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Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 05.45 GMT

Korean visa rules eased for Lankans


The Korean Justice Ministry will ease visa regulations for South Asian visitors including Sri Lankans, who have become a major group for the Korean tourist industry.

The beneficiary states include Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Vietnam, Pakistan, Nepal, Laos, Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar.

Under the regulations to come into effect next week, nationals from 11 major South Asian countries will be issued a double-entry visa, which allows them to freely revisit Korea within six months, in between or after transits to other countries.

This measure came in response to the growing reputation of Incheon International Airport as a flight transit spot, according to the ministry.

Tourists will also be required to submit fewer documents to prove their financial credit and employment status, officials said.

Group tourists, especially, may have their visa issued based on guarantees from their local tour agencies alone.

Also, a multiple-entry visa, which enables the holder to freely reenter the country for three consecutive years, will be issued to those who have a Korean university graduate degree and families of immigrants married to a Korean spouse.

Family members of multiple-entry visa holders are to automatically enjoy the same benefits.

Up until now, the special visa had been available only to those who earn over $10,000 per year, pension recipients, and professional workers such as doctors and media-related employees.

So far, visa regulation benefits have been limited for these countries in fear of an influx of illegal immigrants.

“We expect the new visa regulations to attract a greater number of South Asian tourists, whose number has been growing at a fast speed over the past few years,” said a ministry official.

“Also, South Asia, holding over one fifth of the world’s population, is a tourist marketing source with even further potential in the future.”

The ministry will also enact measures to prevent illegal immigrants from abusing the new system, he added.

The number of visitors from the eleven beneficiary states reached 357,932 last year, up 21.2 percent from the previous year, according to the ministry, reported The Korea Herald.






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Last modified: March 30, 2011.

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