Mon, Oct 04, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Foreign spouses to become eligible for government aid

CNA , TAIPEI

Eligible foreign spouses of Taiwan nationals will be able to receive temporary subsidies aimed at helping them improve their lives, according to a draft plan of the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA).

Under the terms of the draft, foreign husbands and wives of Taiwanese from low-income families who have remained jobless for more than 12 weeks will be able to receive financial aid of up to NT$16,000 (US$470) from the council each month, for a maximum period of six months if they get work through public-run employment service agencies.

Employers who hire this type of job seeker through public-run job agencies will be given NT$5,000 per month in government subsidies, for a maximum period of one year.

To help foreign spouses set up their own small businesses in Taiwan, the CLA will also offer free career development consultation and low-interest loans, a CLA official said.

CLA statistics show that more than 100,000 foreign husbands and wives in Taiwan are qualified workers, but only about half of them, with an average age of 35 and a low level of education, are currently employed.

There are about 310,000 foreign spouses in Taiwan, with more than 200,000 from China (including Hong Kong and Macau) and 110,000 from countries in Southeast Asia.

The number is expected to rise to 400,000 -- a level to be on par with that of Taiwan's aboriginal citizens -- in two years at the current rate, experts said.

Last year, about 50,000 Taiwan nationals got married to foreigners, with 30,000 of them coming from China.

Since Taiwan lifted a ban on cross-Taiwan Strait travel in 1987, a large number of Chinese brides have entered Taiwan every year, creating an unprecedented immigration experience for Taiwan society, experts said.

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