The Ministry of Justice on Dec. 16 launched an online preregistration system allowing foreign nationals illegally residing in the country to voluntarily leave for the sake of containing COVID-19. The photo above is a scene from April this year at the Korean Immigration Service in Seoul. (Ministry of Justice)


By Park Hye Ri and Lee Jihae

Foreign nationals residing in Korea illegally can preregister online to leave the country voluntarily.

The Ministry of Justice on Dec. 16 said such people can use an online preregistration system in a move meant to contain COVID-19.

Foreign illegal stayers who want to voluntarily leave Korea can preregister on the government website hikorea.go.kr three to 15 days before leaving the country. They must print out a reporting form on voluntary departure with their personal information and expected departure dates from Korea.

They must arrive at the airport or port four hours before departure and submit the form along with copies of their passports and airline tickets.

Before, foreign nationals living in Korea illegally who wanted to leave voluntarily had to visit the immigration office having jurisdiction over them based on residential area three days before their departure dates to preregister and undergo judicial review. On departure day, they also had to go to the nearest immigration office to their airport or port of departure to undergo a criminal background check.

Preregistration online is possible only if the airline ticket is reserved. Registrants must have the necessary forms ready such as that of PCR tests showing a negative result as required by their home countries or airports. After undergoing a criminal background check and paying any fines, they can leave Korea.

Those ineligible to preregister online include people with fake passports, those whose identities do not match the ones on their passports, those who entered Korea illegally and those with criminal records. Those who cannot preregister online can visit the immigration office to do so.

The ministry said that with the end of this year and the start of the new year approaching, an intensive special patrol, quarantine inspections and guidance will target places with a high concentration of foreign nationals to contain COVID-19.

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