Korea: New visa for foreign spouses to be issued

The government will issue a visa exclusively for foreigners marrying Koreans, from as early as the latter half of this year, as part of efforts to boost its immigration efficiency and help foreign spouses better settle down here. The plan comes as the Ministry of Justice Friday unveiled changes in the nation’s immigration law, saying it will submit a revised bill to the National Assembly for approval in the near future with an aim of making the changes take effect in the second half of this year.

A new F-6 visa will be issued to foreigners who come here to marry Koreans in a bid to better help a growing number of migrant wives, mostly from China and Southeast Asian countries, adapt to the new living environment and deal with legal and other issues here. Currently, they receive an F-2 visa just as other foreigners who wish to stay here for longer than 90 days.

The country has seen a rapid increase in the number of foreigners coming to marry Koreans over the past few years. The number was estimated to exceed 140,000 nationwide as of the end of 2010. “It is difficult to implement policies specifically directed to “marriage immigrants” because there are many types of long-term foreign residents under the current F-2 visa regime. We expect the introduction of a separate visa for foreign spouses will help us provide timely and more tailored-made policy assistance,” a ministry official said.

Foreigners whose Korean husbands or wives have died or gone missing will also be eligible for the visa. Additionally, foreign retail investors bringing in more than $500,000 here will be given the F-2 visa, while those who invest over $300,000 and hire at least two Korean employees will also be given the same status. Currently, only foreigners employed by a company investing
over $500,000 here are given the right to stay for the long term.

In a bid to secure talented human resources, the government also plans to make foreigners holding Ph.D. degrees eligible for the F-2 visa. Now, only those who have Ph.D.s and are employed by domestic companies are issued with the visa.