12 June 2011

Immigration, Policy notions

In the 20th century, communication and transport technology reached levels unseen in human history.  One result has been that the movement of peoples, over huge distances, has also reached levels unseen in human history.

But not everywhere.

Western policy-makers faced with an unhappy populace demanding stricter controls might be glad to know that such models needn't necessarily be invented from scratch. Some of our neighbors to the East have been, shall we say, less inclined than us to lift their lamp beside the golden door.  Tour d'horizon:

(all emphasis ours)

South Korea:

Under the employment permit scheme, qualified Korean employers (those with less than 300 employees in the areas of manufacturing, construction, and service are given priority) can enter into employment contracts with foreign workers who should be in good health and under the age of 40.

Employers who wish to employ unskilled foreign labor must first demonstrate that they have spent at least one month attempting to find Korean workers by requesting help from public employment centers.

These workers come to South Korea through government-to-government agreements.

After the maximum three-year employment period, foreign workers have to leave South Korea and stay outside the country for a one-year period before they are allowed to return for another three-year period. Family members of foreign workers are not allowed to enter, a restriction purposely designed to dissuade foreign workers from permanently settling in South Korea.

The easiest way for a person to acquire Korean citizenship is by having a Korean spouse or having at least one parent who is a Korean citizen. The number of people naturalizing each year has been rapidly increasing,... to 5,985 in 2003. [total pop: 49 million]

In addition, the number of people acquiring South Korean nationality because they have a Korean parent is also increasing,... They are entitled to citizenship only if they can show proper documents proving one of their parents was a Korean citizen.

For people with no family ties to Korea, it is still possible to become a citizen, but the path is difficult and few foreigners have chosen to pursue it.  The authorities may require five years of residence, proficiency in the Korean language, and understanding of Korean culture and history. Foreigners must pass an interview that tests their language proficiency as well as a written test on culture, history, and customs.  Only 291 such foreigners received Korean citizenship in 2003.  [total pop: 49 million]


Access to citizenship is limited to foreigners who are at least 21 and have been Permanent Residents for at least two to six years immediately prior to the date of application... Citizenship applicants must also be "of good character," intend to reside permanently in Singapore, and be able to support themselves and their dependents financially. Nearly 13,000 people became citizens in 2005. [total pop: 5 million]

Because the government believes too much permanent, low-skilled migration is disruptive to society, its immigration policy since the 1970s ensures that unskilled and low-skilled migrants remain a transient workforce, subject to repatriation during periods of economic downturn.

Work-permit holders are not allowed to bring their spouses and children with them (see Table 4). They are only allowed to work for the employer and in the occupation as reflected in the work permit. The termination of employment also results in the immediate termination of the work permit, and the worker must leave Singapore within seven days.

In addition, they may not marry Singaporeans or PRs, and they are subject to a regular medical examination that includes a general physical check-up, a chest x-ray, and a test for HIV/AIDS. Female work-permit holders (meaning foreign domestic workers) who, through the medical-screening process, are found to be pregnant are subject to repatriation without exception.

The number of work-permit holders that employers are allowed is also subject to a dependency ceiling, which is tied to the number of local workers the company employs. The percentage of foreign workers allowed per company varies according to sector and type of permit, and can range from 10 to 80 percent.

The other key measure, the monthly foreign-worker levy, can range from S$50 (US$32) to S$470 (US$298), varying according to economic sector, worker skill level, and periodic adjustments with shifts in economic performance.


The Immigration Control Law, originally enacted in 1952 ... from its inception was not designed to encourage migrants to settle in the country. Nor did the nationality law facilitate the acquisition of Japanese nationality by resident foreigners... The concept of foreign residents as members of society was quite weak.

A "long-term resident" can be a Japanese relative, a child of Japanese descent, or the child of a foreign-national spouse from a previous marriage. Such individuals may stay in the country for a designated length of time (three years, one year, or less than one year as may be specified by the Minister of Justice).

The overall trend toward the settlement of newcomer immigrants is also indicated by the rise in the annual number of permanent resident authorizations,... to 48,000 in 2004. [total pop: 130 million]

Japan continues to be relatively closed to asylum seekers. The number of applicants has also been very small. Between 1982 and 2004, there were 3,544 applications; only 330 of them were approved.  [total pop: 130 million]
Naturalization:  Foreigners, who have resided in Japan for at least five consecutive years (less if married to a Japanese national), have shown good conduct, have never plotted against the Japanese government, have sufficient assets or ability to make an independent living and are willing to renounce any other citizenship held, can be granted Japanese citizenship.

Food for thought.

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