There is no doubt that Taiwan has made significant changes to its policies and laws to attract and retain foreign talent.
In the past year, there have been positive changes such as the approval of the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professional Talent (外國專業人才延攬及僱用法) in October last year. This act’s objective is to ease Taiwan’s regulations regarding visas, work permits, and other important aspects for foreign professionals and their families who wish to stay in Taiwan.
In November last year, there was also another significant change to Taiwanese immigration laws, which allows international students who have graduated from Taiwanese universities to extend their stay in the nation after graduation or at the end of their contract for up to one year — previously, they were only eligible for an extension of six months.
These changes are without a doubt a positive step in the right direction, but it is also necessary that Taiwan starts finding more effective ways to deliver this information to the international students in its universities and the companies that might be interested in hiring foreign talent, so that both parties know about these policies and make effective use of them.
The reason why this is so important is because most students are unaware of where to find this information and when they do find it, it can be quite complicated to understand for someone who has never gone through the work permit process.
A lot of recent graduates are unaware of what the options are for staying in Taiwan, or which documents they might need to have to do so.
Most of them also do not know that there are differences between the processes for foreign professionals coming to work in Taiwan from overseas, who are required to have a salary of above NT$47,971 to qualify for a work permit as well as an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC), and those who have obtained an academic degree in Taiwan, such as an undergraduate degree, master’s or doctorate, who can make use of the points system to obtain a work permit.
For the latter, a table is used in which different criteria — such as education level, work experience, salary and language, among others — are evaluated. A person must reach a minimum of 70 points to be able to obtain a work permit. Once that work permit has been processed, it can be used to obtain an ARC.
This lack of information not only affects international students who have graduated in Taiwan and wish to pursue professional opportunities in this beautiful nation, but it also discourages companies from recruiting the international talent that they need to expand their businesses and markets throughout the world.
In some cases, companies lack even the most basic information about how to apply for a work permit for foreign professionals and they often end up either too afraid to go through the process or asking their future foreign employees how to go about it.
Taking into consideration that there is a talent imbalance in Taiwan, caused by more Taiwanese graduates looking for employment opportunities abroad, it should be no surprise that the government is looking for ways to attract and retain foreign talent.
However, even if the policies and laws are being modified to allow this, the lack of knowledge and understanding about these laws and procedures will definitely limit their desired effect.
Taiwan understands how important multiculturalism is; evidence of this is the announcement by former premier William Lai (賴清德) of plans to make English Taiwan’s second official language. Further proof of this is the Ministry of Education’s plan to increase the number of hours English is taught starting from third grade, thereby increasing the need for English teachers who want to come to Taiwan and teach.
However, if Taiwan is serious about recruiting and retaining foreign graduates from Taiwanese universities, the government needs to improve their strategies to not only create the mechanisms for foreigners to stay and work, but also to educate them and their prospective employers about the procedures and benefits of doing so.
Juan Fernando Herrera Ramos is a Honduran lawyer and business development manager at XpandLatam Taiwan.
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