In a major development for foreign families, the government plans to revise the long-standing system that leaves foreign nationals who grew up in Taiwan unable to legally reside in the nation after age 20.
In general, the changes announced on Thursday by the Ministry of the Interior allow long-term residents to extend their stay up to two times by a period of three years each time.
The new regulations, set to take effect “in the near future,” will apply to foreign nationals born in Taiwan who have legally resided in the country for at least 183 days each year for 10 years, as well as foreign nationals born abroad who have legally resided in Taiwan for at least 270 days each year, also for 10 years.
Also covered are those who began legally residing in Taiwan before age 16 and have stayed for at least 270 days each year since — a category that includes German-Polish national Krystyna Jensen, who has drawn attention to the immigration hurdles through her campaign to remain in the country.
Jensen, also known as Lei Ti-na (雷堤娜), gained some recognition as “MRT Sara” after performing in a Taipei Metro advertisement.
Jensen moved to Taiwan with her family 15 years ago, but has faced the possibility of being forced to leave what she considers her home after graduating this summer from National Taiwan University of Arts, which sponsors her Alien Resident Certificate.
In a post on Facebook, the dance student, who was the first to petition immigration authorities for a rule change, expressed optimism and relief.
“Even though I haven’t had a chance to ask about the details and I don’t know if I can get permanent residency or just extend my residency, at least we’re making progress,” she wrote in Chinese.
“Thank you to every Taiwanese. Long live democracy,” she added.
The changes also include a six-month grace period for foreign students graduating from local universities and for white-collar workers finishing a work contract.
However, the ministry emphasized that foreigners will still have to leave if they are unable to secure a job within that time.