Sun, Aug 09, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Territories offer visa-free entry

KINDLY WAIVERJust as Guam and the Northern Marianas announced the new policy, the UK reminded Taiwanese students to be sure they had all the required documents

By Jenny W. hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Starting on Nov. 28, all Republic of China (ROC) passport holders will be able to enter Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands visa-free for 45 days, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Friday.

Ministry deputy spokesman James Chang (章計平) said Taiwan was included in the visa-waiver program because ROC passport holders have demonstrated an excellent track record while traveling abroad.

At present, Taiwanese nationals enjoy 15-day visa-free access to Guam — the only US territory that has extended such courtesy to ROC passport carriers so far, while those heading to the Northern Mariana Islands are required to have a sponsor and show a financial statement before being allowed entry.

Taipei has lobbied Washington in recent years to be added to the US visa-waiver program, but the US has been reluctant to approve it over concerns regarding Taiwan’s passport application process and other security matters.

After the Guam-Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Island Visa Waiver Program goes into effect, the visa-free stay privilege to Guam will be extended to 45 days and ROC passport holders will also be allowed to travel to the Northern Mariana Islands with no sponsorship required.

Chang said more details about the program would be announced soon.

In March and June, the governments of the UK and Ireland also granted Taiwanese nationals visa-free access to their countries.

The British Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei reminded Taiwanese students who intend to travel to the UK using the visa-free program before their student visa comes into effect to show evidence that they will be leaving the UK and re-­entering using their valid student visa.

Those who do not have the required documents, such as e-­tickets, to demonstrate that they will be leaving the UK will be refused travel by airlines or be refused entry upon their arrival in the UK.

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