Category Archives: work

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.”

Thanks.

 

 

Taiwan_noFamilies
(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.)

 

 

謝謝,不過於事無補

Taiwan_noFamilies(English version published in English in The Taipei Times of October 17, 2016)
(Another, shorter version was published in the United Daily News of November 3, 2016)

最近幾篇新聞報導[1]指出,台灣移民署認為有必要說明,在台外籍專業人士的子女年滿20歲後,如果想延展其居留在台灣的時間,是有辦法辦到的。事實上,雖然確實是有這個辦法沒錯,但是因為有其他必須要符合的法令,根本讓這個辦法一點用處也沒有。這個延展居留的辦法,對於應該要因此獲益的外籍人才,根本沒什麼助益。

我是一個軟體研發工程師,在1998年來台灣工作。因此,我算是台灣政府為了促進台灣經濟及增加競爭力,而積極想吸引來台的外籍人才。我在2006年取得外僑永久居留證。

然而,我的家人並未獲得相同的權益,我的妻子和即使依據國際標準已經算是成年人了的子女(其中兩個在台灣出生),還是只能持續地依賴我過生活。

我的永久居留權伴隨著開放式的工作證,讓我得以從事任何合法工作,而且對於薪資及雇主都沒有任何限制;然而我的家人卻均不被許可工作,連兼職也不行,除非他們個人符合限制相當嚴格的工作證法令。長久下來,問題就會浮現,而許多外籍人才都面臨同樣的問題。

我有兩個孩子已經離開台灣了,即便他們深愛這個國家,並認同這個國家。另外的兩個兒子則是在台灣出生,目前仍然住在這裡,未來他們將會遇到相同而且更悽慘的情況。請你想像一個小孩,一個土生土長的「台灣人」,他在台灣長大,中文流利——甚至比其他任何語言都還要流利——而且對於他父母的母國一點情感基礎都沒有,但台灣政府依舊認為那個地方(他父母的國家)才是他的「母國」。隨著他日漸成長,完全融入他的學校同學和台灣朋友的環境中,但在他滿16歲後,卻不能像他的朋友一樣打工兼差。我們的女兒曾無法參與全國競賽,因為當時參與國家競賽需要持有台灣身份證,而只有台灣人才能持有台灣身份證。就讀職業學校的話還會出現其他問題,因為職業學校所傳授的職業類別,都不是外籍人士能取得工作許可的行業,因此他能就讀的科系可能很少;另外,職業學校學生都會到與學校合作的公司行號兼差實習,這種建教合作的機制是相當普遍的,然而對外籍學生而言,他卻無法跟他的台灣籍同學有相等兼差實習的機會,因為那些實習內容的工作項目,可能並未開放給外國人,因此提供實習機會的企業可能不會選擇一個未來無法取得工作許可的外國學生,予以培養實習的機會。台灣政府對於學費的補助,並不適用在外籍人士的子女上,即便他們的父母跟台灣人繳一樣的稅。這種情形經常導致他們的教育成本比台灣籍學生高了三倍。
起初,外籍專業人士的子女一旦滿20歲就必須離開台灣,即便他們在台灣出生長大,基本上他們除了護照和膚色外,根本就是個徹頭徹尾的台灣人了。經過多方討論後,台灣政府通過一條規定,讓這些人可以延展他們的居留期限至多六年。如果他們符合條件,就可以申請延展他們的依親外籍外僑居留證三年,至多兩次。然而,依親居留證仍然只是依親居留證,並沒有工作的權利,除非他們能夠符合限制嚴格的條件,才能聲請到工作許可;因此接下來六年的時間,他們可能就必須繼續靠父母的收入過活,不可能自己賺錢生活。

一個20歲的人已經是成年人了,甚至是依台灣標準也是如此。而政府所提供的解決方案,居然就是把基於年幼而自然產生的依親關係,轉換成一種虛假不自然且拘泥於法規的「成年人依親關係」,對於一個成熟長大的人來說,一點意義都沒有。

實際上,為了享受這種一點都不大方的恩惠,而向政府提出申請的人數相當稀少,這種情況一點也不令人意外。其中一個申請人就是我們的女兒雷堤娜,她取得了居留延展,不過整天無事做,花父母的錢,或者是違法工作,都不是她的理想人生,因此,她現在搬到另一個國家了,獲得了一份全職工作。我們的長子,早在居留延展規定修訂之前,就搬到德國念大學了,主要的原因就是他覺得在當時這種法律制度下,自己在台灣不可能有任何發展。我們的兒子和女兒都說,他們在國外待得愈久,就愈覺得自己像台灣人。許多其他面臨相同處境的人也有同樣的感覺。

我想提醒各位注意的是,問題並不在移民署或移民警察身上。我們跟地方移民官員的關係相當良好,他們還到處奔走協助我們,讓我們更容易辦理相關手續。我敢說其他外籍專業人士也有類似的經歷。最主要的障礙顯然還是勞動部,他們反對修法給予我的家人開放性的工作許可。

最簡單的解決方法,就是當一家人中的主要申請人取得永久居留權後,就授予全家人永久居留權。幾乎所有已開發國家都是這麼做,包括我的母國德國也是。這種改變並不會造成很多問題,因為規模相當有限。不管政府最後採取何種吸引外籍人才的措施,對於其想積極參與的國際社會,都不該端出比其他國家更小塊的牛肉。


 

[1]聯合報 2016-10-11 楊家駿闢謠 依雷堤娜條款外籍未成年子女可續留台; 台北時報2016-10-11 “Ministry clarifies rules for children of foreigners”.