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Subject  Immigration Office Plans to Ease Visa Rule (The Korea Times)
Name  HiKorea
Image   Immigration Office Plans to Ease Visa Rule (The Korea Times) image

Immigration Office Plans to Ease Visa Rule

Choo Kyu Ho
Commissioner of Korea Immigration Service


A top visa policymaker said Tuesday that Seoul plans to give English teaching or E-2 visas to foreigners whose countries adopt English as an official language.
"We’ve already decided to expand the recipients (of E-2 visas)," Choo Kyu-ho, commissioner of Korea Immigration Service, told The Korea Times, Tuesday. "I think the supply of (foreign English teachers) should increase to meet growing demand in a reasonable way."
Choo said that he can’t specify when non-native English speakers will be allowed the visa because the change requires approval of related government offices.
He plans to discuss the issue at a meeting with related ministries before June.
Regarding Pakistani Ambassador to Seoul Murad Ali’s recent letter to Justice Minister Chung Soung-jin, which urged the Seoul government to allow qualified Pakistanis the English teaching visa, Choo said it would be good to allow all foreigners to make some contribution to Korea.
However, Choo said that the ambassador’s claim that Korea violates the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) rule, the most-favored-nation (MFN) treatment, with its visa regulation is not correct.
The commissioner said the nation needs to open its market not only in English education but also in many other areas in order to attract talented professionals from overseas. At the same time, he said, Korea needs to establish a firmer law-abiding atmosphere otherwise, the opening would not be successful ― for example, he expressed concern over illegal immigrants.
Currently, about 1.1 million foreigners live in Korea but 220,000 are here illegally, according to the immigration office. The ratio of illegal immigrants is high given the number of immigrant laborers here ― 600,000.
"We often hear the Korean government cracks down on immigrant workers and doesn’t pay much attention to their human rights,’’ Choo said. ``In a sense, it means Korea lacks full enforcement of the Immigration Law well. So we need to develop a better system."
He said employers of immigrants needed to abide by the law. "Free flow and common prosperity is my principle. Please remember that we can’t be open without order," he added.
Meanwhile, he said he is "sorry" if some foreign teachers experienced inconveniences caused by a new E-2 visa regulations that require criminal record documents and medical checkups.
"Demand for native English-speaking teachers has surged. But there were some unacceptable foreign teachers. To block them, we had to strengthen requirements for foreign teachers. It’s most difficult for us to catch up with rapid changes. I also beg for the understanding of owners of private language schools for the inconvenience," he said.
Lastly, he stressed the need of facilities to accommodate refugee applicants. "Currently we don’t even have a place for refugee applicants. We need to develop a well-organized system for them," he said.

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