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S. Korea to grant permanent residency for foreign investors

All Headlines 10:37 December 30, 2009

SEOUL, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will allow foreign investors who invest US$500,000 or more in the country to hold permanent residency and loosen regulations on foreign professionals in specified fields entering the country, government officials said Wednesday.

The Justice Ministry said the Cabinet endorsed the revision of the immigration law for foreign investors, which will take effect in January, in a bid to increase investments and lower barriers for foreigners looking to do business here.

Under the revised law, foreigners who own South Korean property worth more than 500 million won (US$ 427,000) or who invest US$500,000 or more in the country would be eligible to receive F-2 residential visas, which can later be upgraded to F-5 visas for permanent residency if they reside in the country for more than five years.

The current law requires non-Koreans to invest at least US$2 million and employ five Korean citizens or more if they are to be entitled to receive permanent residency status.

The government is also mulling ways to give priority visa status to foreigners who purchase large scale resorts or recreational facilities in the southern resort island of Jeju in an effort to boost the local tourism industry, ministry officials said without giving details of the plan.

The new rule will also loosen regulations on foreign professionals with proven talents that can contribute to the country's overall growth if they are willing to live and work in the country, officials said.

The number of foreign workers in South Korea categorized as professionals or skilled workers was approximately 40,000 as of September out of 540,000 registered workers from abroad, according to the Justice Ministry.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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