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Obtaining spouse visa to get tougher

The application process for the F-2 spouse visa will have stricter rules from Monday, the Ministry of Justice said Sunday.

The latest revision to the immigration law came after several cases of abuse and fraud in international marriages.

In July last year, a 20-year-old Vietnamese bride was murdered by her Korean husband, just eight days after arriving in Korea. Her husband had a history of mental disorder, but the information had been withheld from the bride and her family.

More recently, an Uzbekistani wife went missing just a few days after her marriage. When her Korean husband made enquiries to find her, he discovered she had already been married twice and worked in the sex trade.

To prevent such cases in future, the immigration authorities will require every Korean who marries a spouse from China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mongolia, Uzbekistan or Thailand to complete an education program.

The ministry explained that the seven countries had been selected as the divorce rate among foreign spouses from those countries was higher and they were more likely to obtain Korean citizenship.

The countries subject to the new rules could change after implementation, the ministry added.

However, some special cases may be exempted from the program where the couple proves they have dated long enough in the spouse’s residing country or abroad, or when humanitarian consideration is required such as pregnancy and childbirth.

In order to get legal recognition of their marriage, both Korean and foreign spouses will have to meet more rigid requirements, the ministry said.

Cases will be inspected to determine if potential spouses have fully informed each other about their personal information such as history of international marriage, financial capability, criminal record and health conditions.

If a spouse has a serious criminal conviction or has a record of frequent international marriages, their application for the spouse visa could be rejected.

Once rejected, the spouse will be suspended from applying for the F-2 visa for six months.

“Amid a recent surge in international marriages, the toughened rules are aimed at preventing thoughtless and inappropriate marriages and related social problems,” said a ministry official.

“Follow-up measures will be taken, considering how they are applied in the fields.”

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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