Wed, Apr 01, 2009 - Page 2 News List

MOFA set to ease visa restrictions to facilitate business

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is expected to ease visa regulations for citizens of a number of countries who are at present required to obtain local sponsorship to secure a visa, a ministry official said on Monday.

The plan, to be implemented in about two weeks, is part of the ministry’s efforts to facilitate business exchanges between Taiwan and those countries, said Lo Yu-chung (羅由中), director-general of the ministry’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA).

The Bureau’s decision is a reflection of the ministry’s belief that these countries no longer pose as much of a security risk as they did when the policy was implemented more than five years ago, he said.

Visa Division Director Winston Chung (鍾文正) said that in principle, citizens of 19 countries, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Bhutan, Cuba, Cambodia, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Somalia and Syria will no longer be required to obtain sponsorship letters from Taiwanese companies to apply for visas.

He said, however, that MOFA offices abroad would still reserve the right to ask applicants for additional documents to verify the purpose of their visit.

The ministry will also make it easier for citizens of the 19 countries to visit Taiwan as tourists on a case-by-case basis, Chung said.

At present, they are only issued visas for business, family visits or participation in international events, he said.

In addition, citizens of six other nations — Bangladesh, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Cameroon and Senegal — will be able to submit visa applications to any MOFA overseas office, he said, as opposed to the present practice that allows them to apply only at a few designated offices.

Chung said that restrictions would remain in effect for a few countries whose citizens have a high overstay rate in Taiwan, such as Myanmar, Nepal and Nigeria.

Citizens of those countries will still have to submit their applications to MOFA offices in Thailand, India and Nigeria respectively.

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