The Embassy of the United States in Seoul suspends visa interviews indefinitely from March 19. South Korean companies are expressing some concerns although visiting the United States for up to 90 days for tourism or commercial purposes is still possible in accordance with the Visa Waiver Program.
The CEOs of large enterprises such as Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong and LG Group chairman Koo Kwang-mo may be blocked from entering the United States with the United States limiting ESTA-based visa-free entry in the case of those who visited North Korea last year. Still, the South Korean government explained that an emergency visa interview is available when an urgent visit is required.
According to major South Korean companies, the suspension is likely to have no immediate impact. Airlines are also anticipating no significant setback in that they already canceled many flights to the United States after the outbreak of COVID-19. Some companies that planned on resident employee replacement are saying that they can cope with the situation by delaying the replacement.
What they worry about is local marketing. “Although the situation can be dealt with in the short term by means of video conferences and the like, business strategies will be affected if the situation is prolonged,” said a local entrepreneur.