U.S. lets Koreans skip immigration

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U.S. lets Koreans skip immigration

U.S. immigration is allowing South Koreans to use an automated, fast-track immigration system that allows them to skip long lines and questioning at airports. Travelers must register personal information into the system in advance.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection expanded its Global Entry program to South Korean citizens starting last Friday to offer fast clearance for travelers entering the United States.

Under the program, any South Korean citizen older than 17 with a valid passport can fill out an online application at a Web site of the Ministry of Justice of Korea (www.hikorea.go.kr). The individual’s criminal record is required.

Once accepted, the applicant enrolls on the Web site of the U.S. Global Online Enrollment System (GOES), and pays $100 for the registration.

After U.S. border security officials confirm the background of the applicant, he or she makes an appointment for an interview with U.S. immigration officials at a U.S. airport within 30 days of the approval.

At the interview, the applicant will be required to give identification photos and have his or her fingerprints scanned.

After approval, the traveler will be able to skip lines at U.S. airports and go through special turnstiles that read fingerprints and machine-readable passports. The traveler still has to go through customs.

American citizens traveling to Korea are also given the right to use South Korea’s similar Smart Entry System if they go through registration in advance.

At the same time, the Korean Justice Ministry yesterday eased restrictions on the entry of tourists and medical patients coming to Korea from China or Southeast Asia.

From now on, the government will issue multiple-entry visas to children of Chinese parents who hold valid visas and to a Chinese national who invests more than 30 million won ($26,990) in Korean property.

For foreigners from 11 Southeast Asian countries, immigration will issue one-year multiple-entry visas to people who have visited South Korea once before and three-year visas for those who visited more than once in the past.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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