Adequate status of stay should be given to
lone parents of foreign national raising children in Korea
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea(Chairperson Doohwan Song, hereinafter the ‘Commission’ or the ‘NHRCK’) recommended the Minister of Justice on 21 September 2022 to grant adequate status of stay for a foreigner who has a child with Korean nationality so that she can search for a job in a stable environment and be a beneficiary for social security services in Korea.
The complainant, a foreigner with D-4-1(Korean Language Training) visa who met a Korean man and gave birth, was raising her child as a lone parent in Korea when her visa expired. She made a request to A Immigration Office of Korea Immigration Service(hereinafter the ‘respondent’) to change her status of stay as Marriage Migrant(Child Raising, F-6-2). Her request, however, was denied, and her status changed to F-1 visa(Visiting & Joining Family). A person with F-1 visa is not allowed to work and able to stay in Korea only for a short while. The complainant, consequently, filed a complaint to the NHRCK for the inadequacy of permitting F-1 visa to a foreigner who has to raise a child as a lone parent in Korea.
The respondent replied that the complainant was given F-1 visa as she, under the current ‘Immigration Act’, does not meet the conditions to have the stay permit given to a partner of a Korean national. The respondent also replied that while working in Korea with F-1 visa is not permitted, a visa holder may be granted with employment permit by exception, if conditions are met. In the case of the complainant, she is able to extend her stay permit with the visa in every 2 years, as long as her conditions are maintained.
The Second Committee on Violation and Remedies of the NHRCK decided although the respondent did not permit F-6-2, considering that the complainant was permitted with F-1 visa and there is a way for her to work with the employment permit by exception, it is difficult to conclude the rights of the complainant was violated.
Meanwhile, the NHRCK also reviewed providing policy recommendation for further improvement on the relevant policies, noting that the similar cases are consistently being reported to the Commission and there are high chances that a lone parent with foreign nationality raising a Korean child may face various limitations due to their status of permit in Korea.
The Committee saw that it is inappropriate to grant F-1(Visiting & Joining Family) visa to a lone parent with foreign nationality for many reasons. Though a person with F-1 visa is able to work in Korea, his or her choices are limited to such jobs as teacher at a language institute and seasonal positions and a person with F-1 visa has to renew the permit every two years. A foreigner with F-1 visa also cannot change the type of visa to the status of permanent residency(F-5) and F-1 visa is usually issued to those who are staying in Korea for the purpose of visiting and joining family.
The Committee also found that it is inappropriate to have lone parents of foreign nationality raising children in Korea be excluded from being the beneficiary of the various social security services, including Basic Living Security System, Emergency Aid and Support System and Multicultural Family Support System, for the reason that they are not ‘married to a Korean national’, even though they are taking care of their own children in Korea by themselves.
Attachment 1-2, Article 27 of the ‘Enforcement Decree of the Immigration Act’ states that ‘a person who is unable to sustain a marriage for reasons which did not originate from him or her’ falls under the category of marriage migrant. The Committee saw that the law can also be applicable to the lone parents raising children of Korean national in Korea.
Regarding the case, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea recommended the Minister of Justice to further improve the system of granting status of stay for foreign parents raising children in Korea so that they can secure income and be the beneficiary of Korean social security services.