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S. Korea eases visa regulations for foreign workers in parts, materials and equipment fields

South Korea's justice ministry on Monday unveiled a revised visa policy to ease regulations for foreign workers in the parts, materials and equipment industries as part of ongoing efforts to help the industries that have taken a hit from Seoul's trade row with Tokyo.

"Starting Nov. 18, the justice ministry implements a revised policy for foreign professionals to support the parts, materials and equipment industries struggling from Japan's trade row and improve national competitiveness," the ministry said in a press release.


Under the plan, E-7 visa applicants working in the parts, materials and equipment industries who have received recommendations from the trade ministry will be eligible to apply for electronic visas, the ministry said in a press release.

Electronic visa applicants do not have to visit overseas consulates in person and can file for the application process online. The ministry expected the revised policy to shorten the process to up to one week from the current average of 30 days.

"The revised regulation is more focused on accelerating the process rather than increasing the number of visa issuances," a ministry official explained, adding that around 21,000 visa holders in the country were on the E-7 visa as of September.

The E-7 visa is usually granted to "foreign nationals of special ability" who have "professional knowledge or technology in accordance with a contract with a public or private institution in South Korea," according to the immigration service. The visa is usually valid for two years in line with employment contracts.

The revised policy, meanwhile, includes relaxing document submissions for foreign academics applying for visas to teach or research in South Korea.

The policy revision comes as Seoul is moving to nurture its own parts, materials and equipment industries that have heavily relied on supplies from Japan.

In August, the government announced plans to inject more than 5 trillion won ($4.3 billion) over the next three years to strengthen the three industries amid an ongoing trade rift with Japan.

Tokyo launched a set of trade curbs against Seoul in what is seen as a retaliatory measure against a Seoul court's ruling that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Korean victims of Japan's forced labor during World War II. (Yonhap)