RoK tightens visa rules for Vietnamese students

Rising numbers of overstaying Vietnamese students have prompted the Republic of Korea (RoK) to tighten visa rules for applicants, the Korea Herald reports.

Students at a university in Seoul, RoK. Photo by Shutterstock/Isarint Sangmanee

The new rules are implemented starting March 4, the newspaper reported on March 3, citing the RoK's Justice Ministry.

Vietnamese students will now have to deposit at least $10,000 in a Korean commercial bank with a Vietnamese branch, and submit proof thereof. They will also have a withdrawal limit of $4,443 for every six months.

Earlier, international students were only required to submit documentation to verify that they had at least $9,000 in a bank account in their name or that of their parents. However, many students took out loans to get the visa and proceeded to withdraw all the funds right after, the ministry said, explaining the new limit.

The report said that the new policies would only apply to Vietnamese students with D-4 visas attending universities that the Ministry of Education has deemed "poorly equipped to handle foreign students," based on certain criteria including the percentage of students who overstay their visas and the percentage of students who fail to graduate.

Students from 26 countries including Vietnam would also have to submit a TOEFL score of at least 530 and a TOPIK score of at least level 3 when they apply to universities that do not meet the education ministry’s criteria.

International students will be permitted to work for "manufacturing" businesses if they have a TOPIK score of at least level 4. This is a measure aimed at preventing them from working illegally in the RoK.

Last year, 13,945 international students overstayed in the RoK, compared to 5,879 in 2015, according to the Ministry of Justice. 66 percent of overstaying students were Vietnamese, it said.

Vietnamese students are the fastest growing group in South Korean universities, second only to China in enrollment numbers, according to figures from the National Institute for International Education under the RoK's Ministry of Education.

Vietnam sent nearly 15,000 students to the RoK last year, three times higher than the number in 2015, making it the fastest growing market for international education in the Northeast Asian country.

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