Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz enjoined illegally staying Filipinos in South Korea to avail of the Korean Government’s six months voluntary departure program to avoid the penalty of re-entry ban imposed to undocumented foreigners.


According to the Labor Chief, the South Korea government has implemented the voluntary departure for illegal migrants program, which started on 1 April and will end on 30 Septemberthis year.


All illegal immigrants willing to leave the country must have viable passports and airline tickets and report to immigration offices on the day of their departure.


As of January 2016, there are 54,437 Filipinos residing in Korea and 12,364 of them are illegally staying or working in the country. “We are enjoining undocumented Filipinos in South Korea to avail of this program, thus avoid being entangled with South Korea’s immigration laws,” said Baldoz.


“The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in South Korea is willing to cooperate to South Korea government by widely disseminating the voluntary return program through its official website and Facebook and by distributing the leaflets of the program at the Consular Section,” Baldoz said, adding that the program will also be promoted at any opportunity to the Filipino community.


The Ministry of Justice (MOJ)-Korea Immigration Service earlier discussed the management of illegal migrants with labor-sending countries, which includes China, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, East Timor, Kazakhstan, and Russia.


The South Korean’s immigration policy temporarily suspends the re-entry ban for those who will submit themselves to the scheme; thus will have the privilege from being exempted from the five-year re-entry ban imposed on over stayers, and from the penalty for illegal migrants and their employers.


Aside from the exemptions, those who will opt for voluntary departure can leave the country freely without detention and can go back to Korea after receiving the re-entry visa from the diplomatic mission abroad.


“This is an opportunity for labor sending countries to enjoin their nationalities who are illegally staying or working in South Korea to voluntarily return to their home countries by submitting themselves to the scheme, thus prevent the possibility of being deported and banned,” said Baldoz.


Among the sanctions that an illegal migrant will face once caught by the authorities include a re-entry ban for up to five years regardless of the period of overstaying, and imposition of an enhanced criminal penalty and increased fines.


Meanwhile, as standing procedure of the scheme, all illegal migrants willing to leave the country must secure a flight ticket, valid passport and other pertinent travel documents, and to report to immigration offices at all ports of entry on the day of their departure.


However, if they entered the country using a forged passport, there will be more time needed for verification of identity. In this case, they are advised to visit immigration offices prior to the scheduled flight departure time.


The Immigration offices at ports of entry in South Korea can be reached at 032-740-7391-2 for Incheon Airport and 051-979-1300 for Gimhae.


As of January 2016, there are 53,437 Filipinos residing in Korea and 25,421 belong to the non-professional employment category, or those who work in the manufacturing sector like in factories or agro-processing establishments.


According to reports, the higher number of foreigners in Korea is due to the expansion of its entry permits to boost tourism and invite more investments.


To deter illegal immigration, the South Korean government has formulated plans to prevent the entry of foreigners deemed as “high risk” in becoming illegals, and to deter South Korean companies from employing illegal workers.


The Korea Immigration Service has also undertaken crackdown, together with the police, as part of the government’s twice-a-year curbing of illegal workers and immigration criminals, including illegal migration brokers.


END/Tim Laderas

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