Faster track for Ukrainians wanting to come to Korea
“For those Ukrainians subject to the Korean government’s special humanitarian program to aid their travel and entry to Korea, the Korean government will be issuing travel documents even if their passports expired,” said the ministry in its statement on Monday.
To be eligible, Ukrainians must have spouses, siblings, children or grandchildren living in Korea. Underage Ukrainians with parents in Korea are also eligible.
Descendants of Koreans living in Ukraine, part of the larger Koryoin population throughout Central Asia and former Soviet Union states, are also eligible. There could be at least 13,000 Koryoins living in Ukraine, according to Democratic Party Rep. Lee Yong-bin’s office last month.
The eligible can apply for travel documents from the Korean Embassy in Romania, by emailing the embassy's consular office, according to the Korean Embassy in Ukraine.
The Korean Embassy in Ukraine moved from Kyiv to Chernivtsi, a Ukrainian city near the border with Romania, last month, and as of last week was relegating consular matters to the Korean Embassy in Romania.
Since March 1 the embassy has been working solely on getting Korean citizens evacuated from the warring country. There were 32 Koreans remaining in Ukraine as of Friday, according to the Foreign Ministry, of whom 26 were already in the country on Feb. 13 when Korea banned further travel to Ukraine amid warnings of an impending invasion from Russia. Russia invaded Ukraine by air, sea and land on Feb. 24.
Ukrainians issued special travel documents will be eligible to stay in Korea for 90 days initially, and can apply to extend their stay later.
Eligible Ukrainians with passports can apply for visas to Korea through a fast-track visa process in place since March 8. They can do this by emailing the consular office in Romania.
The Korean government simplified the visa application process for Ukrainians with relatives in Korea and multi-generation Ukrainian-Koreans. If they have records of previous visits to Korea, they will be issued visas without having to submit documents proving they are multi-generation descendants of Koreans or that they have relatives living in Korea.
For people applying for visas to Korea for the first time, they will have to present proof of relation with a Ukrainian living in Korea, or that they are a multi-generation Ukrainian-Korean, the ministry said.
The visas available include the 90-day visa, the H-2 work-and-visit visa and the F-4 overseas Korean visa, which grants between two to three years of stay in Korea and can be extended.
A total of 370 Ukrainians with families in Korea entered Korea between Feb. 24 and Sunday through the fast-track visa program, according to Foreign Ministry.
As of Feb. 28, there were 3,831 Ukrainian citizens living in Korea, of whom around 2,400 were identified as descendants of Koreans.
For Ukrainians already in Korea whose visas may expire in coming months -- at least 530 before the end of June, according to the Foreign Ministry -- they can apply for longer-term stays in Korea on extensions that allow them to continue to live and work in Korea, the ministry said.
BY ESTHER CHUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]