|The Korean government seeks to invite more skilled and highly educated foreign workers amid a declining working-age population. / gettyimagesbank|
By Kang Seung-woo
A new visa for highly educated foreign workers will be introduced and various incentives will be offered to foreign residents in less populous regions, the government said, Wednesday.
In addition, a system enabling long-term foreign residents to obtain a longer-stay visa will be expanded.
Such measures were unveiled by Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Hong Nam-ki as part of the nation's plan to attract more foreign workers in response to Korea's shrinking working-age population due to the low birthrate and fast aging.
"First of all, the government is introducing a new visa type to invite talented foreign workers," Hong said.
According to him, the new visa will provide foreigners with an extensive educational background or those with highly sought-after skills in specific fields with benefits such as an extended stay and allowing their families to accompany them as dependents.
In the medium- to long-term, the government plans to roll out tailored services for such foreign workers to help them deal with various issues ranging from their own employment and their children's education, to immigration and medical consultations.
These measures came because despite the growing number of foreign workers here, many of them, or 48.6 percent out of 1.07 million foreigners on working visas as of July, are engaged in unskilled, simple work.
For foreign students and skilled foreign workers staying in local towns with decreasing populations, the government will award them incentives such as a long-term stay or additional points to their application for permanent residency if they stay there for a certain period of time.
The government also unveiled a set of measures to keep skilled foreign workers from leaving Korea.
It will expand the system of changing the non-professional employment visa to the skilled-worker visa. Even if foreign employees come to Korea with a non-professional employment visa but work here for over five years and have Korean language skills and other certificates, they will benefit from the new measure.
Long-serving foreign employees will be able to return to Korea more easily and the re-entry interval will be shortened from the current three months.