A foreigner’s experience in 2018 trying to get residence visa for a Filipina Wife

You can first read this other post to get some background on this.

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  1. Late last year I was asking people how to get married in Taiwan to a Filipina (as a foreigner working here on an ARC).
  2. Long story short, after months of struggling with Taiwanese bureaucrats I was finally successful in marrying my Filipina girlfriend in Taiwan (as a foreigner) and I got a nice Taiwanese Marriage Certficate.

My wife who was a blue collar worker ended her work contract so she could return to Manila and apply for a residence visa.

  1. To our surprise she was denied a residence visa BECAUSE we had a “Taiwanese Marriage Certificate”. TECO Manila said they do not accept “Taiwanese Marriage Certificate” as proof of marriage for foreigners. I was livid!!!
  2. I sent many complaints to BOCA in Taiwan asking them to explain why a TECO wouldn’t accept a document issued by their own government (i.e. Household Registration Office). [Note : Our Taiwan Marriage Certiticate was even notarized in Taiwan and authenticated by MOFA in Taiwan]
  3. After being ignored by BOCA, I started sending faxes in the name of the Minister of MOFA complaining about this organization and questioning their bureaucracy and their stupid logic.
  4. Interestingly, only after a few faxes and letters directly delivered to the Minister I got a call from someone in BOCA. The lady was so angry at me!! She told me that TECO Manila was right not to accept a “Taiwanese Marriage certificate” for two foreigners. She told me to go and get a Marriage Certificate from our own countries. I angrily told her that if my Taiwanese Marriage Certificate had no validity in TAIWAN (and TECO’s) shouldn’t I just tear it a part or throw it away , since it was so useless. She said “YES”!!! . I argued and complained to deaf ears…

The whole process took 2 months. Next Step: Our attempt at a Student Visa.
I helped my wife to apply for a 1 year Chinese Language diploma at NCKU Tainan. We got the admission letter.

  1. My wife applied for a Student visa (for studying Chinese) - [There is a special 1 year visa category for that. ]
  2. They remembered that she had previously applied for a residence visa and accused her of lying about her purpose of going to Taiwan (which is true, though I really did plan on letting her take full-time Chinese lessons).
  3. After some back and forth and arguments, they took her passport and told her to return in 1 week. After 1 week, they told her to return after 1 week again. (She had to take the bus from another city 12 hours in each direction - twice ).
  4. On her final visit they said they would only issue her a student visa if she could bring her Marriage Certificate from Philippines (i.e. NSA). Frustrated my wife tried to cancel her visa application and retrieve her passport. THEY REFUSED! They said they would mark her passport with “RED” ‘rejected visa’ mark if she tried to take back her passport.
  5. We had no choice now but to go through with Marriage registration in Philippines. After weeks of struggle we finally got a Marriage Certificate from Philippines (on the basis of Taiwnease one).
  6. After returning with the right document she was told her student visa was still rejected because she lied about the purpose of her visit. They returned the passport to her with a stamp of rejection and a serial number on one of the pages.

Third Attempt : Residence visa (spouse)

  1. My wife tried again to apply for residence visa (spouse). Last time we were denied because they didn’t accept Taiwanese Marriage Certificate but now we had a marriage certificate from Philippines.
  2. To our surprise they rejected us again. They said because the Philippines marriage certificate was based on the Taiwanese one. They wanted the Pakistani Marriage registration counterpart as well. [Why ?.,… Because they wanted to make sure our Taiwanese marraige was registered in both countries]
  3. Now this is where we gave up because Pakistan doesn’t accept any foreign marriages at all! This is something millions of Pakistanis struggle with. My wife tried to explain this to them. They said “Sorry, Not our problem!”.

& and here we are now…

We got married in first week of January 2018 and haven’t been able to live together properly ever since.

  1. I have tried every way in Pakistan to get the Taiwanese Marraige registered but it’s not possible, not even with a bribe!
  2. I even considered making a fake one myself but it wouldn’t work because the document would need to be authenticated by a) MOFA Pakistan, b) Pakistani Embassy in Saudia and then c) TECRO Saudia.
  3. I recently applied for a Employment Gold Card. I did it in the hopes that it would help my wife get a visa. I know they look down at us being from Pakistan and Philippines. I thought the Gold Card would make me look better. So far no luck. Either way I will try again to convince TECO Philippines and explain to them my situation but I am really running out of options.

I am a hard working tax-paying foreigner who is contributing to this country in a lot of ways. I shouldn’t be made to suffer like this. All I want is to be with my wife. Why are they making it so difficult ?

I am near the point to where I would have exhausted all options. I could just leave this island and join my wife in Philippines but I am only 12 month away from applying for Citizenship and I really need this citizenship.

Any comments , ideas are welcome ?

PS. I am considering to contact the media but I am not sure it will not work. I doubt they would even be interested in my story.

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Just as a note: I wouldn’t post on here that you were considering illegal methods to get your wife into Taiwan. One, because it contravenes forum rules and Two, because the powers that be could be monitoring this site.

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In hindsight, bringing your case to their special attention by deliberately butting heads with them probably wasn’t a great idea.

Man, what an ordeal! I also wouldn’t advise trying anything illegal. It would probably just backfire and make things more difficult for you and your wife in the long run. If you are a year away from citizenship, I’d advise you to just be patient and wait until you have it. Once you’re a Taiwanese citizen, the whole process should become much easier.

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You are right. I have removed those remarks. It’s just so frustrating. I have never done anything like that. I have legally been to over 30 countries and have a very clean record.

The only reason I said that is because I am so desperate… Sometimes Taiwan’s bureaucracy defies all logic and common sense.

I can only hope things will be better for foreigners 10 years from now.

Yes, I do regret it. Everyone knows our case in BOCA Taipei and TECO Manila now.

I thought I was just simply fighting for my rights. I was also fighting for common-sense. It just didn’t make sense to me why a Taiwanese Representative office wouldn’t recognize a document issued by their own government.

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Just out of curiosity: what would happen in other countries for two people in a similar situation? I’ve never heard of this before, usually it’s one permanent resident/citizen getting married with a non resident.

Wow…So sorry that you had to go through all this bureaucracy BS and ordeal for so long…I don’t know if I would have the will power to keep persevering as much as you did…To say the Taiwanese Govt. is being a “little” paranoid about two foreigners (One from Pakistan & the other from the Philippines) getting married in Taiwan & eventually staying here together in the long run is an understatement…I believe (and this is just my opinion) the Govt. feels this is a sham marriage in trying to bring a former Blue Collar Worker back into TW …we all know how Taiwanese view the Blue Collar Workers here.
On a similar note, I know an Indian friend, who has a Taiwanese ID, and is married to a Filipina and he had to wait mths upon mths to get a Resident Visa for her and finally after many years, she finally got her ID as well. It was definitely not an easy process even for someone with an ID to bring in someone from a country which Taiwan deems as “Blue Collar Workers” country.
Can’t you two go to Pakistan and get married there and get the Marriage Certificate? If this is the only way to get her Resident Visa, then you should probably try this route…or take the advice of others and wait it out till you get the Taiwan ID. But be warned, that process will in itself take a long time too (assuming you have to give up your Pakistani Citizenship and then waiting a full year on a TARC etc)…and there is no guarantee that TECO Manila will budge from their original position as they have “Red Stamped” your wife’s passport now. Just hope for the best!

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Jeez I am so sorry to hear this story . It has xenophobia and racism running right through it.

I don’t know if getting citizenship can guarantee you to get your wife in either. For instance I know of Taiwanese women in the news who couldn’t get their Nigerian husband into Taiwan or at least it was very difficult for some.
Citizenship would help but it is not a guarantee.
Also there is a further at least one year residence required (1 year with no exit after getting the TARC…Or two years with max 3 mths exit each year or 5 years six mths each year ) for citizenship unless can get foreign professional status.

You might also go for APRC which in theory should help to get her in.

I am also sorry to hear about this story. I wonder if you have considered using a lawyer? Not necessarily to go up against the authorities, but rather to know the best strategy to get over the hurdles on your behalf. I can recommend a law firm that will be processing my own families paperwork. pm if you want the contact. The company I work for have used them before, and they assure us that there will be no hiccups. That they regularly process visas for foreigners and their families to reside in Taiwan etc etc.

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It’s really been an ordeal and it has put a strain on our marriage and our finances. I have had to bring my wife here on a visit visa 3 times already (7000NT$ To 9000$ each time). She lives in Naga city in the Philippines which is 500 km away from TECO Manila. It’s quite expensive for her to make runs to TECO Manila every week and I can’t even count how many times she has had to do that. Sometimes she has had to go there 4 times a month. I have probably spent close to 50,000 NT$ over the last several months just going through all these visa processes and authentications in TECOs across several countries but I still have nothing to show for it.

My wife is mostly living with her parents since the wedding, which is not a good thing in Philippines. She is frustrated too. This whole thing has also taken an emotion toll on me and my wife feels especially sorry for me , to the point where she often (in tears) tells me that I should just leave her and marry someone else who would have an easier time getting in to Taiwan. Of course I wouldn’t do that! I plan to take this to the ultimate conclusion. I will not give up!!

There is definitely an element of discrimination to all this. I used to think I was treated differently (not too bad though) until I met my wife and other Filipinos. Only then I realized how bad things were for them. In my case the only reason I can get away with slightly better treatment here is because there are so few Pakistani’s here and many Taiwanese (oblivious to rest of the world) don’t know much about Pakistan and haven’t been influenced one way or the other by news etc. I have spent the last 4 years correcting people, telling them I am not an INDU (Indian) or Palestinian (which in Chinese sounds like Pakistani). On rare occasions they’ll even mistake me for an Italian (??) and I don’t even correct them then.

Off topic: ///
I have been struggling with Taiwanese bureaucracy since day 1. It was 4 years ago when I got a job offer and went to TECO Frankfurt who didn’t know what to do with me. I was the first Pakistani to walk in to TECO Frankfurt since their inception. They told me TECO Saudia was the only one designated for handling Pakistani Nationals (especially for document authentication).

I couldn’t go to Saudi Arabia because they didn’t offer any tourist visas. After butting heads with TECO Frankfurt for 4 months (and having my employer call them repeatedly) I finally got the residence visa.
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Back to your point about marriage in Pakistan. I have already done that in feb, 2018 when I went there for the “wedding in Pakistan”. I had to do it otherwise my family wouldn’t have accepted my wife. The only type of marriage I could do in Pakistan was a religious one. It was a formality for me because I am not religious but my wife had to pretend to convert to Islam. The problem with that certificate is that it’s on a different date then the original marriage that was done in Taiwan and it states my wife’s religion as Muslim while she is registered as a catholic in Philippines.

My wife in fact did show that one in TECO Manila. They said they wouldn’t accept that as marriage registration in Pakistan. They said that’s a new marriage. They advised her to ignore the Taiwanese marraige and instead register the Pakistani Marriage in Philippines.

The problem with that is :

  1. We have already registered the Taiwanese marraige certificate in Philippines. We can’t register a second marriage there again even if it’s to the same person.
  2. Registering an Islamic marriage in Philippines requires going through some local organization there responsible for Muslims. She would have to prove to them she is really a muslim convert and we have been told getting approval from them could take up to 1 year.

So, we are really low on options!

I have contacted lawyers and agencies in recent months. Few that replied said they couldn’t help me because I was from a group of “restricted” countries (which includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan etc…) and therefore many authorities in Taiwan (especially MOFA/BOCA/TECOs) wouldn’t accept applications on our behalf. They recommended me to just do it myself.

Of course it doesn’t hurt to try. Thanks for the offer. I will send you a pm.

Thanks to everyone for your advice and comments. I just wanted to update everyone on the progress so far.

Good news is my wife got her residence visa, and she is in Taiwan already. Yay!

I won’t go in to too many details but some of the things I did towards the end :

  1. I challenged both TECRO Riyadh and Manila for bouncing me off to one another. I sent them strongly worded email with cc to BOCA.
  2. Afterwards I called BOCA repeatedly to complain about them and ultimately they were forced to call both TECO offices about my case many times.
  3. I also informed TECO people in Manila that I would no longer deal with them and asked for an appointment with the Ambassador. I had already found his direct contacts and inform TECO people that I was flying to Manila to discuss my case directly with the Ambasssador. That’s when some of people in TECO finally started paying attention to me and began responding to my emails nicely.
  4. While I was butting heads with TECO I also took a Taiwanese friend to visit the Green Party office in Tainan where I lodged a complaint against the BOCA. I also challenged their Gold Card and it’s uselessness to unite me with my wife. Luckily someone there took notice and started making calls to legislators and BOCA. I made sure my friend followed up with them weekly. From what I understand ultimately things went up to someone and they started asking questions from TECO Manila.
  5. I visited TECO manila in person with my wife in early August. I was treated exceptionally well. They knew who I was and told me they had special instructions to handle my case. I didn’t have to get a ticket or get in line. They just took my documents and urgent fees and gave a visa to my wife within a day.

She is here now and I applied for her ARC which she will be getting tomorrow.

All I can say to others now (based on my 8 month struggle) is don’t give up and keep fighting.

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Awesome , wish you both a happy life here.

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dang, good job…

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Why? In my home country nothing on any document states my religion.

I wish that was the case for us as well. Unfortunately both Philippines and Pakistan state a person’s religion on the main page of the passport. Some even mention the denomination.

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My wife is Taiwanese, and I am from Scandinavia. We also have a marriage certificate from the Daan household registry office in Taipei, but this was not acceptable to the TW “embassy” in HK.

I had to get a certificate from my home country that we are married, which entailed

  1. getting the Tw marriage certificate notarised
  2. getting the notarised certificate legalised at the foreign ministry in taipei
  3. taking the notarised+legalised certificate to my home countries consulate in HK for verification
  4. Sending the document to my home country for registration
  5. picking up registration document from home country
  6. getting that document notarised
  7. getting the notarised document legalised at the foreign ministry
  8. taking the notarised + legalised document to TW embassy in my home country
  9. taking the document which is notarised, legalised and confirmed by tw embassy in Europe to HK TW embassy.

So, not sure if your experience was that out of the ordinary.

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It was incredibly frustrating for me reading your experience, and I was only reading about it. You and your wife have the patience of Job, and I’m so happy to hear it finally has a positive outcome.

Government bureaucracy + thinking outside of the box + cha bu duo/tai ma fan le + perhaps underlying xenophobia = Absolutely unnecessary hurdles. Your perseverance has hopefully lowered those hurdles for others.

I think more or less your process was the same as mine. My main difficulties were the following:

  1. I had to deal with TECO Saudi for authentication and TECO Manila for the visas.
  2. Just like in your case, TECO wouldn’t accept our Taiwanese Marriage certificate at all. This is where I tried to take a stand and get them to accept it.
    a. The main reason I tried to fight for this was because I knew registration in our countries would take months and I wanted to avoid a long separation.
    b. However, I failed after trying for several months.
  3. We were asked by TECO to get marriage certificates from both Philippines and Pakistan.
    a. I got the Taiwanese Marriage certificate registered in Philippines which took 4 months.
    b. When it came to registering our marriage in Pakistan, that’s where we hit a roadblock.
    c. Pakistan didn’t accept any foreign marriages certificates, no registration either. I begged TECO to waive this requirement in my case, but they wouldn’t.
  4. I had to fly to Pakistan with my wife and remarry her from scratch spending over 100K NT$ in the process.
  5. TECO Saudi then refused to authenticate my marriage certificate from Pakistan which I had to fight for again.
  6. Lastly TECO Manila refused to accept the Pakistani Marriage certificate because it was on a different date than the marriage dates in Taiwan and Philippines.
    a. This is because we got married in Pakistan independently of the marriage in Taiwan and it’s registration in Philippines.
  7. At one point I was married to my wife in three countries, yet they wouldn’t issue her a visa based on a technicality.

I do realize that many issues were in fact from our own countries and their laws, not necessarily Taiwan. I also believe I made many mistakes in the process due to wrong assumptions.

My biggest issue with Taiwan was always their complete lack of flexibility in their rules even when they knew I had a genuine problem preventing me from fulfilling all the requirements. They were clearly aware of my struggles and frustration but refused to help or bend the rules.

If I had to do things all over again I would definitely do it differently. And, I would advise any two foreigners living in Taiwan to just marry outside Taiwan and get it registered in their respective countries before applying for a spousal visa. Don’t do things like I did.