What is the change? South Korea is poised to create a new work-study visa program that will provide an easier path for top foreign students to work in South Korea after graduation.

What does the change mean? Foreign student selected by the government for participation will be eligible to work in South Korea provided they have an employment contract with a South Korean company. Companies hiring them will not be subject to the normal local staffing requirements.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work-study visas(no official name has yet been determined).
  • Who is affected: Foreign students selected by the South Korean government for participation in the new program.
  • Business impact: The change makes it easier for companies to employ selected foreign students because they will be exempt from rules that require companies to have at least five South Korean employees and to limit the number of foreign employees to within 20 percent of local staff.
  • Next steps: The program will be available on an invitation-only basis, and it remains to be seen how many students will be able to take advantage of the new opportunities.

Background: The South Korean government has said the new program is designed to help stem the flow of foreign nationals out of the country after graduation. The change will not only provide work visas to students selected for participation, but will also make it easier for them to eventually obtain residency visas. South Korea is also hoping to draw more students by providing a new visa for those who wish to study in South Korea for shorter periods of time, e.g., for one or two semesters rather than in a program where they would earn a degree from a South Korean university.

BAL Analysis: While the overall impact the new program will have remains to be seen, the work-study visas will provide at least some foreign nationals who have studied in South Korea an easier opportunity to work and eventually obtain a residence visa in the country.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in South Korea. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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