Sat, Nov 15, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Financial assets rule for spouses’ citizenship dropped

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Immigrant spouses will no longer need to show proof they have NT$420,000 in assets when applying to become a citizen, a regulation that has long been criticized as discriminatory.

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) announced the change when he met Mok Ai Fang (莫愛芳), an Indonesian-born woman who became a citizen in March.

Mok had complained about the requirement to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) when he met with Taoyuan County residents last month. Ma then asked the Ministry of the Interior to abolish the requirement.

“We are a society of immigrants — the majority of Taiwanese are descendants of immigrants who came here at different times,” Liu told Mok. “So of course we should try our best to be friendly and welcome new immigrants, and assist them in settling down here as quickly as possible.”

It was difficult for many immigrants to submit such evidence, Liu said, adding: “This policy is now history, effective immediately.”

The NT$420,000 threshold — equal to two years’ salary based on the legal minimum wage — was to show that an immigrant could support his or herself. Many spouses borrowed money to put into their bank account to meet the requirement.

Mok said she felt bad during the first few years of her marriage because her husband had to work very hard to save enough to meet the required amount.

“I felt very bad, and even guilty, because I felt I was a heavy burden for my husband,” she said.

Mok said she was “happy for other immigrant spouses applying for citizenship” and “grateful to all those who worked hard to make it [the policy change] happen.”

While the proof of assets will no longer be required, immigrant spouses will still have to submit documents proving they can survive independently, including tax receipts, real estate ownership, proof of employment, special skills certificates issued by the government, or “other information that may prove [the immigrant] can lead an economically independent life in the country,” the revised Regulations on Implementation of the Nationality Act (國籍法施行細則) state.

Dana Wu (吳佳臻), the northern regional office director of TransAsia Sisters Association Taiwan, welcomed Liu’s announcement, but said “it remains to be seen how the new measure works in practice.”

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