Visa changes part of plan to attract international students

The South Korean government has rolled out a raft of new measures easing visa regulations, particularly to universities in regional areas of the country beset by population decline and a move to the major cities.

The easing of visa rules for students comes in advance of soon-to-be-announced new measures to attract more international students, tentatively called ‘Study Korea 3.0’. The easing of immigration rules is important for attracting students from abroad and is accompanied by new rules to make it easier for workers to enter the country and upgrade their skills. This could also have the knock-on effect of making South Korea a more attractive destination for international students.

The Ministry of Justice, which oversees immigration, has said it wants to build on the huge increase in foreign students, now roughly 200,000 in South Korea, fuelled in part by the growth in interest in recent years in Asia and elsewhere in the world in South Korean K-pop bands, Korean TV dramas and films, cosmetics and other products.

“[We] plan to enhance the foreign student system that would support the increase in foreign students while contributing to improving the foreign students’ social adjustment,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry announced measures to ease international student visa regulations on 23 June with the new measures coming into effect on 3 July. It said the purpose is to support international students’ ability to adapt to Korean society and to nurture them as talents that can settle in regional areas

Top of the list of more attractive conditions for students is the lowering of the minimum bank balance for students applying for D-2 visas for degree programmes to KRW20 million (US$15,100) compared to US$20,000 previously. D-4 visas for language courses will require KRW10 million (US$7,600) instead of the earlier US$10,000.

The bank balance requirement will be even lower for regional universities – KRW16 million for D-2 visas and KRW8 million for D-4 visas.

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