South Korea is currently pushing to extend the stay permits of foreign migrant workers who are unable to return home due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent travel bans. This is being done in order to relieve some of the seasonal worker shortages in farming and other select industries.

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said that it and relevant ministries will discuss allowing migrant workers whose work permit periods expired to extend their stay in the country once for up to three months and engage in seasonal agricultural work and other activities outside of their status of stay.

The government had earlier permitted foreign workers, who faced difficulties returning home due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions and lack of flights even after the expiry of their stay permits, to extend their stay by a maximum of 50 days.

Unfortunately, said extension did not allow for these workers to seek employment, making livelihood difficult for these workers who are unable to return home.

Against such a backdrop, justice, employment, agricultural, fisheries and other relevant ministries will soon hold follow-up discussions on the proposed extension of stay permits for foreign workers, the central disaster headquarters said.

“The government will take advantage of foreign workers deemed to be free from coronavirus risks to meet the needs of the industrial sectors, reduce the demands for new workers from abroad and prevent illegal employment of foreigners here,” said a ranking official at the headquarters.

The announcement was made after the central anti-disaster headquarters discussed the matter during its regular meeting presided over by Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun.


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