Regulations on foreigners who have made “special contributions” to Taiwan have recently been expanded to allow more people to qualify for permanent residency, according to the Foreign Affairs Police.
In 2002, the Ministry of the Interior established regulations allowing foreigners who have made special contributions or those with technological know-how to attain permanent residency in Taiwan.
However, the definition of “special contributions” was listed as those who have been given an award from the Presidential Office or one of the Five Yuans (the Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Examination or Control Yuan), those who have participated in international competitions and received gold medals, Nobel Prize winners, and those who serve as important role models.
With such definitions, long-time foreign environmental and human rights activists living in the country, such as Linda Arrigo and Lynn Miles, have not been able to fulfill permanent residency requirements under “special contributions” or “high-tech personnel” when applying.
Miles arrived in Taiwan in 1962 and aided political dissidents during the Martial Law era. He was deported in 1971, but returned later.
Arrigo was the wife of former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shi Ming-teh (施明德) and an activist for the DPP in the party’s early years. She first came to Taiwan in 1963 and was deported in 1979 after her then-husband was arrested.
While abroad, she spoke up for human rights and denounced the former KMT regime. She now lives in Taiwan and is the international affairs officer of the Green Party in Taiwan.
The interior ministry, acknowledging the achievements of Arrigo and Miles, held a series of meetings and came up with amendments at the end of last month which would allow foreigners who have made contributions in a wider range of fields to obtain permanent residency.
Under “special contributions,” a new definition was added so that “those who have contributed to areas such as democracy, human rights, religion, education, culture, art, economy, medicine, or sports” will be eligible to attain permanent residency.
Foreigners who contribute to the promotion of Taiwan’s international reputation may also qualify for permanent residency based on the new rules.
Foreign affairs police officials confirmed the amendments to the Taipei Times, but the interior ministry has yet to announce the new regulations.
Officials said that the new rules will be announced sometime this month.
Miles said that originally, foreigners wanting to obtain permanent residency had to have resided legally and continuously in Taiwan for more than 183 days in each of the seven years immediately prior to application.
However, although Miles has remained in the country for more than seven years, he overstayed his visa from April of 2003 to the end of last year, so did not fulfill the “legally residing” requirement.
Miles said he had received an e-mail from the Foreign Affairs Police last Tuesday telling him that he had been granted permanent residency.
“I feel great,” Miles told the Taipei Times. “I now have lower tax rates, and can come and go as I please.”
Arrigo is currently abroad and was not available for comment.
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