SL to benefit from eased visa rules

The Justice Ministry will ease visa regulations for South Asian visitors, who have become a major group for the Korean tourist industry, according to officials Tuesday.

The beneficiary states include India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Vietnam, Pakistan, Nepal, Laos, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Myanmar, according to the ministry.

So far, visa regulation benefits have been limited for these countries in fear of an influx of illegal immigrants.

“We expect the new visa regulations to attract a greater number of South Asian tourists, whose number has been growing at a fast speed over the past few years,” said a ministry official.

“Also, South Asia, holding over one fifth of the world’s population, is a tourist marketing source with even further potential in the future.”

The ministry will also enact measures to prevent illegal immigrants from abusing the new system, he added.

The number of visitors from the eleven beneficiary states reached 357,932 last year, up 21.2 percent from the previous year, according to the ministry.

Under regulations to come into effect next week, nationals from 11 major South Asian countries will be issued a double-entry visa, which allows them to freely revisit Korea within six months, in between or after transits to other countries.

This measure came in response to the growing reputation of Incheon International Airport as a flight transit spot, according to the ministry.

Tourists will also be required to submit fewer documents to prove their financial credit and employment status, officials said.
Also, a multiple-entry visa, which enables the holder to freely reenter the country for three consecutive years, will be issued to those who have a Korean university graduate degree and families of immigrants married to a Korean spouse.

Source: Korea Herald

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