Posted : 2012-03-28 19:08
Updated : 2012-03-28 19:08

Seoul plans to simplify rules for naturalization

No recommendation needed to become citizens

By Kim Rahn

The Ministry of Justice said it Wednesday it was revising regulations in the Nationality Law to make it easier for foreign residents to gain Korean citizenship. The revision will remove the current provision requiring a letter of recommendation from a high-profile native Korean.

The new rule will take effect as early as June.

Currently, foreign residents seeking naturalization are required to obtain a recommendation from Koreans who are lawmakers, heads of municipality or education offices, high-ranking civil servants, corporate executives, judges, prosecutors or lawyers.

“It was not easy for foreign residents to get recommendations from such people, and the regulation has been one of main obstacles keeping them from becoming Korean citizens,” a ministry official said.

“Taking into account this difficulty, we’ve previously accepted recommendations from mid-level officials of ordinary companies, broadcasters or public organizations. We have since decided to scrap the recommendation system for general naturalization cases,” the official said.

The ministry will collect public opinion on the revision for 40 days.

After analysis, the Ministry of Government Legislation will review the details. “We expect the new system to go into effect around June or July,” the official said.

Korea has three naturalization types ― “general,” “simple” and “special.” The general naturalization is for foreigners who have lived here for more than five years, while the simple one is for immigrant spouses or those whose parents were born in Korea. The special category is for those having specific talents, those who have made a contribution to Korean society or those whose parents are Korean citizens.

Last year, a total of 16,090 foreigners gained Korean citizenship ― 130 of them were through the general naturalization process.

Some 10,953 became Koreans through the simple process, with 10,733 being immigrant spouses. The remaining 5,007 obtained Korean nationality through the special process.
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