Seoul to offer disaster relief funds to foreign residents

The government of Seoul said Wednesday it has decided to include foreign residents in its disaster relief payout scheme linked to the coronavirus outbreak.


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In March, the Seoul Metropolitan Government extended 542.3 billion won ($457 million) in emergency disaster relief funds to 1.6 million households earning less than the capital’s median income to help them cope with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. At that time, almost all foreign residents, excluding marriage immigrants and refugees, were excluded from the one-time cash payout program.

In June, however, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea advised the Seoul government to include foreign residents among the beneficiaries of its disaster relief funds, saying foreigners were discriminated against despite also being hit hard by COVID-19.

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The municipal government said all foreign residents that meet certain criteria and have household incomes smaller than the median income can apply for the disaster relief funds, beginning Aug. 31.

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In order to be eligible, the head of the household must have one of the visas that permit employment and profit-making activities and have been registered as living in Seoul for more than 90 days since reporting alien registration as of Aug. 27. Those who have student and general trading visas and work restricted jobs won’t be eligible, it noted.

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The total income before tax of household members should be lower than the median income. The median income differs by family size ― 1.76 million won per month for a one-person household, 2.99 million won for a two-person household, 3.87 million won for a three-person household, 4.75 million won for a four-person household, 5.63 million won for a five-person household, 6.51 million won for a six-person household and 7.39 million won for a seven-member household.

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Households with two or fewer members are paid 300,000 won, those with three to four members 400,000 won, and those with five or more members 500,000 won, the government said. The relief money will be paid by prepaid cards that are valid through Dec. 15, it added. Online applications can be made from Aug. 31 to Sept. 25 at a Seoul government website (http://fds.seoul.go.kr), or at 40 designated places, including the Seoul Global Center and the Seoul Counseling Center for Migrant Women.

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On-site applications can proceed from Sept. 14-25 at ward offices throughout Seoul. The online and on-site application services can be used only on designated days for each individual, depending on the last digit of one’s birth year. For instance, people whose birth year ends in 1 or 6 can apply on Mondays and in 5 or 0 on Fridays. The five-day rotation system doesn’t apply on weekends.

There are now an estimated 95,000 foreign households in Seoul, according to official data. (Yonhap)

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