Thu, Dec 20, 2012 - Page 3 News List

HK, Macau students seek free movement

EQUALITY:Students from Hong Kong and Macau must apply for permission from their schools and immigration officials to leave the country, a process they say is unfair

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Accompanied by Taiwanese schoolmates, students from Hong Kong and Macau hold a petition in front of the Ministry of Education yesterday calling on the government to relax restrictions for them to enter and leave the country.

Photo: CNA

Several university students from Hong Kong and Macau yesterday asked the Ministry of Education to simplify the administrative procedure they have to go through before being allowed to leave Taiwan.

Bearing posters and a petition signed by more than 1,000 college students from across the country, students from Hong Kong and Macau studying at universities in Taiwan were joined by Taiwanese classmates in asking to be granted the right to leave the country freely like students from other countries.

“At the moment, when we [students from Hong Kong and Macau] want to leave Taiwan, we have to get permission from the school, then apply for permission to leave the country from the National Immigration Agency [NIA],” said Sou Ka Hou (蘇嘉豪), a University of Taiwan student from Macau, at a brief press conference in front of the ministry’s building in Taipei.

“On average, it takes three to four days for the school to issue the permission, and the process is further delayed if the application is made before holidays,” Sou said.

Sou said that in April, the mother of a student from Macau passed away, “but he could not go home immediately to attend his mother’s funeral because it was spring break, had to wait until spring break was over to file the application for permission from the school.”

Sou said he was aware that the ministry had created an emergency procedure for Hong Kong and Macau students, but added that the policy is not in place in every school.

Sou added that, since student visas for Hong Kong and Macau students are only valid for three years, it creates a lot of trouble for students in their fourth year at university or in graduate school.

The students were invited into the ministry, where they met with the ministry’s director of mainland affairs, Liu Chih-min (劉智敏), who pledged his help.

“We will negotiate with the NIA to see if students from Hong Kong and Macau can be allowed to apply directly to the agency to leave the country without having to go through their schools in case of emergencies,” Liu said. “As for completely removing the requirement for school permission or extending the students’ visa, that would require a revision of immigration laws. However, we would be glad to discuss this with the relevant government agencies.”

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