Posted December. 30, 2009 08:33,
Permanent residency from next month will immediately go to ethnic Koreans with foreign passports who either own real estate in Korea worth 400 million to 500 million won (341,734 to 427,168 U.S. dollars) or deposit at least 500,000 U.S. dollars in a domestic financial institution.
The same status will be granted to ethnic Koreans who either work for Korean companies for more than two years and earn more than 38,000 dollars per year, or work for domestic manufacturers for four years.
Non-Korean foreigners who stay in the country for more than five years and earn more than 40,000 dollars per year can also receive permanent residency.
The Justice Ministry Tuesday said it will ease qualifications for permanent residency for ethnic Koreans from abroad and foreigners. Amid the countrys low birth rate and rapidly aging population, the move is intended to encourage such Koreans and foreigners to work for Korean companies and invest in Korea.
Around 20,000 people hold permanent residency in Korea, but most of them are ethnic Chinese who have lived in the country for a long time and foreigners married to Koreans.
This is the first time for the Korean government to grant permanent residency to employees and investors.
The ministry revised the Enforcement Decree of the Immigration Control Act in August last year to grant permanent residency to ethnic Koreans with foreign passports who stay in Korea for two years and meet certain qualifications. Just 30 such Koreans received the status, however.
Accordingly, the qualifications were greatly eased this month by changing the sojourn standard to one of address. Under the sojourn standard, a permanent residency applicant needs to live in Korea for two years and can be out of the country for up to 30 days.
Under the address standard, however, applicants can stay abroad as long as they report their addresses in Korea.
The ministry said the number of permanent residents is expected to jump to around 50,000 in two years.
Permanent residency will be granted to ethnic Koreans from abroad who have reported addresses in Korea over the past two years; earned more than 38,000 dollars per year; paid more than 500,000 won (427 dollars) in property tax; and maintained trading relationships exceeding two billion won (1.7 million dollars) with Korean companies as of January 2010.
For ethnic Koreans from overseas, the qualifications are working for agriculture, livestock, fishing or manufacturing in provincial areas for more than four years, earning more than 19,000 dollars per year, and owning property exceeding 30 million won (25,630 dollars) in value.
Qualifications for permanent residency for foreigners will also be significantly lowered. The government has granted such status only to high-income earners or professionals.
From next year, foreigners who have resided in Korea for more than five years and earn a modest income can qualify for permanent residency. Those who invest more than 500,000 dollars in the domestic real estate market, including hotels and condominiums, and stay for more than five years will also qualify.
Foreigners who stay in Korea for less than five years can still get permanent residency if they exceed the minimum qualifications for education level, age and income.
A ministry source said, Since Korea has passively run its permanent residency system, a whopping 30,000 people have waited to acquire Korean citizenship. To cope with the low birth rate, rapidly aging population and multiculturalism, we will promote the system and encourage ethnic Koreans from abroad and foreigners to work for Korean companies and invest in Korea.