The government is looking to relax rules governing foreigners’ residency as it moves to attract foreign professionals to work in Taiwan.
The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) has worked out draft revisions to the immigration law to give foreigners more flexibility in obtaining the permanent resident status.
Currently, foreigners who have obtained permanent residency have to live in Taiwan for 183 days each year in order to keep the status, but the draft revisions seek to get rid of the requirement.
That means foreigners would not have to worry about losing their permanent residency if they leave Taiwan for too long.
The draft revisions also relax rules to encourage citizens’ descendants to return to Taiwan.
Ministry officials were cited by a United Daily News report saying that relaxing the immigration rules will be an incentive to attract “international” professionals to work in Taiwan, helping raise the country’s competitiveness.
The revisions come in the wake of concerns that Taiwan’s pool of talent is shrinking. The strict immigration rules have been described as one of the major factors deterring foreigners from working and living in Taiwan.
Immigration officials noted that so far 6,000 permanent Alien Resident Cards have been issued, but the number is expected to increase sharply if the revisions are adopted by lawmakers.
The draft also seeks to expand the scope of eligibility for permanent residency. In the future, foreigners could become permanent residents by investing in Taiwan, or because of their capacity as professionals or people with special contributions.
Permanent residency for foreigners could also be extended to their spouses and underage children, according to the draft.
People born overseas to Taiwanese citizens, such as the NBA sensation Jeremy Lin, or those who have left Taiwan at a young age, may also be given incentives to return.
Any people – who are by definition R.O.C. citizens because of their blood ties – may settle down in Taiwan if they come back using an R.O.C. passport.
Currently there are age restrictions for these people: Those who are older than 20 can directly register their residency, but those under 20 must live in Taiwan for a full year before they can do so.
The revisions look to scrap all age requirements, enabling immediate residency registration upon one’s return.
The draft revisions will be forwarded to the Legislature for review, the officials said.