Given my immense luck with Taiwanese authorities in general, I thought I should record my entire experience towards gaining Taiwanese citizenship with my fellow Forumosans. Perhaps this will help someone who is planning to do the same in the near future.
My current status :
- I’ve worked in Taiwan for 6 years (the last 3 were on a Gold Card).
- My daughter was born in Taiwan. She is 1 year old (+ 2 months).
- My wife is a Filipino, and so is my daughter. I am the only one with …ahem… Pakistani citizenship.
- I plan to apply for citizenship for myself via the “Voluntary Naturalization” (自願歸化) route.
- For my daughter, I will apply via the “Unmarried minor children of the naturalized person shall apply for accompanying naturalization.” (歸化人之未婚未成年子女，申請隨同歸化。) route.
For the official list of requirements, you can get them at the following links :
Below are direct links to the official documents from the MOI website that are related to the naturalization route that I am taking :
List of Requirements (Chinese Version)
- 自願歸化 - 一覽表.pdf (Voluntary Naturalization)
- 歸化人之未婚未成年子女，申請隨同歸化 - 一覽表.pdf (Accompanying Naturalization of Unmarried Minor)
List of Requirements (English Version)
Application Forms (Dual Language) :
- 歸化國籍申請書 (Application Form for Voluntary Naturalization )
- 歸化國籍申請書 (Application Form for Accompanying Naturalization of an Unmarried Minor)
If the list of requirements from the MOI website seems confusing, I have a made a more simpler list of requirements to serve as a checklist for me & my daughter. You can download it here.
Right off the bat, the first thing that complicates the situation is the fact that the person applying for naturalization and the accompanying minor child are actually citizens of two different countries. Thankfully though, so far there’s no indication that this will be a problem.
Since my journey already started in Nov, 2019, here’s what I have done so far :
Chapters of my journey so far :
A. ////Failure to start - Childbirth Issues/////
- I completed my 5 years of work in Taiwan in Nov, 2019. Just 2 weeks prior to my qualification my daughter was born. Unfortunately, she suffered from a broken clavicle + displaced hips (that I believe was due to improper labor/delivery by the hospital). I have a whole post dedicated to that, if you are interested. Needless to say, I had to put all my efforts towards my daughter and my application got delayed by a few months.
B. ////Failure to start - Father’s Illness/////
- By January 2020, my daughter was already on her track to recovery and I was ready to work on my citizenship application. Unfortunately, my father’s last living family member (his older brother) died thousands of miles away in another country. My father screamed and cried for an entire week. Ended up suffering multiple strokes. He got vascular dementia (later diagnosed in Taiwan). Vascular dementia is “dementia + Alzheimer” caused suddenly due to stroke/s. He lost his memory and couldn’t even recognize his own kids. He couldn’t even recall our names. He couldn’t even find his way around the house anymore.
To understand why my father had such a severe reaction to news of his brother passing away, jump to the end of the post to read a brief story (that I have never shared publicly) about his tragic life and his special connection to his older brother.
- On hearing about my father’s worsening condition, I gave up my citizenship process and decided to bring him to Taiwan for treatment. Since my father was now unfit to travel himself, first I had to go to Dubai (twice) to get a Taiwanese visa for my father. Gold Card ARC holder’s parents qualify for 1 year visa, but TECO Dubai wouldn’t agree, and even after getting direct emails from NDC + BOCA Taipei to support me (following my complaints), TECO Dubai still gave my father only a 3-month visa. This was later corrected in Taiwan, along with an apology from BOCA. After securing his visa, I traveled to Pakistan and brought him back in a wheelchair to Taiwan (which was hard for me, to see him like that).
C. ////COVID Problems - Lockdowns/////
- It was now March, 2020, and Coronavirus was getting worse by the day. After speaking to HHRO they told me I needed to prepare 3 things before I could do anything :
- Pass the Chinese exam (or take 200 hours of lessons)
- Get a police clearance certificate from my country
- Get a single (unmarried) certificate for my daughter (who was 5 months old at the time)
I decided to delay the Chinese exam (given my zero Chinese skills) and prepare the documents first. At first I butted heads with the Ministry of Interior to challenge their requirement of a “single certificate” for an infant, especially one that was born in Taiwan (and had never left Taiwan). Sadly, they insisted, and I failed to convince them. If you want to read my correspondence with them, you can find it at the end of the post.
Given that my daughter is a Filipino citizen, we had to hire an agent in Manila to get her documents. For myself, given the fact that the “designated TECO for Pakistani’s is TECRO Saudi” so that’s where I had to get my police clearance authenticated.
Both Pakistan, Philippines and Saudi had lockdowns which lasted weeks and months. Getting the documents (which would normally take a week) took several months. Then things got further delayed at the respective TECO offices (which were often closed). By the time my police clearance was authenticated by TECO, it was already 6 months from the date of issue and was invalid. My daughter’s single certificate got expired before it ever got the Taiwanese authentication. It was August now. After wasting nearly 60,000NT$ paying agents, embassy fees, and DHL fees, I had to restart the whole process again.
But before I could restart, I had to take a month off to return my father back to Pakistan. He said he didn’t want to die in Taiwan and wanted to return home. As he was still unable to travel alone, I took a leave and accompanied him back to Pakistan in August. On return I had to spend 14 days in Quarantine + 7 days of self-management.
In the meantime, I restarted preparation of the two documents that I needed. As of now (Dec, 25th), my police clearance document is ready and in my hands (but already 4 months past its issuance date). My daughters document is still stuck in Manila at TECO and should be done before end of January.
D. ////Chinese Language Exam/////
Unfortunately, my Chinese is crap and having already lost a year, I decided not to spend 3 to 6 months to take 200 hours of Chinese lessons (especially on top of my full-time job). Instead, I have been working on and off on version 2 of the “Cracking the Naturalization Exam” based on the new 252 questions. I have somewhat completed the crack, but it’s not polished enough for publishing here (I will do it soon). I am preparing for the exam now (on and off - due to busy work schedule) and will get it done soon.
|| CURRENT STATUS ||| ==>> I plan to go for my first-attempt next week. If I succeed, I hope to submit our applications for citizenship at the same time. <<==
////My Correspondence with Ministry of Interior regarding requirement of a single certificate for a 6-month-old baby/////
------My first email to Ministry of Interior :
- Hi, I am a foreign national, also a Taiwan Gold Card ARC holder. I have already been working in Taiwan for over 5 and half years. I don’t have a Taiwanese spouse. I am planning to apply for voluntary naturalization next month. I have a 6-month-old daughter. She was born in Taiwan and has never left Taiwan. I plan to apply for my baby’s “accompanying naturalization” as well. The only problem I have is with the requirement of: * a) Police Clearance Certificate * b) Single (No Marriage) Certificate
- The first one, luckily it can be exempted, but there is no mention of exemption for the 2nd requirement. Just to let you know, I visited xxxx Household Registration Office, because I plan to apply there, and they insisted that I needed to get a “single certificate” for the baby.
- Is it really appropriate to require a “Single/No marriage Certificate” for a 6-month baby? I would kindly ask that you reconsider your 2nd requirement and add an exception to it as well, especially for “infants/babies”. It’s just too uncomfortable, even the idea of having to get such a certificate for an infant.
- I hope to hear from you soon. Thank you for your consideration.
------Their response :
------ My 2nd Email to them :
- 我能在網上找到的唯一證據是2018年的菲律賓法律，該法律明確規定可結婚年齡為18歲，任何18歲以下的婚姻都是非法的，被視為虐待兒童。 （如果您可以訪問上面的鏈接，請閱讀第32至35行。）
------ Their final response :
- 一、有關菲律賓未成年人申請歸化附繳婚姻狀況證明情形，依據駐菲律賓代表處105年3月3日菲領字第10501701820號函查復略以，有關未達法定結婚年齡者，菲國政府有無核發婚姻狀況證明1節，經洽菲律賓國家統計署(Philippine Statistic Authority, PSA)主任Editha R. Orcilla獲告以，倘申請人向該署提出申請並繳付相關費用，該署即可核發申請人之婚姻狀況證明。
////My father and his brother/////
- My father was born in small and impoverished city of modern-day Pakistan in 1947. His mother (my grandmother) died while giving birth to him. His father (my grandfather) was upset didn’t want anything to do with the baby afterwards.
- As long as my grandfather lived, he always told my father that he (my father i.e.) was responsible for the death of his mother.
- My grandfather had a teenage daughter from a previous marriage. She took my father in (who was 1 day old) and decided to raise him. My father’s stepsister was unsuccessful in getting married when the time came (due to losing an eye in a freak accident). So, beyond the first few years, she was helpless and was unable to continue to care for my father. That’s where his older brother (the uncle) stepped in.
- My uncle was just 4 years older than my father and he also had no mother, but he put it on himself to raise his little brother. He fed my father, helped him in illness, ironed his clothes, packed his bag, helped him with homework, protected him from bullies etc.
- In 1947, the year of my father’s birth, British Raj left the Indian Subcontinent, splitting it into India & Pakistan. There was a lot of bloodshed on both sides and many lost a lot of things. My grandfather lost all his assets, which left the family in abject poverty, now having to live on <10$ a month.
- That meant everyone had to work, including the children. Since the age of 5 my father spent his entire childhood doing hard labor all night long.
- His labor included washing clothes of hundreds of army men, out in the open, sometimes in the crushing winter cold. Meanwhile simultaneously burning his hands in the boiling water as he rinsed them. This was followed by ironing all the clothes with an iron that was so big and heavy, he needed two hands to lift it. Lastly, folding all the clothes and carrying them on his back from one location to another.
- That was just his nights. During the day he went to a govt. school (run by the army) where everyone from the teachers to the principal didn’t miss a chance to insult him / beat him / or bully him since he was that poor kid who washed clothes of everyone else’s fathers. His teachers would often bring their own dirty laundry to the school and have my father carry them back to his home from school for free washing. This was difficult as he had to walk 3 miles to the house, and it would often be very heavy. My uncle would take turns and together they would take them back home. They would often get beaten if they refused to take the teacher’s laundry. My grandfather took the teachers side always.
- This is how he spent most of his days and the nights during childhood. The little bit of rest time he had in between was composed of occasionally having no food or little food, e.g. entire family sharing a single loaf of bread or drinking soup water.
- My grandfather who was exceptionally harsh towards my father, added additional beatings on top, usually over little things. My grandfather’s favorite punishment (after he got tired of spanking) was putting my father’s hands under the feet of the bed and then going to sleep on the bed, while he cried in pain for hours.
- They had no electricity or water. Every morning someone had to get buckets of water from a far away public tap. No electricity meant doing your homework under street light, again some distance away from the house.
- My uncle, who also suffered a similarly difficult life, somehow ran away to another city eventually becoming a successful English teacher. He helped pave the way for his little brother. This was a trend through their lives. The older brother was always ahead and he always brother his little brother along so he too could have a better life.
- My uncle, who as far as Pakistani standards of “beauty” go, was good looking given his fair skin and light hair, was able to attract a wealthy girl from an elite family in the big city. They fell in love with each other and decided to marry.
- She accepted my uncle but it was conditional love. She didn’t want anything to do with his poor family and poor little brother, as they would make her look bad in “high society”. For reasons unknown to me, my uncle accepted her conditions. I don’t know if he was scared of her or not, but he usually did everything she demanded.
- Soon after (now in the 80s) my uncle and his wife moved to Yemen (which was not a bad place back then). He began his English teaching career there and became very successful. My uncle (against the wishes of his wife) secretly got my father a visa and a job in Yemen. Now both brothers were teaching English in Yemen. They still met secretly as the wife still forbade my uncle from keeping any relationship with his little brother.
- This lifestyle continued for 20 years, and in the meantime my grandfather passed away, and so did my father’s stepsister (who raised him in infancy). She died alone in her 60s, nearly blind. My father was heartbroken because he never could fulfill his promise of giving her a better life. Even in Yemen, my father was relatively poor and couldn’t afford to give a decent life to his sister back home.
- Now my father had only one person left from his original family, his one and only brother. They continued to meet secretly. As a child growing up in Yemen, I was in some of those secret meetings in the 2000s. It was just a lot reminiscing, hugging, kissing and tears. My uncle would take my father in to his arms as if my he was a little kid, and kiss him on the forehead and together they would cry. This continued even as both grew old and gray.
- In 2006, I starting working and took over all the expenses of our family. In 2010 my father was forced to retire due to the eruption of a civil war in Yemen. He left Yemen and moved back to home, while I moved to China.
- My uncle who still feared his wife lied to my father that he would soon join him back home, but that never happened. This makes 2010, the last time they ever met in person.
- From 2010 ~ 2012, (now thousands of miles away) they two brothers communicated by letters. My uncle was forbidden to have a cell phone. My father bought a phone and had it shipped it to my uncles work place in Yemen. The first phone was caught and confiscated by the wife. Later we sent another one. Both started with phone calls once a month (as it was expensive). Since both countries had poor communications infrastructure, internet communication wasn’t an option until much later. Only after 2017 they were finally able to do video chat from time to time on whatsapp. My father, although younger and already retired, was in much poorer health than my uncle who continued to work (& was now as a successful school principal).
- My father begged my uncle to return home to meet him, just once before death. My father himself couldn’t travel to Yemen because all airports had been closed for years (due to the ongoing war there).
- By this point somehow my uncle and his wife were living a life of relative luxury in Yemen (despite the civil war). At some point, my uncle’s wife and kids moved to Dubai, but left him in Yemen to keep working alone.
- My uncle who was 74 had now been living alone for 3 years in Yemen (something we didn’t know until after his death). Also, we didn’t know that he would take a bus (as airports had been closed for years) and go to Dubai from time to time to meet his wife and kids. Again this is something I don’t understand, the fact that my uncle was able to travel but kept it a secret from my father. Perhaps his wife’s hold on him was too strong.
- On one of my uncle’s trips in Jan, 2020, while he was in a bus returning from Dubai to Yemen, he quietly passed away on his bus seat. Just a day before his death he has sent a video message to my father, telling him that he loved him, and he was thinking of visiting him soon. Unfortunately my father never got the chance to open that message. He got the news of the death before that and had a full mental breakdown afterwards. (That message is something I found only much later on my father’s phone. I have still kept that message hidden from him until now).
- My uncle’s body stayed in the morgue of an old run-down hospital in Yemen for days, as there was no next of kin to take it. My father, despite his poor state of mind, begged me to bring him the body of his brother. I tried my best but realized it was impossible, mainly due to lack of any flights or a functioning govt there. I did find people who wanted to charge me US5000$ to personally transport the body. I was willing to pay but turned out they were scammers and I was afraid that ultimately the body would be thrown down in a ditch somewhere.
- In the end, the only option was to have him buried there by the locals. The wife (who was still in Dubai) sent her son back to Yemen (several days later) to bury my uncle and perhaps pick up any useful stuff my uncle had left behind in his apartment. The wife/son still haven’t told us where they buried my uncle. This is another blow, because my father may never even get the chance to visit his brother’s grave (to offer his prayers), even if the flights were to resume some day, and my father’s health allowed him to travel (which is unlikely).
- So, that’s story of two brothers who never quite got the chance to be happy together. After a lifelong struggle and secret meetings for decades, my father lost his brother, who he hadn’t seen in 10 years and may never see again, not even his grave.