Visitors Visa - So Confused (can you get a work permit on a visa-free entry?)

She gave me her email address in case I had additional questions.

Let’s say I write to her, and reference the visa-exempt entry rules (and white-collar professional exception).

And say she writes back to say:
“If you’re only a buxiban instructor, lacking a teaching certificate, then you wouldn’t be seen as white-collar, and you wouldn’t meet the terms of the exemption.”

…would she be right? I would hate for a nuance of translation (not within my grasp) to make me assume I can make this work out.

On the other hand, her visitor visa strategy [the $160 fee, her request for my passport through the mail, bank statement (wouldn’t specify an amount) and the ASAP nature of it all (overnight or 2-day expenses, both ways)] is stressing me out. I feel awful.

I don’t know, but this is what the website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs says, in part:

The above doesn’t look like a law to me, and I’m not sure it’s a regulation, but it looks authoritative to me.

But I’m not sure how that might solve any problem you might have with the person at TECO.

Edited to add:

Did she say anything like that? Because I’m wondering if that could somehow become an issue. I wonder whether there’s evidence on the board that other cram school teachers have been able to get an ARC directly from a visa-exempt entry.

you cannot apply for a resident visa based on work without a work permit already issued.

if you have read through this forum, you may know coming on a visa exemption, getting a buxiban job, and getting an ARC is what many people are doing.

If you want to get an assurance, just call or mail and ask to a headquater of NIA or BOCA in Taipei, not to the lady in a TECO nor to online strangers here.


Yeah, that sounds good. :slight_smile: And on that, this stranger is going to hit the hay.

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She did not say anything about buxibans per se. I mentioned it as part of what I wanted to investigate while there. I just ran through the steps outlined above verbally and she shot it down.

She said if I’m planning to seek work, I’d need a visitor visa first.

(Thanks to all for continuing to write back. I just want to get there and join my partner. Perhaps in moving the timeline up, to have better potential chances during the hiring season, I’ve brought this time-crunch stress on myself.)

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I think tando has the right idea. You can e-mail or call the National Immigration Agency (NIA) or the Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) and see what they have to say about whether these rules apply to cram school teachers.

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phone: (+886) 2-2343-2888

They have an in-house email:


bunch of phone numbers:

in-house email:

I hear my bed calling.

I wish you success!



The key paragraph was hiding in plain sight. I need to stop skimming stuff!

And they key phrase is still there and seems to match what I posted two years ago: 於入境後於停留期限內取得工作許可之白領專業人士…經外交部領事事務局…同意改辦停留簽證者不在此限 i.e. a white collar professional who obtains a work permit before the expiration of the visa-free entry period can apply to BOCA for a visitor visa.

BOCA’s translation:

Points 2 to 5 have changed.

Aussies have had their 90 day visa-free “trial period” extended to the end of 2019.

Northern Macedonia (it took me a moment to get that!) also has a 90 day visa-free trial period, until the end of March 2020.

Brunei, the Philippines and Russia all have trial periods for 14 day visa-free entry until 2019-07-31.

Britons and Canadians get 90 days that can be extended to 180 days, subject to certain rules.


Unofficial translation:

Besides such activities not requiring permission as sightseeing, visiting relatives, social visits, business, taking part in trade shows, examinations, and international exchanges, if one who enters by the visa-free method plans to engage in activities requiring permission in accordance with the laws and regulations of other domestic organizations, permission must still be obtained; if planning to engage in such activities requiring examination of qualifications as missionary work and propagation of Buddhism, please apply in advance to the ROC mission for a suitable visa with which to come to Taiwan.

BOCA’s translation:

Job interviews are not prohibited (as long as they don’t ask you to do a teaching demo with real students – that is definitely forbidden), so there should be no problem. :2cents:

If for some reason BOCA has decided to stop issuing visas to people who obtained work permits while visa-free, you could still fly out to somewhere like HK, Seoul or Manila and apply for a visa there, instead of going back to the US.


Thanks, @yyy, for the impressive amount of work you’ve put in on this issue.

I think @Hardcopy’s concern can be expressed by something @tempogain wrote back in 2015:

One example of this is that the minimum wage for supposedly white collar workers doesn’t seem to apply to cram school teachers (or at least it didn’t seem to apply back in 2012).

I believe you, but I can also understand why @Hardcopy would be somewhat uncomfortable, especially since the TECO person to whom he spoke nixed the idea of going directly to an ARC from visa-exempt status.

But there’s this:

Again, thanks, @yyy.


Qualifications for white collar workers including buxiban teachers.
Qualifications and Criteria Standards for foreigners undertaking the jobs specified under Article 46.1.1 to 46.1.6 of the Employment Service Act

Qualifications for blue collar workers
The Reviewing Standards and Employment Qualifications for Foreigners Engaging in the Jobs Specified in Iterns 8 to 11,Paragraph 1 to Article 46 of the Employment Service Act


Thank you all for helping.

Yes, as @Charlie_Jack says, I’d feel better if I could connect A with B.

A, meaning this white-collar exemption language:

(which includes 之白領專業 “white-collar professional” …)

And B, meaning this employment-type:

I see that @tando has detected a “white collar worker” meaning, but I’m not able to find that in the text he links to.

Maybe I’m seeking a certain level of “official alignment” between A & B that just doesn’t exist. My own tendency is to want the 之白領專業 white-collar term to match up with language found within B.

Perhaps the more practical question is whether I truly have these options:

The TECO person sounded dubious when I asked if this was an option (maybe she’s required to steer me away from visa-runs?). She said that “sometimes” people had to come back to the States - in other words, that HK, Seoul or Manila might not be options. I’d hoped she could have affirmed what everyone here has been quoting, literally chapter & verse, using up their own free time. I’m grateful (thank you again, @yyy).

I see the recent contact info above from @Charlie_Jack and will perhaps seek answers from them. It’s been hard to know if more info (my default preference) or less info is going to be the best route to peace of mind!

Thanks again.


The Basic Wage applies to all workers i.e. persons employed under the Labor Standards Act, including buxiban teachers. It’s the same one that 711 clerks are entitled to, i.e. an amount far less than what most people from developed countries would be willing to work for.

The 48k “minimum wage” for some foreigners is a separate thing and does not apply to buxiban teachers.

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I hate to go Lord Baelish on people, but I suspect you’re right, and she’s under orders to try to cook up more business for her office. The only other explanation that makes sense to me is that she’s new at her job (or just doesn’t care).

It’s always possible that something has changed, but there’s no indication of that on BOCA’s website, and they’re the ones you’ll be dealing with if you ignore the TECO and go straight to Taiwan.

The “white collar” term is never explicitly stated in law afaik, but it’s frequently used by bureaucrats as shorthand for exactly what @tando pointed out.

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WDA calls B(外國人從事就業服務法第四十六條第一項第一款至第六款工作資格及審查標準) A(白領審查標準).

Hi everyone,

Thanks again to those who responded to my earlier questions.

I’m now in Taiwan and I have a work permit (in Chinese) from the school that would like to hire me. I’m now hoping to have my visa-exempt status turned into a Resident Visa. (Following that, the school will help me apply for an ARC.)

But back to my immediate goal. My plan is to visit the BOCA office in Taipei with my completed application for a Resident Visa. The print-out is a copy of the same form I submitted online on Friday. I will also bring two recent passport-size photos with me, as instructed by the school (and the form itself). Plus a copy of my return-trip itinerary showing flight number and seat number (showing original intention to visit for tourism). And of course I’ll bring the work permit from the school and my passport. Also bringing 5,120 NT (probably also 1,100 NT for “rush” option – I’d really like to get this wrapped up).

Should I need it as reference, I have copies of the documents referenced by others (above):

  1. Visa-exempt entry bulletin (under “duration of stay” section, 2.a.), specifies allowance of visa-exempt entry to visa-based stay for white-collar professionals who have obtained work permit.

  2. A copy of the Employment Services Act (ESA), with Article 46 bookmarked (including a copy of Article 46 in Chinese). Outlines work (presumed “white collar”) that a foreign worker may do, including teaching.

I have about 5 weeks left in my visa-exempt stay as an American citizen.

If they request an interview, I plan to tell them what I’ve discovered: that I’ve fallen in love with the country, that I would like to accept the offer from the school and that my girlfriend is already an established resident and also an APRC holder.

I plan to dress professionally and act accordingly – pretty customary for me in any circumstance.

I plan to arrive at the office shortly after it opens. I hope to have the application accepted and leave Taipei (I don’t live there).

Is there anything I’m forgetting or that you recommend? If for some reason I’m rejected, are there any plan Bs and Cs I should have ready? If I have to stay in Taipei through the early afternoon, I can do so.

Thank you for reading and any suggestions you might have. And thanks for being here.

the visa instruction page says

Applicants who enter the R.O.C. (Taiwan) without a visa and have obtained a work permit issued by competent authorities of the R.O.C. (Taiwan) may apply to the Bureau of Consular Affairs or any of its Central, Southwestern, Southern, or Eastern Taiwan Offices for an extendable Visitor Visa. Subsequently and with the extendable Visitor Visa, the applicants must apply to the National Immigration Agency for an Alien Resident Certificate.

Thank you for writing back, @tando.

The “2.a. bulletin” I mention says:

  1. Visa-exempt entry cannot be converted to visa-based stay, unless any of the following
    A. Foreign nationals entering the ROC through visa exemption may only apply for
    conversion to a visitor visa within the permitted duration of stay at the Bureau of Consular
    Affairs or MOFA branch offices in the event of situations that prevent them from leaving the
    ROC, such as severe acute illness, natural disaster, or other force majeure reason. In
    addition, white-collar professionals who have obtained a work permit within their permitted
    duration of stay may apply for a work visa
    together with their spouse and minors (under age
  1. who entered the ROC at the same time.

But I can see that the instructions you quote from are more specific. Can you link me to those please?

Sigh. I suppose (if it’s an option) I could fill out online and bring an application for a visitor visa. Then, first thing, ask the agent I end up meeting which kind of visa I’m eligible for and present that (i.e. have both applications ready).

it is the site linked in a previous post.
Anyway, it sounds you have everything to convert your visa-exempt entry to ARC. I’d call to BOCA and confirm which form I should fill, then visit them today, if possible.

So the question to Hardcopy is, how’d it go? Namely, were you able to go from visa-exempt to something else without leaving the country?

Hi @globalgourmand,

Sorry for the late reply. I’m probably forgetting some of the technical names for things, but it went okay.

Yes, I arrived with visa-exempt status. After a number of phone calls, emails and interviews, I found a good position.

The school applied for a local work permit (county, I believe). Once approved, I was given paperwork to use to apply for an ARC at the BOCA office in Taipei. I filled out an application online, as well, submitted it online and printed out a copy as a backup.

Although I was anticipating an interview, I’m not sure the BOCA officer said or asked anything. The paperwork from the school, the local government and my application seemed to be the critical items. Everything went smoothly. It took perhaps 10 minutes as she made copies, stamped papers and so on.

I chose the option of having the ARC mailed to my school, to avoid another trip to Taipei. That meant a little running around in the same building, but it seems like they’ve developed a pretty efficient operation there. My ARC arrived 10-14 days later.

My only mistake was misunderstanding how long my visa-exempt status was good for. I thought it was 2 months and booked my required return flight accordingly. As an American, I actually had 90 days. To make everything match up on the application (and to give myself more time if something went awry), I shifted my flight and paid the $200 fee. Then I was able to put my accurate return flight info on my ARC application. They didn’t want to verify any of that, in person, but I wanted everything correct.

I’ve been here for 9 months and the job is going well.

My thanks again to @tempogain, @yyy and others who chimed in with advice. Let me know if I can add any more details to the above, @globalgourmand.