Category Archives: family

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.

Falling through the cracks

‘Falling through the cracks’ is the title of a recent article in The Taipei Times about that age-old, yet still unresolved situation involving the families of foreign professionals in Taiwan. For those who don’t know it yet: if you come to Taiwan as a white collar worker, usually with a work permit for a job in the technical sector or as a teacher, then you can apply for permanent residence after five years of continuous employment. You then have much more flexibility to chose your employer and don’t need to apply for a residency card ever again. However, your spouse and children remain on temporary residency permits, which depend on yours and nobody in your family is allowed to work, not even part time, forever. In conjunction with some other related quirks this leads over time to all kind of situations that are far less than ideal.

In the past, articles about the issue focused almost entirely on my family, creating the impression that this was a unique case. That’s far from the truth. This article finally looks into the situation of a number of families with a focus – very important – on the ‘children’ of foreign professionals who by now have become adults. Some of them came to Taiwan as children and grew up here. Others are born in Taiwan. All of them, however, essentially remain ‘tourists on steroids,’ half-integrated into the society – for example they can attend school – but falling through the cracks in many other areas.

The government is fully aware of the situation but all the regulations that have been passed until now didn’t help at all. The main problem is that the family members are still not to allowed to work at all, no part-time jobs, no internships, nothing – even after 20 years of being here. Following a letter I wrote to The Taipei Times some time ago quite a number of articles have appeared also in Chinese language newspapers. As a result the government is talking about it again but if the past is any indication – and it usually is – there is no guarantee that a real solution will emerge anytime soon. A proposal is being discussed by the government but the changes that could actually help are still restricted to PLUM card holders – those with a Nobel Prize or something similar. So those ordinary, hard-working individuals with a family who can’t show documented proof of truly remarkable, outstanding, out-of-this-world, heroic accomplishments that benefit Taiwan better keep their hopes where they are now, meaning: not too high.

In closing: If you still haven’t heard enough about my family click here to read “Thanks but no thanks” – my letter that triggered the recent flurry of articles. And click here if you want to watch an eight minute video where I explain our family’s situation. I was invited to a press conference in congress but couldn’t make it so I shot the video. For what it’s worth: it actually had quite a positive impact – so I have been told by people who attended. On that same press conference they also showed a video which I shot two years ago explaining the situation in the words of two of the adult children. Click here to watch that one.

And thanks to all those here in Taiwan who were willing to talk to journalists. That really mattered.