Foreigners who are married to Taiwanese, but denied any form of identification should be granted legal status in Taiwan and be covered by the national health insurance program, civic groups urged yesterday.
Since last year, the Union of Excluded Immigrants and Unwanted Citizens (UNIC), formed by five organizations, has been raising the issue of foreigners who have married Taiwanese, overstayed their visas and become what are known as “black households,” a term coined to refer to those living without any form of identification and who lead lives of extreme hardship in Taiwan.
Speaking at a press conference, Chang Yu-hua (張育華), chief executive officer of the Taiwan International Family Association, one of the UNIC organizers, said many “black households” were faced with financial challenges. In many cases, after marrying their Taiwanese spouses, many foreigners could not afford to return to their home countries to renew their passports or visas.
In Taiwan, foreigners applying for an Alien Residence Certificate (ARC) must present a valid passport from their home country to the National Immigration Agency (NIA).
Because many foreign spouses lack an ARC or valid passport, there are many “black households” in which foreign spouses have no healthcare or proper job and live in fear of being deported and separated from their families, Chang said.
One Argentine woman named “Linda” represented one of six “black households” who attended the press conference. She said she met and married her Taiwanese husband in Argentina 24 years ago.
The couple came to Taiwan in 1986, but Linda’s husband did not know the immigration regulations and did not apply for residency for her. Linda’s visa then expired and the family did not have enough money to send her back to Argentina to renew her passport, leaving her an illegal alien.
Chang said the UNIC has so far helped 15 families in similar situations, and the NIA has promised to resolve 12 cases.
She called on the government to grant amnesty to such people, to include them in the national healthcare system and to set up an emergency fund to help them.