Multicultural centers to offer all-in-one services

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Multicultural centers to offer all-in-one services

The Ministry of the Interior announced at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday a plan to establish comprehensive multicultural centers for foreign residents, including international couples, students and laborers, from next year, in an attempt to provide a one-stop immigration service that remains divided across separate ministries.

The lack of a one-stop system for foreign citizens and multicultural families in Korea has long caused inconvenience to many foreign residents, whose number hit 2,106,604 in 2015, according to the Interior Ministry.

Currently, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family leads services for multicultural families, while the Ministry of Justice handles immigration services, the Ministry of Employment and Labor manages employment services for foreign laborers and the Ministry of Education handles programs for international students.

To receive employment assistance, a foreign resident would have to pay a visit to a local immigration office run by the Ministry of Justice, followed by a separate visit to an employment center run by a local government.

“The comprehensive multicultural centers will provide a one-stop service for foreign residents by putting together all relevant offices in one location,” the Interior Ministry said in its press release on Tuesday. “This is not about installing new immigration and multicultural centers in addition to the ones already existing, but about bringing them together in one place.”

Starting next year, 12 comprehensive multicultural centers, called Multicultural Immigration Plus Centers, will be established throughout the country, including one in Asan, South Chungcheong, in March.

A foreign resident visiting the center in Asan will be able to receive services from Cheonan Immigration Center, Asan Migrant Workers Center and an employment center run by the Cheonan city government, as well as a multicultural student assistance program of the Ministry of Education.

“These comprehensive centers will allow the foreign residents to take Korean language classes and receive translation or interpretation services, and at the same place receive assistance on employment opportunities,” the Interior Ministry said. “This is certainly expected to help some 2.1 million foreign residents in Korea.”

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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