Foreign visitors who entered Taiwan before today would be granted automatic 30-day visa extensions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
The new measure is in response to tightened border control measures and flight bans implemented worldwide to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of Consular Affairs said.
“All travelers who entered Taiwan on or before March 21, 2020, on a visitor visa, a landing visa, or through a visa-waiver program and who have not overstayed their legal stay period will be granted an automatic 30-day extension,” the ministry said in a statement on its Web site.
Photo: Su Chin-feng, Taipei Times
No application is required, although the total period of stay cannot exceed 180 days, it said, but added that the conditions are subject to change.
The Central Epidemic Command Center on Wednesday banned the entry of foreign nationals, except those with special permission, and required all returning tourists to undergo 14 days of home quarantine.
The bureau also referred to the Expanded Overstayers Voluntary Departure Program launched by the National Immigration Agency (NIA) on Friday.
Foreign nationals who have overstayed their authorized period of stay and turn themselves in before June 30 would be eligible for penalty relief measures, meaning that they would receive only the minimum fine of NT$2,000 without being detained or facing an entry ban, the NIA said.
After an Indonesian woman working illegally as a caregiver was confirmed as the nation’s 32nd COVID-19 case, there has been extensive discussion about whether migrant workers who leave their original workplace would create gaps in disease prevention efforts, it said.
The program is aimed at encouraging overstayers, including migrant workers, to turn themselves in, it added.
The NIA said that after the program ends, it would amend the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法) to raise the penalty for overstaying visas, and that after the outbreak abates, it would crack down on illegal immigrants.
Separately yesterday, the ministry said that it did not export masks to Paraguay, following an online uproar after Paraguayan media reported that Taiwan had donated 1 million masks.
The masks for the South American ally were purchased by Taiwan’s representative office, not exported from Taiwan, it said.
The ministry did promise to give the South American ally 1 million masks, but they are being purchased by its representative office in Paraguay and from neighboring countries, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said.
The first 100,000 masks have been purchased, while the rest would be delivered in batches, she said, adding that funding was sourced from existing bilateral collaboration projects.
Foreign aid would only be provided after Taiwan meets its own needs for medical supplies amid the virus crisis, the ministry said, adding that it has asked judicial authorities to investigate the source of the misinformation.
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