Korean immigration and integration program: Personal Guide from a KIIP participant
Caution: This KIIP personal guide is a little outdated because of the constant KIIP policy changes (e.g. class hour, text book, and curriculum). However, this guide is still very helpful to have an overview about KIIP.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗞𝗜𝗜𝗣?
Korean Immigration and Integration Program (KIIP) is a free program sponsored by the Korean government (Ministry of Justice) to help foreigners systematically learn the Korean language and acquire basic knowledge and information about life in Korea. Any foreigner that has a Foreigner Registration Card (also called Alien Registration Card) can join the KIIP.
Getting a KIIP certification gives you a huge advantage when applying for Permanent Residence (VISA F5), but to pass KIIP requires a huge amount of time, effort and perseverance as you will need to attend classes and pass a series of level tests (a total of 465-485 class hours and 5 level exams to be passed). Assuming that you just attended classes for each level once and passed all the exams after single take, you would still need at least 2 years to finish the whole program!
I’m very thankful to have finally completed it so I’m going to give some information and tips based on my experience for the benefit of those who want to know more about KIIP.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗜 𝗱𝗼?
The first thing you must do is register for an account in the website (www.socinet.go.kr) then apply for a pre-test (www.kiiptest.org). Before, all exams are free of charge but because of several cases of no-show applicants, they decided to charge 38,000 won for exams.
There are a total of 6 levels in KIIP (Level 0-5). The pre-test exam will gauge your Korean ability so people who can speak basic Korean can skip levels. People who have no Korean language background will start with level 0. If you are a TOPIK passer then you can submit the document to be exempted from Pre-test and be assigned to your corresponding level.(Section 4: How to submit your TOPIK certificate?)
Once you get the results about your assigned level, you should enroll for a class as fast as you can (how to register for a KIIP class with proper time and location) because there are only limited slots. It is advised to enroll classes exactly at the same day that the registration has opened as classes with ideal time slots get full within hours and usually there are only 10-15 people per class. Several classes with different time slots and location are offered so you should find one that fits your schedule.
Except for level 0, all classes have a total of 100 hours where class hours are distributed to be finished within 3 months. If there is none that fits your schedule, then you should find a way to adjust it so you can have time to attend the classes. It’s a good thing they offer night classes and weekend classes for people who are working. At this point you should master the skill of registration in the website and be very mindful of the important dates because you will need to enroll in classes all the time. Also, each level has their corresponding books which you should purchase beforehand (can be bought from online bookstores or offline bookstores).
𝗩𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝘂𝘀𝗲𝗳𝘂𝗹 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗶𝗽:
Just in case the slot you really want is full and there are no other available classes you can take, you can still enroll for that class as a waiting list candidate (these slots are also limited) wherein there are two situations that will allow you to get included in the class.
(1) If someone who registered for the class cancels before the start of classes, you automatically get enrolled in the class to replace them!
(2) If the classes have started and someone is a "no-show" for consecutive meetings then they will get automatically dropped and the immigration will call you to ask if you are willing to take their slot (You will be marked as absent for the classes that you have missed but, it's OK, what's important is that you got in!)
If none of these situations occur then you have to register for classes again next term and make sure you register earlier so you don't run out of slots.
𝗟𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 𝟬 (𝟭𝟱 𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀)
This class will be teaching how to understand Korean (Hangeul) characters and how to form words from Korean alphabets. Especially useful because all classes will be using Hangeul characters (No roman alphabets in sight!). There will be no exams on this level so you basically just need to complete the required attendance to pass.
𝗟𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 𝟭 (𝟭𝟬𝟬 𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀)
This will teach beginner level Korean Part1. Once you start attending classes, the basic rule to be eligible to take the level test is that you should have attended at least 80% of the total class hours. Failure to attend at least 80 hours means you are disqualified from taking the level exam at the end and would need to enroll again for the next class. Level exams are always multiple choice plus panel interview. You need to get a grade of at least 60/100 to pass and be promoted to Level 2.
𝗟𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 𝟮 (𝟭𝟬𝟬 𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀)
This will teach beginner level Korean Part2. It’s exactly the same mechanics as Level 1, attend at least 80/100 class hours then pass the level test (at least 60/100) to be promoted to Level 3.
𝗟𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 𝟯 (𝟭𝟬𝟬 𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀)
This will teach intermediate level Korean Part1. Just a heed of warning, there is a huge gap in difficulty between level 2 and 3 so starting from this level, extreme preparation and study is necessary. Like other levels, you need to attend at least 80/100 class hours then pass the level test to be promoted to Level 4.
𝗟𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 𝟰 (𝟭𝟬𝟬 𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀)
This will teach intermediate level Korean Part2. This is the last and definitely the hardest Korean language class. Once you complete the necessary hours, you can register for the Mid Term Test (www.kiiptest.org). Passing this test will grant you a ‘Korean Language and Culture Proficiency Test’ (KCLT) certification and be promoted to Level 5. (The KCLT certificate, in many cases, can serve as a substitute for a TOPIK certificate which can also give you points when applying for residency even without submitting a TOPIK result).
𝗟𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 𝟱 (𝟱𝟬 𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗣𝗲𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆 𝗧𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗼𝗿 𝟱𝟬+𝟮𝟬 𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗡𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘇𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘁)
Finally, it’s the last class! This class will not be teaching Korean language anymore but will focus on understanding Korean society, culture and history. After finishing at least 40/50 hours, you can register for the Comprehensive Test (www.kiiptest.org). This exam is really hard and they added an additional essay writing component as well. After passing this exam, they will finally grant you the Korean Immigration and Permanent Residence Aptitude Test (KIPRAT) certification and KIIP completion certificate.
You can simply retake the classes to pass.
OPTION 1: You can retake the exam without retaking the classes but you need to get at least 60/100 to pass.
OPTION 2: You can retake the classes so that even if you don't get the passing score of 60/100, if you get at least 40/100, they will still grant you the completion certificate. In the case of level 5, you still get the KIPRAT completion certificate but it is indicated there that you did not pass the exam.
When applying for permanent residence it doesn't matter in the certificate whether you passed the KIPRAT or not, they accept both. The only difference is if you're planning to apply for Naturalization after permanent residence, then if you didn't pass, you have to retake the exam and get a score of 60/100.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗞𝗜𝗜𝗣 𝗰𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗳𝗶𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗲?
South Korea uses a 'Point System' to pass the residency visa application (need to reach 80 points for the F-2-7 Long Term Residency Visa) and having the KIIP certificate will give you 10 bonus points!
So there you have it! I hope this post helps a lot of people especially those who are interested to join the program!
Reposted with permission from "Life in South Korea" in Facebook