South Korea has announced the suspension of receiving guest workers from 10 locales in five provinces of Vietnam due to their overstays after contract expiry for illegally working, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs.
These localities include Tien Hai District in Thai Binh Province; Dong Son District, Hoang Hoa District, and Thanh Hoa City in Thanh Hoa Province; Nghi Loc District, Nam Dan District, and Cua Lo Town in Nghe An Province; Nghi Xuan and Ky Anh Districts in Ha Tinh Province; and Bo Trach District in Quang Binh Province.
Among these provinces, only Thai Binh is in northern Vietnam while the others are situated in the north-central region.
This suspension is based on the regulations included in the Memorandum of Understanding on Employment Permit System (EPS) signed between the two countries in 2008, under which South Korea agreed to receive migrant workers from the Southeast Asian country.
It is also based on the targets and road map endorsed by both sides for reducing the number of Vietnamese workers illegally working in South Korea in the 2020-22 period, the ministry said.
Accordingly, South Korea will impose recruitment suspension for the rest of 2021 on any Vietnamese locality that has an overstaying worker rate of 28 percent and higher and has 53 workers or more unlawfully living in South Korea.
This suspension, however, does not apply to Vietnamese workers who once worked in South Korea under the EPS program and returned home in compliance with labor contracts, or to workers who once overstayed their visas in South Korea but voluntarily came back home within the period when the host government applied a sanction exemption policy.
It does not apply either to applicants seeking a job in the fishery industry of South Korea, said the Vietnamese labor ministry.
South Korea will consider labor recruitment suspension for 2022 based on the overstay rate and the number of illegal workers recorded in the country at the end of this year.
Hoang Van Ha, chairman of Cuong Gian Commune in Ha Tinh Province’s Nghi Xuan District, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the commune currently has more than 2,600 citizens working abroad, mainly in South Korea.
Some of these workers have yet to return home after their labor contracts expired, Ha admitted.
Each worker was required to pay a deposit of VND100 million (US$4,430) before being sent to South Korea for work, the official explained.
But when their labor contracts ended, they overstayed and were willing to lose that deposit since they could illegally land a well-paid job.
The ministry requested authorities of relevant localities to call on their workers to return home as scheduled in labor contracts, and to ask those who are residing unlawfully in South Korea to come back to Vietnam.
From the end of November, South Korea will adopt a new policy on receiving guest workers to ease the labor shortage facing small- and medium-sized enterprises, said the ministry's Department of Overseas Labor.
South Korea will remove the current caps on daily and weekly entry of guest workers, at 100 workers per day or 600 per week.
The country will instead receive workers from all countries if they meet all COVID-19 prevention requirements, including being fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus before departure and having a negative real-time RT-PCR test result, among others.