My husband and I are celebrating our tenth year wedding anniversary this month. That means, I’ve been living here for almost ten years. Unfortunately, my Korean language proficiency isn’t what one would expect from someone who has been living in the country for a decade. That hasn’t hindered us at all from communicating. My husband speaks English well and that’s the language we use at home. Definitely, communication has played a very vital role in our decade-long marriage.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the Immigration recently (on May 30th) announced policy changes that will affect international marriages. Foremost is the requirement that the marriage immigrant should have the basic proficiency in Korean language. It will be mandatory that the immigrant spouse take the TOPIK and pass Level 1. If they fail, they will have to wait for six months before they could apply for the visa again. Couples who could communicate in the same language will be exempted. This means that if you and your spouse could both speak English, you won’t need to take the Korean proficiency test.
The Immigration said that other countries like Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and even the United Kingdom requires language proficiency as one the requirements in granting marriage visas.
Another policy that the Immigration is considering has something to do with income. A visa could be delayed or denied if the Korean spouse earning less than 120% of the minimum cost of living (about 1.12 million). Additionally, the Korean spouse should be able to afford decent housing. This means that they should not be living in a “kosiwon” or “motel”.
Divorced Koreans would also have to wait for some time before they could remarry a foreign national. (There are cases wherein the marriage immigrant would divorce the Korean national after getting a citizenship, and then marry another foreign national.)
On Korean citizenship, a lawmaker has proposed that the couple should have a child before the marriage immigrant could be eligible for a visa.
The new regulations will be finalized and an announcement will be made on a later date. They are meant to protect both the marriage immigrant and the Korean. Whether they would be effective in curbing domestic violence or decrease divorce rates of international marriages remain to be seen. In the end, it is the couple who should work on having a happy marriage life.