SEOUL, Jul. 20 (Korea Bizwire) — The Ministry of Justice announced plans on Wednesday to trial a point-based skilled migration system beginning next month in a bid to address the growing visa issues facing employers and migrant workers.
In the past, there have been numerous instances reported where visa issues forced contract workers from foreign countries to leave South Korea after having just been trained, wasting company resources and time in industries that suffer from labor shortages due to social stigmas and physically challenging working conditions.
With the new point-based system however, skilled migrants will be allowed to find employment on industrial sites for a longer period of time.
From next month, previous E-9, H-2 and E-10 visa holders who have worked in South Korea for over four years can apply for an E-7-4, which is a type of visa granted to skilled migrant workers, after passing an assessment of age, Korean language proficiency and workmanship.
With the E-7-4 visa, workers meeting the requirements can renew their visa every year, paving the way for long-term stays for skilled migrant workers.
According to figures released by the MOJ, there were an estimated 279,187 migrant workers on an E-9 visa, also known as a non-professional employment visa, as of last year, along with 254,950 H-2 visa holders.
Including E-10 visas, which are issued for vessel crew members, there are currently some 550,000 foreign workers who are on one of the three visas, some of whom will be able to benefit from the MOJ’s new skilled migration system.
However, some worry that the new point-base system for skilled migrants could in the long term take away jobs from South Korean workers.
Despite the stereotype that South Korean workers are known to avoid manual labor work such as manufacturing jobs in factories, many South Koreans still work in the foundry, molding, and welding industries.
The point-based skilled migration system will be trialed on a maximum of 300 people this year before it is officially launched next year.
“As the foundry and welding industries continue to suffer from labor shortages, we hope the newly introduced system will create a stable supply of manpower,” an MOJ official said.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)