The United States Department of State recently announced that 1,340 and 4,405 South Koreans immigrated to the United States with their EB-1 and EB-2 visas in 2018, respectively. In other words, about 1,500 highly educated South Koreans left their home country with their family members and headed for the United States in 2018 alone.
The EB-1 visa is given to professionals who can make a significant contribution to the United States. It has been given to Nobel Prize winners, internationally renowned professors, researchers and scientists, and top executives working for American or multinational companies.
The EB-2 visa is for highly educated persons, too. The National Interest Waiver (NIW), a subcategory of the visa, is for the State Department to issue immigration visas, even without local employers and labor certifications, based on its own determination on whether certain immigration candidates can be helpful for the national interest of the United States. Approximately 90 percent of South Korean EB-2 visa holders obtain the green card by using the NIW.
“The South Korean government has shown no particular interest in helping such persons grow and has overlooked their importance,” said Dankook University economics professor Kim Tae-ki, adding, “In terms of population percentage, human capital flight from South Korea to the United States is more extensive than those from China and India, which record the largest numbers of emigrants, and the flight from South Korea to China is adding to brain drain as well.”