The Employment Permit System has been plagued with problems for 7 years
Song Min-ju (Counseling Team Leader)
This year marks the 7th anniversary of the implementation of the Employment Permit System.
Although the government claims that the Employment Permit System is a very good system that applies the domestic labor laws and the minimum wage even to foreigners, problems related to late payment of wages and change of workplace are not uncommon, and it is gradually changing in a direction favorable to employers. The government amended the ‘Act on the Employment of Foreign Workers, etc.’ and allowed them to freely sign labor contracts for a period of 1 to 3 years, so that migrant workers were practically unable to change their workplace for 3 years at a single business. Labor conditions are becoming similar to those of the industrial training system, which had previously been criticized as a modern slavery system, such as making workers who are receiving the minimum wage to pay for meals and dormitories.
In particular, the recent problem is that the number of people who have expired the period of stay under the Employment Permit System is increasing. Following 2010, the number of people whose period of stay has expired will rise to 34,000 this year alone. As there are so many people who have to leave the country due to the expiration of the period, strange rumors are circulating among migrant workers. After the six-year period of stay including re-employment is over, you can extend another 1 year and 10 months, you can get a residence visa if you attend a Korean language institute for a few months, or you can get a residence visa at the end of your stay Rumors of the story are circulating, giving people hope like a floating cloud.
Pakistani worker N, who frequently visits the center, will also expire at the end of July. The management wanted to hire Mr. N, who had been working diligently at a business that manufactures and installs donut making machines for six years. If there is a way to extend the period of stay, the management will actively help. So, Mr. N heard a rumor that workers with an employment permit visa (E-9) can apply for a skilled skilled worker visa (F-2-6), and when he inquired about the conditions, he was only disappointed with the absurd conditions.
According to the application conditions, the applicant must have been employed in manufacturing, construction, agriculture, fishery, etc., for at least 5 years, the annual salary received in the last two years must be at least 30 million won, the assets must be at least 20 million won, or an industrial engineer’s license must be obtained, and the Korean language proficiency test level 3 or higher. acquired, etc. However, in Korea, migrant workers who meet these conditions are difficult to find. No matter how many hours a migrant worker works at night, it is calculated as the minimum wage and his monthly salary is less than 2.5 million won. For migrant workers, it is an unrealistic visa that can be obtained at all. In this regard, when you ask the immigration office about visa, the immigration officer will say that no one has obtained this visa, so there is no need to say any more. Why this infamous visa was created can only be seen as a joke by the Ministry of Justice that only confuses people and makes them laugh out loud.
In the end, to find another way, Mr. N inquired about the visa extension at the Pakistan Embassy in Itaewon, but he did not get the answer he wanted. The Pakistani embassy asked for 9 million won to get an E-7 (special activity, cook) visa. N felt it was difficult to extend the period of stay, so he resigned in mid-July and is preparing to return to his home country.
Due to the unrealistic visa acquisition policy of the Ministry of Justice, there are people who deceive migrant workers by saying that they will help them obtain visas for skilled skilled workers.
One day, a flyer from a Pakistani worker said that it is possible to change from an employment permit visa to an excellent professional worker visa (F-2-7), and it was written not to delay a good opportunity. Excellent professional manpower visa is a visa that judges excellent professional manpower based on a point system and grants it to a suitable person who has stayed in the professional field. In other words, it does not apply to migrant workers who entered Korea under the Employment Permit System and are staying on an unskilled labor visa.
Therefore, the center inquired about the status of the worker’s stay, saying that it was difficult to obtain a visa and that it was only helping them to get a score on the Korean Language Proficiency Test. Then he said that it would be difficult to obtain a visa without the help of a company official, and he was reluctant to give the location of the office, although he said that he had to consult for details. The intention of the company asking only for the other person’s personal information without mentioning the details of the story was suspicious. It was impossible to imagine how a migrant worker’s heart would be shaken if a migrant worker made an inquiry to this company.
Not all migrant workers working in Korea want a permanent stay. However, most workers want to return to their home country by paying the initial cost of entry and collecting the living expenses of their families and preparations for a new life when they return to their home countries. According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the initial cost of entry into the Employment Permit System is between 600,000 and 800,000 won, but the reality is that it is between 2 and 10 million won depending on the country. In many cases, migrant workers take out loans or borrow money from acquaintances to cover the initial cost of entry, and it may take up to three years to repay the debt. In the case of Vietnam, it is said that it lends gold to workers entering Korea instead of cash. As the price of gold continues to rise, if you borrow gold, you have to pay back an amount that is several times the amount you borrowed.
All these situations are making it hard for the workers, so will they be happy? When meeting migrant workers, the word that you really don’t want to hear is “It’s okay”. I don’t like the idea of not expressing my opinion and just putting up with it. Korea is destroying the dignity and self-esteem of each migrant worker. When will the time come when the Korean government will respect migrant workers as human beings, guarantee their rights, and listen to their stories?