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South Korea tightens student visa rules

A rising number of overstaying international students in recent years has prompted South Korea’s government to tighten visa rules for applicants, beginning with Vietnamese students this month.

Seoul has been the most popular destination for students arriving in South Korea. Photo: Unsplash

The policy will require Vietnamese students to deposit at least $10,000 in a Korean bank

According to a report by the Korea Herald, the number of international students who overstayed after their visas expired was 5,879 in 2015 but increased to 13,945 in 2018. Among the 2018 figure, about 66% were from Vietnam.

“The number of students who illegally overstay in Korea kept increasing”

The report claimed the new policy will initially apply to Vietnamese students with D-4 (General Training) visas if they are attending universities the ministry considers “poorly equipped to handle foreign students”.

The policy will also require Vietnamese students to deposit at least $10,000 in a Korean bank with a branch in Vietnam and submit proof to the ministry, it said, and students will have a withdrawal limit of 5 million won ($4,433) every six months.

Previously, students were required to submit documentation certifying they held at least $9,000 in a bank account, but some were discovered to have taken out loans in order to be eligible for student visas.

“The ministry had empowered universities to select foreign students [to study in Korea], but the number of students who illegally overstay in Korea kept increasing as some universities didn’t closely check the students’ financial status and academic ability,” the report read.

Under this new policy, the Ministry of Justice will also regulate schools, it continued.

Students from 26 countries including Vietnam will also have to submit a TOEFL score of at least 530 and a Test of Proficiency in Korean score of at least level three when applying to universities that do not meet the education ministry’s criteria.

International students will also be permitted to work for “manufacturing” businesses if they have a TOPIK score of at least level 4 in a measure aimed at preventing them from working illegally in South Korea, the report added.

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