Saturday, January 23, 2010

Volunteering might officially be legal

I couldn't find any reports from the 2006 bust of a group of performers in Busan who were charged with illegally staging a volunteer performance.  Actually, they seemed to be charged with illegally volunteering as the performance was for a charity...I think.  it was well-covered in the k-blogosphere but not be me and now I cannot find any of those posts.  Here is what i quoted from the Korea Times:

Foreigners may face deportation or fines if they volunteer at orphanages or organize performances without reporting them to the authorities.

The interpretation came from Joo Jae-bong, an official at the Ministry of Justice. He said there should be no problem with joining a poetry club but that volunteer activites should be registered with the ministry.

``If it 's just a gathering of friends, there should be no problem,’’ he
said. ``But if they are organizing performances, they need to register to do
those things because they are changing the purpose of their stay here.’’

He said the same rule applies to those who wish to volunteer in an orphanage.

Foreigners need to register those activities with the ministry

some strange formatting there, at least in the editor.  If you can't read it here, follow the link, although there isn't much there.

Anyway, in Friday's Korea Herald, we are told that volunteering is legal, but if you are doing a long-term thing, the immigration office should be told.

According to the Immigration Control Law & Relevant Rules, Chapter 4, Article 20, "When a foreigner staying in Korea intends to engage in activities corresponding to a different status of stay in addition to those activities corresponding to his/her original status of stay, s/he shall obtain permission for activities beyond the current status of stay from the Minister of Justice in advance."
Though no part of the law specifically mentions volunteer work by expats, this clause - as well as rumors circulating in the expat community - has discouraged them from such activities in the past.

Baek said that he received advice from a government-run office that volunteering was discouraged, but eventually learned through Korea Immigration Service that it is legal. In fact, he was told Baek that teachers on work visas can not only volunteer, but even receive compensation for transportation and food expenses while volunteering.
"We found it astonishing," Baek said of the experience. "I was even more convinced that I needed to do something about it."
All this took place a year ago, and Baek said he believes that the government agencies that have advised teachers against volunteering no longer do so.
HOPE began its own activities in May 2008. Currently 27 foreign teachers and 20 Koreans are volunteering with the organization, and about 50 have worked with it since it began. Those who volunteer with HOPE sign a three-month contract to teach English to underprivileged children at places like welfare centers and childcare centers who don't have access to English education elsewhere.

HOPE sounds like a good organization to work for, if anyone is interested.

No comments: