South Korea to introduce electronic travel authorization system for visa-free foreign visitors

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Korea will gradually introduce an electronic travel authorization system for visa-free foreign visitors in order to strengthen border control, the government said Monday.

Under the system, visa-waiver visitors should provide their personal and travel information in advance to gain authorization before entering Korea, officials said.

The United States runs a similar program called Electronic System for Travel Authorization or ESTA.

The decision was made during an interagency meeting presided over by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon to discuss policies related to foreigners working in and travelling to Korea.

The government also plans to strengthen checks on whether applicants for visa renewal have any unpaid taxes or fines and increase immigration investigation units and cyber investigation teams to cope with foreigner crimes, officials said.

The government said it will also set minimum housing criteria for migrant workers so that employers who provide vinyl greenhouses as housing won’t be eligible to receive foreign workers.

The government will also restrict employers with a record of sexual crimes from inviting foreign workers and strengthen demerit points for those with a history of attempts to cover up workplace accidents so that they will be disadvantaged when the government assigns foreign workers, officials said.

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