HIV rule to be lifted for E-6 visa holders

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HIV rule to be lifted for E-6 visa holders

The Korean government is moving to revise visa regulations on HIV/AIDS ahead of the upcoming G-20 Summit in November, to match global standards on the issue, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Currently, foreigners with E-6 visas - entertainers, athletes and performing artists - staying in the country for more than 90 days must submit an HIV-negative confirmation document prior to entering the country. Those without the document must take an HIV test within 72 hours of their arrival in Korea.

The revised regulation will make E-6 visa holders exempt from the requirement and will come into effect at the end of December, said the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

The new policy will also apply to D-3 visa holders - industrial trainees applying for a residence extension - and E-10 visa holders, who are foreign sailors employed by Korean companies.

The policy will remain in place for E-2 visa holders - foreign language teachers - because of strong public opposition. But opposition to the current policy has been just as strong. The United Nations and global human-rights groups say the policy violates human rights.

Last May in 2009, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged former Minister of Health and Welfare Jeon Jae-hee to abolish the policy at a General Meeting of the World Health Organization in Geneva. In a separate announcement, the Ministry of Justice said it will also discard a similar regulation that falls under the Immigration Control Law.

About 70 HIV cases among foreigners are reported every year.

By Shin Sung-sik []
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