There has been several alleviations made regarding the visas: Before the policy was put into effect, students with a bachelor’s degree could not obtain the working visa unless the jobs were related to their majors. Moreover, the Ph. D. holders’ working visa was extended to two years at maximum if the students met certain conditions, such as acquiring the national skill qualification certificate. Another change was made that those who have a license over master’s degree can obtain permanent resident permit regardless of their majors.
However, from the actual perspective of the foreigners who receive these benefits are not sure if the alleviations are of any convenience to them.
“To be honest, I wish the department would make it easier for people on E-7 visas who have worked here long-term and don’t plan to leave to get either permanent residency or one of the residency visas,” said Emma Kalka, who currently works in the field of journalism. “I do not think the E-7 visa policy will change anything because it doesn’t change the fact that most companies cannot or are unwilling to sponsor foreign workers due to all the government regulations they have to follow.”
Other than changes for students, the conditions for start-up entrepreneurs have also changed. Foreigners who have obtained license over master’s degree and have invested over 100 million won to manage a company or have started commercial business can receive trade administration visa (D-9) as a qualifier of a student (D-2) or working visa.
Those who have practice in bachelor’s degree can obtain trade administration visa by scoring over 40 in the Overall Assistance for Startup Immigration System (OASIS). OASIS is a program run by the OASIS-VISA Support Center nominated by MOJ and the small and medium business administration. Foreign students who have stayed over six months in Korea to acquire a master’s or bachelor’s degree can invite two parents (including his or her spouse) at most.
Based on last year’s stastics from the ministry, the population of foreign students has increased 6.7 percent from five years ago in 2009, from 80,985 to 86,410. As it is shown in the figures, more foreigners studying or working in Korea are taking a toll in the economy of Korea. Thus changes seem unavoidable for MOJ to alleviate the conditions of visas and permits, but whether these changes can actually help the foreigners will be another issue.