Korean Visa Rules Still not Strict Enough for Some in the Korean Government

According to a new article in the Korea Herald based on government data, nearly 3 out of 10 short-term foreign visitors to South Korea stay here illegally.  The story didn’t specify exactly what an “illegal stay” meant, but it did take the time to classify the nationalities of the offending foreigners – 43.7% of them were Chinese, with the next-biggest group of offenders being Thais at 19.4%.

What we found most interesting about the article is that it attributes the uptick of offending foreigners to “the government’s streamlining of visa issuance procedures to attract more tourists.” The article seems to imply that visas to South Korea should be much more difficult to obtain.

Public outcry, in every country, is often a precursor to government action.  In January, 2011, South Korea began mandating that foreign English teachers seeking work on an E2 visa would require federal (national) criminal background checks – no doubt as a result of public dissatisfaction with various crimes committed by foreigners.

We’ve finally seen the Chinese government act likewise.  In July, 2013, suddenly and with almost no warning whatsoever from the Chinese government, visa requirements for foreigners were abruptly changed.  Now, foreigners who intend to work in the Chinese showcase cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Nanjing and Suzhou will require a criminal background check, and in every city in China, even foreign tourists on short-term tourist visas must now seek an “invitation letter” from a Chinese tourist company before they will be allowed to apply for a visa.

How should these governments juggle public cries for tougher visa restrictions with the need for a steady flow of foreign money and talent into their countries? What do you think?

The Korean Herald article mentioned in this article may be found at: 30% of Foreign Short Term Visitors Stay Illegally.

Here are some other articles about Korean immigration law by The Korean Law Blog:


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Korean Immigration Law

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