A lawyer recently submitted a letter to a media outlet criticizing a proposed amendment to the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法), which the writer said would regulate how the state can intervene in the marriages and lifestyles of foreigners living in Taiwan.
The lawyer said a clause that would be added to Article 24 would allow the National Immigration Agency (NIA) to revoke foreigners’ residence permits if it has sufficient evidence that they do not live with their dependent relative without justifiable reasons, or that statements they made or evidence found by the agency regarding their marriage are inconsistent.
This view is clearly a misunderstanding of the purpose of the draft amendment. Marriage and lifestyles vary from person to person, especially in transnational partnerships. There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” solution.
The state should have no right to intervene in this, as is the case in all countries that respect the rule of law. However, this does not mean that the government should not have the right to control the entry and residence of foreigners.
The draft amendment would regulate the NIA’s right to check applicants’ statements, such as their “reasons for residence,” and gather evidence on their consistency before granting residence.
Obviously, the proposal seeks to correct the NIA’s inappropriate practice of frequently rejecting applications of foreign spouses of Taiwanese who “do not live with their Taiwanese counterpart to maintain the family life and marriage,” as the NIA considers them as not corresponding to “our national interests.”
The purpose of the draft is not to determine the existence or nonexistence of applicants’ marriage, and the lawyer is wrong when he writes that the amendment seeks “to judge the authenticity of foreigners’ marriage, and completely ignores the freedom of marriage and the way of life of the new residents.”
If there were no such restrictions, any foreigner who has a marriage certificate could enter and reside in Taiwan. This would inevitably be problematic and it would not be in the national interest, nor of people’s individual rights and interests, which is even more inappropriate.
Daniel Lee is a civil servant.
Translated by Lin Lee-kai
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