"Visa runs for dummies"

“Visa runs for dummies”, or, to be more specific, “Can you explain visa runs to a dummy” - the dummy is me, since after several forays into this apparently vast topic i still don’t have any idea why they are necessary - at least not these days. The most recent threads on this topic that i’ve read are these:

  1. Two connected threads from 2010 (one of them reaching into this year) that explain in detail how to most expediently make a visa run to Hong Kong:
    My first visa run to Hong Kong... Help!
    Doing a Visa Run to Hong Kong... Things You Need to Know
  2. One thread from 2006 - yes, 5 years ago! - that explains why visa runs are no longer needed. :eh:
    Still, there seem to be plenty of people who have made dozens of visa runs over the years (tommy525 even over 100?), so i’d really like to know what this is about…

My own situation: starting 8 years ago, i’ve come to Taiwan several times as a visitor, each time without any visa at all (i could have stayed for up to 90 days each time but never stayed that long), and right now i am here again, this time on a visitor visa which i applied for because the Taiwanese office in Okinawa told me that having this visa will ensure that i can seamlessly move on to to a resident visa, which i’ve been told in the meantime will have to happen in June (and right here in Taiwan), so it looks i will not get the experience needed to understand the story of the visa run.

So now i’m hoping for some magic explanation that dissolves my ignorance… :wink:
(I am thinking that there may be a reason to approach TransAsia Airlines about some visa run related market research, but i can obviously not make any useful proposal if i don’t understand the issue.)

Ok i will bite, I will at least make a few feeble attempts. First iv not made 100 visa runs, iv made visa runs for 15 years but that doesnt amount to quite 100 :smiley: .

I have been to Hongkong more then 100 times though but they were not all visa runs.

I understand you carry a Japanese passport? IF so Japanese citizens (passport holders) are allowed visa free entry into Taiwan for up to 90 days each time. Few questions asked ( I dont want to say NO questions as they may ask you one or two questions, likely not). However, being in Taiwan on visa free status means no ARC and therefore no participation in the national health plan (no health card for medical treatment). And also you are not building time as an ARC holder in order to get the coveted PARC (which can be applied for after 5 years I think of holding an ARC, provided you meet other qualifications, etc). Staying in Taiwan on Visa Free wouldnt build up time then I dont think.

So its advantageous to have an aRC. However, getting an ARC is a lot more difficult then getting into the country on a Visa Free (as long as your passport allows your visa free of course). You would have to have one of a few approved reasons. Student, approved work or missionary AFAIK.

Also having an ARC is important if you want to get a local drivers license or cellfone ,etc. So its good to have indeed.

However for those who dont quite fit the ARC route they may make visa runs. Perhaps they are semi-retired and have the means to stay in taiwan and make visa runs. Or they work online and can be anywhere and choose to live in taiwan. Or they have income outside of taiwan but choose to live on taiwan, etc.

IN the days past, there were few restrictions on working in Taiwan and many worked (like myself) and paid taxes and just left every sixty days for a quick turn around somewhere like HK. Now working in Taiwan on a tourist visa may be looked into more heavily.

Thanks - from what i’ve read, you would be highly qualified. :wink:

Looks like it: i haven’t heard anything about difficulties from other Japanese travelers i know (including relatives), and even if i can’t speak for others, i’ve not encountered any unusual questions myself at the time of my altogether 7 entries into Taiwan (only, “where are you staying”? when i hadn’t put an address in the embarkation form)…

I follow you so far…

Here also…

That matches what i think i have understood about the visa rules myself: leaving life as a student aside, if one doesn’t have a job (or operate a representative office of a company, and such) one can’t get a resident visa (which is the precondition for an ARC).

So even if you have provable income from sources abroad, you cannot get a resident visa although they let you into the country over and over for many years? That seems odd, but i won’t argue with reality. :wink:

That’s where i can’t follow you: why do (or is that now only “did”) people who officially HAVE (had) a job end (ended) up not being eligible for a resident visa? :s

Officially it looks very much like a non-no, and from what i have learned in Canada and the US, i have been assuming that people on visitor visas who work anyway do so “under the radar” (and pay no taxes) - does that sound right?

One other unclear point: many years ago it was apparently not possible to change from certain visa types to a resident visa, so anybody coming as a tourist and getting a job would have to make one visa run to get their resident visa- so far i can follow the situation (concerning the past). But i’ve read in more than one place that this has not been necessary for several years now (5 years?), meaning, allegedly visitor visas can be changed into resident visas when one becomes eligible for one (e.g., when one finds an official job) - is that not the case, or does that only apply in some cases? :s

(Of course, i can understand exceptional situations, like that where someone has their resident visa pulled out from under them because of a suddenly cancelled work permit, but are we not looking at an overall insignificant number of people here?)

Thanks for the explanation! The unclear issues are the two marked with the “confused” icon. Any info on those points?

UP to about 1997 or so people were working on Visitor Visas that had a stamp saying no unapproved employment but as long as the people paid their taxes, this was overlooked. However, no ARC was granted. In other words you could work but you could not get an ARC unless you met the criteria for approved work . Remember the company sponsoring you also had to meet certain guidelines for hiring blue collar workers and also a different set of guidelines for hiring white collar workers. Such as X amount of paid in capital to hire each white collar worker, etc.

So technically it was hard to get a work based ARC for some people who didnt quite fit the guidelines or their employers didnt fit the guidelines. As long as you paid your taxes you were gold. And you even got employees medical. IN those days there was no national medical plan as there is today. You only got covered if you were working. It was called Labor Insurance. If you didnt work, you had to buy your own insurance or be out of luck if something major happens to you. But if you were working you were covered under the Labor Insurance. The Labor Insurance later turned into the much better national health scheme existing today. However. Nowadays, you cant work on a tourist visa and you cant get the national health cover. IF they catch you its jail and/or deportation and a ban from re-entering Taiwan. And of course if you are working you would do so under the radar and pay no taxes. In the past if you paid taxes they were ok with you working, now you cant work and you obviously cant be paying taxes if you do earn money somewhere. You would have to work illegally and once gain if caught be subject fines, imprisonment and/or deportation (or all three).

AS to visa being changed into ARC. FAIK, you can change a Tourist Visa into an ARC, or even a Visa Exempt entry into an ARC (for white collar workers, not blue collar…different guidelines). However, you can NOT change a Landing Visa into another visa. A Landing Visa is only given to select individuals upon arrival who would normally be allowed Visa Exempt entry but their passports have less then six months validity left on them or they are travelling on temporary documents. Landing Visas are quite expensive and are most definitely NOT FREE. And there is no guarantee it will be granted.

So to repeat. NO more working on Visitor Visa allowed. Tourist Visa and Visa Exempt Entry can be changed into an ARC for white collar workers but NOT the Landing Visa.

Currently you can not get a resident visa solely based on your desire to live on Taiwan and you have tangible income outside of Taiwan. However, they are working on allowing people to retire on TAiwan and this may change. They are specifically looking at older retired wealthy people (such as the older retired Japanese) who enjoy a high income and want to retire on Taiwan but dont want to leave every few months and also want to get (or will be requiring ) health care. They are also looking into possibly long term visa for people who want to seek long term medical care in Taiwan. As Taiwan has quite an advanced medical care regimen.

Things are a changin on the wan.

OK, i think i understand that part now… :slight_smile:

OK, i’ve read up a bit on the landing visa, and we can ignore that in this context. The other two situations are also clear to me now: these days a visa run is not required if one comes as a visitor and finds work…

I see…

Right - that is something i have also heard from some older Japanese acquaintances… assuming that one day this becomes possible it could be a provision limited to people over 55 or os, or it might be open to anybody and that way also apply to independently wealthy younger foreigners who would like to reside in Taiwan and who under the current system need to do a visa run once in a while.

And who else needs to make visa runs? From some recent threads i get the impression that there are people from time to time who quit work without having lined up a new contract or whose work just disappears (they are abruptly being laid off). How soon after being laid off or quitting a job does one’s resident visa expire? It sounds like although a visitor visa can be changed into a resident visa, the opposite is not true, so this looks like a situation where a visa run might be necessary under certain circumstances…

As an aside: it looks like i’ve just done what amounts to a visa run myself - without knowing it: i had gone back home last Thursday and come back Sunday night. Today, after i got the registration statement from the university that i had asked for on Monday, i went to the immigration office to ask for an extension of the permitted period of stay for the next study term, only to be told that this was not necessary because i had automatically gotten another 90 days’ extension already when i came back on Sunday night - in fact, from now on, as long as my visa is valid, the clock gets reset that way every time i go home and come back. Well, i hadn’t known that it was that simple… :smiley:

Yes it is that simple and many people tend to forget the time clock is reset automatically when you re-enter the island. Whether Taiwan will later allow people to reside here who have sizable income elsewhere simply because they want to, would be a new concept. For example the USA doesnt really allow this, but many do get to reside in the USA for up to six months of the year.

They of course can not work either. I have a friend from the UK who gets about USd2000 a month and a council flat for NOT WORKING AT ALL. He gets more then usual because he is officially looking after his mom. And this is sufficient for him to live cheaply and also visit the USA and stay with friends up to 2 months at a time that he stays. He has a tourist visa to the USA and is allowed a max stay of up to six months (collectively) in one calendar year.

Perhaps Taiwan will do something like this, but there will be unpleasant side effects. Such as currently there is no maximum length of stay permitted in Taiwan per calendar year. Only the provision that one should visit the tax office if one has stayed in Taiwan over 183 days of that calendar year. The tax office is supposed to determine how you can stay in taiwan and you would have to prove that you have sufficient funds to allow your stay without working on Taiwan. In the past when work was tacitly allowed the tax office would want to determine if you owed any taxes and if not will issue you a statement that you are not liable for taiwan taxes. Nowadays though if you admit to any work, you could be deported by another arm of the govt— immigration.

However, in practice, one never has to visit the tax office if one never overstays ones visa free entry !! This is another very good reason to add to the other very good reason to not overstay Visa Free entry. The other being that if you do overstay your Visa Free, you are no longer allowed Visa Free entry for a period of one year (FAIK) or perhaps even longer.

It wouldnt be good if taiwan decided on a max stay per calendar year like the USA has for tourists. But this would likely be the way if they allowed people to live here who have funds available elsewhere without undue policing.

Unless there was some social benefit to this. Noting taiwans falling birthrate. If hotels start becoming empty due to less and less need of business travel to taiwan (as China gets more and more of taiwans former factory orders) . And if restaurants start lacking people and transportation systems start failing from lack of passengers.

IF this happens, the govt may allow foreigners who will not become a ward of the state the right to live on taiwan so that they can contribute to the economy (as no doubt they will simply by living on the wan).

Taiwan may also make citizenship more available. They would get a big increase if they stopped demanding one relinquish ones original citizenship for example.

However, taiwans population is still very sizable and no lack of bodies currently exist to keep the economy going.

Visa runs are for anyone that do(es :blush: )n’t have a job or isn’t studying Chinese. One common visa run is done by those looking for work since they are either on 30/90 day visa free or a 60 day visitor visa. And this isn’t terribly uncommon in Taiwan right now as I head to Hong Kong on Monday for a visa run.

In my case it wasn’t “forgetting”, just “not knowing”… :wink:

It sounds from this and all i’ve read before that Taiwan doesn’t enforce the rule about people having to visit the tax office is they stay more than 6 months in a given calendar year…

You mean the 6-month rule does not apply to people on visa exempt entry? Or are you just confirming that it is not enforced?

I’ve heard of something called “long-stay”, which is set up to invite (attract) retired people from Japan to live in Taiwan (not sure whether also from other countries - i’ve only hear about this in regards to Japanese citizens). At present the maximum stay is 6 months, but in the course of some incidental meetings with Japanese citizens who have good connections in Taiwan i’ve heard mumblings to the effect that there efforts are being made to persuade the Taiwanese government to issue special long-stay visas for retired Japanese citizens who wish to spend their free time (mostly) in Taiwan.

Some questions that arise from more recent threads about visa runs:

Do you know which country this rule applies to that people can stay in Taiwan only for 30-days, visa exempt, and not get a tourist visa for a longer period of time?
The poster there talks about a visa “for study” - from what i have seen, that is a visitor visa, and those can be changed into resident visas, according to the changes in the law a few years ago. Why the apprehension then? Are there some countries to whose citizens this does this not apply?

Thanks again!

If you stay over 183 days in a year you are supposed to get a tax clearance from the tax office for no taxes due. In practice there is no active enforcement of this rule. But should you overstay, they will send you to the tax office to get your taxes sorted out, should any be due.

I see… thanks