ARC and visa problems. Please! Suggestions?

I have also posted this at Human RIghts but I’m not certain where it properly goes. I’m having a visa problem and thought I would try to get some advice from someone that’s been around awhile. I came here 8 months ago and signed a 12 month contract with HarvardLand Bushiban in Hukou, North Hsinchu County. No guaranteed hours but I started out at 33 per week. After a couple months Michael, the owner, started cutting hours by combining classes and taking over some of the classes himself. I now understand that this is a common tactic but I really wasn’t worried about it as it just freed me up to teach more private hours and do some corporate consulting. As the hours became fewer and fewer (now 8 per week) I had a talk with him and explained that I would prefer that he found someone else and he agreed. We had some heated discusions everytime I would have to have a sub come in to free me up for other more lucrative jobs. He had told me that subs were Ok. No problem. Just cover the class. About 3 months ago he agreed to give me a transfer letter when he found a new teacher and that I should give him at least 2 weeks notice before I left. He has not attempted to find anyone for several months. I have done the notice thing several times with him and he can’t or wont find anyone to take the few remaining hours. I cooperated and stayed on for those classes just to keep the peace and to fulfill what I believe is my moral obligation for completing my side of the contract. A consulting firm offered me a very lucrative job in Taipei and I accepted. They insisted I move to Taipei and I lined up and rented an apartment. I had not moved yet but even when I did I planned on still teaching in Hu-kuo. This is a small town and word got back to Michael that I was moving. When I went in on Thursday Michael told me that he could not give me a transfer letter because the government doesn’t like them. This is false. I checked. It’s done but is complicated and requires coordination by the old employer and the new. Michael also told me that Friday would be my last day and that he was cancelling my ARC. He used the excuse that it was illegal for me to move. One day notice. Well, I saw red and after trying to change his mind, I walked out. I believe I will need to do a visa run. Do I? Now, since I cant go to HK I think BK is the obvious choice but I do not have a clue what to take. I get varying opinions from everyone I ask. Proof of taiwan savings of 70k or 100k - seems to be an even split on opinions. Onward ticket. Some say it is needed in this kind of case others say if your getting a tourist visa they don’t ask. Others say it is needed but a travel agency itinerary will work just as well. Multiple passport photos, necessary fees in the issuing countries currency and multiple copies of everything. What other paperwork? Offer of new job will probably screw up my getting an extendable 60 day visa so I’m not sure about that. A good friend from this site suggests that I get a letter from a U.S. corporation saying that I am working for them and will be in and out of Taiwan for the next several years exploring business ops in Taiwan. This is possible for me to do but will it work for a tourist visa? That seems like a “doing business” kind of thing that would raise eyebrows. I know I have just a few days to leave and then come back but the particulars are giving me fits. How long do I have? I have heard everything from 3 days to 10 days. Time is running and I have heard it’s better to stay out of the FAP office because if my ARC is cancelled and they see that it has been, they will stamp my visa with a "Must Leave the Country By:____ stamp which causes problems upon re-entry. Also I have been told that I simply can’t come back at all until my old ARC expires even though it has been cancelled. Top that off with moving this week-end I really have my hands full. Since many of you have been around awhile I thought you might have some information and suggestions, a roadmap if you will. I could go to FAP but I dont want to limit my options in that manner just yet. Anything - anything you can offer would sure be appreciated. Thanks

Hi Enigma,

Here is my understanding from six years of visas, ARCs and the like.

  1. Almost every Taiwanese you talk to in Taiwan will give you bad and factually incorrect advice (no matter what the subject is). It’s not because they want to mislead you. It’s simply because they like to hear themselves talk and be in-the-know and wouldn’t admit they don’t know something for sure. So don’t believe them until you have checked the facts for yourself. Likewise, many foreigners have a lot of stories that don’t amount to fact either. Therefore, what I suggest below is my understanding from experience. I give it to you so you can know where to begin. But as things change rapidly in Taiwan, you should ask questions of relevant authorities to make sure. If possible, try to get something in writing.

  2. If your employer said he cancelled your ARC, take it seriously. According the law, you have seven days from the cancellation of your ARC to exit the country. Now, since Taiwan is a rather backwards place when it comes to the processing of foreigners, you have no real way of knowing IF your ARC was actually cancelled and from what day it was cancelled. Therefore, the safest thing to do is to be proactive and go to the nearest branch of the police that deals with ARC matters (in Taipei, The Foreign Affaris Police). Explain to them the situtation and see if they have any computer information about your status. They often do not know in real-time what you status is. All they know is that you just told them your boss said he was going to cancel your ARC. Therefore, ask them for an extenstion stamped in the back of your passport. This way you will know for sure when you have to be out of the country. In many cases you can get longer than seven days depending on your excuse. They will usually cancel your re-entry permit in your passport and snip your ARC (or even take it from you). So, if you want to keep your ARC, don’t bring it. Just bring your passport and a copy of your ARC. NOTE: Overstaying can screw you in many future respects, so don’t mess around with it. Be proactive.

  3. When you apply for a work permit for your next job, it is likely that the authorities will require to see a doucument from your previous employer called a “separation/release letter” that states your tenure and last day. It should have the big company chop and the smaller chop of the person responsible for the company. This is a standard letter that is required by law. Your employer cannot refuse to issue you this document. Many Taiwanese companies blackmail their foreign employees by not giving them this release letter, but it is illegal. If your employer gives you a problem, simply threaten to go to the labor board. This usually sobers them up.

  4. Be aware that there has been some issue in the past of blacklisting foreign teachers that do not finish their contract. I’m not up to date on how this does or does not work. I would check in the “Teaching in Taiwan” forum of this site. You need to make sure your employer is not talking trash about you to the government, in the event that you do want to teach again in Taiwan.

  5. It is not illegal for you to move. You can live wherever you like. You register that with the local foreign affairs police and it is printed or amended on your ARC.

  6. Taiwan labor law applies equally to foreigners (at least on paper). You just have to be vocal about it. In most cases it is not legal for your employer to give you one-day notice. You may be fine with this, but you have to keep a tally of the illegal things your employer does. Why? Because often they will try to take advantage of you and abuse your good nature. Over time you will learn to collect dirt on them, just like they do to you. Chinese culture is all about creating a perpetual stalemate of blackmail. It is this mutual kind of blackmail that provides the social gule that holds Chinese society together. “I have dirt on you. You have dirt on me. If you cause trouble for me, I’ll cause trouble for you, so why don’t we come to some sort of resonable solution.”

  7. I’ve heard in the papers that you can get a longer extension on your current visa, no matter what it is based on the SARS situation, possibly up to 30 days. Check with the local foriegn affairs police.

  8. As you know, doing a visa run to Hong Kong or other nearby places may carry with it a 10 day quarantine term when you arrive back in Taiwan. Check beforehand with the TECO office (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office) in the country of destination first, as each office gives different lengths of visas. Chek with the CKS aiprot, as I’ve heard as of May 1st you can, for a fee, extend a two-week landing visa to a full month, depending on what country you are from. In many cases, you can’t get more than a month visa anyway when going to some TECO offices in Asia.

  9. If you are truly getting another job with a consulting gig, and they are going to apply for a work visa for you, start that process ASAP. In many cases your visitor visa or current visa can be changed to a resident visa WITHOUT leaving the country. In this case you can switch employers/ARC without leaving the country. But you have to be quick about it. Don’t overstay.

  10. There is no truth to the fact that you can’t come back until your ARC expires. The ARC is not connected to your entry and exit at immigration. They never ask to see it at immigration. Your visa is. With an ARC you have that multiple re-etnry sticker in your passport which serves as your visa. Otherise, you will be issues a full-page visitor visa, issued from outside Taiwan.

  11. There is such a thing as a “multiple re-etnry VISITOR visa” not to be confused with a “multiple re-entry visa” given when you have residency/an ARC. The validity is usually one year, meaning that you can come in as many times as you want in a year up to 60 days each time. I had one of these last year. It is usually issued to people who can produce evidence that they need to travel to Tawian frequently for “valid” reasons. That means a company letter from a Taiwanese partner company or some other organization overseas that they can place confidence in. It is really pot-luck though, as with all things with the Taiwanese. You see, I got mine beacuse of my story. I produced NO document in LA and they gave me one on my good looks. :unamused:

  12. What should you bring? EVERYTING, including a signed orginal of the Magna Carta. Perhaps you will need to learn to dance the Charleston. There is no accounting for the xiaojie at the other side of the counter. The best rule is to bring as many of the originals as possible. Make sure everthing is choped in blood red. Take everyting from your passport to your release letter from your last employer to your old ARC, etc. etc. etc. And yes, the general policy is that you need to show an outbound ticket when getting a visitor visa or landing visa … although, again, they are very random with these requirements. You should know that if you are not applying from your home country, the suspicison that you are teaching English illegally goes up and they ask more questions and proof of things. Whereas, when I’m in LA they never ask to see anything except my application and money. But I’ve done it in HK and Singapore. I almost got rejected in HK and they did a full back-office interview in Singapore.

  13. What might help is a letter from the company that wants to hire you. Make sure it is written in Chinese and is clearly identifible as to what company. If you are truly in the process of getting a legal job and you can show evidence of that, that will usually give you the push you need. But remember, never show all your “evidence” at once. Piecemeal it out as asked for. If you can get accepted on your good looks, do it. Only give information as they ask for it. This way it is harder for them to reject you at first glance.