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New visa created for foreign spouses

Immigrants married to Koreans will be granted a new type of visa as early as September to better support their settlement here, officials at the Justice Ministry said Friday.

The ministry is also seeking to ease rules on visa issuance for foreign businesspeople to attract more investment and create jobs.

The ministry put on public notice a series of revision plans pertaining to the immigration law on Thursday. It is seeking to promulgate them in July and start implementing them as early as September, officials said.

Under the revision, immigrants married to Koreans will receive the new F-6 visa. They have so far been given F-2 visas, which are also given to other long-term foreign sojourners. The new visa will also be granted to those facing difficulties living here due to the death of their Korean spouse or other reasons.

The immigration authorities said the new visa will allow them to effectively help immigrants adjust to their lives in Korea and systematically carry out policies designed to support them.

“We have established legal grounds that will help immigrants facing difficulties due to the death of their spouses, divorces with them or other reasons,” Moon Soo-yong, a senior official at the Social Integration Division of the ministry’s Korea Immigration Service, told The Korea Herald.

“We are taking into consideration a variety of situations that the immigrants are facing here so that we can better help them adjust to their lives here.”

To attract more foreign investors, the ministry is also seeking to revise the immigration law to grant F-2 visas to investors who have invested $500,000 or more in Korea.

Under the current law, F-2 visas are not given to investors, but to foreigners working for Korean-based foreign firms that have invested $500,000 or more here. The visa enables foreigners to reside in Korea for long periods without legal challenges to their employment in Korea.

The ministry is also seeking to grant F-2 visas to foreigners who run an enterprise that has invested $300,000 or more and hired two Koreans.

The number of immigrants married to Koreans here has steadily increased.

The figure, which stood at 75,011 in 2005, rose to 93,786 in 2006, 110,362 in 2007, 122,552 in 2008, 125,087 in 2009 and 141,654 last year, according to government data. As of March 31, the total number of foreign residents including short-term ones stands at 1,308,743.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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