Government Approves Law on Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals
A new law will likely benefit eligible foreign professionals and their dependents through preferential provisions relating to visas, work permits and residency rights. The effective date is yet to be decided. Key changes include longer work authorization validity periods, a new streamlined work permit category, more options for permanent residence for relatives and longer out-of-country stays, among other benefits.
New law to benefit eligible foreign nationals.
A closer look
A new law was approved by the legislative branch on October 31, 2017, which will likely benefit eligible foreign professionals and their dependents through preferential provisions relating to visas, work permits and residency rights. The effective date will be decided separately by the executive branch.
Key changes to immigration and labor rules
- Longer validity. The maximum validity of a Foreign Special Professional’s Work Permit and Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) will be five years, renewable for up to five years at a time, instead of the current three years. Dependents’ residency permits will be coterminous with their principals. Foreign nationals who possess special expertise in science, technology, economics, education, culture, the arts, or other areas identified by the relevant authority are considered Foreign Special Professionals.
- New work permit category. Foreign nationals who qualify as a Foreign Special Professional will be able to apply for a new Employment Gold Card, a status that combines work permit, resident visa, ARC and re-entry permit. The Card will be valid for one to three years, renewable prior to expiry, and would allow the holder to change employment or obtain additional employment without applying for new a Work Permit each time.
- Pension options. Foreign professionals under permanent resident status can choose to be included in the retirement pension system under the Labor Pension Act.
- Visitor visa for relatives. Lineal ascendants (parents, grandparents, etc.) of Foreign Special Professionals can apply for visitor visas with a duration of six months, renewable in-country for another six months, for a maximum of one year per stay.
- Health insurance for dependents. Spouses and minor children under 20 years of age at the time of application, including adult children with disability, will be covered under the National Health Insurance system after presenting documentary proof of residence. They will no longer need to prove a full six months’ residency to qualify.
- Permanent residency for dependents. Foreign Special Professionals will be able to apply for permanent residence on behalf of their dependent spouse and minor children under 20 years of age at the time of application. The spouse and minor children, including adult children with disability, of a permanent resident may also apply for permanent residence status provided that they have resided in Taiwan for five years and stayed for more than 183 days per year. Currently, permanent residence is only available to qualifying assignees and not their dependents. Children of Foreign Special Professionals, ages 20 and above at the time of application, can apply for a Work Permit directly with the Ministry of Labor, provided they meet residency requirements.
- Longer out-of-country stays. Permanent residents will be able to be away from Taiwan for more than five years without re-entering before their permanent residence status can be revoked. Currently, they must stay in the country for a minimum of 183-days per year in order to maintain their permanent resident status.
- New job hunting visa. Foreign professionals seeking professional work in Taiwan will be able to apply for a multiple entry visitor visa, which allows a stay of six months. Such visas will be highly regulated by authorities and a three-year cooling-off period must be observed before reapplication is allowed.