Fri, Mar 25, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Immigration agency mulls Penghu site for marriage probes

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Bureau of Immigration is considering conducting interviews with Chinese and other foreign spouses in Penghu at police stations there, instead of having them travel to Kaohsiung.

Chinese and foreign spouses applying for residency have to go through two logistical interviews: one in their native country and the other at the point of entry in this country.

"In the second round, if an interviewing officer is suspicious of a particular couple [who might be in a bogus marriage], the pair will be asked to go for another interview one month after the spouse has entered Taiwan," said Ho Jung-chun (何榮村), director of the bureau's executive office.

The third interview is to ensure that a couple is living together as husband and wife.

The bureau currently conducts such interviews in just four places in this country: Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Hualien. As Penghu falls under the jurisdiction of Kaohsiung, the immigrating spouses need to travel to Kaohsiung for their interviews.

Independent Legislator Lin Pin-kun (林炳坤), who is from Penghu, complained during a legislative session on Wednesday that the trips are time consuming, costly and physically exhausting.

In order to get from Penghu to Kaohsiung, some people have to make two stopovers.

Ho acknowledged that such travel was inconvenient. Once the immigration office (移民署) has been established, he said, there will be an immigration office in every city and county.

"However, for the time being, the bureau is considering allowing spouses [in Penghu] to have their interviews at local police stations," he said.

The Immigration Office Organic Law (入出國及移民署組織條例) draft was completed by the Ministry of the Interior in October 2003, and reviewed by the Cabinet, which then forwarded it to the Legislative Yuan immediately. However, the law has not yet been passed.

According to a survey conducted by the ministry, last year, out of 459 couples registered to be married in Penghu County, 99 included a Chinese spouse and 22 had a foreign spouse. The statistics showed that 26 percent of all married couples in Penghu County last year were cross-national, among the highest in the country.

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