American having issues with getting ARC after extensive research

I am an American and have married my Taiwanese wife and we are getting run around trying to figure out how to change my visitor visa to a marriage based ARC.

We have registered our marriage in Taiwan and I am officially on her family’s household registration and we are confused as what our next step should be. Calling immigration and other offices gets us run around. One office claims that I need to leave Taiwan and go to HK to apply for another kind of visa. Other online applications do not say this and multiple people claim they were able to change to a marriage based ARC with their 90 day exempt visitor visa like I have.

Another important question I have is do I need the full FBI background check for a marriage based ARC? Some people have claimed a local Taiwanese background check was good enough and some online forms do not even mention the need for it.

Do I also need to get a healthcheck? The same as above, some websites say its needed while others don’t mention it.

Has anyone gone through this process recently? I would be forever indebted to someone who could help us figure this out.

Thanks so much everyone!

You need to get a resident visa before you get the Arc.

Here is the instruction by BOCA.

Resident Visas for Foreign Spouses of R.O.C.(Taiwan) Citizens Having Household Registration

The page says

Applicants who enter the R.O.C. (Taiwan) on a Visitor Visa with annotation 「TS」 may apply for a Resident Visa 8 work days before the duration of stay expires … without having to leave Taiwan …

what is the 90 day exempt visitor visa? Did you enter on visa exempt or do you have a visitor visa?

I entered on visa exempt. Sorry for the confusion

If you’re here on visa exempt then yes, you do have to leave and come back. Visa exempt cannot be converted into anything else. You have the choice of only getting a visitor visa abroad and doing the actual ARC application here, or taking all the papers with you and applying for a spousal/residence visa there and coming back only to pick up the ARC. I did the former because I didn’t have all my papers ready by the time my visa exempt duration ended.

if you really don’t want to leave Taiwan and can find a job and prepare required documents immediately, you can get a work based ARC from visa exempt without leaving taiwan, then convert the work based ARC to marriage based one in Taiwan if you want.

Going through this myself right now. I’m not fully through the process yet but I’m getting close and found this to be pretty accurate and concise: American getting married to Taiwanese, JFRV process?

I did the FBI background check in January and it was actually completed much faster than expected – everything says to expect to wait 12 weeks, but I got the “online” version back in about a week after it arrived at the FBI office, and the paper one (to my parents’ house in MN) in about 3-4 weeks.

  • You can get your fingerprints done at a local NIA office – just make sure that you print out the fingerprint card on stock paper
  • You will then have to mail this to the FBI, I used DHL from a local 711 and it was like $1000NTD
  • You will have to get it authenticated by the Washington D.C. TECRO office. What I ended up doing was having the FBI send the results back to my parents’ house, and then having my parents’ send the package to TECRO with all of the required information (I forget exactly, you should call them after you’ve received the online FBI background check response and they’ll tell you what they need you to send them. They need a cashiers check though and cannot take personal checks).

If you are on visa exempt you will have to leave the country as other people have said – though flight tickets to Macau are actually pretty cheap if you can do it during the week day.

The only other source of confusion that I wanted to point out was the

Original and one photocopy of marriage registration issued by competent authorities of the applicant’s country.

requirement on the BOCA page: . The USA doesn’t have a “marriage registration system” which I believe means that the Taiwanese Marriage certificate is enough – I haven’t actually confirmed this yet but it’s what I could gather from research. You may have to fight with whoever is issuing the visa on this point (not sure if enough American’s have been married here yet that the process is standard).

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on the page it is clearly noted.

  1. For countries which do not have marriage registration, original and one photocopy of the certificate of marriage are required.

Just wanted to add an update to this thread after having finally completed the process today (ARC will be arriving in 14 days):

We attempted to get the JFRV in Macau last week but they refused to accept that the USA did not have a Marriage Registration system and said that Americans have produced a registration paper before (my wife got into a slightly heated argument with them over this). After more research on AIT’s website (see “Marriage and Divorce” FAQ), it looks like what has probably been produced is another affidavit stating that the marriage is legal and recognized in the USA (not exactly sure what it has to say and if you’re going that route you’d probably want to ask what it has to say before dropping another $50USD).

So instead what I ended up getting was a “Tourist Visa for Visiting Relatives” that had my wife’s name on it and was around $220USD (for rush processing). When we had called previously they had said that it can be done in 2 days (submit the morning of 1 day and pick up the afternoon of the next) but then once we got there they said the minimum is 3 days. After some more arguing / pleading they were able to get it to us the next morning – but be warned that you may not be as lucky.

Coming back in on the tourist visa, I had to ask the immigration officer to please use the visa instead of the visa-exempt stamp he was about to give me – I’d also recommend asking and not just assuming it will be used because he missed mine.

Then heading down to MOFA in Kaohsiung, it looked like they needed the following documents (your spouse will need to be present for the first time I believe, but not the renewals):

  • A form that is available at MOFA that requires a passport picture that just basically claims that you want a resident visa (forgot the exact name of the form)
  • Health Check (no copy required)
  • Wife’s current rental agreement + copy (we live together but she’s the only one on the lease)
  • Copy of Wife’s ID card (and they also wanted to examine the real one before handing it back)
  • FBI Background Check + Translated and Authenticated into Chinese (this is not required if apply at an embassy abroad but is required if applying at MOFA for some reason). My wife did the translation and then we headed down to a local notary office to get a stamp on it (highly recommend this place, was $750NTD and about 15min)
  • They did not need a copy of the marriage certificate or anything – maybe it’s already in the system? Or maybe it’s because it was needed to get the original Tourist Visa for Visiting Relatives?
  • No AIT Affidavit was required when applying at MOFA
  • And then it was about $3200NTD to order the ARC which should hopefully arrive in about 14 days

Overall it was much more work that I was originally thinking it would be – but I have a feeling getting my wife a USA green card when we’re ready to move back to the states will be more of a pain…

Good luck!

Pretty sure I meant NIA and not MOFA here…