Residency rules eased for ethnic KoreansBeginning next year, ethnic Koreans overseas not consistently residing in Korea can obtain permanent residency status if they hold more than 500 million won ($426,000) worth of local real estate or earn sustainable income through employment here, the Justice Ministry said yesterday.
The ministry also plans to ease standards for granting permanent residency to expatriates. To date, only high income earners and specific professionals are granted the right.
Starting next year, expats who have stayed here for five years or longer and have posted beyond mid-level earnings will be eligible to apply.
According to a series of new rules on permanent residency, those who have paid 500,000 won or more in property taxes stemming from domestic real estate holdings or have invested $5 billion or more here will be eligible. First, however, they must show they have reported their residence to the Justice Ministry in the past two years. Those ethnic Koreans who will be allowed to apply for permanent residency will also include those who earn more than double last year’s per capita gross national income of $18,000 after being hired by a Korean company. Those who have posted annual earnings of at least $18,000 or more while working in manufacturing as well as agriculture, farming and fisheries industries over the past four years will also be eligible, as will those who have exported domestic goods worth 2 billion won or more. Issuance of the right will be made immediately after the filing of an application, the ministry added.
Until now, it has been mandatory for ethnic Koreans who had lived abroad to reside here for two years or longer before they could apply of permanent residency. Because of this, it has been nearly impossible for a number of Koreans with foreign nationalities traveling back and forth between Korea and their home countries to obtain permanent residency. Holders of permanent residency can stay here without having to extend the period of their visas, removing barriers in their job opportunities. The ministry said the measures are aimed at encouraging ethnic Koreans with expertise to land jobs here, given that the country is suffering from a low birthrate and soon could face steep population declines.
“Maybe because we have kept regulations on permanent residence for ethnic Koreans highly stringent, only 500 of them have actually obtained the right in the past seven years,” said a Justice Ministry spokesman.
By Seo Ji-eun [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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