Tue, Oct 14, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Community Compass: MY STORY: Becoming a permanent alien not as painful as it seems

HERE TO STAY Despite a daunting pile of forms to fill-in, a medical test and an interview, the process of obtaining an APRC need not be a major headache

By Perry Svensson  /  STAFF REPORTER

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“Pregnancy, yes, no?”

The question wasn’t included on the printed form, but the nurse decided to ignore my beard and focus on my earrings — she stamped the question onto each of the three identical forms I had to complete without a carbon copy.

“Pregnancy, yes, no?”

One by one I ticked them off — No, no and no.

I have gone through the process of obtaining an Alien Permanent Residence Certificate (APRC), in fact a straightforward affair made easier by the helpful staff at the National Immigration Agency (NIA).

I based the application on my Joining Family Resident Visa (JFRV), rather than on my past work record in Taiwan, since the JFRV automatically included a blanket work permit allowing me to do any job I wanted without working illegally.

An application based on past work experience requires that the applicant have only worked for the company providing the work permit and violations of this rule may even lead to deportation.

Documents were needed: One clear criminal record (良民證) from my home country and one from Taiwan, a clean bill of health, tax statements (納稅證明) and detailed tax reports (所得資料清單) for the last three years, a copy of my household registration (戶籍謄本), and, from my employer, tax withholding statements (扣繳憑單) for the past two years and proof of employment (在職證明) to serve as proof of income.

The home country criminal record and the health exam are valid for three months, the other documents for one month.

I also needed to bring any old residence permits and passports that I had. I must have felled a forest with all the photocopies required. One of each document and two of the old passports and residence permits, including two of each entry/exit visa and stamp in each of the passports.

Finally, I had to prove that I have resided in Taiwan for 183 days every year for the last five years by providing a listing of all entries and exits to and from Taiwan during the period. This information was magically provided by the case handler at the time of the interview.

Take heart — it is easier than it sounds.

The biggest problem was getting the criminal record from Sweden. I had to get the document issued by the Swedish police and sent to my parents, who had to have it translated into Chinese.

The translation then had to be notarized and sent together with the original document to the Swedish foreign ministry for legalization, before going to the Taiwanese representative office in Sweden for legalization by the Taiwanese authorities.

Swedish document in hand, I started the process here in Taiwan by calling the NIA to make sure that the list of required documents in the NIA’s printed information was exhaustive. It was. All local documentation was then easily acquired or applied for in two mornings.

My employer reissued the tax withholding statements and the proof of employment the next day. Tax documents and household registration were issued on the spot at the tax office and the household registration office. The clear Taiwanese criminal record was applied for in five minutes at the Taipei City Main Police Station and could be picked up five days later.

On the third day, I had my health checked at Renai Hospital — the NIA has a list of approved hospitals — which has a department on the first floor dedicated to dealing with residence permit health checks.

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