From Korea with Love

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Foreign Spouses to Take Korean Language Test for Marriage Visa

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Photo from Koreatimes, May 29th, 2013

Photo from Koreatimes, May 29th, 2013

Starting next year, foreign spouses will be required to take a Korean Language test when applying for a marriage visa. As of now, there is no rule requiring foreign spouses to take the Korean Language test, but because there have been many reports of interracial marriages ending up in divorce and several cases of domestic violence and marital problems caused by language barrier and cultural differences, the Ministry of Justice is implementing stringent language requirements.

According to the Koreatimes, the test will be given during a visa interview. If you have acquired the beginner level certificate of the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK), the interview will be waived. To pass Level 1 of TOPIK, you should be able to understand and construct simple sentences for practical writing and daily life (such as introducing yourself, greeting, shopping and ordering at a restaurant) using 800 basic vocabulary words and simple sentence structures in Korean. To obtain Level 2, you should be able to comprehend and express common and personal topics (such as schedules, hobbies and appointments) using 1,500 to 2,000 words and more basic grammar structures, as well as distinguish between formal and informal use of the Korean language. If you want to know more about TOPIK, you may visit topikguide.com.

If the foreigner is not proficient enough to be able to communicate with the spouse in Korean, the visa application will be reevaluated after six months. If the foreigner fails to pass the Korean language test for a second time, the foreigner should attend government-sponsored courses for social cohesion after arriving in Korea to get a visa.

According to another article I have read recently, if the foreigner and the Korean spouse can communicate well in English or in the foreigner’s native language, the test may not be necessary.

Besides the new language requirement, a Korean spouse should have a given income level in order to qualify for marriage to a foreigner. The minimum per-month level is 1.1 million KRW (around 975 USD/42,000 PHP).

The ministry has also set new regulations for marriage brokers, deemed to be the main cause of unsuccessful interracial marriages.

Will these new regulations alleviate domestic violence, marital problems and accelerating divorce rates in interracial marriages? While we do appreciate the effort the ministry is putting into solving current predicaments many interracial couples are facing, we can’t hep but wonder, are these new set of rules for the good of both the foreigner and the Korean spouse? The Korean government is trying so hard to educate foreign wives and husbands on Korean language and culture, but are there any programs that help Korean spouses understand their foreign partner’s culture? Marriage is a two-way street. It is not only us, foreigners, who need to understand our Korean spouse’s culture and learn his/her language to be able to communicate with him/her. Our Korean spouse should also learn to “communicate” with us and embrace a part of who we are or where we come from. We, foreigners, are asked to learn almost everything Korean. We ask that our Korean spouse learn just enough to respect us and accept us more than a mere wife or husband who has to obey strict Korean norms all the time.

As for the Korean spouse’s salary requirement, 1.1 million KRW? Really? That is not even the average salary for a full-time Korean employee. How about a thorough background check on the Korean spouse instead? Perhaps a behavioral and/or mental check-up, too? (Am I being too harsh? Sorry.) I have met two foreigners who met their Korean husbands through matchmaking. One of them ran away upon realizing that her husband has a mental disorder. I don’t know her personally, but I was asked to contact her, find out her whereabouts and convince her to return to her husband. She refused, of course, but I don’t have any news about her now or if she was granted divorce, which she requested from her Korean husband’s family after she went back to the Philippines. The other foreign wife, a Vietnamese, is still married to her Korean husband who is mentally challenged. Her marriage, her life in Korea is difficult. She has to work in the factory to fend for herself and her husband. She is, by the way, fluent in Korean, but does that help her at all?

As long as matchmaking is legal in South Korea, domestic violence and broken marriages among multicultural couples will remain rampant. Implementing stricter rules for foreign spouses will do very little to solve the problems. Can’t the Ministry of Justice or the Korean government be fair and give stricter requirements for Korean spouses, too? What is so special about matchmaking that they can’t abolish it once and for all?

 

29 thoughts on “Foreign Spouses to Take Korean Language Test for Marriage Visa

  1. I think that is among the such a lot vital info for me. And i am glad studying your article. But should remark on few common things, The web site taste is great, the articles is in reality great : D. Just right job, cheers

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  2. This was the complete reply of korean embassy to the ph

    Good day!

    If you have any documents to prove that you and your fiance is fluent in English such as College Diploma, English language program certificate, etc then you may submit the documents.

    If you have no documents to submit, then it is alright because there will be an English interview for you and your spouse after review of your spouse visa requirements.

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  3. ‘If you have no documents to submit, then it is alright because there will be an English interview for you and your spouse after review of your spouse visa requirements.’

    This was the actual reply of korean embassy to the philippines.

     

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  4. Follow up question, my boyfriend of 5 years can speak and understand English. He self studied lang. We communicate in English, does he still need to have a school certification?

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  5. Then recently I read an article saying that someone who wishes to marry to a korean has to earn a certain amount of salary. I thought, di kaya nagging masyadong OA na ang Korea sa usaping to?

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  6. Hi…ilang buwan po ba ang required para pay aralan ang salitang Korean.

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  7. Anyone? Pwede ko po ba malaman yung my name ng school for korean language na required po ng embassy thank you po

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  8. Thanks sis
    tiwala nalang sa sarili.^^

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  9. So wala siya nakuha certificate from the class? Ituloy mo na lang ang class if ganon. Mostly basic conversation lang naman ang ibibigay sa exam. Aral ka din on your own.

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  10. Thanks po sa reply

    nong 2002 pa po yun hindi nia rin po natapos yung pag aaral nia dito 2moths lang pa yung pinasok nia.

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  11. Hi, Jin. Kung may certificate ang husband mo from the center, school or academy where he studied English, submit niyo lang yun as proof that you and your husband can communicate in English and you don’t need to take the Korean Language Test.

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  12. hi good day po

    ask ko lang po
    nag aaral po ako sa korean school
    para po sa korean visa nag aalala po ako na baka ma failed ako sa exam darating kc this month yung asawa ko kahit po nag aaral ako ng korean. English at tagalog ang gamit namen pag nag uusap kami final exam po namen next week kaso after 2weeks pa po malalaman yung result. Makukuha ko po yung result nakabalik na yung asawa ko sa korea pwede po bang mag apply na kmi ng visa kung same naman po kming english ang ginagamit nakapag aral po dati yung asawa ko dito kaso hindi nia po tinapos.anu ano po ba yung tinatanong sa intirview.

    Thanks po i need your
    opinion po^^

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  13. Hi good evening..I’m got married for my korean husband..but I’m already finished my korean language..but the embassy said I need to study again kzi ung school n pinasukan q eh hndi required NG embassy..they ask that I need to schooling again pra s required nlng school..another school another pay..nid q lng nmn poh kz ang topik license..what are the best way poh pra makakuha aq NG topik license?i need your opinion?thank you

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  14. Hi, Luna!🙂 The questions will depend on the immigration officer who will interview you, but most of the questions will be about how you and your husband met and how well you know each other. Has he studied English in the Philippines? Perhaps he can get a certificate that proves he took up English lessons? I used to teach ADULT ESL in the IS and we used to give certificates after our students finish the term.

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  15. Hello, My fiance and I are getting married in Korean this November. PH Embassy said it will take 4-6 months for us to get the NSO Marriage Certificate. After I get the marriage certificate, we will go to Korean Embassy in PH for the spouse VISA. I read some articles that the language test will be waived if the couples are communicating in another language e.i. English. I sent an email to Korean Embassy in PH and they confirmed that I don’t need to pass TOPIK level 1 if my husbands and I are fluent in English but we need to provide documents like college diploma or English language program certificate. I am college graduate but my Korean husband to be is not but he speaks English very well. The embassy said if we cannot provide the documents, there will be an English interview for me and for my spouse after we submit all the visa requirements.

    Do you know what kind of questions and if you have sample questions?

    Thanks!

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  16. I have a vietnam friend married with korean gay.Korean gay director of Bank here in Okpo village.My vietnam friend can mannage korean language I don’t know if it is so advanvandce but she took korean test hers point for test was 40 normal to pass the test is 50 points.But bcs her husband works director of a Bank is ok for her to work in a Bank even if her marks for korean test was under the law.

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  17. Why????? The heart feels… it doesn’t talk it doesn’t think… it will be so unfair… how the couple can build a strong relationship if your rules becoming one of the hindrances to have a happy marriage life? This new set of rule made me so disappointed

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  18. RIGHT NOBODY CAN KNOW WHAT CAN HAPPEN AFTER MARRIAGE WITH KOREANS MAN.THESE DAYS MOST OF KOREAN INTERNATIONAL MARRIAGE ALREADY HARABOGY.SOME OF HARABOGY WANTS KIDS SOME ARE SCARED AND REFUSES TO HAVE KIDS.IF YOU VISIT GEOJE-Si Okpo LOTS OF COUPLES .ANYWAY THEIR SPOUSES NEED A JOB BUT NOBODY IS ABLE TO INFORM IMMIGRANTS WHERE SHOULD THEY GO AND APPLY FOR THE JOB.I ASKED MANY COUPLES WOULD YOU LIKE TO WORK??THEIRS ANSWER IS :OF COURSE,YES .THEY GOT MARRIED 10 YEARS AGO THEIRS SKILL LEVEL IS BEGGINER LEVEL.SO NO LANGUAGE NO JOBS. BUT KOREAN HARABOGY VERY AGRESSIVE AND OF COURSE THEY MUST WAIT AND BE PATIENT TILL WIFES ARE ABLE FOR KOREAN LANGUAGE FLUENTLY SPEAKING.

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  19. “If you and your husband can communicate well in English, you might not be required to take the test. This is the info I got from a news article.”

    This is also what the Korean Embassy in the Phil, told my husband, just this month. We have the same situation Earl. We only speak English at home, for almost 3 yrs.

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  20. HELLO!
    I GOT MARRIED TO KOREAN WITH 12 YEARS AGO.I CAN MANNAGE KOREAN LANGUAGE AND ENGLISH.I MUST AND WANT WORK BCS THE LIFE IN KOREA TOO EXPENSIVE.I WROTE SOME LETTER TO SOME MINISTRY BUT THEY ANSWER ME IS NOT THEIR PROBLEM THEY SEND ME TO YWCA AND YMCA FOR REGISTERING.OK I REGISTERD BUT NOBODY CARES HOPPING ONE DAY TO BE CONTACTED FOR SOME OPENING JOBS,BUT STILL WAITTING FOR A JOB.NOBODY CARE EVEN IMMIGRATION OFFICE DOESN’T CARE.I GOT WORKING VISA BUT IN VAIN.I HOPE SOMEBODY TO CONECT ME AND GIVING ME SOME INFORMATIONS ABOUT OPEN JOBS FOR KOREAN SPOUSES.MY EMAIL ADDRESS:tictic_skoka@yahoo.com

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  21. Good evening po, tanong ko lang po kung magkakaproblema ba ako sa pagkuha ng f6 visa kapag gamit ko ang maiden name ko kahit kasal na kame? Un po kasi ang nasa passport ko. Slmat po

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  22. I want to come Korea and like to work there … I am from Sri Lanka … I did Korean exam this year (EPS TOPIC) , But I am not pass … Then help me to come Korea …

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  23. This is so interesting! I had no clue! Do you know a) if applying for a marriage Visa presupposes that you’re also applying for Korean citizenship via marriage, and b) does this new rule apply to EVERY foreigner from ANY country? So interesting.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  24. This is a very interesting post.

    I agree that the ministry has been trying to do something to prevent the negative outcomes in interracial marriages by making these changes. I think that the Korean government is going in the right direction. The language and income are indeed important part. But you also made a good point in “educating” the Korean spouse (specially the men) about their foreign spouse’s language and culture. Basically, it all boils down to respect, regardless of what your gender nor race. The Korean culture has still much to work on that.

    The mental part requirement might be a good one next on the list. I hope that they figure it out sooner before another catastrophic incident happens.

    As for abolishing the matchmaking agencies, I doubt that will be helpful at all. It is better that they are recognized and be regulated. Are you aware that it is actually banned in the Philippines but as we all know, Koreans still manage to get brides from here through that. Beats me how they work it. Some turn out good but occasionally, some don’t. It’s goes back to proper regulation, plus a little bit of common sense and luck.

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  25. If you and your husband can communicate well in English, you might not be required to take the test. This is the info I got from a news article.

    Like

  26. Is this new regulation applies to all international marriages who have been married for a year or years and havent gotten a permanent residence visa? It worries me bec my korean skill is not enough yet, plus we dont live in Korea. Apparently, Ive forgotten some words and my comprehension level has decreased. My husband and I only speak English at home bec he wants to constantly practice his English skill.

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  27. Im suprised with this news. Korean government is getting more strict. I havent read it all yet, but based from the title itself, I think its going to be tougher and probably, a little annoyance to those couple who wish to apply for a marriage visa. There is good and bad thing about this new law. Also, there is no certainty about what’s gonna happen to the couple after they come to Korea. Maybe it’ll work, but maybe not. Lets wait and see about the result.

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  28. Let’s take one issue at a time; keep in mind that these issues are gonna be the center of this response.

    1. Marriage is a two-way street.

    ** Sure. Did they date? Fell in love? Went steady for a couple months? Or did their husbands pay substantial amount to have these women join them in matrimony? Marriage is a two way street for people who fell in love. Human nature dictates that when you pay for something, it’s yours. Apparently it evolved from something to someone. Unfortunately, if husbands pay, they do not expect their “wives” to talk, just do their responsibilities.

    *** The women who married mentally handicapped men; how did that happen? Did they meet through common friends, fell in love and went to Korea? While my heart goes to them and their misfortunes, I can’t help but wonder: HOW COME THEY DIDN’T KNOW BEFOREHAND THAT THEIR FUTURE HUSBANDS WERE MENTALLY CHALLENGED? whose fault is that?

    **** And as for culture: The country that the couple resides would be the culture to follow. If a Canadian man marries a Korean woman, and they decide to live in Canada, is he going to follow his wife’s culture? Or his wife’s going to make the necessary adjustments in order to attain the necessary knowledge of the country? Are they to celebrate BOTH Korean thanksgiving AND Canadian thanksgiving?

    >> But if this Canadian man decides to live in Korea, his household might be a bit different. His children may carry his name, but everything else will bear Korean culture. And HE is the one trying to follow his wife’s culture.

    ***** Language is not optional. It’s a necessity. Again with the Canadian man and his Korean wife; if she cannot speak sufficient English, how is she to survive in Canada?

    2. 1.1 Million KrW spouse salary requirement (not even a high school grad minimum wage)

    ** Let me ask: What is minimum wage? Something level for undergrads? Minimum wage is salary fro the NORMAL WORKERS. and 1.1 is not it. Minimum wage for men are different from Minimum wage of women. The minimum wage that the government requires is a salary of an employee who works overtime. A diligent woman.

    *** Not to mention, if a migrant wife comes to Korea, and something goes wrong, she is supposed to work. How can she work something decent if she earned something smaller than a very small wage? This is part of an office norm: WHEN YOU APPLY FOR A JOB, THE COMPANY SHOULD GIVE YOU A HIGHER SALARY THAN YOUR PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT. The government is looking out for what’s RIGHT for a change.

    3. What’s so special with matchmaking agencies and they cannot abolish it?

    ** Do you read the papers, hun? ONE: Korea has a VERY LOW birthrate, and a VERY HIGH number of old people. If not for migrant wives bearing children, Korea’s gonna be in a rut in a couple of decades. TWO: Korean women had become so picky with their partners that Korean men have no other choice left but to resort to this. Their culture requires them to marry. MEN are supposed to get married, have kids, raise a family. But women nowadays opt for career and freedom. And the power lies there. WOMEN set very high standards, so high that an average Korean man will be disheartened in a flash.

    >> and that is just within the cities. what about those who live in rural areas? are they gonna stand any chance AT ALL?

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  29. Like this post

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