Olympic visitors to get 30-day visa extension

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Olympic visitors to get 30-day visa extension

Foreign visitors for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games can remain in Korea and travel visa-free after the games for up to 30 days, announced the Ministry of Justice on Monday.

“We hope that the extension will not only help the economy, but also spark a boom for the Winter Olympics,” said Yuk Seung-hoon, director of the Immigrant Integration Division under the Ministry of Justice.

Starting today, visitors can submit a copy of their Olympic or Paralympic Games entry tickets along with a copy of their passport and signed extended stay application to the Korea Immigration Service free of charge. People who purchased the tickets online can submit their ticket number along with their application. The immigration service office will accept applications until March 16.

Currently, passport holders from 105 countries can visit Korea visa-free for periods ranging from 30 days to six months depending on nationality. With the ministry’s recent announcement, all PyeongChang Olympics ticket holders will be granted a visa-free extended stay of up to 30 additional days.

The ministry hopes to emulate the transformation of Lake Placid, New York, from a village consisting of a population of only 3,000 people to a popular recreational resort with over 2 million visitors a year following the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics.

Foreigners already residing in Korea can count up to eight hours watching the Games at the venues toward their Understanding Korea portion under the free Korea Immigration and Integration Program (KIIP), according to the ministry.

Launched in 2009, KIIP is an educational program run by the Justice Ministry, aiming to help immigrants and foreigners in Korea to integrate and adjust better into Korean society. The program is divided into two categories: Korean language training and Understanding Korean Society.

Foreigners under the program can submit a copy of their entry ticket to the KIIP office for confirmation.

BY HYUN IL-HOON, LAURA SONG [song.hankyul@joongang.co.kr]

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