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

The trickle of applications submitted successfully is discouraging, says Fahey. He worries that the gold cards will be a repeat of the Entrepreneur Visa announced in July 2015 at the height of the Silicon Valley startup boom.

The Entrepreneur Visa has been largely unpopular, with only 80 applications submitted and 70 visas issued through November of last year.

AMBIGUOUS INSTRUCTIONS

Complaints troubling the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professional Talent and the Employment Gold Card mostly concern the decentralized review process and ambiguous instructions.

Each profession’s corresponding government agency disseminates varying application requirements and information specific to their industry of interest, laid out in cumbersome and bureaucratic language on the act’s Web site and only partially on other government sites. The online application platform, meant to save applicants a trip to Taiwan, has been known to offer information inconsistent with the Web site.

According to Forward Taiwan, an actor who tried to apply for a Ministry of Culture gold card was prompted to prove that his most recent monthly salary was above NT$160,000 (US$5,255) which the Ministry of Culture has confirmed is not a requirement for their gold card. At the moment, it is only a prerequisite for lawyers and architects.

Tom Fifield, an IT professional currently in the application process for a Ministry of Science and Technology gold card, can see how some of the formatting issues some applicants have reported when uploading supporting documents may be due to security measures. While he expected to encounter rough edges as an early applicant, Fifield says he received swift and cooperative responses from government departments.

“The government here is incredibly accessible and can be very helpful, but when they have to put information down in writing, they start to get really nervous,” Fahey says. “They draft a bunch of regulations in Chinese, and when they put up these Web sites, they translate the rules into English directly from really precise bureaucratic language instead of organizing it and presenting it in a clear way people can understand.”

Fahey points to the MRT system’s successful bilingual program as proof that the government can convey its message when willing to invest the necessary resources to hire consultants.

Perhaps with outside expertise, the government can better advertise the Employment Gold Card’s biggest benefit for foreign professionals: its function as an “open-work” permit. With the gold card, holders can switch jobs freely, work part-time or for lower salaries at startups, for example, before its expiration and the government reviews the applicant’s qualifications again.

But at present, the government is sending a mixed message about their desire to attract foreign talent. No matter how irresistable the Employment Gold Card incentives, Taiwan cannot be a ‘dreamland’ until the communication woes are addressed.

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