With the disappearance of Chinese investors who used to sweep up Jeju condos, the immigrant investor visa system that grants permanent residency is performing poorly. To overcome the recent measures by the Chinese government to prevent foreign currency outflow and the impact of the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19), Jeju Province began a study to ease the situation.
According to Jeju Province, it has commissioned the Regional Institute for Regional Government & Economy Korea to conduct a study on performance analysis and measures for improvement for the province's immigration process through real estate investment and derive tasks by November. Immigration through real estate investment is a visa system that grants free residence (F-2) status and allows economic activities when immigrants invest more than 500 million won in real estate investment products designated by the Ministry of Justice, and guarantees permanent residency (F-5) if the investment is maintained for five years.
Upon obtaining the permanent residence status, their freedom of residence in Korea is guaranteed, and they can enjoy the rights to compulsory education (elementary and junior high school) equal to that of Korean nationals as well as the national healthcare insurance benefits. They are also free to buy and sell real estate and change residence in Korea. As Chinese investment in Jeju surged from 2010, 158 condos were sold in that year alone, and the trade volume amounted to 97.6 billion won. In 2013, 667 houses were sold, resulting in transactions worth 453.1 billion won. The following year, the number of applicants for F-2 visas soared to 571. The vast majority of them were Chinese.
Jeju Province collected various taxes through sales thanks to the boom in the construction industry, but the aftermath was also severe. Housing costs soared due to the overheated real estate market, and reckless development led to environmental damage. In 2017, an immigrant from China whose F-2 surpassed five years since it was issued became the first immigrant investor to obtain permanent residency in the province. In that year alone, 57 immigrants received permanent residency.
On the other hand, in the first half of 2020, the number of F-2 visa applicants that had exceeded 570 a year fell to zero as the Chinese government began to regulate the purchase and sale of foreign resort facilities and the COVID-19 outbreak. Due to the pandemic situation, it became difficult for foreigners to enter Korea, and since 2015, the scope of investment for obtaining permanent residence has been limited to tourist destinations and recreational facilities in tourist complexes, further contracting investment.
Since the first real estate investment immigration system was introduced in Jeju in 2010, foreign investment in resort facilities in the province amounted to 1,961 cases, worth 1.47 trillion won. As of June 2021, 991 investors have been issued residence visas (F-2) through the purchase of condos, and 659 immigrants have obtained permanent residency (F-5) issued after five years.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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