|Vietnamese labourers sent to the Republic of Korea to work. —Photo baotintuc.vn|
SEOUL — The Republic of Korea (RoK) on Tuesday announced a decision to extend the period of stay for about 115,000 foreign migrant workers, including those from Việt Nam, by one year in a bid to relieve labour shortages at small businesses and in farming and fishing sectors.
An estimated 50,000 Vietnamese labourers are working in the RoK.
The temporary extension of stay will apply to the E-9 non-professional employment and H-2 visiting employment visa holders, whose period of staying and working in the RoK is set to expire between April 13 and December 31.
Local media reported that the extraordinary measure will be implemented in consideration of COVID-19-related travel restrictions faced by migrant workers and labour shortages at domestic industrial, farming and fishing businesses.
The RoK’s labour and justice ministries said 62,239 E-9 visa holders eligible for the special measure will all be allowed to extend their period of stay and work activities by one year.
In the case of 52,357 eligible H-2 visa holders, confirmation on whether they are legally employed or not is needed prior to the extension of stay, they said, noting a maximum of 114,596 foreigners may benefit from the measure.
According to the Korean government’s data, the number of foreign workers arriving in the country with E-9 visas fell sharply from 51,365 in 2019 to 6,688 last year, due mainly to massive cancellations of international flights caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Arrivals of H-2 visa holders also dived from 63,339 to 6,044 in the same period.
The number of E-9 visa holders staying in the RoK stood at 237,000 as of the end of last year, marking a fall of 14.4 per cent from 277,000 a year earlier, while H-2 visa workers also shrank 31.4 per cent from 226,000 to 155,000.
The steep reductions in E-9 and H-2 visa holders have worsened labour shortages at small and medium-sized companies and in farming and fishing villages. —VNS