Tue, Apr 03, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Rights activists push for residency for foreign parents

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Immigrant rights advocates and a lawmaker yesterday called for changes to the Immigration Act (入出國移民法) to grant residency status to foreign nationals who have Taiwanese children.

Many foreign nationals are kept from living with their Taiwanese children and cannot apply for resident visas because of flaws in the system, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) and the Alliance for Human Rights Legislation for Immigrants and Migrants told a press conference.

“This disregard for human rights is ironic in a country that has signed two UN human rights covenants and has passed the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women,” Yu said.

Many foreign nationals who have Taiwanese children cannot apply for residency either because they failed to make the change from a visitor visa to a resident visa earlier, they are legally ineligible to register their marriage in Taiwan or are unmarried parents, Yu said.

Foreign nationals who do not have resident visas are permitted to stay in Taiwan for no more than six months and have to leave the country and re-enter to be able to stay for another six-month period, she said.

Yu said that in most cases, these parents have expressed their intention to take care of their children, with some even holding legal custody of the minors.

Yu and the alliance are calling for changes to Article 23 of the Immigration Act so that foreign nationals who have custody of Taiwanese minors or those who want to live and raise their Taiwanese children may be granted resident visas, included in health insurance coverage and allowed to work in Taiwan.

Chou Chung-hsin (周中興), a Bureau of Consular Affairs official, said the law currently only grants resident status to foreign spouses and minors who want to “join” their Taiwanese spouse or parents — but not to foreign adults who want to “join” their Taiwanese children.

The National Immigration Agency is very open-minded about the proposed amendment, said Lin Chen-chih (林振智), a section chief at the agency.

However, the proposed changes involve a wide range of issues — such as the right to work, health insurance and resident status — which are under the jurisdiction of different government agencies, making it difficult to find an integrated solution, Lin said.

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