Tue, Feb 26, 2019 - Page 4 News List

NIA defends visa amnesty program

Staff writer, with CNA

The National Immigration Agency (NIA) on Sunday defended its visa amnesty program encouraging foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas to turn themselves in, after it was criticized by an association head.

Asian Association of Police Studies secretary-general Sandy Yeh (葉毓蘭), who also teaches at the Central Police University Foreign Affairs Police Department, has misunderstood the nature of the program and what it entails, the agency said.

Foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas would only face a fine of up to NT$2,000 and a limited re-entry ban or suspension of their visa-free entry privileges if they turn themselves in between Jan. 1 and June 30, according to the program.

Those who are caught with expired visas face heavier punishment, including a fine of up to NT$10,000 and a longer re-entry ban.

Yeh said in an open letter published by the Chinese-language United Daily News that the government was being too lenient on people who overstay their visas and that the program was being abused.

She said that illegal labor brokers and workers use the Internet to encourage others to leave their original employers for jobs that pay more.

Why would migrant workers stay with their legal employers if “after earning enough, they can surrender, pay NT$2,000 and not have a [criminal] record?” Yeh wrote.

Yeh has misunderstood what the program is about, the agency said, adding that there are penalties in place for contravening the law, including a re-entry ban.

The program is a temporary measure designed to reduce the number of violators that has built up over the past few years, the agency said.

After June 30, the law would be amended to stiffen the penalties for those who overstay their visas, regardless of whether they turn themselves in, it added.

The changes, which follow similar practices in countries such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore, would be implemented as soon as possible after the program ends, the agency said.

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