The South Korean government decided to increase next year’s quota for foreign workers by 19 percent, the Ministry of Employment and Labor said Thursday.
According to the plan, approved by the Cabinet, the Ministry will give work permits to 57,000 foreigners in 2012, up from 48,000 in 2011. The quota is only for those applying for E-9 visas.
The increase comes as nearly 67,000 migrant workers under the employment permit system are expected to leave the country next year due to expiration of their visa. That number is in addition to some 34,000 who have already left or were to leave.
Of the 57,000 permits, some 11,000 are allotted to those who seek to re-enter Korea after they returned to their country after working here for the permitted period of time.
The quota for ethnic Korean workers or those applying for H-2 visas is set at 303,000 next year, unchanged from this year.
“We plan to devise more measures to give advantages to the workers who seek to re-enter Korea, so that small businesses, struggling with a constant labor shortage, could tap into the pool of skilled foreign workers,” Minister Lee Chae-pil said.