Korea to increase U.S. visas

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Korea to increase U.S. visas

Korea plans to begin negotiations with the United States next year aimed at significantly expanding the quota of nonimmigrant U.S. visas for professional workers, Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said yesterday.

Seoul “will push for an expansion of hiring professional workers in the U.S. as one of its priorities for diplomacy with the U.S. next year,” Kim wrote in a posting on his Twitter account.

“With the target of securing 15,000 visas for professionals, the government will negotiate hard with the U.S. administration and Congress,” Kim said.

The visas are granted to roughly 3,500 Koreans each year for those with professional skills such as IT, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, biotechnology, medicine, health, law, accounting and the arts. Korean officials believe the amount falls far short of the demand, with a growing number of Koreans studying and seeking jobs in the U.S.

When a landmark free trade agreement between Korea and the U.S. came into force early this year, Seoul officials expected the number of high-skilled Korean workers seeking jobs in the U.S. to jump.

The U.S. allows its employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations by issuing the H-1B visa. Yonhap

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