Working Holiday Visa - Experience, tips and advice

I have been in Taiwan on a working holiday visa since last year. I am the only person I have met in Taiwan (except for a few Japanese and Koreans) with this visa, so we’re trailblazers in a sense. When looking for information before coming here, there really was a dearth of good information around the internet. There was some around Forumosa, which did help. The more thoughts out there the better, I suspect.

I thought I would put down a few points to potentially help others who might be thinking of this visa. Information about which nationalities are eligible and age restrictions is available around the internet, but it’s usually 18-30.

Let me put forward some thoughts based on my experience:

(The below point is important, because it confused the heck out of me before it was explained by immigration)

  • In my case (Australian passport), the visa we are given is valid for a one year period. However, per entry we are permitted to stay for 180 days. This means that every time you enter Taiwan during the one year period, your 180 days is reset. If you do not leave Taiwan before 180 days after arriving, go to immigration to get some advice or request an extension. In theory, you can re-enter as many times as you like, but you’ll have still that one year period from your first date of entry into Taiwan.

  • Expect that not many people in Taiwan will know much about the working holiday visa. Many Taiwanese just assume that only Taiwanese can do this abroad, they don’t actually realise that it is a reciprocal program, but because so few take it in Taiwan many don’t know about it here.

  • On the same theme, expect a degree of shock or amazement that you are actually in Taiwan on a working holiday visa. “What? You can do that?”, “I thought it was only for Taiwanese”, “I have never met anyone in Taiwan on a working holiday visa", and so on.

  • Perhaps think about getting a letter in Chinese/English typed up that outlines the terms of the visa and what it actually is, so that potential employers/landlords/banks etc, are clear why you are in the country for a year without a ‘work’ visa.

  • Upon arrival, go to immigration and get an ID number (its name escapes me now) that allows you to do stuff like open bank accounts etc. or join a gym without an ARC or a residence permit. It’s free and once you show the visa and tell immigration you want to open a bank account, they should know what you want.

  • Australians are limited to 6 months per employer. Be clear when looking for work that you do not require sponsorship or an ARC - you might find some employers that are happy they don’t have to go through all the paperwork etc. for a short-term hire. If you know no Chinese, think about teaching or some organisations that could use native speaker help (proofreading/editing stuff etc.) or of course, your professional skill.

  • If you’re looking for work, network and get out there. Google organisations, get a friend to help you search. Contact potential employers in your field of interest, but keep in mind that you’ll probably be paid the same or a little less than your counterparts if working in a Taiwanese company. A university degree is very helpful, and will be, if you end up liking Taiwan and want to stay after one year.

  • Obviously, try and brush up on your Chinese. It will help.

Another thread discussed the loophole of re-entering on the last day to get an extra 180 days. The loophole shouldn’t exist (nice though it is), so it could be closed at any time. Even if the NIA affirms an airport IO’s decision to let you stay longer, the labor authorities would probably insist that after 1 year you need a work permit to work.

Another loophole may exist but not in the visa holder’s favor: the NIA may try to impose an arbitrary interpretation of “1 year = 360 days” (definitely not what the Civil Code says!) on the basis of 180 x 2 = 360. Afaik there’s nothing that says you’re limited to one extension while the visa is valid, but common sense aside, apparently there’s nothing that says they need to give you a second extension. If you want to be completely safe and not risk losing 5 days of validity (or 6 with Feb 29 this year), you have three choices:

  1. Fly out at the 180 day mark and spend a week outside Taiwan, so when you come back you won’t need an extension anyway.
  2. Fly out before 180 days, get another 180 days upon re-entry, and get one extension of 180 days or less (and be ready to argue with NIA staff about the definition of a year – stand your ground calmly, as the law is on your side).
  3. Plan to stay for less than a full year.

[quote=“redline”]- Expect that not many people in Taiwan will know much about the working holiday visa. Many Taiwanese just assume that only Taiwanese can do this abroad, they don’t actually realise that it is a reciprocal program, but because so few take it in Taiwan many don’t know about it here.

  • On the same theme, expect a degree of shock or amazement that you are actually in Taiwan on a working holiday visa. “What? You can do that?”, “I thought it was only for Taiwanese”, “I have never met anyone in Taiwan on a working holiday visa", and so on.

  • Perhaps think about getting a letter in Chinese/English typed up that outlines the terms of the visa and what it actually is, so that potential employers/landlords/banks etc, are clear why you are in the country for a year without a ‘work’ visa.[/quote]
    Well said. The visa sticker says in fine print that the visa 視同工作許可 i.e. is equivalent to a work permit, also mentioning the legal basis, which is Article 4 of the Regulations on the Permission and Administration of the Employment of Foreign Workers (the legitimacy of which is dervied from Article 48, Paragraph 2 of the Employment Service Act, which means that the visa holder falls within the scope of the “unless otherwise specified” proviso in Article 43 of the ESA, and these can all be found in English and Chinese at law.moj.gov.tw), but they still probably won’t believe it until they’ve checked with someone else (who isn’t a foreigner).

The 統一證號 (“unified ID number”) resembles and is functionally equivalent to an ARC number, which can result in conversations like this:

Gov’t official: Your ARC number is ____.
Foreigner: I don’t have an ARC.
Gov’t official: Yes, you do.
Foreigner: No, I don’t.
Gov’t official: But the number is ____?
Foreigner: Yes, that’s right.
Gov’t official: Then it’s an ARC number.
Foreigner: No, it isn’t.
And so on… :doh:

Otoh, a business may freak out due to fear of the unknown and refuse to accept it as an “ARC number”. If that happens, the easiest solution is to go to the business next door.

More information here: boca.gov.tw/lp.asp?ctNode=78 … DSD=7&mp=2

The flowchart (first link) shows some of the differences by nationality, the others being how long you can work for a single employer, how long you can study at a single institution, and the age limit (30 or 35). Note that Britons are subject to NHI, but apparently no-one else is. Another country joins the club every now and then.

[quote=“redline”]- If you’re looking for work, network and get out there. Google organisations, get a friend to help you search. Contact potential employers in your field of interest, but keep in mind that you’ll probably be paid the same or a little less than your counterparts if working in a Taiwanese company. A university degree is very helpful, and will be, if you end up liking Taiwan and want to stay after one year.

  • Obviously, try and brush up on your Chinese. It will help.[/quote]
    Two more things:
  1. Beware of employers who try to take advantage of the scheme by saying that income tax doesn’t apply or applies differently. You’re subject to the same tax rules as any other foreigner, working or non-working, and your status as a resident or non-resident for tax purposes is based on the number of days you spend in Taiwan in a calendar year. (If the employer doesn’t withhold tax every month, there’s no penalty for you, but you still have the obligation to pay by the end of May the following year; you can also pay for the current year within a few days before you leave, if you have no intention to return the same year.)

  2. Beware of employers who ignore labor laws. This applies to almost every company that employs foreigners (as discussed in many, many other threads here), so it’s extremely difficult to avoid, but if you decide to stand up for your rights, you’re subject to the same laws and regulations as any foreigner with a work permit (except for the requirements to get the permit, such as the 48k salary), as stated in the bilateral agreement between Taiwan and whichever country. These agreements should be available at law.moj.gov.tw, but you may need to contact the webmaster for the exact link because apparently they’re not all correctly filed.

Ps. The FAQ section at www.immigration.gov.tw (the NIA) has more information, specifically for Japanese, but most of it is the same as for other nationalities.

Very nice post yyy, great detailed information. Should be very helpful to others. I’m leaving Taiwan before the one year is up to pursue opportunities elsewhere, but I really think this visa is an excellent opportunity for young people to come and spend some time in Taiwan - and as you said, it’s essentially an open work permit for a year. I think I’ve seen the stats and it’s really staggering (though not surprising, I guess) how one-sided the flow is with the program, with so many Taiwanese heading to Australia.

[quote=“yyy”]The 統一證號 (“unified ID number”) resembles and is functionally equivalent to an ARC number, which can result in conversations like this:

Gov’t official: Your ARC number is ____.
Foreigner: I don’t have an ARC.
Gov’t official: Yes, you do.
Foreigner: No, I don’t.
Gov’t official: But the number is ____?
Foreigner: Yes, that’s right.
Gov’t official: Then it’s an ARC number.
Foreigner: No, it isn’t.
And so on… :doh:

Otoh, a business may freak out due to fear of the unknown and refuse to accept it as an “ARC number”. If that happens, the easiest solution is to go to the business next door.[/quote]
This made me laugh as it’s happened so many times it’s not even funny, almost word for word. Why I knew I had to take along some help when opening a bank account etc. as I knew they would freak out/not believe me at the fact I had no ARC. And even when I showed them the piece of paper with this ID number on it, the teller was still confused. But we got there eventually.

I’ll also point out that if people are looking for stuff to do on this visa, hostels around the country seem quite open to working holiday holders doing some short-term work. I’ve seen some Japanese and Koreans doing it. If I had more time I would’ve loved to do it for a month or two in Kenting or the East Coast.

The Czech Republic has just joined the club, annual quota 100, age limit 26, work/study limit 6 months.
taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/ … 2003644311
boca.gov.tw/lp.asp?ctNode=78 … DSD=7&mp=2

Members so far: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Rep., Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Korea, NZ, Poland, Slovak Rep., UK.