Taiwan has eased restrictions on visa applications for business visitors from Iran, Iraq and Bangladesh, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said on Sunday.
In 2003, Taiwan imposed strict visa restrictions on applicants from 19 countries, including Pakistan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Iraq, Iran and Bangladesh, because the ratios of citizens from those countries who had overstayed their visas or committed crimes during their stay in Taiwan were relatively high.
Under the stringent regulations, applicants must first obtain a guarantee by a Taiwanese company and are required to file their applications at select Taiwanese embassies or representative offices.
“After review, we have decided to ease the restrictions on business applicants from Iran, Iraq and Bangladesh,” said Lo Yu-chung (羅由中), director-general of the ministry's Bureau of Consular Affairs.
The relaxation of the rules is partly aimed at facilitating Taiwan's efforts to promote trade and economic exchanges with the Middle East and developing countries, Lo said.
Under the new regulations, prospective business visitors will no longer need to obtain a guarantee from a Taiwanese company and will be permitted to file their visa applications with any of Taiwan's representative offices.
Separately, Lo said that the ministry had issued second passports to three Taiwanese this year.
These include a business executive and an academic because their first passports were stamped with visas issued by the Israeli government. As they had to travel to several Arab countries for business and academic meetings, they were both issued a second passport, because Arab countries tend to deny visas to anyone who has visited Israel, Lo said.
In the third case, Lo said, it was because the businessman had to apply for visas for urgent business travel and his first passport had been sent abroad with an application for a visa to visit Ukraine.
Several countries, including Ukraine and some Central Asian countries, require Taiwanese applicants to send their passports abroad when applying for visas, with the procedure taking more than a month to complete, Lo said.