A not-so-dreamy process - Taipei Times
Thu, Jul 12, 2018 - Page 13 News List

A not-so-dreamy process

The Employment Gold Card’s slow start points to recurring issues such as communication barriers and ambiguous instructions

By Julianna Lai  /  Contributing reporter

Premier William Lai, left, presents the first ever Employment Gold Card to YouTube cofounder Steve Chen in March.

Photo courtesy of Executive Yuan

The National Immigration Agency (NIA) claims on its Web site that the new Employment Gold Card (就業金卡) makes Taiwan a “Dream Land for High-end Talents.”

Launched in February with the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professional Talent (外國專業人才延攬及僱用法), the four-in-one gold card consists of a resident visa, an alien resident certificate, a re-entry permit and a work permit that allows foreign workers to transition between jobs without their employer’s consent. It also includes other benefits such as tax breaks and residence permits for family members.

However, foreign professionals wishing to work in Taiwan have found the application process more nightmarish than dreamy.

Michael Fahey, a legal consultant and a policy adviser to Forward Taiwan, an advocacy organization that lobbies to reform Taiwanese immigration, residence, citizenship and employment laws to help Taiwan meet its demographic and economic challenges, says that language and communication barriers continue to plague foreigners looking to find work and permanent residency in Taiwan.

“The truth is, if someone was sitting in San Francisco and had no connection to Taiwan, they would never be able to come here without going through an adviser the way things stand now,” Fahey says. “Partly, there’s not enough pull with salary and opportunity, which has always been a problem, but there’s also the issue of communication and misunderstanding.”

CHAOTIC START

While phoning several agency contacts listed on the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professional Talent’s Web site, both Fahey and the Taipei Times found that several employees who answered spoke little to no English.

The act, which is meant to attract overseas talent in several highly-skilled labor sectors such as science, technology and economics, has shown few indications that its revised tax, insurance and retirement benefits and the highly touted Employment Gold Card have strengthened Taiwan’s competitive edge in the international labor market.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Labor, 37 foreigners had received gold cards through the end of May. Just three freelance artists had applied for the act’s new independent artist work permits.

The National Development Council plans to release the most recent official application numbers later this month.

Twenty-one gold cards were issued in May, a possible sign that applications will start to pick up now that the NIA and the various agencies involved in reviewing the applications have begun to smooth out their procedures. But the act’s chaotic start follows a familiar pattern of legislation passed hastily without proper consideration of the user experience.

WEB SITE WOES

Longtime educator Terry Waltz considers Taiwan “a second home” and has taught language and interpreting at National Taiwan University, Taipei Medical University and several other institutions in Taiwan. Waltz holds a Ph.D in Foreign Language Education from the University of Texas at Austin, making her eligible for an Employment Gold Card through the Ministry of Education.

“I’m very happy to see this new program offered,” Waltz says. “I’d love to get on board with it. I just don’t know if it will be possible because of limitations on the Web site.”

One section of the application asks Waltz to list her previous employment experience in Taiwan, but does not allow dates earlier than 2008. Waltz’s last employment visa was from the late 1990s.

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