Tourism stays for US citizens tripled to 90 days

RECIPROCITY::The extension follows Taiwan’s inclusion in the US Visa-Waiver Program. AIT staff will be at the Taipei International Travel Fair this weekend to answer questions

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 - Page 3

Effective next month, the number of days US passport holders may stay in Taiwan on a visitor visa is to be extended from the current 30 days to 90 days, Bureau of Consular Affairs Director-General Thomas Chen (陳經銓) said yesterday.

The extension was based on the principle of reciprocity after Taiwan was approved to join the US Visa-Waiver Program, which permits visa-free travel to the US for up to 90 days for business and tourism, Chen said.

Taiwan’s inclusion in the program goes into effect on Nov. 1.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed the National Immigration Agency of the new measure, Chen said.

According to the bureau, Taiwan grants visa-free status to citizens from 43 countries and nationals of India, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia who hold either passports or permanent residence status of each of the following countries: the US, Canada, Japan, the EU, Australia and New Zealand.

Japanese enjoy visa-free access to Taiwan for up to 90 days, the same status as Taiwanese receive from Japan. Taiwanese may stay in Canada for up to 180 days without a visa, while Taiwan grants 90-day visa-free entry to Canadians, which can be extended for another 90 days.

With Schengen visa waiver status, Taiwanese can stay up to 90 days in the Schengen area, the same period Taiwan grants to passport holders in the EU.

Meanwhile, people requiring assistance in registering for travel permits to the US via an online system said yesterday they were impressed with how the new visa waiver program helps save time and money.

Dozens of people making appointments with the AIT to apply for travel documents said the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, which is required under the program, is convenient and efficient.

“It took me less than 10 minutes to complete the six-page form,” said Aline Kao, who plans to visit the US for the first time next month.

With Taiwan’s admission to the program, Taiwanese will no longer have to go through the process of obtaining a US visa.

The AIT has been running a campaign that has received broad recognition, with staff visiting places such as night markets and department stores to inform the public of the new requirements.

AIT spokesman Mark Zimmer said “we know we have to be outside of our walls to reach the Taiwanese people.”

He said the AIT would have an information booth at the Taipei International Travel Fair that takes place today through Monday, to provide consultation services for those intending to travel to the US.

Meanwhile, AIT said those seeking assistance in person can also call 0975-793-789 or 0978-329-775 to set up an appointment, through the end of this month.