Jul 13, 2011

Korean "Immigration Office" to be Established?

Korean newspapers have announced that the Korean government is beginning to explore the establishment of an “Immigration Office.” The Ministry of Strategy and Finance seems particularly keen to the proposal.

The power to grant a visa in Korea is given to the Immigration Bureau with some authority given to Korean embassies abroad for matters of granting permission to enter the nation.

The Immigration Service is under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice and embassies are under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Multiple government agencies are also authorized to formulate policy regarding immigration issues.

The envisioned Immigration Office would seemingly take authority over all immigration issues from these multiple governmental offices.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance has recently expressed worries that decreases in the number of the most productive in society(mostly due to aging) is eroding the economy’s growth potential. Clearly, an increase in skilled foreign labor could ease this burden.

The Korean government has reported that it expects the foreign population to double to 5% by 2020. With this increase, the Finance Ministry hopes that it can strategically bring in as many highly skilled immigrants among these as possible and seems unwilling to entrust this task solely to the Immigration Service, strangled by an entrenched bureaucracy.

I suspect that if the Ministry of Justice considers the issue, it will realize that immigration matters are better handled, like in the U.S., by a specialized body and not overseen by prosecutors with vastly different experiences and talents. The use of prosecutors for this function is a waste of the resources of the prosecution and risks criticism from other agencies and the population, thus, eroding its ability to perform its main function.

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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com