The number of people from Hong Kong applying for residency in Taiwan last year rose 41 percent from a year earlier to 5,858, National Immigration Agency statistics showed.
The statistics also showed that 600 applications were filed by Hong Kong residents in the first quarter of this year — three times the number filed in the same period last year — with applicants apparently not deterred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just one day after it was reported that the Chinese government plans to enact new national security laws in Hong Kong, inquiries regarding immigration to Taiwan grew 10-fold, a Hong Kong-based immigration consultant was quoted as saying in a Hong Kong media report on Saturday.
Separately, a Taiwan-based immigration consultant, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a series of information sessions they held in Hong Kong in June last year were all filled to capacity.
There was a wave of immigration to Taiwan in 1997 when Hong Kong was handed over to China, followed by a second wave during the 2014 “Umbrella movement,” the Taiwanese consultant said, adding that a third wave occurred last year, around the time of the protests against a proposed extradition bill.
In 2018, there were 4,148 residency applicants and 1,090 permanent residency applicants, agency statistics showed.
Last year, the figures rose to 5,858 and 1,474, respectively.
Of those applying for residency last year, 1,243 people applied in October alone.
Of the reasons given in the residency applications, the top three were “study,” “marriage” and “investment,” in that order.
Sixteen possible ways of applying for residency are stipulated in the Regulations Governing Residency or Permanent Residency for People of the Hong Kong Area and the Macau Area (港澳居民進入台灣地區及居留定居許可辦法). These include applying as a blood relative or spouse of a Taiwanese, as a skilled person holding a Hong Kong Government-issued certificate in a specialized field, as a person of extraordinary accomplishment in a specific field, or as a businessperson investing NT$6 million (US$199,940) or more in Taiwan.
People from other countries immigrating to Taiwan through investment must invest a minimum of NT$30 million, but those from Hong Kong can immigrate with a significantly lower investment, making Taiwan an appealing option, the Taiwanese consultant said.
Those applying as entrepreneurs can come on an even lower investment of only NT$2 million, but they must reside in Taiwan for at least 183 days per year for five years in a row before they are eligible for citizenship, the consultant said.
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