Sat, Dec 01, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Law change to aid migrant spouses

By Mo Yan-chih and Loa Lok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Members of an immigrant rights action group celebrate the ratification of the Immigration Act outside the legislature in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

An amendment to the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法) passed the legislative floor yesterday prohibiting international marriage brokers from seeking profits. Under the new legislation, violators could face fines of up to NT$1 million (US$30,000).

Anti-discrimination and anti-domestic violence regulations were also added to the amendment, which stipulates that it is against the law to discriminate against people on the basis of nationality, race, skin color, social rank or place of birth.

Foreign spouses are allowed to apply for a restraint order if they have been the victim of domestic violence and will be able to stay in Taiwan temporarily if divorced, rather than being deported immediately.

Anybody violating the anti-discrimination and anti-domestic violence regulations will face fines of up to NT$30,000.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Shyu Jong-shyoung (徐中雄) and other legislators who proposed the amendment said the amendment gave immigrants living in Taiwan basic human rights.

The law also protects assembly and parade rights for immigrants.

Immigration agency charges will be regulated and immigration officers must review applications on short-term, temporary and permanent residency, according to the amendments.

Immigrants who were smuggled into Taiwan should be placed in temporary refuges with proper care before being deported, according to the amendments.

Meanwhile, in related news, some 80,000 immigrant spouses who have not yet been naturalized may benefit from a new policy announced by the Ministry of the Interior yesterday to allow more forms of financial proof during the citizenship application process.

Under the Nationality Law (國籍法), immigrant spouses seeking naturalization are required to submit proof that they have at least NT$414,720 -- the equivalent of twice the average annual salary based on the legal minimum wage -- in a savings account.

However, many immigrant groups protested that the requirement is discriminatory and unjust.

In response, the ministry has decided to "include more accepted forms of financial proof, and allow alternative ways to calculate the total amount," Deputy Minister Lin Mei-chu (林美珠) told a news conference yesterday.

In addition to financial proof based on savings, new forms of financial proof accepted include "verification of employment with the amount of salary and period of employment, movable properties with a total estimated value of more than 24 times the legal minimum [monthly] wage, real estate properties with a total estimated value of more than 24 times the legal minimum [monthly] wage, or a certificate of professional skills issued by the government," Lin said.

"Movable properties" include stocks, funds, government bonds, and insurances, while the value of real estate properties must be proved by submitting a real estate value assessment report by a certified real estate assessor or a receipt for land value tax, Lin said.

The financial proof may include values of properties under the names of an immigrant spouse's Taiwanese spouse, the Taiwanese spouse's parents, or the immigrant spouse's parents if registered as residents of Taiwan, she said.

A certificate of professional skill is also valid if it belongs to the immigrant spouse's Taiwanese spouse, parents, or parents of the Taiwanese spouse, if these people are willing to provide them with a financial guarantee, she said, adding that any document that can prove one's professional skills may be counted as a certificate of professional skills.

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