I finally got my gold card last week and thought I’d give a final update on my experience with the process and ask a few questions to anyone who’s already been through the next steps. Be forewarned: long post ahead.
Dec. 31, 2019: Applied under the Technology field under “Holders of a Ph.D. degree who possess special expertise that is lacking in Taiwan.” Had I applied sooner, I probably wouldn’t have applied under this category, but almost all of the other categories in Technology require evidence of academic research in the last 3-4 years, which I don’t have as I stopped working in academia in 2014. I submitted a cover letter explaining my intentions and why I felt I possessed “special expertise that is lacking in Taiwan,” my Ph.D. certificate, several reference letters and first pages of scientific papers verifying my foreign work experience as a postdoc (ca. 4 years total), a copy of a Chinese patent I’m listed as an inventor on (had to submit something under “documents verifying technology”), and a copy of my Chinese Postdoctoral Certificate (had to submit something under “documents verifying receipt of awards”). Paid 6633 TWD for 3 years (application fee plus payment fee, UK citizen).
January 2020: Nothing happened. Application status remained at “Professional Review by Workforce Development Agency.”
Feb. 4–7, 2020: Started e-mailing a few people from the contact list. First at MOST, who told me that my application was still with the MOL and hadn’t yet been passed to them, then at MOL. Following these e-mails, I finally got an e-mail from the system stating insufficient documentation on the basis of some of my documents being issued in China and needing to be notarized. Longer version here.
Feb. 10, 2020: Went over to the Straits Exchange Foundation to find out about notarizing the above documents. The staff were helpful but apparently couldn’t do anything without me first getting the original documents notarized in China. This would have been close to impossible as I would have needed to either fly over there (and be quarantined upon return) or pull in some serious favors to get someone in China to help me with the notarization and do things like obtain the actual patent certificate from the university. Longer (quite frustrated) version here.
Mid-to-late February 2020: Gave up on the idea for a bit and had to do a visa run as my original visa exemption was expiring, then started looking at other options for fulfilling the requirements. Got an additional reference letter from a former long-term freelance client from several years ago to verify my professional experience without relying on the time in China.
Feb. 26, 2020: Went to the MOL to try to find someone there to discuss the situation with and what alternative evidence they might be willing to accept. Not the right place - nobody at the service desk seemed to know anything about the gold card scheme, so they called up a few people who also didn’t know about the scheme until putting me through to the Workforce Development Agency (which I gave them the contact info for). Walked over to the WDA in an effort to speak to someone there, and they phoned me back while I was in the lobby. Discussed the requirements and possible solutions on the phone with a friendly Mr. Huang, and he said he needed to check a few things and would call me back the next day.
Feb. 27, 2020: Mr. Huang called me back and confirmed what I’d suspected, that I’d basically be unable to apply under the Technology field as I couldn’t supply “documents verifying technology” or “documents verifying receipt of awards” without the notarized Chinese documents. Without either of these and/or demonstrable academic experience in the last 3/4 years, none of the Technology categories really seemed to work. I inquired whether I might be able to apply under Education instead on the basis of having a Ph.D. from a top 200 university, and he agreed that this would be a possible solution.
Feb. 27, 2020 (continued): So I did that. I wrote another cover letter focusing more on the education side of things and submitted that alongside my Ph.D. certificate after changing the category on the system. I will say that the system doesn’t really seem set up for this, and none of the modified information showed up on the system until after resubmitting the application (i.e., the category was still showing up as Technology, and I had no way to see whether the modified documents had successfully uploaded). I remember also that the “please enter your opinions to the reviewer” box requests the response to be written in Chinese and was limited to some low number of characters, so the website was throwing up vague “send failure” messages until I figured that out (I just submitted a truncated response in English). More details here. Called Mr. Huang again a couple of times over the next few days to confirm everything had gone through correctly and the process was moving along.
March 9, 2020: Received an automated e-mail telling me to take my passport to BOCA after printing out the passport submission notice.
March 10, 2020: Did it.
March 16, 2020: Application status suddenly changed to “Under inspection” (it had been something else in the preceding few days, but I forget what).
March 17, 2020 (8 p.m., oddly): Received an automated e-mail telling me my application had been approved and to wait for the next e-mail telling me I could collect the card.
March 18, 2020 (10 a.m., so surprisingly fast!): Received an automated e-mail telling me my card was ready and I should go pick it up from NIA after printing out the payment receipt. Did it, after going first to get my passport back from BOCA. Just needed to show the payment receipt to the guy at the first desk to the left of the door and he went through a stack of gold cards and ARCs to find mine. I found it mildly amusing that the gold cards were in plastic covers and the ARCs weren’t.
Tl;dr: should probably have applied under the Education category in the first place.
There are a couple of things I want to do with the card. The first is part-time science tutoring, which I have previous experience with, probably up to 10 hours a week but typically less (maybe several). The second is scientific editing, which I also have previous experience with and contacts for. The former would obviously be in Taiwan and paid in Taiwan. The latter may include Taiwan in the future but would initially be for foreign companies and the payment could either be remitted to foreign accounts or a Taiwanese account (when I have one). I’m considering setting up a small (Taiwanese) company for the latter, but that’s a future goal rather than an immediate one as I need to do more groundwork/research first.
NHI: I’ve discussed this in another thread and confirmed this information with the NHI over e-mail, and my current understanding is that I won’t be eligible for NHI until six months after the gold card was issued, i.e., September 2020 (my previous stay under a visa exemption doesn’t count). I could potentially be covered by NHI immediately if I found a regular employer, although I don’t intend to do that as stated above. The explanation I got from the NHI regarding what constitutes a “regular employer” was quite vague (she just referred me to the Employment Services Act, Article 46, Paragraph 1, Subparagraphs 1–6, which only describes permitted occupations for foreigners as far as I can tell). Tando gave some information in the other thread regarding the minimum requirements for NHI enrollment, and judging from this the part-time work I have in mind wouldn’t count.
I suppose an alternative idea for obtaining NHI may be to start a company earlier than I would prefer and enroll myself through that, although I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle at the moment. I also understand that there’s some act going through at the moment that might eventually change the NHI situation, but I haven’t kept up to date with that. I realize I haven’t asked a question yet, but if anybody sees a problem with what I’ve written here or has found an alternative (private insurance?), please let me know.
Employment/accepting work: Is there anything I need to be aware of here with accepting work from Taiwanese/overseas clients while under a gold card? Example 1: If I agreed to do a few hours of tutoring at a test prep organization or similar, would I need to do anything except sign a contract, receive payment, and put some aside for eventual taxes? Would I need to receive approval from the Ministry of Education or do a background check or something? Example 2: If I edited some paper for a Taiwanese researcher/university in a self-employed capacity, would I need to get permission from someone or issue a fapiao (I’ve read about the gaofei exemption but still don’t fully understand the implications of that, and the total annual amount would presumably exceed 180k TWD). How about for overseas clients?
Taxes: Somewhat related to the above, but do I need to do anything with the tax office prior to working, like register for self-employed work? Or is it as simple as just making sure I keep say 20% aside and submitting a tax return and paying them whatever they ask next May?
Thanks to anyone who made it this far. I realize that some of these questions, especially those regarding company formation, will probably require me to visit an accountant or JusRegal or something (after doing more research), but I just thought I’d give an update and throw some questions/discussion points out there to anyone who’s already been through it.