The legislature is scheduled to review a bill that would shorten the time that Chinese spouses of Taiwanese must wait before they are eligible for Republic of China (ROC) citizenship from six years to four, the Mainland Affairs Council said yesterday.
In 2009, the government amended regulations that cut the period Chinese spouses had to wait to obtain an ROC citizenship from eight years to six, and relaxed work restrictions imposed on them.
However, Chinese spouses still felt discriminated against because other foreign spouses only need to wait four years to be eligible for citizenship.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said on March 27 last year, during a meeting with representatives of new-immigrant groups, that the government would revise its regulations to guarantee Chinese spouses equal rights.
The council said that it solicited public opinion and consulted relevant laws before it proposed an amendent to Article 17 of the Act Governing the Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例).
Zhan Xiuying (湛秀英), director of a new-immigrant social development association in Greater Kaohsiung, said it is very inconvenient to live in Taiwan without an ROC ID card because it barred foreign spouses from applying for a mortgage.
In addition, not having citizenship means they are not allowed to register a business or even apply for a mobile telephone number.
Zhan, who is from China’s Yunnan Province and got married in Taiwan 13 years ago, said she only got her ROC citizenship in 2008.
One of the premises of a healthy family is equality among the parents, Zhan said, adding that if the policy discriminates against Chinese spouses, then all the members of their families suffer as a result
The long wait is particularly problematic for those that have children, another Chinese spouse said, adding that if the Chinese spouse gets divorced during the waiting period, they are forced to leave Taiwan and be separated from their children, and are given no guardianship rights.
Tien Sufang (田素芳), a Chinese woman who has been married to a Taiwanese for 11 years, said that in addition to relaxing restrictions on obtaining ROC citizenship, the government should relax its restrictions on recognizing Chinese academic diplomas, a right that Chinese spouses are also seeking.
In addition, some Chinese spouses have complained about the overly invasive port-of-entry interview system that they must go through before they are allowed to enter the country.
The latest National Immigration Agency data showed that the percentage of Chinese spouses that failed the interview was 12.48 percent last year, rising to 16.23 percent in the first two months of this year.