Today, U.S. Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), and Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) introduced the Partner with Korea Act, bipartisan legislation that builds on the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) and encourages greater ties between American and Korean businesses. The introduction of this bill comes as South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol makes his first visit to the United States today.
The Partner with Korea Act would create an allotment of 15,000 E-4 highly skilled work visas for Korean nationals with specialized education and expertise, provided that potential employers can ensure the visa holders are not hired for positions that American workers could fill. Similar visa allotments were created following U.S. free trade agreements with other countries, including Australia and Singapore.
“South Korea is an essential ally and economic partner to the United States— generating hundreds of billions in trade value each year,” said Senator Mullin. “Our bipartisan bill will provide employment-based visas to highly skilled Korean nonimmigrants looking to bring their talents to the American economy. I’m confident our legislation will strengthen U.S. trade relations and support economic prosperity between the United States and South Korea for many years to come.”
“The United States’ partnership with South Korea is critical to both of our countries and economies,” said Senator Hirono. “Expanding the E nonimmigrant visa program will help further strengthen trade between our nations while increasing the number of qualified workers in the U.S. As we welcome President Yoon to Washington, I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan Partner with Korea Act with Senator Mullin and Representatives Connolly and Kim to help further strengthen our important bilateral relationship and economic cooperation.”
“South Korea is an essential American ally and, as our seventh largest trading partner, an indispensable source of opportunity for American businesses,” said Rep. Connolly. “The Partner with Korea Act will allow the U.S. to fully enjoy the economic benefits created by the KORUS FTA, further solidify the close relationship between our two countries, and ensure a free, open, and secure rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.”
“South Korea is one of our most important allies and is home to a highly skilled and diverse workforce that is essential to our nation’s continued economic success and national security, especially as we see rising threats in the Indo-Pacific,” said Rep. Kim. “As we mark 70 years of the US-ROK alliance, we should leverage the KORUS FTA to expand our relationship and benefit our countries’ shared priorities. I am proud to join forces with Rep. Gerry Connolly to do exactly that by introducing the bipartisan Partner with Korea Act. I’ll continue to work in Congress to help strengthen the U.S.-ROK relationship.”
The KORUS FTA passed Congress in 2011 and took effect in March of 2012. The Partner with Korea Act was previously introduced in the 113th, 114th, 115th, 116th, 117th Congresses.
Full text of the legislation is available here.