Today Congressmen Jim Moran (D-VA) and Peter Roskam (R-IL) introduced the "Partner with Korea Act" to facilitate increased business opportunities following the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) through creation of up to 15,000 EB-4 highly-skilled work visas for Korean nationals. The bill brings the number of work visas for Korean nationals in line with those provided for other FTA partner countries.
"The U.S. -- Korea Free Trade Agreement will provide a boost to the U.S. economy -- estimated to increase U.S. exports by as much as $10 billion," said Rep. Moran. "To fully tap into this market and create jobs here at home, U.S. companies must have the ability to hire individuals with the necessary language and technical skills and regional expertise."
Specifically, the "Partner with Korea Act" would allow for up to 15,000 professional EB-4 visas each year for qualified applicants with specialized education and guaranteed employment requiring specialized skills. The legislation also includes protections to ensure the visa holders do not take jobs that could be filled by U.S. workers.
"One year after the Korea Free Trade Agreement went into effect, the creation of this new class of visas will help realize the full potential of the FTA," said Rep. Roskam. "The U.S.-Korea partnership has many facets--cultural, defense and economic. By ensuring more high-skilled visas are available here in the U.S., both countries will benefit, and the ties between the U.S. and Korea will only become stronger."
Congress has complemented recent FTAs, including Australia, Canada, and Singapore, with an allotment of highly skilled visas for the partner country. The 15,000 EB-4 visas created under the Korea Free Trade Agreement Visa Act reflect the size of the US-Korea economic relationship and expected demand for these visas.
"Our countries have enjoyed a solid and enduring strategic alliance for 60 years, as well as a robust economic relationship. A visa for highly-skilled Korean professionals will further the goals of the landmark Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) and will directly benefit both the U.S. and Korean economies," said H.E. Choi Young-jin, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea. "Freer and increased trade in services is an essential component of the KORUS FTA, and a professional visa for Korea will facilitate trade and investment between our two countries. We welcome this proposal in the House, thank Reps. Roskam and Moran for their strong leadership, and look forward to working with Congress to complete this important initiative."
The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement passed Congress in 2011 and implementation began in March 2012. The FTA will increase access to the Korean market, providing job opportunities for highly-skilled workers in both countries.