To all who might be considering a visa run to Macau, the following recent personal experience is submitted for your informational purposes. I apologize in advance for the length and detail of this post, however, I believe in being thorough!
My friend arrived on a 2-month, single entry, non-extendable, vistor visa. He arrived on June 26, 2008. Since his arrival date he’s been looking for the “perfect” English teaching job. He finally found a suitable school and he signed a contract last week, but doesn’t have enough time remaining on his visitor visa to successfully process a working permit, working visa, and ARC card. Hence, the necessity of a visa run to Macau.
He departed Taiwan on 8-20-2008 at 8am with a same day rountrip ticket on Air Macau for $10,200 NTD. Could have been cheaper by around $3,000 NTD if he had arrived in the early afternoon and departed in the late evening. However, you can’t get the visa processed with one day service this way.
He arrived in Macau at approximately 9:50am, made his way to a foreign currency exchange service and changed some US dollars into Macau MOPS. Tip: Remember, you are required to pay for your visa fee in either Macau MOPS or Hong Kong Dollars, only. Don’t forget to change money before leaving the airport.
He then made his way outside to the taxi stand and gave the following address for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center to his taxi driver and he was off.
電話：(853) 28306282, 28306289
Taipei Economic and Cultural Center
Al. Dr. Carlos d’Assumpcao, No 411- 417,Edif Dynasty Plaza,6 Ander “F-K”, Macau
Telephone：(853) 28306282, 28306289
- The current hours of operation are Monday through Friday 9am~12pm and 1pm~4:30pm. You can check for changes and or updates at the Taiwan Bureau of Consular Affairs website regarding Macau at the following web page link.
My friend required same day service so he needed to submit his visa application between 9am~12pm with a pickup at 4:30pm. It’s a very short ride from the airport to the TECO office and he arrived at approximately 10:30am. He had already filled out a visa application here in Taiwan the night before and he just had to walk up to the counter and submit the application and pay the fees. Based on other postings in this forum, he figured it would be a piece of cake and it would be just a few minutes before he was out of there. NOT! Apparently, the Macau TECO has caught on that people are avoiding Hong Kong and Okinawa and are opting for the easy, peasy, Macau visa run. Therefore, the staff at the Macau TECO are scrutinizing visa applications a little more closely than before! The female clerk at the desk asked my friend some cursory simple visa questions, purpose of travel, duration of travel, etc. She then asked him where he was working in Taiwan! My friend answered that he wasn’t working, hasn’t been working, and doesn’t intend to work upon returning to Taiwan, just tourism. She then looked at him very carefully and with a doubtful look and tilt of her head asked him point blank, “Are you sure you haven’t been working at all? How about teaching English or tutoring private students?!” She really watched his facial expressions as he firmly shook his head and soberly said that he wasn’t working, hasn’t been working, and doesn’t intend to work upon returning to Taiwan, just tourism. The whole questioning took about 10 minutes. Finally, she seemed satisfied with his calm, cool, and collected responses and asked him to have a seat for a moment. Two minutes later, the head honcho Director of the Macau TECO called him over to a private 1 on 1 vestibule for a chat! Now, my friend started to sweat. Why, oh why was this happening to him? Well, it seems that the last time he was here in Taiwan, September 2006, as a Chinese language student at Shi-Ta University, he had overstayed his student visa by 9 days and they had the records. The director first asked about this and the circumstances surrounding the overstay and subsequent overstay fine he had to pay as he departed Taiwan in 2006. Then he asked what his occupation was and my friend replied that he had just graduated from college. The director wanted to know why he wasn’t returning to America now because the new semester should be starting soon. My friend told him that he was delaying entering graduate school for a semester so he could take a break from his studies and travel around the world before heading back and hitting the books because he would be entering a PhD program and wouldn’t be able to travel again for quite a while. The director then asked how it was possible for him to support himself during this extended period of travel. My friend replied that he had a full-ride academic scholarship to Harvard, which is in fact correct. The final question was, “So after you finish touring Taiwan you will be heading STRAIGHT back to the US?” This was a trick question because in order to apply for a visitor visa, you need to show them an airplane ticket which shows you leaving Taiwan. Don’t forget this! My friend had printed out an Electronic Travelocity airplane itinerary and he didn’t have an actual paper ticket or E-ticket but that didn’t seem to be an issue to them. However, the destination leaving Taiwan was not the US, it was Bangkok, Thailand and the director had seen this! My friend almost slipped up and said that yes in fact he was going straight back to the US, but before he said a word, he caught it and said that in fact he would be first going to Thailand to visit a college mate, then Cambodia to see Angor Wat, and then to Vietnam before finally returning to the US. The director smiled and said, “Wow, you lead a very fun and exciting life.” He then told my friend that he was going to approve a single entry, 60 day visitor visa, that HAS the possibility of extension this time. The director told him that based on the 9 days overstay two years ago he was not eligible for a multiple entry visa and that in fact he was lucky that he hadn’t overstayed 10 days because the level of punishment is higher at that point. He didn’t specify what the “increased level of punishment” would have been and my friend didn’t dare ask at this point. He was told to come back at 4pm and that he could get the visa at 4:30pm. He shook the director’s hand, said thanks and got the hell out of there!
He returned to the TECO at 4pm and actually had to wait until 4:30pm to get his visa. He paid $1,064 Macau MOPS for the visa and a same day express charge of $203 Macau MOPS for a total of $1,267 Macau MOPS.
His return ticket to Taiwan was a 7:05pm departure and it was a little early, but he’d had about enough of Macau and the “easy, peasy, visa run”. So he returned to the airport and was able to change his ticket to an earlier flight.
It looks as though Macau isn’t necessarily the easier place to go for a visa run. If you do go, you better have all your paperwork in order and your story straight. My friend is well educated, articulate, polite, clean cut, no earings or piercings, no tattoos, and he dressed in nice slacks with dress shoes and wore a nice button down long sleeve dress shirt. Think geeky Harvard boy! The only way he could have improved his appearance would have been by wearing a tie. Of course it also depends on the individual and the different past circumstances like my friend’s overstay of 9 days two years ago. Oh, by the way. The director also told my friend that the following year after an overstay, you can’t enter Taiwan visa-less. You are required to get an official visitor visa approved at a TECO outside of Taiwan first. If he were to have arrived visa-less in 2007 expecting a 30 day stay or less on the visa waiver program, they wouldn’t have let him enter Taiwan and he would have had to get on another plane and go somewhere else to get a visa first. Good information to know!
So, now he’s safely back and his school will submit for his working permit, working visa, and ARC next week. He already did his medical exam the week before he left so it shouldn’t take too long. He’s now concerned, however, with the amount of hassle he received in Macau regarding his overstay history as to whether or not he will be approved for a working permit, working visa, and ARC. Guess we’ll just see what we see! It appears that it’s not a very good idea to overstay one’s visa.