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[Ask a lawyer] What’s the difference between departure order and deportation?

By Choi Jae-hee

Published : Jan. 3, 2023 - 10:54

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In July last year, more than 60 Vietnamese were caught organizing, or taking part in, “drug parties” at nightclubs and karaoke bars in Busan and other southern cities.

On top of any penalty they had received from Korean law enforcement, the foreigners were given an order to leave the country from the immigration authorities, along with a permanent reentry ban. For some, it was deportation, while others received a departure order.

What is the difference? Here, Kim Ju-hyeong, a senior attorney at law firm Majung, explains.

Kim Ju-hyeong, senior attorney at law firm Majung (Courtesy of Kim) Kim Ju-hyeong, senior attorney at law firm Majung (Courtesy of Kim)

Q. What’s the difference between deportation and a departure order?

Both serve the same purpose -- removing foreign nationals from South Korea. But deportation does so in a more forceful manner.

In case of a departure order, local authorities tell foreigners to leave the country by a certain date and trust that they will do so voluntarily.

But a deportation order requires authorities to take action to enforce it, for instance, taking physical custody of the subject. In serious cases, a foreigner can be held at detention centers until their departure date.

A departure order could result in physical detention if the subject is considered a high flight risk.

Typically, foreign nationals who are caught illegally staying in Korea or have been sentenced to prison for crimes face deportation.

Foreigners can lodge an appeal against both administrative orders within seven days of notice, which are reviewed by the Ministry of Justice. The appeal should include proper reasons for objection and supporting evidence.

It is important to note that an unsuccessful appeal against the departure order makes the appellant subject to deportation. In such a case, the last thing he or she can do to avoid the expulsion is to take the matter to court, by filing an administrative lawsuit against the immigration office within 90 days.

Q. If I am deported from Korea, can I never come back?

Not all deportation orders carry a reentry ban. Also the duration of the entry restriction can vary depending on the gravity of a crime from a permanent one to a definite period such as one year.

Q. Who gets a permanent entry ban?

A permanent entry ban is issued to foreigners who are indicted for major crimes, such as murder, sexual abuse and robbery.

As for immigration-related offenders, foreigners are barred from reentry when they destroy pre-deportation detention centers or assault or threaten others while in custody in a move to run away.

Those who are found to have helped the illegal entry of other foreigners into Korea are also dealt with the same measure.

Kim Ju-hyeong is a senior attorney at law firm Majung and specializes in immigration and industrial accident law. Kim is part of the firm’s legal counseling center for foreigners, which consists of attorneys with hands-on work experience in immigration-related cases. -- Ed.