Tag Archives: work

Some answers from the NIA (National Immigration Agency)

Okay… we (my wife and I) finally made it to the local immigration (NIA) office and asked a few questions that had been lingering:

 Taiwan_noFamilies1. Does the new regulation, which allows children of APRC holders to apply for a three year extension of their ARC after they turn 20 years old come with a work permit? What is the application process?

2. Foreign university students who graduate can apply for a six month extension of their student ARC in order to look for a job. As students they had a work permit. Can they continue to take part-time jobs until they find a regular employment?

3. How does one obtain a work permit for the employment category F (entertainment worker, performer)?

4. The government uses a list of universities to make decisions about work permits: http://www.fsedu.moe.gov.tw/index.php. Can all graduates from these universities apply for a work permit for teaching English in language schools?

5. If a person receives permanent residency rights (APRC) based on marriage what happens in case of divorce?

Only questions 1, 2 and 3 relate directly to our family’s situation so please excuse a possible lack of detail or accuracy concerning the other two.

We had more questions about issues including volunteer work, foreign children adopted by a Taiwan parent, people who don’t need a work permit etc. but there wasn’t enough time and we will follow that up by email.

 About the questions above:

 1. A new regulation allows children who grew up in Taiwan (as dependents of APRC holders) to apply for a three year extension of their ARC after they turn 20. Does this extension come with a work permit?

No – and this actually renders the entire change largely useless – but but first the relevant details:

Usually children are no longer considered dependents of their parents once they turn 20. That’s understandable. According to the old regulation at that age, on their 20th birthday, they used to lose their ARC and faced two options: leave the country for good or  start an activity commonly called ‘visa run’ – leave for a day, apply for a tourist visa in Hongkong, Macau etc. – anywhere outside Taiwan. They are granted a tourist visa for three months or so and can return. Then do it again for another three months or so. And so on and so on.

This activity is very popular among long-time tourists which somehow manage to make ends meet by breathing the air of Taiwan or have some cash on hand or money coming from abroad or… well, let’s keep the details hypothetical. People apparently have growned used to it and accepted the tri-monthly shopping trip to Hongkong as part of their way of life. Okay.

The situation is less acceptable for people who grew up here. Two of our own children, just one example of many others, came to Taiwan when they were 6 and 3 years old, respectively. (They are now 23 and 20.) Two more children – now 13 and 15 – were born in Taiwan. They went to local schools, speak the language perfectly – they think and feel Taiwanese more than anything else. They lack a few privileges that the Taiwanese have – the right to work, eligibility for certain government subsidies etc. – but that didn’t matter much to them while they were kids.

However, this changed as they grew up. Their classmates took part time jobs but if they did the same they’d break the law. They are not allowed to participate in national and international competitions. They are not eligible for government subsidies.

Once they grow up the denial of the right to work makes their stay essentially impossible. Even if I could bankroll their living expenses –  a carefree life off the parents’ money  is not a real option for a variety of reasons.

That’s why we suggested that once the head of the family obtains permanent residency rights (APRC) the same rights are granted to the rest of the family. That wouldn’t strain the national resource because the number of eligible individuals is not that large and not everybody who would be qualified would actually stay in the end. However, such change does not appear to be in the works. Yes, rumor has it that even parts of the government are dissatisfied with the current situation but there is no way of telling if anything is going to change in the foreseeable future. For now, the respective politicians have congratulated each other for the successful change of detail and are content with the continuing glacial speed of the government’s mills.

Our oldest son (20 in June) has decided to move to Germany – due in part to the lack of ways to support himself independent of his parents’ money bag. It’s certainly not the end of the world but if Taiwan would truly be interested in recruiting foreign talent – as it says it is – it would make more effort to accommodate the families involved.

And aside from the personal anecdotes: The application for the three year extension has to occur while the ARC is still valid. Once the ARC expires the opportunity ceases to exist. So, if someone has been on visa run (see above) because his 20th birthday fell into a time before the regulation change then he/she will not be eligible to apply even though he might be qualified in all other regards. Too bad.

This actually betrays a rather heavy-handed, reluctant approach to the entire issue of making life easier for people who are actually eligible if considering the ‘spirit of the law.’ We asked whether it is possible for a person who grew up here and fulfills all the other requirements to apply for an ARC even while on visa run but that doesn’t appear to be a clear-cut issue. We’ll follow that up in email but until further notice consider this a ‘No.’

2. Foreign university students who graduate can apply for a six month extension of their student ARC in order to look for a job. As students they had a work permit – can they continue to take part time jobs during the extension period until they find a regular employment?

No. The extension of the ARC does not go together with a work permit. You better save up enough money during your study – or have your parents wire some – to survive the job search.

Our daughter has been studying since she was 18. She has had her own student ARC since she turned 20. Plus a work permit since her second year of study. The work permit will expire when she graduates in June unless… well…  She could also apply for the above three year extension but it’s really the work permit that would add sense for an adult person to stay here.

And again:  the application for the extension has to occur while the ARC is still valid.

3. How does one obtain a work permit for the employment category F (entertainment worker, performer)?

This has to be done by the company that pays for the performance. The work permit is valid only for the individual occasion which may only last for a day or less.

4. The government uses a list of universities to make decisions about work permits. Can all graduates from these universities apply for a work permit for teaching English in language schools?

No. Teachers in ordinary language schools, including cram schools, must be native English speakers and prove that with a passport from an English speaking country. Universities, however, can make their own decision as to whether a person is qualified to teach a certain subject. So, at the university, an English instructor can be a native of any nation. It is in these cases that the government uses the above list in order to decide whether an applicant will receive a work permit or not.

5. If a person receives permanent residency rights (APRC) based on marriage what happens in case of divorce?

If you are married to a Taiwan citizen and have an ARC and a JFRV (Join Family Resident Visa) based on that – these become invalid in case of divorce. However, once you have an APRC you can stay and work permanently. So, the obvious step for everybody is to apply for permanent residency (APRC) as soon as possible – just in case things should not work out as planned (perish the thought.)

An APRC applicant based on employment has to prove that he receives at least twice the current official minimum pay in Taiwan. The minimum pay (base pay) currently lies just below 20,000 NTD. If applying for APRC based on marriage, however, the applicant only has to explain how he provides for the financial needs of the family – no minimum applies.

In any case, questions involving work permits are best addressed to the Workforce Development Agency in Taipei (02-2380 1729). Our contact at the NIA was so friendly to call on our behalf but had to face the comment that that was not really his business. (See, it’s additional work to answer questions to people who are not supposed to ask them.) He then called a friend in the ministry to get the answers. Thanks.

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Work in Taiwan – Don’t Bring Family

You want to move to Taiwan to take up a job?

Taiwan is indeed looking for foreign talent in a number of fields. So if you have a degree or several years of experience in a relevant field, are single, independent and a bit adventurous then that’s a step worth considering. You just need to find a company that is willing and able to hire you and you could be on your way to skin touch with Asia, real-time.

Taiwan is a pretty nice country to live in. It’s a safe place, cost of living is okay, people are nice, the climate is bearable most of the time, quite some nature is left in the mountainous center and at the east coast… not bad at all.

 You’ll receive a work permit and a temporary residency certificate (ARC) for the length of your contract. You will also be eligible to join the national health insurance.

 After 5 years of work you are eligible to apply for a permanent residency certificate (APRC) which comes with an open work permit – independent of a specific employer.

Good.

There are a few caveats, however. If you have family then the situation is less clear cut. Taiwan is interested in you and your skills. Your spouse and children – if you must bring them – will be tolerated with a smile.

To put it bluntly (just this one time):

Taiwan_noFamilies

Of course, in general things start out easy when you arrive and your kids are young. However, there are considerable differences in legal status between you and them and local Taiwanese.

  • Your spouse will not be allowed to work, not even part time – unless he/she goes through the ARC application process again, as an individual white collar worker, independent of marriage and family. There is no work permit for part time jobs.
  • Taiwan children can take up part time work once they turn 15. Your children will not have that right.
  • Foreigners – you and all members of your family – are not allowed to volunteer for any reason.
  • You cannot work in a job other than the one for which you received a permit.
  • Children of foreigners are barred from entering national competitions.
  • Foreigners are not allowed to engage in any activities other than those covered by their visa. For example, you can’t participate in rallies etc.
  • Your family’s legal status completely depends on you being alive and healthy. Should anything happen to you (perish the thought) they will have to leave the country fairly quick.
  • Once your children turn 20, they are no longer considered dependent on you and will have to apply for work and residency permits on their own – on the same terms as you had to when you first came.
  • Family or not – legally residing foreigners (even though paying taxes to the government) do not qualify for all government support and services that Taiwanese citizens enjoy.

The list is not necessarily exhaustive but it covers the main trouble areas. By breaking one of these rules your risk deportation.

Nothing changes for your family after you receive permanent residency rights. Your spouse will continue with his/her temporary permit which entirely depends on you. No work permit. Also not for the children, neither part nor full time. And if something happens to you, perish the thought, they have to get on a plane.

The point about children becoming legally independent (at age 20) is worth additional attention. There is a follow-up article on this topic so here I will be brief:

This situation may be in the distant future when you arrive in Taiwan. Kids go to kindergarten or school, your spouse is busy taking care of the family but life goes on and it takes no time at all for the kids to turn 15. Taiwanese children can now take up part time work. Not your children.

And once they turn twenty they are on their own, legally speaking. As a matter of speaking, if they decide to stay they will have the legal status of tourists and will have to engage in a (for many foreigners) common activity called ‘visa run’ – leave the country regularly and get another few month of legal stay – as tourists, without work permit or other privileges which your children had while they grew up.

There are some rudimentary attempts by the government to address these well know issues but until now they are mere window dressing.

Stay in touch. I will not hesitate to report any improvement of this situation.