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Korea to expand support for hiring foreign workers

The government will expand financial support for small- and medium-sized enterprises that find it difficult to hire highly educated foreign workers due to budget constraints.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Thursday that it finalized this year’s policies regarding foreigners in a meeting with the related committee of 14 ministers and seven civilians.

The office said the government will raise the maximum subsidy for small and mid-sized companies that hire highly qualified foreigners from 10-20 million won to 30 million won. The financial support period will be extended from one year to a maximum of three years, it said.

Companies that employ highly skilled foreigners will be allowed hire more workers with E-7 and F-2 visas, which will enable workers to stay employed indefinitely, the government said. E-7 visas are given out for designated activities, and F-2 visas to those who marry Korean citizens or meet certain criteria.

The government set the 2012 quota of new foreign workers at 57,000.

As Korean society becomes more multicultural, the government said it will strengthen education for understanding of multicultural families. To do so, it will increase the number of multicultural policy and research academies from 16 to 20, and the number of middle and high schools with a majority of multicultural students from 80 to 120.

The government will also raise the number of social integration program administrators from 150 to 400. The program is intended to help immigrant spouses of Koreans and foreign workers settle in Korea.

The government has increased the budget for multicultural programs from 50 million won in 2011 to 1.9 billion won this year.

In a bid to crack down on undocumented immigrants, the government will ban Korean language tests in countries whose workers enter Korea with a work permit and overstay. The work permit system is designed to help small companies short of manpower secure labor from overseas, mostly China, Southeast Asia and Central Asia.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)
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