By Kwon Mee-yoo
Korea will adopt a host of new measures to simplify applications for naturalization and visas by foreigners.
Expatriates in Korea will have more chances to apply for naturalization interviews, while corporations can apply for visas online when they recruit from abroad starting this month.
The Ministry of Justice said Sunday it will hold naturalization interviews at 17 immigration offices nationwide from February. These were previously only offered at the citizenship test center in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province.
The ministry will also provide written test and interview samples on the Immigration Service's Web site at immigration.go.kr and e-government site at hikorea.go.kr.
HuNet KOREA (visa.go.kr) is an online visa application system for companies inviting professionals, including researchers and native English teachers, from overseas.
Firms seeking to apply for visas through the Internet should join the Web site and submit their business license. The service is available for visas 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It provides a database of overseas talent by country or fields, but the companies do not have to recruit foreigners from within this.
The reentry permit process has been simplified for international students and spouses of Korean nationals. Those who temporarily leave Korea can receive multiple reentry permits on the Immigration Service's homepage. It guarantees an unlimited number of international trips during one's stay and applicants are exempted from 50,000 won in fee.
The process of extending a stay will also become easier. For instance, H-2 visa holders can apply for extensions through an electronic civil petition system or legal representative such as a lawyer instead of visiting the immigration office in person.
Residency through real estate investment will be tested on Jeju Island from next month. Expatriates who invest more than $500,000 in local real estate will be granted F-2 status and acquire permanent residence or F-5 status after residing in Korea for five years.
The system will be expanded to other parts of the country after the pilot program.
Residency certification had previously only been issued at the Immigration Service's offices, but it will be available at local community centers starting from the latter half of the year.