Blog | In 2024, the E-9 visa will be allowed for 165,000 individuals. 👷

In 2024, the E-9 visa will be allowed for 165,000 individuals. 👷

January 31, 2024

Jinyoung Kim
Hello. This is KOWORK! 😄
Recently, the Ministry of Employment and Labor has confirmed the introduction of the E-9 Employment Permit System for 2024, with an expanded quota of 165,000 individuals!
The E-9 visa, introduced in 2004, is for foreign workers employed in non-professional occupations, including manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and livestock, where specific qualifications or experience are not required.
This system allows small businesses facing difficulties in hiring local workers to legally employ foreign workers. The government has expanded the quota significantly due to issues such as a declining working-age population caused by low birth rates and an aging population.
Yearly Quota for E-9 Introduction
Last year saw 69,000 E-9 workers, and this year the number increased to 120,000. Next year, it is set to reach a record high of 165,000.
Expansion of E-9 Issuance Scope
Until this year, the E-9 visa was limited to industries such as agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, and construction. However, starting from 2024, the scope has been expanded to include restaurant, mining, and forestry sectors!
In terms of industries, there will be 95,000 in manufacturing, 16,000 in agriculture, 13,000 in services, 10,000 in fishing, 6,000 in construction, 5,000 in shipbuilding, and 20,000 in other flexible allocations.
While jobs in the restaurant industry were previously limited to Korean co-nationals (H-2) and international students (D-2, D-4), from next year onwards, E-9 visa holders will be eligible. The changes for the forestry and mining sectors will be implemented from April and July next year, respectively.
Criteria for Companies Employing E-9 Workers
Many may be curious about the criteria for companies to employ E-9 workers. In the restaurant industry, businesses with fewer than 5 employees need at least 7 years of experience, while those with 5 or more employees require a minimum of 5 years of experience. Businesses with fewer than 5 employees can hire up to 1 E-9 worker, and those with 5 or more employees can hire up to 2.
For the forestry sector, national forest corporations and forestry seed production corporations are eligible, and for the mining sector, companies with an annual production of 150,000 tons or more of metal/non-metal minerals can employ foreign workers.
Co-work's Perspective (E-9 → E-7-4)
E-9 workers can study Korean diligently while working and potentially transition to E-7-4 Skilled Workers. With the quota for E-7-4 visas increased from around 2,000 to 35,000, it is recommended to actively utilize this system. Foreign workers who have obtained an E-7-4 visa and have resided in Korea for over 5 years may also qualify for residence (F-2) or permanent residency (F-5).
For companies looking to work with E-9 workers in the long term, it is advisable to be mindful of the transition to E-7-4 visas and actively assist with visa changes, facilitating the settlement of foreign workers in Korea.
Note that E-9 workers can transition to E-7-4 visas if they have resided in Korea for over 4 years, have worked for a company for over 1 year, and have scored 200 or more on the Korean language proficiency test.
At KOWORK, we will provide useful information on E-7-4 conversions and other topics to help E-9 workers settle stably in Korea. 🙏
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