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South Korea Allows Foreign Exchange Students to Become Caregivers Due to Severe Shortage

Daniel Kim Views  

Yonhap News

Amid a growing worker shortage in the caregiving sector, the South Korean government has decided to extend eligibility to international students to work as caregivers for older adults.

On Friday, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced an initiative to allow foreign students graduating from domestic universities to work in caregiving services, as well as separate visa policies to enable more ethnic Koreans to work in the fields.

The new policy aims to address the growing shortage of long-term caregivers in Korea, caused by the aging population and falling birth rates.

According to the Ministry of Justice, as of December 2023, the average age of caregivers was 61.7, with a shortfall of about 79,000 caregivers expected by 2027.

The Ministry of Justice plans to introduce a new “caregiving” job category under the E-7 (Foreign National of Special Ability) visa, which permits employment in 88 occupations designated by the justice minister.

Under the plan, foreign students, who have graduated from domestic universities and acquired caregiver qualifications, will be allowed to obtain an E-7 visa, after securing jobs in nursing facilities. The government has devised a pilot program, allowing up to 400 international students annually to obtain two-year visas to work as caregivers.

Ethnic Koreans from abroad with H-2 visas who obtain caregiver qualifications will be allowed to switch to F-4 visas, for extended stays. The plan aims to encourage ethnic Koreans currently working as caregivers to work on a long-term basis, while also opening doors for more ethnic Koreans to enter the field.

Starting in July, foreign exchange students who are currently enrolled at domestic universities will also be allowed to acquire caregiver qualifications. Only foreign exchange students who have graduated from domestic universities are allowed to acquire caregiver qualifications since the revision of the related domestic law in January. However, with the new policy, the eligibility will be expanded to also include international students currently enrolled at universities.

The government aims to actively improve the working conditions of caregivers in Korea. The measures include expanding the promotion system for caregivers, improving the caregiver placement standards in elderly care facilities to reduce workload, and more.

“Together with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, we have prepared measures to improve the treatment of nationals while introducing excellent foreign talents to the elderly care sector to respond to the super-aged society,” said Justice Minister Park Sung Jae.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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