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35,000 visas per year to go to highly skilled foreign workers

The annual issuance of the E-7-4 visa for highly skilled foreign personnel has taken a huge leap from just 2,000 to 35,000.

Minister of Justice Han Dong Hoon on Sept. 25 told a news conference at Gwacheon Government Complex in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do Province, "We fully implement today the 'innovative plan to expand the issuance of the highly skilled personnel visa (E-7-4) to 35,000."

Expats who have lived in Korea for at least four years, are fluent in Korean to a certain level and have recommendations from companies where they have worked at for a year or more are eligible to apply for the E-7-4 visa. After receiving it, they must work at least two years for the companies that recommended them.

Candidates must receive 200 or more of 300 evaluation index points to apply for the visa. Those with illegal stays in the country, unpaid taxes or criminal records incurring fines of KRW 1 million or more are ineligible.

Expats who have worked at workplaces recommended by local governments to stimulate provincial economies or in an eup (town) or myeon (township) with declining populations can receive extra points.

Holders of the E-9 (non-professional worker) visa can qualify for the E-7-4 if their skills are verified through this system. Those meeting requirements like living in Korea for over five years and earning a certain income level can gradually acquire the F-2 (long-term residency) or F-5 (permanent residency) visa.

Those who wish to change their visas to the E-7-4 can do so online through the Hi Korea website (www.hikorea.go.kr) instead of visiting an office of the Korea Immigration Service.

A judging committee of 21 staff will quickly evaluate each applicant. Those with questions can call the Immigration Contact Center at 1345 with no area code.

Minister Han said, "In a situation in which the world is seeing an invisible war to secure talent, the Ministry of Justice will continue put national interests first and prepare various policy actions in a timely manner so that highly skilled foreign personnel in science and technology and other skilled staff can contribute to the Republic of Korea's development."

By Lee Jihae