Monthly Archives: November 2016

ECC Taipei about Taiwan Immigration

In addition to the issues mentioned in today’s other post, the most recent ‘Better Living’ position paper of the European Chamber of Commerce Taipei sheds light on some other bleak aspects of Taiwan’s legal environment of expatriates:

1. An annoying situation involving identity numbers (national Taiwan ID versus ARC/APRC ID) is still unresolved:

“The fact that ROC national ID cards and Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) cards have different number formats continues to exclude ARC/APRC holders from many services available to national ID holders.”

Entering your ARC number into online forms often leads to an entry error message (‘invalid number.’) This annoying feature excludes you from a wide range of services offered to Taiwanese, including the possibility go sell things online even though you have the legal right to do so. It doesn’t help having an employee of a company you want to deal with enter your info as he or she will fail just like you. The fact that you are legally entitled to use the service makes no difference. Popular workaround: use a Taiwan friend’s ID number or a fake one. Nobody will notice because nobody cares.

I heard from an informed source that the government has three excuses for not doing away with the different formats:

  • Some countries that give Taiwanese citizens visa-exempt entry voice objections   (???)
  •  Unified ARC/ID numbers would cause confusion about who is a citizen and who is a resident (??? Isn’t the term ‘ARC’ on the ID card sufficient to prevent such confusion???)
  • Unified ARC/ID numbers would negatively impact the rights and interests of Taiwanese citizens who have household registration in Taiwan. (Er…???)


2. Newborns still not covered by national health insurance (NHI)

Recently the news media reported about a few cases where complications arose during or after birth in Taiwan hospitals and the foreign parents only then found out that newborns have to wait for six months before they are covered by the national health insurance policy of their parents.

An explanation used frequently here: this applies to all ‘new arrivals.’ Not to those born to Taiwanese parents though. The reason for this appears obvious: Taiwan government trying to avoid expenses arising during that risky time period of birth. Let’s face it – getting born is risky. Try to avoid doing it in Taiwan and if you can’t then purchase separate insurance.

Just out of interest: What’s the new arrival’s country of origin?


3. Foreign professionals still second class citizens for travel insurers

“This is a new issue. … Currently, travel insurance policies are readily available, but the levels of coverage offered to foreign residents are significantly lower than those available to Taiwanese nationals. There is no justification for different levels of coverage, based on nationality.” Right, but there is an explanation: money matters more than anything else and let’s face it – who are you going to complain to?


4. Senior citizen discount on high speed rail tickets: Not For Foreigners

Another signal of ‘foreigners not welcome here.’ The argument probably is that you just moved here after retirement, haven’t paid taxes in Taiwan and just want to get something for nothing. It makes no difference, though, if you have worked all your life here in Taiwan. It’s an entirely unnecessary nuisance as the financial loss for the railways is negligible – other than the damage to goodwill. But let’s face it: money matters more than anything.


5. APRC not really permanent

I am personally not sure what the regulations are in other countries. It Taiwan it is currently like this: You have to reside inside the country for 183 days or more during a calendar year (January 1 to December 31.) When you travel internationally then your day of departure counts toward those days but your day of return does not.

You can stay away for up to two years if you have an important enough reason but you have to notify the National Immigration Agency (NIA) prior to your departure.

If your job requires you to travel a lot you’re just out of luck if you don’t accumulate 183 days in a year. Back to square one in terms of ARC and even APRC

Click here to find the entire ECCT paper (in English and Chinese.)


News But No News (about Taiwan immigration)

Update on recurring immigration-related awakenings

I hope to avoid the impression that I use this blog only to lament the government’s dance around square one in relation to immigration reform. So please also pay attention to other posts, including some poems  – which I hope to get translated into Chinese one of these days.

About those notorious immigration issues: a lot of talk (and some activity) occurred recently in the wake of my letter to The Taipei Times and especially of a shorter version which was published in Chinese language in United Daily News. Follow-up articles were written, other families’ cases have appeared in newspapers, more research is being done – so they assure me.

In government circles especially my family’s case is being tossed around in discussions. One lawmaker recently used the term ‘ridiculous’ in relation to the fact that these kinds of cases still haven’t been resolved after er… more than a decade at least.

For those who only read this article and will go no further: I came with my family to Taiwan in 1998 as a software developer, worked for a number of companies in the IT business, changed careers twice and am still moving on. I received permanent residency rights in 2006 but my family remains on temporary visas without the right to do much more than shopping – but we have health insurance, the kids go to or by now graduated from school or university. However, while I now enjoy permanent residency rights (APRC) and can choose my work freely my wife and kids remain visitors on steroids without the right to work, not even part time. For more details and why this is wrong you’d really have to go and read that other article now.

There is no doubt that the implications, in all detail, are increasingly well understood within the government – ruling and opposition parties alike. That is certainly encouraging. Still, the fact that terms like ‘high-level foreigners’ keep appearing in official and unofficial notes leads me to conclude that (for now) fundamental changes are NOT in the pipeline. High-level foreigners, those that invest 10 million NT or more, or others with relevant, high-level contributions to Taiwan (a Nobel Prize in a technical field helps a lot) already find their applications fast-tracked for approval – keyword ‘Plum Blossom Card.’

However, you who read this likely won’t belong to the ‘high-level’ category. You probably have a university degree or two or a few years of work experience (proof in writing please) outside Taiwan.  You consider moving here to do a decent, down to earth job working hard to provide for your family, pay taxes, keep the laws. That doesn’t make you ‘high-level’ though but rather what… a ‘middle-level’ or ‘low-level’ professional? Something like that. So if you want to bring your family and stay for longer – this kind of decision tends to sneak up on you once you are here for a few years – you will still have only a choice between a) panhandle in front of the legislature and immigration agency or b) get on with your life and make the best of what you got (recommended.) There’s a c: hope for the best, always a good thing.

Time is up.

Please read some of the poems now.

Or the short piece by Franz Kafka: “Before the Law.”




(And no, we’re not taking orders for buttons and T-shirts with this beautiful logo. It’s here just so that Facebook et. al. can pull a picture from the article.)