The Korea Herald


Korea opens up to more skilled workers, quota up 15-fold this year

By Choi Jae-hee

Published : June 29, 2023 - 13:53

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Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon (Yonhap) Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon (Yonhap)

The South Korean government will expand the annual quota for E-7-4 visas issued to skilled workers to 30,000 by the end of this year, a fifteen-fold increase from last year, the Justice Ministry announced Thursday.

"Resolving manpower shortages faced by many industries is an important short-term task. We are making efforts to accept more foreign workers to fill job vacancies as instructed by the president,” Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon said during a Cabinet meeting presided over by President Yoon Suk Yeol.

Foreign laborers who have worked in local manufacturing, construction or agriculture for at least five years could apply for the E-7-4 visa.

The annual quota for the visa has been rising, from 1000 in 2020 to 1250 in 2021 and 2,000 last year. This year’s quota was originally set at 5,000, but the ministry decided to increase it further, considering deepening labor shortages.

Job vacancies in the labor-short industries reached 185,000 in the third quarter of 2021, almost doubling that of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to the Ministry of Employment and Labor.

The minimum years of relevant work experience required for the E-7-4 visa application will also be reduced to four years from the current five, the Justice Ministry said.

It will also work to extend the current five-month stay permit granted to foreign farm workers by up to three months, ministry officials said.