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U.S. Visa Waiver Program to Affect `Geese Mothers`

Posted November. 14, 2008 08:15,   


Koreans from Monday can travel visa-free to the United States, but the new policy could greatly affect those seeking longer stays in America.

Many Korean mothers whose children are studying in the United States have gone there on a tourist visa and later applied for a student visa by enrolling in a university. Once a person acquires student status, his or her children can receive an F2 visa, allowing them to attend U.S. public schools.

Legal experts say the interpretation of the related U.S. law varies, but warn that Washington could restrict entry into the United States this way.

Despite this, many Korean “geese” mothers, or those who live abroad with their children for the sake of the latter’s education, have resided in Los Angeles and Washington for years under the university enrollment method. Numerous brokers and small educational institutions have also taken advantage of this situation.

Koreans who arrive in America under the visa-waiver program cannot get a U.S. visa without leaving the country. They will become illegal aliens if they do not leave the country within 90 days. Even if they leave for Mexico and Canada and come back, the 90-day period is non-renewable.

Parents who want to send their children to U.S. public schools will have to receive a visa for students, investment or exchange visitor in Seoul.

Those who send their children to private schools, however, will see little effect from the change.

Shorter stays could also result in more frequent flights between Korea and the United States.

Many Koreans used to get a tourist visa allowing a stay of up to six months and repeatedly returned to Korea for the sake of renewing their visa. Elderly Koreans who look after their grandchildren in the United States geese mothers who send their children to private schools with no dormitories fall into this category.

Such people will have to return to Korea more regularly if they go to America without a visa, however, since they stay will be restricted to 90 days.