Sat, Feb 28, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Migration interviews set by computer

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

In order to ensure that legislators cannot use their influence to obtain favorable interview dates for Chinese married to Taiwanese, the Ministry of the Interior announced yesterday that it would computerize its interview schedules.

"Since interviews began last September, there have been certain cases in which individuals who wanted to move their interview dates forward went to legislators and asked for favors," said Ho Jung-chun (何榮村), director of the Bureau of Immigration's executive office.

"After one such case took place, word started to spread. Even certain travel agencies had connections with certain legislators and claimed to people waiting for interviews that they could help them get earlier interview dates," Ho said.

Now the interview schedules will be determined by the dates on which visa applications are filed. Chinese spouses will be able to check the scheduled time and location of their interviews on the Internet at: www.immigration.gov.tw.

According to data released by the bureau yesterday, between Sept. 1 last year and Feb. 24, interviews at points of entry determined that 1,194 individuals had falsely claimed to be married. These individuals' visas were canceled and they were repatriated.

Those who pass a first interview at a point of entry but still seem questionable to immigration officials may be required to do a second interview at a later date.

Last Wednesday, several opposition lawmakers claimed the interview questions were too personal and an invasion of privacy.

"We started this interview process last September. It has only been a few months and we are still honing our officials' questioning skills," Ho said.

"We are in a tough spot, because the best way an official can tell if an individual is involved in a fake marriage is through face-to-face interviews," Ho said.

Ho said a lot of improvements had been made in the style and the type of questions and the questions the legislators had felt were intrusive were no longer being asked.

Ho said that the bureau has been accepting feedback and making improvements accordingly.

The bureau has hired immigration experts from the American Institute in Taiwan and the Australian immigration service to train the staff conducting the interviews.

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