An appellate court said it is discriminatory to only allow women to qualify for an F-1 visa that is given to a family member of a foreign immigrant who is married to a Korean.
An appellate court said it is discrimination to only allow women to qualify for an F-1 visa that is given to a family member of a foreign immigrant who is married to a Korean.
The Seoul High Court said Monday it reversed a local court decision to rule in favor of a Vietnamese man against the immigration authorities.
The man’s sister married a Korean man in 2007, earned Korean citizenship and gave birth to a child seven years later. To help his sister raise the child, he applied for an F-1 visa, which can allow him to stay up to four years and 10 months here, instead of a C-3 visa that only allows a short-term visit.
But the immigration authorities rejected the application citing an internal guideline of the Korea Immigration Service.
Under the guideline, the visa is offered to a close relative of an immigrant who is pregnant or has already given birth to a baby and needs the relative’s help in childcare if her parents are unavailable. But it limits the eligible person to a “female” relative such as a sister or cousin.
He filed a complaint but a local court ruled in favor of the government saying the Vietnamese man did not meet the conditions for the visa due to his gender.
However, the appellate court overturned the decision based on an enforcement ordinance of the Immigration Control Act, which does not specify that only women can qualify for an F-1 visa.
The high court said the enforcement ordinance stands above the administrative guideline. “According to the guideline, a marriage immigrant cannot get support from her family member if she does not have a sister or female cousin, and this will be discrimination,” the court said.
The immigration authorities argued that the 37-year-old Vietnamese man was highly likely to attempt to get a job illegally here and thus they could not issue the F-1 visa. But the court said statistics show gender does not play an important role when it comes to illegal employment of immigrants’ family members.