Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday vowed to push for an amendment to abolish all financial requirements for foreign spouses seeking naturalization.
"[Couples in] international marriages have existing structural problems such as language and customs to tackle," Ma said when receiving immigrant rights activists at his campaign office yesterday afternoon.
"The requirement of financial proof [upon seeking naturalization] only constitutes another obstacle for them," he said.
Under the Nationality Law (國籍法), immigrant spouses seeking naturalization are required to submit proof that they have at least NT$414,720 (US$13,000) -- the equivalent of twice the average annual salary based on the legal minimum wage -- in a savings account.
In response to protests from foreign spouses against the regulation, the Ministry of the Interior said last Friday it would "include more accepted forms of financial proof and allow alternative ways to calculate the total amount."
In addition to financial proof based on savings, new forms will include "verification of employment with the salary and period of employment, movable properties with a total estimated value of more than 24 times the legal minimum [monthly] wage, real estate property 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."
However, activists advocating migrant spouses' rights said yesterday that the requirements still represent a difficult threshold for many foreign spouses.
Calling the requirements "discriminatory," Ma said that foreign spouses who have been living in Taiwan for several years are still deprived of their right to work because the new forms of financial proof do not make the naturalization process any easier for them.
"[Taiwan] is a nation of immigrants. It doesn't make sense for those who came to Taiwan earlier to discriminate against migrant spouses who arrived later," he said.
Commenting on the financial requirements, Hsia Hsiao-chuan (
"Spouses must have lived in Taiwan for three to four years before they can seek naturalization," Hsia said.
Hsia said many of the spouses are full-time housewives who take care of their families and do household chores so that their husbands can work hard to earn money for the family.
"They contribute a lot to Taiwan's stability. However, [the new financial requirements] still ignore their hard work," Hsia said.
Li Li-hua (李麗華), a representative of the Alliance for Immigration Rights Protection, said that through its efforts to push for the abolition of the financial requirements, the alliance had found that politicians across party lines were "indifferent" to the issue of immigration.
Li told Ma the alliance hoped the KMT would help put the proposed amendment directly to a second reading before the legislature goes into recess later this month.
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