Gov’t ups Korean rules for foreign students

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Gov’t ups Korean rules for foreign students

The Korea Immigration Service announced on Monday that it will toughen Korean proficiency requirements for international students coming to study the language.

Colleges are opposed to the move as it could decrease the number of international students coming to study in Korea.

The Immigration Service, which is under the Justice Ministry, plans to implement the change to stabilize the number of language students illegally overstaying their visas in Korea. According to the Justice Ministry, the number of language students who came to Korea but overstayed their visas reached 11,177 as of September. This is a 169.3 percent increase in comparison to last year (6,601).

This, however, is problematic for colleges. They benefit from lower Korean language proficiency requirements, which make it easier for them to attract international students. “Just because an international student is not proficient in Korean does not automatically mean that that student is going to illegally overstay in Korea,” said an official from a private college in Seoul. “The Justice Ministry is not trying to solve the problem, but is instead trying to decrease the number of international students coming to study.”

In response, the Justice Ministry may introduce additional measures to help alleviate the colleges’ concerns. These include allowing international students with D-4 visas to take manufacturing jobs and issuing electronic visas. Originally, the D-4 visa only allowed foreign students to take part-time jobs permitted by the institution that they are enrolled in. Colleges have pointed out that greater opportunities for part-time employment could be problematic, as foreign students could be exposed to more opportunities to illegally overstay their visa by continuing to work.

“We understand the difficulties that universities might have in attracting international students,” said Cha Gyu-geun, the commissioner of the Korea Immigration Service, in Monday’s press release. “But we cannot ignore the increasing number of illegal foreign students and the side effects that come from this problem. This is why we will work with the Ministry of Education to come up with a reasonable plan [to solve this problem].”

BY JEONG JU-WON [jeong.juwon@joongang.co.kr]

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