Cabinet pushes for easing of foreign residency rules

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Nov 09, 2012 - Page 1

The Cabinet yesterday proposed easing residency rules for foreigners and Taiwanese without household registration to attract and retain professionals to work in the country in order to address a growing brain drain.

Under the proposed amendment to the Immigration Act (入出國移民法), the Cabinet suggested removing the requirement that foreigners granted permanent resident status spend more than 183 days each year in the country to keep their status valid.

The amendment proposes revoking the permanent resident status of foreign nationals only if they stay overseas for more than five years.

It also recommends exempting foreign nationals who have been issued a “four-in-one” card, known as an “employment pass,” which incorporates a visa, work permit, alien resident’s certificate and re-entry permit, from a rule that requires foreigners to apply for an alien resident certificate (ARC) within 30 days after they are granted the right to stay or reside in the country.

The ARC serves as an ID card and proof of residency for foreign nationals.

If the amendment is approved by the legislature, more foreigners will be eligible to apply for ARCs, including foreigners employed as consultants or researchers by government agencies or their subordinate academic research institutes, or employed at a public or registered private college/university within six months in the field of a course of lectures or academic research approved by the Ministry of Education.

The rules would also apply to the applicants’ spouses, minor children and children aged 20 and above who are single, with disabilities or incapable of caring for themselves.

Another proposal seeks to encourage young foreign talent to work in Taiwan by granting ARCs to foreign students who study, either in college, university, or short-term language courses, or attend an internship program in the country after they have completed their education.

For Taiwanese without household registration, the amendment would ease rules for the offspring of Taiwanese living overseas to apply for residency.

The amendment would remove the current age limit that overseas-born Taiwanese under the age of 20 cannot apply for residency.

In addition, the minimum period of stay for nationals without household registration to apply for residency would be reduced to five years, with no less than 183 days spent in Taiwan per year, from the current seven years.

The amendment would also give greater flexibility for spouses and minors of Taiwanese without household registration to apply for residence status.