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Seoul exempts foreigners from visa extension through April to combat virus

All Headlines 15:28 February 24, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- More than 130,000 registered foreigners in South Korea whose period of stay expires between Monday and April 29 are not required to visit immigration offices to extend their visas, the Ministry of Justice said, announcing a new measure to halt the coronavirus outbreak.

The ministry said it will automatically extend the period of stay for 136,000 registered foreign nationals who have visas set to expire before April 29 until the end of April.

The ministry said the automatic extension of stay will spare the concerned foreigners a trip to local immigration offices to renew their visas, helping to minimize their chances of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus on public transport.

"In order to actively tackle the coronavirus outbreak, it is necessary to make foreigners minimize their need to visit public institutions for extension of stay," a ministry official said.

This file photo shows a group of Southeast Asian tourists waiting for a train at Seoul Station in central Seoul on Feb. 21, 2020. (Yonhap)

In normal times, foreign nationals are asked to apply for permission to extend their stays more than two months before the expiration date of their visas.

The ministry, however, said that the temporary automatic extension of stay will not be applied to foreigners with non-professional employment (E-9) and sailor employment (E-10) visas.

It asked the E-9 and E-10 visa holders to apply online or have their employers apply on behalf of them.

It also noted that hotel and adult entertainment (E-6-2), working visit (H-2), ethnic Koreans and accompanying family members (F-1-11) and parents of marriage immigrants (F-1-5) visas will be extended within the legally possible period.

"In some regions, it takes more than two hours to travel to an immigration office. The temporary measure is expected to be very effective in preventing the spread of the viral disease by reducing the use of public transportation," the official said.

ycm@yna.co.kr
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