Legal status of foreign families in Taiwan just got better

For the record: On February 8, 2018 a new law applying to the status of foreign white collar workers and their families has been enacted. That’s a good thing. It appears to be a fundamentally different framework that needs some fine-tuning but in any case it is real progress in a way that we don’t normally encounter in Taiwan – or elsewhere in politics, for that matter.

A grain of salt, that will hopefully dissolve soon, is that hardly anybody knows exactly what effects it will have on real-existing individuals, not exactly. Such lack of understanding can also be observed in offices of the immigration agency. I will take some time until we really know what we got.

We went to our local immigration agency in Gangshan (near Kaohsiung) on Monday last week. Due to our at times intense involvement in the immigration regulations we are on very friendly terms with the employees. As it happened they knew about our coming because a newspaper had interviewed our son and he had told them we’ll be there.

They were as informed as can be, I guess and this is what we were told:

Minor Children of APRC holders
Because I have an APRC our two minor children (< 20 years of age) can also apply for an APRC. That APRC comes with a work permit which will allow them to work anywhere, full time or part time. However, it still depends on my APRC and should that become invalid so will theirs. Clearly, there is some more work required. Apparently the focus is still on recruiting and retaining foreign talent (like me.) Their dependents are a mere afterthought for the decision makers, at this time.

Spouses of APRC holders
The same would apply for my wife. She could get an APRC based on mine. Gladly, she has an APRC independent from mine because she has been working for a qualifying company for over a year. (For spouses of APRC holder one year of full time work was required until now.)

In case of my timely or untimely demise, for example, they all might be out in the cold. Of course, there is no case like that at the moment and it’s a bridge that will have to be crossed when the need arises. Hopefully much earlier. What will be required for our children to get their own, independent APRC nobody knew for sure. Will it be 5 years of white collar work for a salary at or above double minimum wage? Will it be one year – as it applied only to spouses until now? Does it have to be white collar work?

Adult Children of APRC holders
Our two adult children (>20 years of age) do not qualify for an APRC but they will receive the same work permit as our two minor children when they are in the country. That also applies in cases where the ARC lapsed – as is the case for our oldest son who left the country a few years ago to study in Germany and before the ‘Krystyna Jensen Act’  (sic!) was created. When he then turned 20 he lost his ARC.

The ‘Krystyna Jensen Act’ then allowed dependents of APRC holders to extend their dependent ARC for three years, twice, until a maximum age of 26. As that extended ARC (not APRC) did not come with a work permit it essentially extended their legal dependency well into adult age. For all practical purposes that act should now be obsolete.

This is what we were told by the Gangshan immigration officials last Monday. We applied for APRCs for our two minor children and the paperwork is now in Taipei for approval. Only when it comes back will we know what we really got.

More later.

Obviously, many questions remain at this moment but the new law represents real progress, a fundamental change. There’s reason to hope that the flaws will be worked out or clarified.

The realisation that people born and raised in this country or who were brought here legally as children should receive a right of their own to stay and work here still requires some time to develop.

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