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(코리아타운뉴스) Naturalized U.S. Citizens Limited From Working in S. Korea

By Hyoungjae Kim
By Hyoungjae Kim

[LA중앙일보] 발행 2017/10/02 미주판 27면 기사입력 2017/09/29 17:04

Work visa for ethnic Koreans with foreign passports now strictly limited

Former South Korean citizens who opted to naturalize in another country before age 40 are now likely to have heavy restrictions on working in their native country.

The South Korean congress recently made a decision to limit the benefits of those who left the countries and obtained foreign citizenships.

On Sept. 28, the South Korean congress passed the bill limiting the legal boundaries of its former citizens who went on to obtain passports in other countries. The bill places heavy restrictions on former South Korean nationals with foreign citizenships to receive the F4 visa, the most common form of a work permit.

The decision will likely brew scathing controversy as it essentially strips former South Korean male citizens from residing in the country for more than two years.

Under the new policy, ethnic Koreans who conceded South Korean citizenship will only have a two-year period to reside in South Korea before turning 40. The bill was submitted in September 2016 to prevent South Korean men from feeling to other countries to dodge the country’s mandatory military service.

The right to reside in South Korea has also come with the benefit of work visas. The five-year visa has allowed citizens of other countries to reside and work in South Korea for more than three years.

After the congress has opted to pass the bill, U.S. citizens who once held South Korean passports are now limited from working in South Korea until age 40. For them to earn the benefits, they must complete the mandatory military service before turning 38.

The new policy will also likely affect second generation Korean-American men who conceded their South Korean passports. As the policy itself is focused on curtailing the benefits granted to former citizens, even the dual citizenship holders are now subject to the new policy. South Koreans with dual citizenships have until they turn 18 to choose one of the two passports.

“Work visas have been granted to most foreign citizens as the ruling was that even the ones who conceded the South Korean citizenship at age 18 are not subject to dodging the military service,” said a South Korean legal expert. “With the new policy, some of them will not be able to receive their work visas in South Korea until they turn 37.”

A parent whose child currently holds a dual citizenship said, “I understand the intentions of the bill, but it seems anachronistic to assume that everyone who has chosen to leave the country is trying to avoid the military service. I’d like to instill the Korean identity in my child, but I’m disappointed that the South Korean government is treating the overseas Koreans this way.”

Ethnic Korean dual citizenship holders have until March 31st of the year they turn 18 to concede the South Korean citizenship. Those who fails to make the decision by then are subject to the military draft. The South Korean law currently grants automatic citizenships to even those who are born outside of Korea if their parents are citizens of the motherland.

“Even the ones who concede South Korean citizenships can reside in the country short-term (up to 90 days,” said a South Korean legal expert. “The ones who failed to concede the South Korean citizenship at age 18 are encouraged to apply for a travel permit when they visit South Korea. Those who work for more than 60 days or live in Korea for at least six months are required to serve in the military.”

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