Wed, Nov 01, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Act lifting restrictions on foreign workers is passed

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan bangs his gavel yesterday to mark the passage of the Act Governing Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals following its third reading in the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

Photo: CNA

The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed the new Act Governing Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals (外國專業人才延攬及雇用法), which allows foreigners interested in working in Taiwan to extend their work visa, lifts the restriction on the minimum duration of their stay and includes faster enrollment in the National Health Insurance system.

Under the act, foreigners would be able to apply for a four-in-one “gold card” that incorporates a work visa that allows them to transition between jobs without legal restrictions, a resident visa, an Alien Resident Certificate and a re-entry permit.

Foreign professionals are to be allowed to apply for the card on their own without the approval of their employer.

With the passage of the act, the maximum duration of stay for foreigners holding a work visa or an Alien Residence Certificate has been extended from three to five years, while the required minimum duration of stay of 183 days every year has been abolished.

A work visa holder is to be granted an extended stay of no more than five years if their employer requires them to stay in their job for an extended period of time.

Foreigners looking for a job in Taiwan are to be eligible to apply for a “job-seeking visa” that is valid for six months.

A tax deduction rate of 50 percent of annual income is to apply to a foreign worker whose annual salary is NT$3 million (US$99,437) or more for three consecutive years.

People with Alien Permanent Resident Certificates are to be included in the pension system. They can decide whether to claim their pensions in a lump sum or in monthly payments.

A six-month waiting period before foreigners, their spouses and children awarded an Alien Resident or Alien Permanent Resident certificate can join the National Health Insurance system has been lifted and foreigners can now apply to join the system upon receipt of their certificate.

The act also covers residents of Hong Kong and Macau working in Taiwan.

The act includes an article stipulating that a cap is to be set on the total number of work visas issued to foreigners every year.

The cap is to be reviewed every year and adjusted if necessary.

A disputed “internship visa” with a validity of two years was vetoed by lawmakers, apparently out of concern about foreigners taking lower-paid jobs under the guise of an internship, hurting the job opportunities of Taiwanese.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Karen Yu (余宛如) said “unfriendly” restrictions have been the major obstacle preventing foreigners who love Taiwan staying in the nation and that she hoped the act would help to retain more foreign talent.

The nation faces the dual problem of transitioning into a superannuated society and a lack of professional talent due to a low birth rate, with the University of Oxford saying that Taiwan is forecast to face the most severe shortfall in talent worldwide in 2021, she said.

Therefore, the nation is in need of a strategic population policy such as moderately opening up to foreigners, which would in turn help improve the economy, she added.

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