family Registry
You can determine of you were adopted on a so-called orphan family registry by obtaining a copy of your family registry at the time of your departure from the Republic of Korea. If you are the only person on the family registry, you have an orphan registry and would not need to serve in the military. If your birth parents and siblings are registered on the same document, you would have to serve in the military.
Civil Defense
Males under 40 who apply for their military exemption will be required to participate in National Civil Defense exercises and training. Each year, the National Emergency Management Agency, will deliver a summons for training. The training will consist of lecture, videos and practical skills training.