This is my home, too
After reading a number of letters over the past few weeks narrating issues other foreign residents have had living in Taiwan, I feel it is important to share my own experiences, as personal stories are important in the ongoing discussion over laws governing immigration in Taiwan.
I have been relatively lucky: I came to Taiwan as an English teacher, one of the only jobs available to people like me. Unlike many such teachers, my goal was not to ultimately pursue a different career, instead I have since improved my qualifications and experience to do so at a professional level.
However, having celebrated my 10-year “Taiwanniversary” as a permanent resident, I have reached an impasse.
I would like to stay in Taiwan, likely forever. However, unless I can reasonably obtain citizenship it is not a viable option.
Under current laws, in order to become a citizen I must give up my original citizenship. This is unacceptable: I have aging family members in my country of origin whom I might have to return to care for indefinitely before eventually returning to Taiwan. The few months I would be able to stay as a Republic of China passport holder might not be enough. I would need work rights in my country of origin in order to support myself. In short, I must retain my citizenship.
Furthermore, it is not a restriction Taiwanese face when applying for dual nationality. They might have another passport, but under the law we may not. This is an unfair and frankly an unacceptable double standard.
Without citizenship, I cannot stay permanently, even as a “permanent resident.” We have the legal right to buy property, but would be hard-pressed to find a bank that would give us a mortgage (I am married, but not to a Taiwanese) and yet landlords balk at renting to the elderly. It is difficult to even obtain a credit card. As we age, social services available to citizens will not be available to us. Finally, I have no political representation: no right to vote, no right to organize a protest.
I work, I pay taxes and I contribute positively to a society that says it wants my contribution. What happens here affects me. This is my home, too.
I am not even a second-class citizen in the nation I call home — I am not a citizen at all, welcome to stay, but never fully allowed to participate. To be fair, my own country restricts immigration, but reasonable paths to citizenship are available. This is not true in Taiwan, which I feel is a mark against its otherwise progressive and admirable civil society.
Considering this, listening to prominent Taiwanese discuss attracting foreign talent and engaging with the rest of the world, all I can think is this: until Taiwan makes it possible for “foreign talent” who want to settle here as full participants in society to do so, those words are hollow indeed.
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