South Korea Plans to Loosen Visa Rules

The South Korean government will increase incentives for foreign tourists in addition to revising immigration policies. The government’s economic plan for 2023, announced on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, includes a stimulus option that has been neglected for years: immigration. Confirming the plan announced by the Ministry of Justice, the government said it would revise immigration policy in the fourth quarter to increase the economically active population in the rapidly aging country.

Policy changes include extending the duration of work visas and expanding the range of industries eligible for work visas. A key part of the plan is a 15-fold increase in the second half of this year to the annual quota for E-7-4 visas, which are issued to manual workers with a strong work record here.

The government will consider introducing a data-driven quota system for the work visa scheme, which will limit the number of visas that can be issued each year. The government believes the quota system will improve the predictability of foreigners finding employment in South Korea while addressing social issues surrounding the influx of low-wage foreign workers. Residence visa rules will also be relaxed in the fourth quarter.

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Foreigners recommended by local governments or Korean nationals who do not meet the requirements can obtain a special residence visa (F-2) or Korean ethnic visa (F-4) for a certain period on the condition of living and working in a designated place. The visa scheme was launched to support areas affected by population decline.

A pilot program for foreign domestic helpers will also be launched in the second half of this year. The government will then conduct a full review to determine whether to expand the program further next year. In addition, as part of the program, E-9 visa holders will be allowed to work at certified domestic service agencies. At the same time, to attract more foreign tourists to Korea, the government will strengthen services for them.

From July to August, about 700 airline tickets will be provided to foreign tourists to encourage them to visit South Korea. Round-trip airfare will be provided through various online and offline events. In addition, this year will also formulate and launch local government special tourism plans for transit passengers in Korea.

For the convenience of foreign tourists, foreign tourists can use overseas ride-hailing apps and tourism apps to hail domestic taxis. In addition, reservation systems for trains, express buses, and other transportation will be upgraded to allow foreign nationals to make reservations from overseas and also pay easily using international credit cards.


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