Great idea for a thread ML McLean. I have added to this thread an excerpt from an article from the buxiban website that is in the same vein as this thread. The full article can be seen here. Hope it helps.
In light of a series of recent deportations of teachers for working illegally, it would seem prudent for us to warn foreign teachers in Taiwan to ensure that you are working legally. Any teacher who does any work for a school without a work permit for that school is working illegally and faces the potential of being caught by the foreign affairs police and deported. In cases where a teacher is found working illegally there seems to be little defence nor is there much chance that the deportation decision could be overturned. We each need to accept responsibility for our choices and actions here in Taiwan and in order to make the right choices it is important that teacher know what constitutes legal and illegal work.
In most cases foreign teachers who are working illegally do so by choice, but on occasion legitimate teachers get caught out through no fault of their own. In some cases schools will knowingly employ teachers illegally, while in other cases the schools themselves are totally oblivious to the fact that they have employed you illegally. If you are caught working illegally you will find that the buck stops with you and that the school can likely not help you much at all - despite what they may tell you. As such foreign teachers in Taiwan need to protect themselves by educating themselves.
Remember that if you don’t have a work permit for a position then you are working illegally. If you have been provided with an ARC then you are only entitled to work for the employer named on your ARC. Check to ensure that the Chinese employer name on your ARC is in fact the same Chinese business name of the school of company that you work for. You can do this by comparing the Chinese characters for the name of your employer on your ARC with the Chinese characters for the registered business name as per the certificate of registration on the wall of the school. If in doubt ask the school for clarification, and if you remain dissatisfied then contact the CLA for further information.
How do I know if a teaching position offered to me is legal or not?
There are a number of things to look for when attempting to determine whether or not a teaching position is legal.
The first clues pertain to you as a teacher. In order to be legally employed as a foreign English teacher in Taiwan you need to meet certain minimum criteria set by the government. If you do not meet these criteria then you cannot be legally employed as an English teacher in Taiwan. There are no exceptions and any job offer that suggests otherwise is likely to result in an illegal placement.
The criteria for employment of foreign English teachers include:
a) be from a native English speaking country which is determined by the central government of Taiwan to include citizens of Australia, Canada, the US, the UK, South Africa, and New Zealand.
b) hold a university degree of a Bachelors award or above. In some circumstances a college diploma plus TESOL certification may be accepted but there is little certainty in obtaining a position with these qualifications.
c) pass a medical test conducted here in Taiwan
d) be willing to sign at least a one year employment contract
Once you know that you can be legally employed as a foreign teacher, you need to determine whether or not a school that is offering you a position can legally do so. Things to look out for include:
Kindergartens and preschools cannot offer legal work for foreign teachers so avoid these types of schools. There are no exceptions to this rule so please don’t accept offers to work with preschool aged children if you wish to work legally in Taiwan.
Government elementary and high schools can only offer legal employment opportunities to foreign teachers under limited circumstances. In these cases teachers need to be qualified teachers with a degree in education and a teaching licence back home. If you cannot meet these academic requirements but are offered a position in a government school then that position is most likely illegal.
New schools less than 12 months old are unlikely to be able to offer legal work so stick with more established institutions.
A legal school will have a certificate of business registration hung on a wall in a public area of the school, most likely in the lobby or behind the front counter. This certificate will be in Chinese and will contain the legal name of the school which may have no relationship to the English trading name of the school. In the case of chain schools which largely operate under an English name and its phonetic translation, each school within the chain will be a seperately registered business entity. Even if the schools have the same owner each school is a seperate legal entity and this will be confirmed by the name on the certificate of business registration.
In order to be able to employ you legally, each and every school that you work for must apply for a work permit for you to work with them regardless of the number of hours they are offering you. In order to obtain a work permit for you to work with them the school must produce a Chinese language contract stating that you will be working for them for at least 14 hours per week. If you are employed to work for less than this then you are most likely either working illegally, or the school has provided the government with a Chinese language contract that differs from what you understand the contract to contain.
All other foreign teachers working at the school should have valid ARC’s on them. Ask to see an ARC from one of the teachers at the school (under the auspicies of wanting to see what an ARC looks like). If no foreign staff are able to produce ARC’s then this may be a concern.
It is now illegal for foreign teachers to conduct demonstration classes in front of real students when applying for work. If you find yourself in a classroom with students for any reason prior to your work permit application being submitted then you are vulnerable to being deported.
After finding a school that can legally employ you, you need to determine whether or not you are working legally. Below are a few clues in determining whether or not the work offered to you is legal work:
If your contract involves work with preschool aged children then you are not working legally.
If your contract involves work at more than one location then you may not be working legally. This holds true even if the schools are part of a chain that operate under the same trading name. You need to ensure that each place of work is legally entitled to employ you, and can provide you with a work permit. The registered business name of each employer must be added to your ARC and this can only be done once each of them has obtained a work permit to employ you.
If your employer is not deducting tax from your salary upfront then you may not be working legally. Your employer is required by law to undertake pre-tax deductions from your wages.
If you are being offered less than 14 hours of work per week then you may not be working legally.
What can I do if I suspect that I am working illegally?
If you find out or suspect that you are working illegally then you may like to contact the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) for advice and clarification. This is the government body that is charged with issuing work permits for foreign teachers and they maintain records of who is working where and for whom. They also handle worker/employer disputes and will be able to advise you if you are working illegally and want to change to a legal position.
What can happen if I am caught working illegally?
If you are caught working illegally then you may be fined and deported from Taiwan with a period of time for which you cannot return. In most cases the Foreign Affairs Police (FAP) will interview you and ask you to sign a statement. This statement is often written in Chinese and most people would be understandably concerned about the content of the Chinese written on that document. If you are not absolutely certain about what is written on the document you would be unwise to sign it. A compromise can be for you to write a statement in English and sign that. Although some people escape deportation after signing such a document, others find that they are allowed to go only to find out weeks or months later that they are to leave the country. In most cases deportations consist of you being given a date before which you must leave the country and this date is generally within two weeks of the date of the notice of the deportation. If you did not leave the country by this date then you may be arrested, incarcerated, fined, and/or forcibly deported.
What are the repercussions of deportation?
If you are deported from Taiwan for working illegally, you may find that you are unable to obtain a visa to return to Taiwan for a defined period of time which may be up to five years. In most cases though, deported individuals are able to obtain a visa to return to Taiwan as a visitor, but this visa often comes with special conditions such as being single entry, non-extendable, and stamped with ‘No work permitted’. Additionally, deported individuals can generally not obtain landing visas (visa free entry) for a period of time after their deportation.
Can I appeal a deportation order that is based upon me being caught working illegally?
Deportation orders are administrative matters conducted at the discretion of the Foreign Affairs Police (FAP) and based upon the Immigration Act and other relevant legislation. There is no judicial process involved and as such no judgement needs to be entered into for a foreign national to be deported from Taiwan.
You do however have the right to appeal a deportation order and in most cases the CLA and FAP will extend your visa to enable you to remain in Taiwan while your appeal is being heard. It is however very unlikely that a deportation order would be overturned if it could be shown that you were in fact in breach of the terms of your visa for being in Taiwan, and in fact there is no record of a foreign teacher having ever had a deportation based upon illegal work being overturned.
Quite clearly prevention is key as there is no cure!
Our advice is to not work illegally in Taiwan unless you are willing to accept the repercussions if caught.