What is EPS Korea?

Employment Permit System

Employment Permit System (EPS) is a temporary migration scheme for lower-skilled professions introduced by the Korean Government in 2004.

All the migrant workers (lower-skilled) bound for Korea go through the EPS and are granted the legal status of worker–which means they will benefit from the national labor laws, regulations and protections to which Korean workers are entitled.

The EPS is built on government-to-government bilateral agreements between the Government of Korea and the government of the selected origin countries. These agreements specify that the recruitment, selection and placement of workers under the scheme would be managed entirely by the government ministries in charge of labor migration or entities affiliated with the relevant ministry of the two countries.

The Korean Government has signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with 15 countries with the framework of the EPS. They are Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam and Uzbekistan. Nepal and Korea reached the agreement to recruit Nepali workers under the Employment Permit System (EPS) in 2007.


Each year, the Korean government issues quotas on the number of migrant workers that will be accepted from each of the 15 EPS sending countries and for each sector (manufacturing, construction, agriculture, services and fisheries).

After the quotas are decided and issued, the governments of the sending countries organize the application process for candidate EPS workers whilst the Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) handles the application process for eligible Korean employers.

In Nepal, the EPS program is handled by the EPS Korea Section, located in Gwarkho, Lalitpur here.

The testing and the processing of the test results take place in the sending countries under the control of that country’s labor migration authorities.

The governments of the origin countries then make a roster of candidates who have met all the requirements for employment in Korea. The list is then sent to MOEL.

Access to the rosters (list) is only granted by the Korean authorities to employers or companies in Korea that have received the employment permit from which the entire system derives its name.

The local public employment service agencies in Korea then administer and collect applications for the employment permit from eligible Korean employers and small businesses before forwarding them to the MOEL. The MOEL will then process the applications, make the final decisions and issue the employment permits to the selected employers.


All potential migrant workers are required to pass the Korean language proficiency test (TOPIK), also called EPS-TOPIK to become eligible for the EPS. They are also required to pass skills and competency test, which is the second phase test, to be enlisted in the roster. It is to be noted that the skill and competency test is required in only some EPS sending countries including Nepal.

The Korean Government introduced the skill and competency test in Nepal in 2019. Only the job seekers from Nepal who pass both language proficiency test and skill test will be included in the roster.

Also, a migrant worker should meet the following criteria to become a beneficiary of the EPS system.

Should be aged between 18 and 39.
Should have no record of previous illegal stay in Korea.
Should have passed medical check-ups.
Should not be restricted for departure from home country.
Should have no criminal record.

As of 2019, the Korean Government has recruited a total of 63, 538 Nepali workers in various sectors so far, according to ESP Korea Section, Gwarkho. Of them, 59, 743 are male workers and 3, 795 are female workers.

See the number of Nepali migrant workers (both male and female) sent to Korea since the signing of MoU in the table below:

Number of Nepalis sent to Korea under ESP System
Number of Nepali migrant workers sent to Korea under Employment Permit System, Source: EPS Korea Section, Gwarkho

The Korean Government is recruiting 4,700 Nepali migrant workers for the manufacturing and 2,000 for the agriculture and livestock sector for 2020. Of the total of 92,376 migrant workers who had registered for the EPS-TOPIK (Korean language) test this year (2019); only 84,308 had attended the test. Of them, 12,009 (9,133 candidates for the manufacturing sector and 2,876 for the agriculture and livestock sector) has passed the language proficiency test.

The second round of test, skills and competency test, for the 12,009 aspirants workers who passed the EPS-TOPIK (Korean language proficiency test) will be held from November 20 to December 5 (Mangshir 4 to Mangshir 19).

The South Korean government has set a basic monthly salary of 1,236,000 won (around $1,075) for Nepali workers.

Related Coverage:

Schedules for Skills and Competency test for selected EPS workers published (With notice and registration form)

Second round skill and competency test for EPS workers to be held from Nov 20 to Dec 5 (With notice)

EPS-TOPIK (Korean Language) test result for 2020 published (With full name list)

Name list of applicants of the second phase of Special EPS-TOPIK exam (CBT only)

Test date and time of second CBT examination 2019 published (With Test date, time and venue)

Govt plans to start counseling sessions for migrants going to South Korea as suicide trend rises

If you have any inquiries about the EPS, you can contact the ESP Korea Section, Gwarkho here or contact 01-5186350.


More than five lakh Nepalis go abroad seeking foreign employment every year, according to a report recently released by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The number of Nepali migrant workers going abroad surged from 3,605 in the fiscal year 1993/94 (2050/51 BS) to 5, 19,638 in the fiscal year 2013/14 (2070/71 BS). Till mid-June 2019 (2076 Jestha 30), the Government of Nepal has issued work permit to a total of 45, 99,567 Nepali migrant workers, the report states. Of them, 2, 18,273 are women.

Gulf countries (the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait), Malaysia and South Korea are the most favored destinations for Nepali workers. Of the total, 96 percent have gone to work in Gulf Countries and Malaysia while remaining 4 percent to other countries.

Only 1 percent of the migrant workers are well-qualified, according to the NHRC report. 14 percent are qualified, 12 percent are semi-qualified and 74 percent are not qualified.

90 percent of the migrant workers went to work in foreign countries through manpower companies and 10 percent via personal work permit.

Nepal government has banned Nepali migrant workers from working in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. The government allows work permit to the following countries only (see the table below):

Countries the government of Nepal have work permit

By Dil Kumar Ale Magar