In light of the hospital cluster, which was caused by an imported Covid case, and apparent strain on the quarantine system with CNY coming up, I think it’s worth asking whether Taiwan should reconsider its policies around non-essential immigration.
There is a lot of of interest in the Gold Card program, which seems to have become a sort of Covid refugee program based on recent posts here.
So what do you think…
Should Taiwan temporarily suspend Gold Card immigration?
Would be interested to hear your reasons why in the comments.
Not sure how true it is, but I have heard a few different people say that most gold card holders don’t actually find work in Taiwan related to their gold card profession. I know four gold card holders, two are now enrolled in Chinese schools, one is still looking for a job and the other is teaching English. If that is true, I doubt the gold card scheme will last very long anyway.
For me, the biggest issue is the obvious Covid risk. The system is under increased strain and it doesn’t inspire confidence to read posts from CG recipients asking whether they can show up without having a quarantine hotel prebooked, whether Airbnbs are legal quarantine accommodations, etc.
Also, I increasingly question whether the program will provide much economic benefit to Taiwan. There are a number of recent posts by GC recipients who don’t seem to understand that they will have to pay income tax when they become resident in Taiwan. And there have also been some posts by people who seem to be interested in structuring their income so that they minimize or eliminate their tax liability.
Eventually Taiwan will have to re-open its borders. Covid is something the world will live with for a while. It’s a much better idea to learn how to mitigate risk then try to hide from risk.
Taiwan has also relied too much on a defensive tactic of shutting down flights, contact tracing, and quarantine. They haven’t invested enough in procuring vaccines or researching aggressive therapies to minimize hospital stays.
There are just over 1500 people that have received gold cards. They aren’t the problem. A much better use of time would be going after manpower brokers that were supplying workers with fake test results, and forcing them to live in inhumane conditions in Taiwan.
I’m not “worked up” about it. However, on principle, I do think that countries with economic immigration programs should benefit from them.
Yeah, I know. Set up a corporation that pays dividends instead of salary, blah blah blah.
Again, I’m taking into account Taiwan’s interests as well. It’s kind of silly to have a program under which a bunch of people tell you they’ve been making $x in salary, and then $x drops to $0 the minute they come into your country.
If this is going to be the norm, Taiwan would be better off front-loading its economic benefit the way a number of other countries do (read: making you pay a more substantial amount of money up front for residency while charging minimal to no tax on the backend).
At the very least, the the Economy category loophole should be eliminated. The NT$160,000/month salary is the only requirement. It’s unfair for people from lower-income countries that are much more deserving – these people have to be truly exceptional to qualify. At least 40% of US salary earners make more than US$67,000 a year. What benefits do Taiwan get by letting so many entry-level engineers, YouTubers, or people who just want a break from their careers live here?
I’m happy that I can still go out to restaurants and bars, etc. thank you very much. A defensive tactic is perfectly sensible for an relatively small island country that managed to keep the virus from spreading in the community when the pandemic emerged.
And looking at Taiwan’s economic performance, the border situation hasn’t hurt anywhere near as much as most other countries.
Taiwan knows that tax cheating is endemic here, so it has a comparatively high sales tax to compensate. Bring in more people consuming = more tax revenue. These entry-level engineers aren’t going to be making 48k a month and eating bingdang for lunch.
They’re not hostile to the immigration itself. They want SE Asian immigrants. To take care of their parents. To work in their factories. Because locals won’t work for the pay and under the conditions they offer.
Taiwanese don’t treat SE Asian immigrants well (to put it nicely), but that doesn’t mean they don’t want them here.
My rationale is this: Taiwan has a shrinking population. Since the early 2000s, many migrant workers have come here to do blue collar jobs. These guys are very important but they have nearly no labour market mobility (other than running away and becoming undocumented) and very few opportunities to innovate. The Gold Card scheme is one attempt to get educated people here without tying them to a buxiban or a single employer. These guys don’t need to wait five years (as conventional ARC holders do) to start doing what they want. Will they all succeed? No. But I think the Taiwan government sees this as a low risk experiment that might, just maybe, lead to positive outcomes.
The numbers remain small enough to be manageable during the pandemic. I say keep it open.
I think you’ll find Taiwan has been at the forefront of defining therapies and treatments to help prevent hospital admissions and subsequent deterioration/death from SARS2. The dexamethasone (steroids to reduce lung deterioration and help prevent the need for respirators) program was pretty much initiated by Taiwan. Taiwan also developed the “Taiwan Plan” and gave it to the world for free back in January 2020.
As for the vaccines Taiwan is using a cautious approach. Quite simply because they can. The WHO has already pretty much cancelled flights for 2021 because they are using the same wait and see approach (whether or not the virus will mutate and the vaccines against them becoming useless).
I have no doubt that Taiwan will have extremely strict entry procedures put in place for CNY. The 2 outbreaks (NZ pilot and now the hospital) have been from failures of individuals directly exposed from following the rules.
I think what Taiwan should do then is establish checks for these positive outcomes.
For comparison, if you set up a company (or branch or representative office) here, to maintain your work permit and ARC, you need to periodically show that you’re doing something. In some cases, you have to meet certain turnover requirements. In others, you have to provide qualitative evidence that you’re active in trying to do/facilitate business in Taiwan.
I also think the government could be more active in trying to integrate these educated people into society and the workforce. For instance, if you have a bunch of people with tech skills coming in on the GC program, why not create online and offline platforms for them to connect with potential employers and clients in Taiwan?
From what I can tell, a lot of GC recipients arrive and are basically just left to their own devices with no real effort made to take advantage of their knowledge and skills.