I remember writing in December in detail about "A Realistic Proposal" and talked about a theoretical "A-OK Visa" in which foreigners who have lived for a certain number of years get two important things: the ability to separate one's work from one's place of employment, as well as work in multiple places. This would be offered only to certain foreigners having lived here for several years, and maintain some stricter qualifications than for the other visas. This would raise the quality of English teachers by rewarding those who do good work without incident while also creating some needed competition and give the power of choice to the employee, rather than continue to keep English teachers in essentially the same state as indentured servants from the 17th century.
Here's the new policy from the Korean Immigration Service. Spooky.
This article was carried on the 3rd page of The Korea Herald, issued on 20th March, 2008
Ministry promises more openness for foreigners
By Song Sang-ho
The government will implement plans to encourage foreign professionals to live and work here, the Justice Ministry said yesterday.
The ministry plans to introduce various visa incentives for qualified foreign professionals and investors, and to allow foreign workers to switch jobs within the same profession. It also plans to launch programs to help foreigners, particular those with Korean spouses, adapt to life here.
From September this year, the ministry will issue permanent-residence visas to qualified foreign professionals and investors.
Foreign nationals with special job skills in various areas, including science, education, culture and athletics, can apply for the visa from Korean embassies in their countries. Business professionals with plans to invest over $500,000 - a drop from the current $2 million - are also eligible for the visa.
Currently, only foreign nationals who meet various requirements, including several years of residing in Korea, are eligible for the visa. To ease worker shortage in provincial industrial complexes, the ministry is planning to reduce the required length of stay for workers from the current 10 years to five, beginning December 2008.
From July, the ministry also plans to issue visas for job-seekers with work experience in world-renowned multinationals or degrees from globally recognized universities.
The companies and schools must be among the world`s top 300 and 200, respectively, as listed by professional rating organizations such as Fortune, the Times of London and Newsweek.
The visa will be valid for six months, but can be extended upon request if legitimate reasons are given. Currently, anyone wishing to come to Korea for education or work is required to have an official invitation from the school or employer.
Foreign professionals will be allowed to switch jobs within the same industry from December this year. Currently, anyone who wants to move jobs is required to get permission from the government, a measure favored by local employers who fear high turnover rates. The ministry said it will further discuss the measure with local companies to stave off expected problems such as an increase in wage costs.
The ministry is also planning to devise a five-year plan by June this year to help foreigners settle in Korea. The plan includes various support programs to protect the fundamental rights of foreign immigrants married to Koreans and prevent discrimination against them.
As part of the efforts, the ministry plans to run Korean language and culture courses from January 2009. Foreign nationals seeking Korean citizenship who have completed the courses will be exempted from taking a naturalization exam.