Work visa rules to be eased for skilled foreign students in Korea
Move to help address a shortage in the manufacturing sector will first benefit 25 foreign students graduating next month
By Kim Se-jeong
The government will assist foreign students with certified manufacturing skills to settle in the country and find work, a move to deal with a workforce shortage in the labour-intensive manufacturing sector.
Foreign students who have the skills and want to land jobs in the sector in South Korea will enjoy eased rules in having their D-2 student visa changed to the E-7 professional foreign personnel visa, starting this month, according to the Korea National Ppuri Industry Center (KPIC) under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE), Monday.
“This is to attract skilled workers to the manufacturing industry,” Chai Chang-ok from KPIC told The Korea Times.
“Ppuri” means “root” in the Korean language, and the sector includes businesses that require welding, casting, moulding, metal forming, surface treatment and heat treatment skills.
An applicant should be a student of one of eight higher education institutes designated to teach such skills Keimyung College University in Daegu, Chosun University in Gwangju, Chosun College of Science and Technology in Gwangju, Koje College on Geoje Island, Kunjang University College in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, Jeonju Technical College in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, Ajou Motor College in Boryeong, South Chungcheong Province and Inha Technical College in Incheon.
A total of 123 foreign students are currently studying at the schools, and 25 who will graduate next month will be the first to benefit.
The KPIC will receive applications by Friday and evaluate the applicants’ skills by the end of this month, along with a written test and an interview in the Korean language. Those who are accepted can apply to the Ministry of Justice for the visa change.
The usual requirements to obtain an E-7 visa are strict, and among 1.16 million foreign residents as of November, only 1.8 per cent were holding the visa.
But the government is easing the rules as the number of Koreans wanting to work in the sector is decreasing.
While the country suffers a high unemployment rate, especially among those under 30, the manufacturing industry has been suffering a chronic shortage of workers.
The Employment Permit System, launched in 2003, was one of the government’s measures to address the problem. Almost 300,000 workers from Vietnam, Mongolia, the Philippines and other countries have come to Korea through the system, working in manufacturing. Most return home when their visas expire.
“We hope to relieve the shortage of workers in manufacturing by helping foster skilled foreign workers and having companies hire such workers,” said an anonymous justice ministry official said.