Migrant Wives Can Stay After Divorce

  • By Yang Eun-kyoung

    July 11, 2019 11:29

    The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of migrant wives of Korean men who want to stay here after divorcing their husband.

    The ruling comes amid outrage at the brutal beating of a Vietnamese woman by her Korean husband and speculation that she was afraid to divorce him in case she was kicked out of the country.

    But the Supreme Court ruled that foreigners who can prove that their Korean spouse is mainly to blame for their divorce should be granted an extension of their stay in Korea. Until now they were only granted an extension of stay after divorce when the Korean spouse was entirely at fault.

    The case was brought by a 23-year-old Vietnamese woman who married a Korean man in December 2015. But the couple started fighting shortly after tying the knot, and the Vietnamese woman filed for divorce, which was granted in January 2017.

    She applied for an extension of her visa here in May that year, but the Korea Immigration Service rejected her application, reasoning that she came to Korea for marriage and was now no longer entitled to reside here. She took the agency to court but lost at first and second instance.

    Foreigners who enter Korea on an F-6 marriage visa are entitled to an extension only if the spouse dies or the spouse is to blame for the divorce. But the plaintiff told the court that she was forced to work at a convenient store owned by her mother-in-law even though she had a miscarriage in the early stage of pregnancy.

    "I had a miscarriage and told my husband that I no longer wanted to work in the store," she told the court. "He then kicked me out of the house."

    The lower courts accepted that the husband was primarily at fault in the divorce but said this was not sufficient cause to extend her visa. Now the Supreme Court has overturned the ruling, more battered foreign wives may feel encouraged to divorce their abusers.

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