I’d like to share some of my personal experiences, as it relates to a foreign wife/spouse coming to Taiwan from abroad. I’ve been working on finding the right procedure to bring my wife to Taiwan from Malaysia for a bit.
I blew a casket today from the sheer retardedness of the process but now finally calmed down enough to post this. Before I tell the story, I’d like to summarize the lessons learned and how one should navigate the byzantine Taiwanese bureaucracy. Also, this story isn’t over yet.
First, don’t believe everything you read that was written or posted by a government bureau. Second, always get clarification of such posted rules and/or regulations because these are purposely written vaguely. This is because the government bureaucracy doesn’t have a procedure and understanding of what goes on themselves. Therfore, they need to be vague enough to give themselves “wiggle” room. Third, to expedite the process, you (the person in question) need to appear in person to get the right clarification of the rules and/or regulations in question. Another reason for appearing in person is that if not, you will be given the run around or a completely different answer because you used a proxy to represent you. I discovered this nasty surprise today inadvertantly. Fourth, the “obvious” government bureau may not actually be the right starting point for the process you’re attempting to complete. You might discover that you have to work backwards to find the right process and right government bureau to tell you how it should work. IOW, find out which government bureau needs the information that directly affects what it is you’re trying to accomplish.
So, I relate the following information gained from my experience so far:
- 60-day visas - You can get them for (1) work purposes, and (2) residency purposes (aka immigration, permanent residency). Therefore, my reading is that you now merely have a 30-day landing visa for tourists and these are non-extendable. It also means 60-day visas no longer exist for “tourist” purposes. The loop-hole that allowed people to stay longer to work out paperwork for other entry reasons appears closed.
We found this “rule” out when my wife went to the KL TECO office to apply for entry to Taiwan. I told her don’t make the same mistake that I did earlier with my ARC problem where I had a 30-day landing visa when it expired and my ARC didn’t come through forcing me to do a visa jump. The idea being that it would be preferable for her to stay longer to work out the paperwork and avoid needless visa jumps and so we said 60-days should be enough time. So she inquired and found out to stay longer than 30-days she had to show (1) work or (2) residency based on several factors, one of which was marriage, which is indeed our case.
- The KL TECO office gave my wife a list of documentary requirements to enter the country as a new wife of a ROC National. The list stated the following:
[quote]Application for a Resident Visa
If the applicant is abroad, please apply for a resident visa directly at a ROC overseas mission. If the applicant has entered by a visitor visa, please apply for a resident visa at the Bureau of Consular Affairs (including Taichung, Kaohsiung and Hualien branch offices) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Required Documents: -
Household Certificate issued within the past three months (For those who have registered their marriage, please clearly indicate the nationality and the foreign - language name of applicant’s spouse)
Certificate of Marriage Registration issued by applicant’s native government (For those countries with no marriage registration system, please present in the Certificate of Marriage)
Certificate for No Criminal Record or Certificate of Good Conduct
Health Examination Certificate issued by a foreign medical examination hospital designated by the Bureau of Public Health or by a qualified overseas hospital within the past three months
Passport (The remaining of passport validity shall be no less than six months)
(If the above documents, from item 2 to item 4 are made abroad, they shall be authenticated by a ROC overseas mission first, and if they are made in language other than Chinese or English, Chinese or English translation must be attached)
Contrast that with this from the Department of Civil Affairs Taipei Q&A web page:
Question, how does one reconcile the differences in information, requirements?
A: You ask in person. I did, and got the biggest damn run around you can possibly imagine.
Question, how does one fulfill the HRC requirement as mentioned by both rules and regulations?
A: One answer I received as that my wife needed to come to Taiwan. Ok, so if she comes here, she comes how? If she comes with a 30-day landing visa, then tries to change status, is that fraudulent? If this is ok, can such a change be made? But if she comes on a 60-day visa which is allowed, then how is it possible for her to get her name on my HRC document without being here in person and with what proof do I need?
Question, which department is the governing one?
A: Reasonable people would think that it’s the TECO office, the one that permits entry into Taiwan. However, after the run around today I got and additional reading of the above resources, it looks like the TECO office is the wrong place to start (I’m still incredulous).
It appears from what I’ve learned today that the correct government bureau is the Household Registration Office, those people who control one’s HRC (household registration certificate). The TECO statement saying that one can change status from a visitor to a residency one through the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs appears to be incorrect from what I was told today. I will validate this theory tomorrow when I go there to find out how and what to do about my wife’s case. However, the reason why the HRC dept is probably the correct department to start with is because these people are the ones with the clearest rules and regulations and who indirectly control other government bureaus that affect people’s residency, movement, and existence. The TECO office will always refer back to the HRC dept for clarification of a person’s status as the HRC department control and certifies a person’s identify and existence in Taiwan. I believe this is true as this also happened to me earlier this year (another strange story).
Anyways, this is the end of part one and I needed to post this as a cathartic exercise. If anyone has questions, I’d like to know what I may have missed and answer any holes that pop out from these trials and tribulations.
I can only restate that in Taiwan, everything is possible and nothing is what it appears to be. The system can be gamed; infact, it’s part of the process. Do not impose one’s Western notions to this system. It won’t work and you will only stress yourself out needlessly. Taiwan is not a place governed by the rule of law. And always validate my experiences by asking the right questions, as I do with the experiences of other’s who’ve posted here.
Side Note: I found an interesting tid-bit of information which is that the ROC does distinguish foreigners based on blood lines. So, that if you can somehow show that you were descendent of a ROC citizen/national, then you are automatically eligible for as best as I can tell a “fast track” for entry, PR-ship and ultimately citizenship. Since that wasn’t my issue, I didn’t follow up with that.