SEOUL, May 26 (Korea Bizwire) – More than 220,000 foreigners are staying illegally in South Korea, according to government data released last month.
According to the Korea Immigration Service, the number of foreign nationals currently residing in South Korea without a valid visa has been increasing for the past four months, with the latest figure estimated at 220,510, accounting for nearly 11 percent of all foreigners in the country.
The figure is up 3.1 percent from the same time last year, with the number of foreign nationals living in South Korea now amounting to over two million.
The total number of foreign nationals with an invalid visa status has been steadily rising since December.
“When broken down by month, there were 6,101 foreigners overstaying their visa in December, 6,952 in January, 6,956 in February, 8,338 in March and 9,173 in this month so far,” the immigration office said today.
When divided by nationality, the number of Chinese nationals staying in South Korea was estimated to be 984,771, accounting for 48.6 percent of all foreigners in the country, while Vietnamese and Americans followed next, accounting for 7.7 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively.
Thai nationals and Filipino nationals accounted for 5 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.
The number of international students was 123,462, down 2.8 percent compared to the previous month, while the number of foreign national spouses remained similar to last month’s figure from the Korea Immigration Service.
In the face of a growing number of foreigners illegally staying in the country, the Ministry of Justice announced a lift on entry bans for those without valid visas who left Jeju Island voluntarily earlier this year, which saw nearly 900 leave the island, according to the Jeju immigration office.