Single non-Chinese wants to become permanent resident


I’ve read all the information here and anywhere else about becoming a resident of Taiwan, and I don’t see anything clearly stating the legal status of single people who wish to obtain legal permanent residence in Taiwan…I think it has something to do with living here for 7 years…what is the difference between permanent resident status and applying yearly for an ARC?? I am an American (non-Chinese)…do single foreigners have an option for applying, and what is the definition of “permanent residence” as opposed to having an ARC? What are the benefits of permanent residence? Does it make daily life and changing jobs easier? Please go into great detail if possible…
Thanks a million!!!


As a single foreigner, if you have had an ARC for the last seven consecutive years, with actual physical presence in the ROC for 270 days each year, then you meet the basic “physical presence test” to apply for permanent residency. The financial requirements, good conduct requirements, health check requirements, etc. are the same for all applicants.

If you are applying yearly for an ARC, that ARC is based on your “purpose of residency”, which for most people in your situation would be your job. Hence, in the future if you leave that job, you immediately lose your residency rights. If you have National Health Insurance, then that would be lost as well.

With permanent residency, your “purpose of residency” becomes permanent residency. While that is a kind of circular argument, nevertheless it clearly separates your job and your residency rights into two separate categories. Hence if you leave your job, your residency rights are not affected.

You have asked whether obtaining permanent residence makes daily life and changing jobs easier. Before I answer that question, let me give you some basic background information.

I personally undertook the goal of pushing for the establishment of a category of “permanent residency for foreigners” in May 1996. After three years of lobbying in the Legislative Yuan, the law was passed in May 1999. However, this was only my perceived intermediate step in advancing an agenda of “foreigners rights”. The final step is the establishment of free work rights for permanent residency holders, and other select categories of foreigners. I have been working on this proposed legal revision since June 2000, when we had a large Public Hearing in the Legislative Yuan to discuss my recommendations with different party legislators, Council of Labor Affairs officials, and local labor groups. My June 2000 proposals for changes to the Employment Services Act were adopted as part of the official CLA version which was submitted to the Executive Yuan, and then to the Legislative Yuan for action.

As I understand, the Legislative Yuan began reviewing these proposals in late March 2001. I am continuing to meet with legislators from all four parties, and the independents, to urge that these changes be ratified at an early date. Unfortunately, the pace of legislative change in Taiwan is slow, as you will have noted from reading the newspapers.

Hence, to answer your last question, when and if my proposals are ratified by the Legislative Yuan, permanent residency holders will have free work rights. They will be able to work in the company of their choice, or sell sausages in the street, or whatever. That is the final goal, however I am sorry to say that I have not quite reached it yet.

[Moderator’s Note: The proposals for unrestricted work rights for permanent residents and “foreign spouses” were included as Article 51 of the revised Employment Services Act promulgated by President Chen on Jan. 21, 2002. Implementation details were largely complete by mid-March, and this new category of OPEN WORK PERMITS began to be issued on March 18, 2002. Thank you Richard.]


So if I understand you correctly, “permanent residency” is, at this time, the same as yearly renewal of your ARC, except you don’t have to renew it anymore…or, do you still have to renew it with the hospital visits…etc? I’m not really opposed to the yearly visits to the hospital, except it does feel a little degrading…Anyway, I’m not complaining, I just want to know what is exactly different about having a job-related ARC and “permanent residency” in the sense of daily life differences.

I see that your point is that if one has permanent residency, it’s better for long term living, especially if the laws change for the better as you’re lobbying right now…

Am I getting this right? Sorry to be so fuzzy about it.


With permanent residency, you get an APRC. You do not have to renew it every year, hence you avoid the hassle of the paperwork, health checkups, etc. Regardless of how many years you have been in Taiwan, if you accidently forget to renew your ARC, you are considered to have “overstayed”, and are required to leave the country, reapply for a visa, reapply for an ARC, etc. With an APRC, your residency permission never expires, hence you don’t have to worry about such types of oversights.

In terms of getting a Taiwan driver’s license, with an APRC there is no question that you are eligible for the full six year period.

In terms of withholding taxes, of course you can insist on withholding at the lowest allowed rate.

According to the Immigration Law, APRC holders do not have to apply for a re-entry permit.

For those foreigners who own ROC real estate, an APRC assures that they can continue to live here even though they leave their job, marriage relationship, or whatever.

For some countries that have specific regulations (and penalties) against their citizens holding “dual nationality”, the obtaining of permanent residency in Taiwan is a viable option, whereby they can retain their original citizenship, while being assured of continued residency rights in the ROC.

Although Singapore requires PR holders to do military service, Taiwan does not.


Long Term Resident submitted some additional questions today. I will summarize those here along with my answers. First, let me give a short preface.

Preface: For most foreigners starting out to build a life for themselves in Taiwan, the first step is to find a job with a legally registered organization. Then the employer applies for your work permit. With the work permit, you can apply for a resident visa. Your purpose of residency is


But isn’t true that you need to do the health checks, etc. to get the work visa anyway? So maybe you don’t need the health checks for the ARC, but you need to do 'em anyway to get the work visa.


In order to clarify the discussion, I would recommend a slight change of terminology. I believe that what your are talking about is a “resident visa” based on a work permit.

As to whether you will need an additional health check to renew the work permit every year, the government agency under which your company has its business registration will certainly have full information.