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S. Korea toughens requirements for marriage visas

Foreigners who marry Korean citizens will be required to have at least basic Korean language ability in order to legally stay in the country, the government said Monday.

The Ministry of Justice said it will put into force toughened requirements for issuing F-6 visas for marriage immigrants, which are intended to guarantee stability in living arrangements and also to help authorities better deal with their growing number.

Under the revised rules set to go into effect on Tuesday, foreigners wanting to come to live in South Korea after marrying locals will be screened for whether they can speak at least a basic or higher level of the Korean language, the ministry said.

The rules will require applicants to submit their Test of Proficiency in Korean scores or certificates from government-designated language courses, it said.

However, couples who can communicate with each other in another language will be exempt from the lingual screening, it added.

Locals who earn less than 14.79 million won ($13,874) a year or those who don't have a stable residence cannot invite their foreign spouses to South Korea, the ministry added.

The move comes after international marriages have became a constant source of problems, such as human trafficking or frequent domestic violence against foreign wives, due to falsely brokered marriages in the country.

"Foreigners should check if their perspective marriage partner in South Korea can meet the requirements for marriage visas before coming out to meet them or registering their marriages with the authorities," a ministry official said.